Qt3 Boardgames Podcast: Crusaders, Outer Rim, Glorantha

So after telling me how easy it is to keep him trapped in Hell, you’re telling me it’s impossible to keep him trapped in Hell? Uh, okay.

Have you ever seen the Sun player have to spend a victory point to leave? In five games, all with the Sun player, we haven’t. As I mentioned on the podcast, there’s always someone at the table in last place who should take whatever deal the Sun is making. Also, the Sun player’s summons power is a great way to force people into making deals. There’s even a bit of meta-gaming and wheeling-and-dealing in terms of forcing the Sun to use one of his early gifts on the summon power, because it’ll mean that’s one gift later before he can put solar power in effect.


That will be perfect for three-player space opera sandboxing!


I didn’t say it was easy to keep him trapped in Hell for the entire game, I said it’s fairly easy to send him back to Hell after letting him out and reaping the rewards for doing so. Which it is. And I’ve personally had to spend a victory point to get him out of Hell after being betrayed exactly in that fashion in the pre-Rift turns, so, yes, I have seen that. That said, it was our first game and we were only using the core box (since the Empires box is so tight and the cardboard box for the minis so chintzy I didn’t want to deal with it right away), so hardly expert play.

So it’s both easy to keep him trapped in hell and impossible to keep him trapped in hell? :) Either way, my point stands: the deal-making and meta-game elements about the Sun staring in hell are a big part of what makes the Sun faction unique. It’s the main reason we’ve decided he should be one of the “Big Four” as we’re learning the game.

We’re also using Storm, Darkness, and Invisible God, although I’m not sold on that last one. He’s won twice because I think no one is confident yet in terms of how aggressive we can be. Which is a classic problem as you’re learning any game.

Ha ha, make better deals, n00b.

Really, given the gifts (two kinds!), the special rules for releasing the sun god (the releaser can leave hell without needing persmission), and the summon power (always a great threat as well as incentive), there’s no reason you should get to turn three, which is basically about half way through the game, without someone taking the bait.


One of the other folks on the podcast asked if it was possible to permanently keep the Sun God in Hell. You didn’t really answer that question that I heard, so I was answering it here. No, it isn’t. I was also contesting your contention that nobody should let him out, because he’s such a powerful benefit to the Sun faction. Sure, he is, but he’s also vulnerable to being sent to Hell again.

Since it sounds like you agree that actually there are good reasons to do that, I’ll leave it at that.

As I said on the podcast, that’s where the meta comes in, right? It depends who’s playing him. Because once the Sun is in the surface world, with solar power, he’s pretty much got a permanent lock on being the 1st player unless everyone gangs up on him. It’s baked into the faction design.

To put it another way, letting the lion out of the cage if you want to be king of the jungle is never a good idea.


I think there’s actually a couple other factions that can potentially generate more power, although it costs them more than it does Sun. I was very rarely first player because Storm has that 2 VP for 4 power exchange. Then again, I won, Storm didn’t. And I think making that trade too often was a big reason why.

God damn, Glorantha is the best.

Which ones? We haven’t played three of the factions, so there might be something in there I’m missing. But all things being equal – each faction having all three building types out – how anyone can beat Sun’s +3 for solar power? Darkness’ Lead Fortress gets him a fourth building type, but that’s just a +2 power advantage. I figured the idea of Sun being king was an intentional part of the design.

The Storm player has literally never used that power in our games. Not once. Which is probably an oversight, because it’s got to be there for a reason, right?


You can probably recoup most of that cost by using real money instead of spacebucks when you play!

Come to think of it, the other factions I was thinking of that can generate more power can’t actually use that to gain first player (Chaos is specifically forbidden, and while Earth can earn a bunch of power from married Earth Queens, that happens during Council after first player is selected). Storm can match with the 2-for-4 power but that doesn’t help them steal first player from you without something knocking Sun down a peg. I think maybe Sea had some trick up their sleeve but I’m blanking on specifics and might just be thinking of their ability to knock power off anyone they beat to zero power in a turn. But yes, Sun having an advantage at being first player is definitely intentional.

Yeah, that’s an oversight. Like I say, I’m not sure you want to use it every single turn, but it’s enough power to push for more than 2 VP either directly or in cementing board position in a lot of circumstances. Just gotta be sure that it’ll be worth the investment.

Precisely my point. It’s the historically accurate representation of the Sun as king. Just ask anyone who took Glorantha 101 in college.

Which isn’t something you can do until you know the game well. Furthermore, at this point, the winners and losers tend to be separated by very few points – thanks, Judgeship Phase! – so good luck convincing anyone to part with victory points. It’s funny watching us all obsess over what to do with those Rune cards that can give you points.


FWIW, our interpretation was that Runes are always worth at least 1/2 VP even if played, and count for the listed VP if they give VP.

Also I was reminded of Sea’s ability: getting power equal to the cost of the most expensive building in a sea region. That can potentially give as much power as the Sun God, and it doesn’t have to be your building (although that is the easiest way to ensure it).

You discard played Runes. Why would they be worth half a victory point?


Because you earned them. Sure, you discard them so it’s clear you can’t use them again, but we always did it to our own pile. I dunno if it’s the official rule, which is why I phrased it the way I did. But it made sense to us.

Thinking about it more, the basic idea we were working on is that the trade-off being made was that they were worth less VP than the VP-specific runes but they give you special one shot powers. If they’re either/or then they are just strictly worse, IMO, which might be the idea (Cthulhu Wars runes were just random VP) but not what I would want from the design.

Fortunately, the official rule is easy to find! There’s a whole “book” of rules, if you will!

“The announcement of the end of the game is the only time that runes may be played outside of the Action Phase, but they can only be played for VP at this time. Any runes played now that do not give VP can be played for ½ VP each (round fractions up).”

I knew that rule but apparently missed the specific word “played”. That’s a shame. I think that’s categorically less fun.

About 1420-1430, the Pope launched five crusades against the Hussites in Prague. They were defeated by war wagons and a one-eyed general whose dying wish was to have his skin made into war drums so he could continue to lead his troops into battle.

So, I just watched the Shut Up & Sit Down review of Xia (an aside: man, that show is well produced and directed) and they actually recommend a game called Merchants & Marauders over this game. Given that you do not recognize the primacy of theme (that is, a game with a given set of mechanics can be “obsoleted” by a game with similar mechanics but a completely different theme), do you agree or disagree with them? Should I buy Merchants & Marauders? Spoiler: no way, I hate Caribbean pirate games. I didn’t even like Sid Meier’s Pirates. But I’m still interested in your take on their comparison.


Incidentally, my all-in pledge on The Gods’ War included a bunch of setting PDFs including the massive Guide to Glorantha that was Kickstarted a while back, and the game has really made me want to learn more about Glorantha but I feel like they maybe didn’t provide the best way of doing so. The Guide seems extremely extensive, but…it’s an encyclopedia. Who wants to read an encyclopedia cover to cover? :P