Sunday, 4 May 2014

Age of Renaissance - The Stag Party

Well I this is the first stag party I've been to where we played board games. My mate Chris, who's getting married in a month or so, decided to have a board games weekend for his stag do as, like me, he's not a great drinker. Yesterday we played Avalon Hill's Age of Renaissance game, which imho is one of the best board games out there (though sadly it's no longer available).

For those who aren't familiar with it, this is a civilization type game set in the middle ages, the powers being Venice, Genoa, Barcelona, Paris, London & Hamburg. It involves a mixture of counters on the map, card play for things like commodities, leaders and nasty events like the black death and revolutionary uprisings. It has lots of civilization advances to buy and has some very clever balancing mechanics. The tag line is that its all about competition between merchants rather than being combat between armies, but the military aspect is not far beneath the surface.

The board at game start
I've played my fair share of AoR but this was the first time I've played it 6-player so I was particularly pleased to get the opportunity to do so. I was fortunate to get an initial cloth/wine card and with a bid of 2 for choice of capitals  secured Barcelona (one of my top two choices). The other players were Andy (Venice), Dafydd (Genoa), Diana (Paris), Chris (London) & Phil (Hamburg).

Here we are raring to go at the start

The position the end of turn 1

In all the game lasted some 9 turns which took about 10 hours to play (I didn't say it was a short game), but we did finish successfully. Perhaps fittingly our 'stag' Chris won though I gave him a run for his money scoring 1970 to his 2100. We both made mistakes; I would have done considerably better if I had chosen to buy Industry on the last turn but then Chris would have done a lot better if he'd remembered to buy Laws of Matter which would have protected him from the very nasty alchemy card which I played on him. Commiserations to Dafydd who got hit by a particularly nasty war which took 3 provinces from him & which he never really recovered from. Thankfully nobody's misery score got too out of hand though at one point Hamburg reached 450 (I think) which is close to the stage where you can slide quite easily into chaos.
Black Death hits London - but its too late to really hurt

It's getting quite late now...
We were all feeling pretty tired by the end but were still  in good humour.  I at least thoroughly enjoyed myself; great game. Interestingly playing with 6 players did not make the game much slower than with fewer players as there are still the same number of cards to be played and that's the controlling step. There is obviously more 'down-time', though, when it's someone else's turn to play.

Looking forward to Chris & Anna's big day; very best wishes for that.

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