Posted 25 May 2008 in Gaming by Catriona
I’m still thoroughly enjoying this game, as are a number of other people, judging from the people who wander into Circulating Library looking for information on how to complete the fiendish Quest for Montezuma.
Well, it was fiendish when I completed it. As I noted then, we early adopters of the Montezuma quest were struggling to collect Gold Coins, frantically flipping through the packs to which we had access hoping to either steal them from under the rats’ noses or to have them miraculously pop up for us.
But we persevered and we made our Spotted Leopards, our Turquoise Masks, and our 20,000-point Montezuma’s Headdresses.
And then . . . then we noticed that Coins were suddenly available for sale in some of the markets. And, at first, we weren’t certain whether we’d overlooked that option. Had we really spent hours searching the packs when we could have bought Coins for fifty credits each?
But no—this was a new phenomenon. So we grumbled a little along “back in my day” lines, felt smug about completing the set under difficult circumstances, and got on with collecting the next set.
But then it happened again! For the Boy Genius set, you needed a high number of Mindwave Helmets: to make Time Machines and Android Irwin, and then to use those to make Tripod Seeker Drones and rocketships.
And suddenly it was the gold-coin frenzy all over again: we were searching packs and rapidly losing whatever morals we’d developed in the interests of co-operative play. One poor friend—I hope she’ll forgive me eventually, because over a period of a week I must have stolen every Mindwave Helmet she’d managed to collect.
Then, having finally completed the set by grabbing the final, elusive, pop-up card—Baron von Heisenberg—from a rat who wasn’t paying attention, I noticed the Mindwave Helmet had suddenly become available in stores. And once again, I couldn’t help but think that maybe I’d just never noticed this before. Maybe I’d been running the risk of damaging decades-old friendships when I could have been spending eighty credits a pop instead.
No—once again, the card had become readily available after I ceased to need it.
I’m not even going to go into the struggles to obtain Fountains to complete the Rat Pack set.
Yes, I am—because this is one of the frustrations of the game for me. Increasingly, the high-end cards, the ones that you cobble together out of other cards, are coming to rely on extremely rare pop-up cards: cards that you can’t buy from the markets, but have to hope will spontaneously appear for you during game play.
Take Rat Pack, the Vegas-themed set, for example. This was the most extravagant set to date: twenty-eight items, the most valuable of which were worth 50,000 and 25,000 points.
But the key card was something called “The Strip”: worth 15,000 points on its own, you made it out of the Wedding Chapel (itself made from three different cards), the Casino (ditto), and the elusive Fountain, a 4,000-point beauty of a pop-up card.
So far, so good. The chances of a Fountain popping up were fairly remote, but you might find one. Well, two: you had to vault the Fountain individually, as well as The Strip.
But wait: you need to make The Strip a further two times, because The Strip is a key component of the two highest-scoring cards, The Jackpot and Vegas, Baby! And suddenly, things became a little desperate.
Frankly, I suspect the same thing is going to happen with the Beatnik (also a 4,000-point pop-up) that you need for the Dark Roast coffee-themed collection, except that you only need two Beatniks and the highest-scoring card in that set is only 8,000 points.
I’ll commit gaming sins for 50,000 points that I wouldn’t even consider for 8,000.
But this is one of the frustrations of the game, even more irritating to me than the fact that the rat players—previously so passive, and only useful because they held packs full of cards that you could plunder without repercussions—are now able to steal from you in return. So now, half of the available fifteen spaces in your packs have to be saved for Locks, so the rats don’t steal the Codex you spent a week making or the Blender you saved up for.
That’s frustrating enough.
But if the Fountain suddenly becomes available in the markets after I begged, borrowed, and stole the four that I needed, then I’m out of here.