Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas came early in Osaka

The first Sunday of the December has passed which means the JIGG December Games Day is finished. The theme for this month was to try something new. For example, maybe you only play card games so try a board-game this time or perhaps you always play with the same group so this time branch out and play with different people. I was unfortunate enough to have to work that Sunday so my new experience was to arrive later than usually and only play for about half the day. It was a bit sad really as some games I really wanted to try were played in the early part of the day. But on the positive side, I was able to attend 9 out of 12 JIGG Kansai events in Osaka this year! It's been awesome. I've made many new friends and had a blast playing a bunch of games.

I arrived late and was tired from work so playing heavy or long games didn't appeal to me at all. Stylistically, card games were the rule of the day. I started with Resistance, a co-op vet the traitor card game, and ended with, my favorite game of the day, The Agents.  Eric "Sizzlelean Lincoln" had supported it on Kickstarter and brought it along after receiving it earlier in the week.

In The Agents, players form factions of disbanded intelligence agents to run missions, kill other operatives and gather intelligence. Players gain points for meeting mission conditions, "free agent" cards and aligning cards a certain way. The first player to 40 points wins. Points also serve as currency to buy more agents or missions. Players need to balance creating a useful hand of cards and their score. The starting hand consists of 3 agent cards and a mission. During a players turn they may do 2 of the following: place an agent, remove an agent, move an agent from one faction to another or buy agents or missions. Agent cards have 2 characteristics: a command, ex: kill an agent, or an arrow. Players decide how to place the card, if the command side faces them they may use its ability but their opponent gets points and vice versa. "Free agent" cards have either a special command, ex: take a bonus action, or point value as characteristics and are discarded after being played.

Since this was the first time for any of us to play it took 2 games to work out the rules and get the hang of it. The first game involved 3 people and saw 2 players quickly outscore the 3rd. The 2nd game was between Eric and myself saw Eric race ahead in points and quickly win. In the 3rd game, between Eric and I, we both started using the cards in more interesting ways so the options and depth of the game finally started to show through. I mentioned balancing your hand and score but you also need to balance giving yourself agent commands/points vs. giving them to your opponent. Our 3rd game ended in a tie and the tie breaker was based on who had the most forgettable face (which is a great tie breaker for a spy game) so we asked some fellow gamers to choose and I was picked. We made several mistakes but I enjoyed the theme, components, art and rules. Looking forward to exploring it some more.

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