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Thread: A Study in Emerald - Anarchy in R'lyeh

  1. #31
    Spinning Toe Anonymgeist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Chick View Post
    I've also played a few two-player games, and I think it works as well as A Few Acres of Snow. It loses the weird jockeying for position you have to do with 3+ players given the scoring system, but it still totally holds up as a kind of focused arms race. And I think it's a short game. At least it can be. I love how much control players have over when and whether the game ends.

    -Tom
    If you only have two players, are the sides still chosen randomly?

  2. #32
    Spinning Toe
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    Yes. It's cute. Even at three players it is possible to be all on the same side. You still compete for individual achievement and if all players are on the same side the rule about team elimination doesn't apply.

    Tom M
    Last edited by Tom Mc; 01-06-2014 at 03:40 PM.

  3. #33
    Administrator World's End Supernova Tom Chick's Avatar
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    Consider too the dynamics of a four player game. You could have three players of one faction and a single player of the other faction. The rule for scoring is that whoever is in last place sinks everyone on his team; that faction flat-out loses the game. So all the lone player has to do to win is not come in last place. I think this might be the ideal situation for keeping your identity close to your vest.

    -Tom

  4. #34
    Spinning Toe Anonymgeist's Avatar
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    I'm very eager to check this out now. Any idea how long to expect the shipping to take?

  5. #35
    Administrator World's End Supernova Tom Chick's Avatar
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    Isn't that a factor of the shipping you specified when you ordered it? Or is that not what you're asking?

    If you mean the turnaround time from placing an order, I can't say for sure, but I know they were having some issues with the order fulfillment company they were using. A lot of folks were grumbling about not getting the game earlier. I suspect that might all be ironed out by now.

    -Tom

  6. #36
    Spinning Toe Anonymgeist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Chick View Post
    Isn't that a factor of the shipping you specified when you ordered it? Or is that not what you're asking?

    If you mean the turnaround time from placing an order, I can't say for sure, but I know they were having some issues with the order fulfillment company they were using. A lot of folks were grumbling about not getting the game earlier. I suspect that might all be ironed out by now.

    -Tom
    I don't recall specifying anything about shipping method when placing the order, it was just a flat $10 above the price of the game. I'm not worried or anything; I just ordered it on the 31st and was curious about how long I should expect it to take before it arrives.

  7. #37
    Administrator World's End Supernova Tom Chick's Avatar
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    Well, given how good I think this game is, the answer is "too long". :)

    Can't wait to hear what you think of it. Alternatively, come over to my house Thursday night and join us for a game!

    -Tom

  8. #38
    Spinning Toe Anonymgeist's Avatar
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    Bit of a commute, so I think I may have to pass--this time. If I'm ever down in your neighborhood though.... :)

  9. #39
    Neo Acoustic arrendek's Avatar
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    You guys are terrible. "Look at how good this game is! Don't you want it? Don't you?"

    The darn thing is $80. AHH

  10. #40
    Neo Acoustic
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    If you don't want to order it direct, and you're in the USA, I did get an email the other day that coolstuffinc.com has it in stock now. Still at full price ($80), but if you add a bit to your order you can get free shipping...

  11. #41
    Administrator World's End Supernova Tom Chick's Avatar
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    This game is so frickin' good with five players. I had a grand game tonight where I was one of three restorationists. The loyalists were effectively shut out of the game because one of them was determined to try a Yog Sothoth strategy, whereby you feed your agents to the Elder God Yog Sothoth for points. He was an admitted Lovecraft fan and I could tell he mainly liked the idea of the card. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to get his Yog Sothoth feeding engine going very well. So he was in last place, unable to get any traction, while the other loyalist player built up an army of agents running around the board assassinating people, with the considerable help of Moriarty's sniper Sebastian Moran. But he was never going to win unless the other loyalist pulled his own ass out of last place.

    Meanwhile, I managed to use Otto von Bismarck to lock down Paris for an invulnerable center-of-the-map base, safe from assassins or enemy influence, with my own reserve of easy cards to grab at my leisure. I darted out from time to time to for attempts to kill nearby collaborationist monarchs. I killed whatever the heck the name is of the guy in Madrid* and He Who Presides in the New World in Washington for a solid headstart in points. I was counting on quickly getting three madness tokens to end the game while I was ahead, but the draw didn't go my way. Who knew you wouldn't want to pull a sanity token?

    So the game went on, my early victory receding fast as I was unable to drive myself mad. I attempted to bid on a Mi Go I didn't even want, hoping it would drive me mad, but the other players blocked it. They weren't having any of that. Another restorationist player with Sherlock Holmes and the Irish Fenian thugs started tearing around assassinating Gloriana in London, Azathoth the Blind Idiot in St. Petersburg, and finally Nyarlyathotep in Cairo. But he also didn't manage to draw the third madness token, so the game continued.

    At this point, we all got into a serious back-and-forth for city control. Berlin, London, St. Petersburg. We started grabbing the cheap cities like Madrid, Cairo, Zurich. Who would fight for those? It was getting ugly. But I felt pretty good about my chances at pushing myself up to the end-of-game victory threshold given a bit more time, since I had a few helpful deck management cards. I was seven points ahead of the other restorationist when he assassinated the monarch of Vienna for four points, drew a third madness token, and ended the game. With me in the lead! Was he just sick of playing? Did he hope to not draw a madness token? I had clearly explained the 6/18 distribution of sane/mad tiles, yet he still took a chance and handed me the game.

