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Subject: A quick look: another fine layer of tactical depth rss

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Jay Borden
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The changing winds expansion builds on the solid tactical foundation of the base game. Since I’ve already gone over the rules and strategy of the base game in my other review (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/120093), I’ll concentrate on just the changes I’ve noticed after my first few games on MaBiWeb.



The new rule:

The ship can be moved in the opposite direction of an arrow for 2 gold.
This is a huge change that I really like. It makes end of turn ship placement far less devastating when you are in an area of the board where you are behind on booths. In the base game, you can keep dumping your opponent to the same area of the board where you have control once you get an advantage. It’s still possible to a certain degree, but far less severe given this rule and the new map routes.


End of Game Bonus Points:

Most 1 barrel goods sold = 5 points
This one took me a bit to see how it adds to the game. From playing a couple of dozen games of the original Hansa, I had the mindset that the 1 barrel goods are worth less and good tactical play would see you selling the higher valued goods. Why would you want to reward someone for selling more of the 1 barrel goods? The after my second game, I saw that the 5 points to be gain adds a new strategic element to the game. Taking a 1 barrel over a 2 is only a 1 point difference, but could gain you 5 at the end. This can turn flipping 1 goods in cities you control an advantage at times, rather than the usual disappointment towards the later part of the game.

Tallest stack of booths on the board = 2 points
Again, this one just didn’t make sense. You gain an advantage by spreading out and not “wasting” booths by stacking up in one city in the base game, why would you change it. Well the 2 point isn’t really much, but it plays well with the rest of the end game bonus items. With more ways to get points, there are more possibilities for clever play.

Most Cities = 4 points
Since you get 4 points if you are alone in a city and 2 if you are in a city with at least one other player, you already gained a big advantage to spreading out in the original game. With these extra 4 points, it’s almost mandatory to spread out to more than 7 cities every game.

End game Restock = 3 points
My last game was really close, those 3 points were enough to greatly change how the last few turns played out. With 4 goods in the next to last pile and 4 empty warehouse spaces on the board, taking a barrel needed to gain at least 3 points or it would lose you points. It added a nice end game element. In a close match the leader couldn’t just try to run the barrels out to end it quicker if he’d be giving 3 points to the opponent in the process. While I don’t think it will make as much of an impact in every game, it’s a nice addition to make those really close game just a bit more tense and down to the wire.





The New Map:

The new rule that lets you move the ship backwards changes everything anyway, but notice that leaving the ship in Tonsberg would no longer force the opponent to move to Stockholm. Also notice that Riga has an extra warehouse space and now has 2 incoming routes (dumping out into Kalmar rather than down to Danzig). Anyone really familiar with the old map will need to take a close look at how the old dead end spots have changed.



Initial thoughts:

The map and backwards ship movement were immediately welcomed changes, but I didn’t care for all the bonuses at the end of the game at first. In just a few games, I see now that it takes a bit off the luck of the goods flipped by allowing additional points to be gained from known and controllable information. Fighting for those 1 barrel goods, or trying to sell off one more time to get the booth back to lock up the highest stack alone adds another fine level of tactical depth without taking away from the core game.

I'm not 100% sure if I like it better than the original yet, but I definitely find it more forgiving. The turns of being completely stuck in a bad spot are far less likely. Games of having no shot due to more than one bad flip are also less likely. Having up to 14 extra bonus points available in a game typically ending with scores of 45-65 is a huge change that will take some more games for me to really get into. So far I am optimistic and think this expansion could eventually replace the original for me. If maps were available, I’d likely buy one.


*Edit: changed wording on bonus for tallest stack of market booths on the board
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Charles Hasegawa
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I had a very similar initial thought, but my experiences with this version so far have not been great - as a two player game, its far to easy to get killed by luck. I think this may be the case in 3-4 player games as well, though its more likely just one poor sap.

I'm also on the fence with the new scoring. I don't think it helps you if you were in a bad position, but rather just helps the leader run away. I'd rather see a change in the rules like - the person in last place always pays the bank when buying goods, rather than the person with the most markets - something to help the trailing person rather than making it harder to catch the leader.
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Scott Pizio
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PlanetSmasher wrote:
Most booths in one city = 2 points
Again, this one just didn’t make sense. You gain an advantage by spreading out and not “wasting” booths by stacking up in one city in the base game, why would you change it. Well the 2 point isn’t really much, but it plays well with the rest of the end game bonus items. With more ways to get points, there are more possibilities for clever play.


Is this per city?
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Drew
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spizio wrote:
PlanetSmasher wrote:
Most booths in one city = 2 points
Again, this one just didn’t make sense. You gain an advantage by spreading out and not “wasting” booths by stacking up in one city in the base game, why would you change it. Well the 2 point isn’t really much, but it plays well with the rest of the end game bonus items. With more ways to get points, there are more possibilities for clever play.


Is this per city?


It's actually tallest stack of booths on the board, I think.

Here are some of the thoughts I had, taken from a session report response (and altered slightly):

--------

I'm finding this new map a bit more difficult. First, there are four single-barrel cities clustered to the western side of the map, making that side of the board a bit less desirable. Also, I think taking the refill action is done more often. If you're stuck over on the left side of the board, and there aren't any goods around you, it makes sense to spend one to refill instead of spending possibly more to move out of there.

I also find I am more than willing to pay the extra taler to go against the wind when it's to my advantage.

The bonus for triggering the end-game feels wrong somehow. Typically, I trigger the end-game when I'm ahead, and getting three more points for ending the game puts me even further ahead. Not sure how I feel about that. Seems unbalanced, and balance doesn't usually bother me.

-------

But all in all, it's a nice change of pace from the original map.
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Snooze Fest
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Tatsu wrote:
I had a very similar initial thought, but my experiences with this version so far have not been great - as a two player game, its far to easy to get killed by luck. I think this may be the case in 3-4 player games as well, though its more likely just one poor sap.

I'm also on the fence with the new scoring. I don't think it helps you if you were in a bad position, but rather just helps the leader run away. I'd rather see a change in the rules like - the person in last place always pays the bank when buying goods, rather than the person with the most markets - something to help the trailing person rather than making it harder to catch the leader.


For a 2-player game I definitely prefer the original game, although there is pretty clearly a start-player advantage (should probably start with 2 gold instead?). For 3 or 4 players, though, I think the bonus scorings really help balance turn order problems. Those early in order may get the 3-barrel goods, but later-playing players can still get the less-desireable 1-barrel goods, and it can be a bit easier for them to get the 3VP game-ending bonus because I think they usually have the opportunity to end the game.

As for the bidirectional movement: I'm not sure how it interacts with the scoring changes, but I do enjoy it for the added flexibility (and it helps stop people from trapping you in Danzig turn after turn after turn!).
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