Sunday, November 26, 2017

Master of Orion is not what I expected, but it's a fine tableau game

I played two relatively light board games with my friends Jim, Pixie and CB:  Master of Orion and Toledo.

My friends were dog-sitting, so we had a fifth player of sorts at our table. 

Master of Orion

Twenty years ago, my friend Jim and I played Master of Orion 2 (MOO 2) on the computer. It was a no brainer then that we both recently bought it on Steam for something like $3 recently, just for the nostalgia.

It was a Civ game but in space, with a sufficiently large space map to go forth and 4X and all that.

When we heard that MOO was coming out on a board game, we were both pleased. However, it was with some disappointment to learn that the game will have no exploration, no space tiles.. indeed, no space ship meeples to move around. No dimensional Antarans either, to wreak havoc unlike the computer game.

It was, I found out, horror of horrors, a card game. Pure card games usually bore me so I was not too enthused to play. The only card game I like is hold'em poker to be honest, and have no interest in Magic the Gathering and all that stuff.

However, this was MOO we're talking about, and I was mollified to hear it was a tableau game. I recently played a tableau game, 51st State, so I was ready to give it a shot.

I went in playing with the same shrug as the Human on my race card in the game.

The computer game had something like 16 races to choose from, but from what I can see, the board game had only 6 races to play. Perhaps they envisage expansions.

As a tableau game, it won't blog well, so I will just gloss over play. I found I liked the game despite no map nor exploration. I don't think you can even exterminate other players, so it's 2X at that.

The cards themselves are nice and glossy, with really nice art work, which was a pleasure to look at.

It's basically a scramble for victory points, with abstract attacks not done to take over planets like in the computer game, but to lower the other guy's morale. If basically you have a bigger fleet than your opponent, you lower their morale automatically when attacking.

The whole game can be played quickly, so such things as customizing individual ships, are not done.

In the computer game, you're constantly offered advisors to govern individual planets to min/max a planet's stats. In this game, you get a choice of something like 5 or 6 advisors to choose from only. I employed Kuruk, not for an individual planet, but for empire-wide benefits.

You basically manage 5 planetary systems, represented by 5 columns of cards, so it's manageable.

And that is about it.. we quickly got into the groove of things, and the game cards offered enough strategy and stimulus to keep us going to the end, which did not take long.

Would I play it again? Yes.. I seem to be fine with tableau card games.

Does it feel like the computer game? No. It's way different, but for generic sci-fi, this is just fine to be honest.


In Toledo, from the famous game designer Martin Wallace, we play families of master sword-makers out to impress the Spanish (presumably Habsburg) Emperor in his palace, with gifts of master swords which we fashion out of jewels and steel.

Spain, of course, was renowned for "Spanish steel" since at least the Roman times (the Gladius Iberius and all that), and Toledo was the place to craft them.

In this game, we are in the Renaissance period. 

Our 5 meeples start off in the cathedral and try to wind up in the palace on the top right,

all the while picking up jewels and steel to make as fine a sword as we can. You also can try to buy art from El Greco, a famous Greek painter in the Renaissance, who was based in Toledo, for additional victory points. 

The rules are easy, but there is some thinking in the game, as you try to maximize your movement/currency cards to their full effect.

You can engage in simple "duels" and can find yourself bumped off back to your starting point, even if you're on the cusp of reaching the palace.We engaged in some of that rivalry and that lent to the enjoyment of the game.

Like MOO, this pick up and deliver game does not lend itself to blow-by-blow blogging. Suffice to say, it was a cute light game that was not bad  to fill in the time.

All in all, a pleasant game session.

1 comment:

  1. Truly an enjoyable session and both games warrant a replay (someday!)