After the sad departure of our beloved blogger, Alex, we've been laying low on the whole regular internet journaling thing. Well, today we burst forth from our cocoon. The Labyrinth blog will once again be the best place to see what's new and exciting in the store. We're also introducing a slew of new features and posts, including a new segment on what we're playing. This week, the woman who puts the "Queen" in Queendomino, the incomprable Kathleen Donahue herself kicks us off with her thoughts.
The first is Sidereal Confluence. I honestly have no idea how to actually pronounce the name of this game, but I’m completely obsessed with it. This game is complex, and there’s a chance that it may be overwhelming to someone who doesn’t have much gaming experience. Once understood, however, it is actually pretty easy to play. It is an asymmetrical trading and negotiation game for 4 to 9 players. Each player plays an alien race who must trade with others in an intergalactic trading federation to survive. The game is competitive, but it is set up so that you must collaborate with others because no race can function on its own. Pretty much the entire game is played simultaneously, so there is very little down time. You are trying to make profitable trades to earn resources to run converters to gain more resources that can then be used to develop technologies and colonize planets. The game consists of a set number of rounds, with each round being made up of a trading phase, an economy phase, and a confluence phase (where you can bid and win planets and technologies). You earn victory points in multiple ways but mostly from discovering technologies. There is a lot of engine building and resource management, but the heart and soul of the game is negotiation. I cannot think of another negotiation game that I’ve enjoyed more. I absolutely love it. We’ve played several times now, with 4 to 6 players. The game takes a while, averaging about 2 to 2.5 hours for us, but the duration is very dependent on how long you allow the negotiation phases to last. If trading bricks for sheep thrills you, but is getting a bit old, and you’re ready to settle something much larger than Catan, this might just be the game for you.