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My sister and I had always loved playing board games with our parents when we were young. Recently, I moved back into our hometown after quite a few years of living abroad and even though my sister and I are adults with our own families now, we still enjoy playing the occasional game with our parents.
Although the games of our youth mostly included the mainstream classics such as Monopoly, Pictionary, etc. the last months have been a lot more about discovering new games. So far, we've been through Settlers, Railroad Tycoon, BANG!, Ticket to Ride, Kingdom Builder, Smallworld and Puerto Rico. Tonight, we tried a game that we found at a great price at a goodwill store.
Tonight, we tried Succession: Intrigue in the Royal Court.
After reading through the rulebook (an entertaining task in itself!), I sent my sister this message: "M., you better start developing a taste for bitterness because tonight, until this game is over, I have no sister!" to which she replied the traditional: "Bring it!"
Our game took a bit long; about 2.5 hours including rule explanation but that's mostly because my parents are a bit slow to understand game rules sometimes...and because my father always forgets to bring his glasses . We tend to expect such lengths in our household.
We distributed roles randomly since we were all unfamiliar with the game: I got Taxman (which I liked), my sis got Wizard (which she hated), my mom got Royalist (which she kept forgetting about...so was quite indifferent) and my father got Ambassador (he couldn't stop bragging that special ability...shooting us a huge grin every time we had to assign blame...).
The start of the game went a bit slow. Nobody really knew the value of gold and votes. No one was willing to try and make moves or be creative with the dealing. I think we were all just trying to get comfortable with the rules and mechanics at first. After a couple of turns around the table, things started heating up. We started seeing people get advantages and figuring out ways to slow them down. My father went for what I consider a safe route: he figured out he couldn't go down in standing and that Archie couldn't go down in favor so he invested himself almost fully into that relationship. I also wanted to go for Archie so we were competing quite a bit the whole game. As for my mom and sister, they were both trying to get Arianna ahead. My sister also splashed some interest into Galahad in case something went wrong.
Style wise, my mom was mostly trying to play it solo and under the radar whereas I was mostly trying to buy and trade. My sister went a more interesting route, promising and demanding political favors ("I'll give you credit here if, in exchange, you HAVE to vote in favor of Galahad's ascension the next 2 times he's selected to gain favor", etc.). As for my father's style, it was mostly to assign LOSING chips to candidates knowing that he couldn't be blamed for it anyways and his candidate of choice would not go down.
It was a pretty tight game during the whole duration. In fact, we almost nearly had a 4 way tie ending. I had to get creative to seal the win:
I had used all my gold during my mother's turn so when my turn came up, I only had my patronage (9 gold) to play with. I drew an Intrigue - Archie and another Candidate gain 2 standing. No gold can be used to vote on this Intrigue. Playing this Intrigue would bring Archie to a favor score of 10. The problem was that I only had a standing of 3 with Archie and my father, having invested uniquely in that relationship, had a standing of 4 (thanks to my sister playing a card that could bring him down 2 at one point). Fortunately, I had a Good Fortune card in my hand so I upped my standing with Archie to 4, putting me even with my father. All I had to do was win the power to assign credit...
I knew my gold would be worthless in the vote, so I figured I'd try to dump it off on my opponents to get cards. I started by making an open offer to buy cards, feigning to not like my hand. No one really budged...they know to be suspicious of me ... So I pointed out to my sister that she had no gold but many cards and that it might be worth it for her, especially since she could buy cards from the bank on her turn anyway. She still seemed unsure. I had to get creative...So I decided to offer her 3 gold just to see her hand without any trading commitment from her, just so I could make an offer. She quickly saw it as a quick way to sucker 3 gold out of me for "nothing" and immediately accepted. What I saw in her hand changed EVERYTHING. She had the Event card called "Enough of you!" which would permit her to cancel out the voting power of a player. I knew that as long as she had that in her hand, I had no way of getting credit for Archie's win. I HAD to squeeze it out of her somehow.
Luckily for me, I must of been quite convincing when I made it seem like I wasn't sure that I was willing to dump all my gold on obtaining that card (I definitely WAS willing)... my sister also requested that I promise to not use the card on her and that sealed the deal. In my hand I had the 9 Influence card, a 6 Influence card, a 2 Intrigue and the 2 Intrigue I wanted to play to elevate Archie, giving me a total voting power of 19. And since I had eliminated what seemed like the only counter, I was going all in! I layed down the Archie Intrigue with a huge smile, picking Galahad as the 2nd candidate to benefit (so that his +5 bonus would help with the Passing of the Intrigue) and then...
BOOM! My mom drops a bomb on us all! She plays the Event card that lets her change my choice of 2nd candidate, picking Arianna instead. This made it so that BOTH Archie AND Arianna would hit level 10 at the same time. This made things super interesting because we ALL had a standing of 4 with Arianna (or we would, if I got credit for her ascension). It also forced a 2nd vote after the Intrigue to decide wich of the 2 candidates would be the actual successor. This meant that my all-in was no longer a valid strategy. I had to keep some voting power in my hand for the last vote...especially since I had just dumped all my money on my sister! It was quite a dramatic turn of events. It made the whole family stand up from their chairs.
Luckily for me, keeping the 9 Influence card in my hand for the 2nd vote was enough to get me Credit Power for BOTH votes and so, I managed to eek myself up to a rating of 5 with both successors, banking me the win just in time!
What a game!