    At which point he flipped over The Black Hand card he'd grabbed early on, which adds 2 victory points for each royal assassination. He bumped his victory points up eight points and handily won. The only think I don't like about teaching boardgames -- I love teaching people boardgames -- is that I'm busy answering questions and watching people play and talking them through their turns, so I completely lose track of stupid things like the fact that Matt had grabbed The Black Hand early in the game and was going to get two extra VPs for every assassination.

    But I haven't enjoyed losing a game this much in a long time.

    The loyalist player who was saddled with a teammate trying to feed Yog Sothoth was, of course, a bit bummed that he was held back the whole time. But it could have gone the other way. If one of us restorationists was a weak link, the loyalists would only have had to beat each other. Also, the Change of Heart card emerged, which switches your allegiance mid-game (we ended up depleting five cities, each of which brings another permanent effect card in play, so there were a fair number of game-bending options up for grabs, like the Mi Go that I had hoped would drive me insane). The loyalist was definitely eyeing that. One of the coolest things about A Study in Emerald is all the options available to get out of tough situations.

    But still. The Black Hand. I won't forget next time I see someone grab that card.

    -Tom

    * Baoht Z'uqqamogg, if you're curious

  12. #42
    Pillow Talk
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    I haven't bought or even played a board game for a decade or more (and my life is poorer for it, I know) but this thread has got me all het up for it.

    I'm ordering and tapping up a board gaming friend of mine to give me a tutorial. We're both mahoosive Mythos fans and it looks like this neatly dovetails all that with nearly all of my period interests. Good job!

  13. #43
    Administrator World's End Supernova Tom Chick's Avatar
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    By the way, if anyone tempted to get this wants to support Qt3, here's an Amazon link you should use!

    -Tom

  14. #44
    New Romantic Mysterio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Chick View Post
    The only think I don't like about teaching boardgames -- I love teaching people boardgames -- is that I'm busy answering questions and watching people play and talking them through their turns, so I completely lose track of stupid things
    That exactly describes me, as well, since the three people in my group pretty much played games like Dominoes and Mille Bornes before I introduced them to "real" games. :-)

  15. #45
    Pillow Talk
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    How much tabletop real estate am I going to need to comfortably play this with, say, 4 people? Looks a kind of expansive game.

  16. #46
    Hustle wisdomchild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mysterio View Post
    ...the three people in my group pretty much played games like Dominoes and Mille Bornes before I introduced them to "real" games. :-)
    I love Mille Bornes :(

  17. #47
    New Romantic Mysterio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wisdomchild View Post
    I love Mille Bornes :(
    I did use quotation marks!

  18. #48
    Administrator World's End Supernova Tom Chick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ManOfZinc View Post
    How much tabletop real estate am I going to need to comfortably play this with, say, 4 people? Looks a kind of expansive game.
    It's not. At least, no more so than any five player game with a cool board. You need room for the board, of course, but each player's area can be pretty small. No one has any sort of expansive player board or anything hogging up additional room.

    -Tom

  19. #49
    Hustle
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mysterio View Post
    That exactly describes me, as well, since the three people in my group pretty much played games like Dominoes and Mille Bornes before I introduced them to "real" games. :-)
    I also am (well, was, until I had a newborn recently) my group's official rule master, so much so that if no one had read the rules, including myself, they still had me teach it. Of course, this means that I am rarely at the top of my game. I think that is my group's meta-game strategy.

  20. #50
    Spinning Toe Anonymgeist's Avatar
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    Damn. It's been three weeks now since I placed my order, but still no sign of my copy.

  21. #51
    Spinning Toe Anonymgeist's Avatar
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    So I played my first game of this tonight (three people, and all of us were restorationists) and, as promised, it was a ton of fun. Despite a few hiccups getting the rules down (I didn't realize initially that the bombs listed on an Assassinate Royalty card don't count if you use that card's function to initiate the attack, and one player accidentally ended the game early because he forgot assassinations make you draw a sanity chit), it was surprisingly easy to understand.

    I'm looking forward to trying this with more people.

  22. #52
    Pillow Talk
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    Great write-up on the front page, Tom. Can't wait.

  23. #53
    Broad Band Jørn Weines's Avatar
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    God damn fucking zombies.

  24. #54
    Administrator World's End Supernova Tom Chick's Avatar
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    Ha ha. Just wait until you get ganked by a vampire.

    -Tom

  25. #55
    Spinning Toe Anonymgeist's Avatar
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    That was a really fantastic interview you did with Mr. Wallace, Tom. Thanks for that!

  26. #56
    Social Worker
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    Should one read the story before deciding on the game? I know the dis world game by Martin Wallace is fun if one read the book and wondering if this is the same?

  27. #57
    Spinning Toe Anonymgeist's Avatar
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    I think reading the story would increase your enjoyment, but it's in no way necessary to have fun with the game. At any rate, the original A Study in Emerald story is quick, fun, and available online.

    If you really want to gain a deeper appreciation of the game, I recommend reading Alex Butterworth's fantastic The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists, and Secret Agents, which was cited as a primary inspiration for the game and will make you much more familiar with the cast of characters and agencies involved.

  28. #58
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    Thanks!

  29. #59
    New Romantic
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    Seriously, this rule book. What the fuck. Tom, on your next Martin Wallaces podcast please ask him to hire Vlaada Chvatil to write his rules from now on.

    Alright, back to looking up French anarchists on Wikipedia...

  30. #60
    New Romantic
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    Also, has there ever been a better parenthetical comment in a board game rule book than "(the agent's brain has gone to Pluto)"? Just clears everything up for you.

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