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Subject: Yeah, it's OOP, but is it good? rss

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Brian McCormick
United States
Lansing
Michigan
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Two years ago, my wife (girlfriend at the time) and I began fleshing out our boardgame collection. Our friends Matt and Ben had introduced us to the world of hobby boardgames, and now that we realized such a world existed, we wanted to do some exploring. Building upon our foundation of Agricola, Carcassonne, and Dominion, we tried finding games off the beaten path, games that our boardgame-buddies didn't own.

Agricola branched off into Finca and Le Havre. Dominion branched off into Race for the Galaxy and Thunderstone. Yet, when it came to Carcassonne, we couldn't find many alternatives. Oh, sure, there are games like Alhambra and Neuroshima Hex, but the tile-laying genre wasn't exactly as widespread as we would have hoped.

But there was also Taluva.



Full disclosure: my wife and I didn't really like Taluva when we first played it. It was more abstract than Carcassonne, and while the concept of stacking tiles was cool, we were just more enthralled with other games. Taluva has languished on our shelf for the past 2 years, unplayed up until the last couple of weeks.

Since the first time we played Taluva two years ago, has it aged like fine wine, or has it gone moldy? Read on to find out.

How do you play Taluva?

The rules of Taluva are fairly straightforward, although they are more complicated than Carcassonne (perhaps why it fell flat with us originally). Taluva can be played by 2-4 players. Each takes a fixed number of Huts, Towers, and Temples. Players take turns placing hex-based tiles (that are in the shape of a "Y") with lakes, volcanoes, and jungles printed on each hex portion of the tile. The game is won in several ways:

1) Once all the tiles run out, the player with the most Towers wins. If there is a tie, the most Temples wins. If there is still a tie, the most Huts wins.

2) If a player exhausts two out of three of their types of buildings (say, the Huts and the Temples), that player wins immediately.

3) If a player can no longer make a legal move (for instance, if they run out of Huts), they are eliminated from the game.

Each turn consists of two actions. First, you draw and place a new tile. The tiles can be laid on top of one another as long as you match a volcano with a volcano, as long as the top tile does not "hang" over any empty hexes, and as long as it overlaps a minimum of two tiles. Actually, there are a few more rules regarding tile placement, but I'll talk about that later.



After placing the tile, a player chooses where to put their buildings. You can place a Hut on any free Level 1 (ground level) spot, you can add a Temple to a group of Huts numbering 3 or more, you can build a Tower on a Level 3 hex, or you can "expand" from a Hut into a terrain type of your choice.

Here is the tricky part: when you place volcano tiles, you can demolish any Huts below, foiling your opponent's plans (or perhaps splitting one of your own settlements, allowing you to add more Temples).

The rules for placing your buildings are probably the most complicated part, but it's easy to grasp after one game. The difficult part is learning how to use these mechanics to your advantage.

What sort of game is Taluva?

Now that I've gone back over the game and played it a dozen or so times, I think I understand why I didn't originally like it. Taluva is very abstract. Granted, almost any tile-laying game is going to have some abstraction, but Taluva is definitely more abstract than Carcassonne and Alhambra. Much of that has to do with the win conditions. You aren't competing for points. Rather, you're trying to place certain tokens. The nice thing about this is that you can have a player who is lagging behind only to catch up and win in the end (but that still requires some careful thinking).

Recently, my wife and I have been playing a lot of abstract games, so Taluva fits in really well with that.

The game is a bit hard to classify. It's not entirely a "Euro" because you can be quite vindictive by destroying your opponents' Huts. Plus, there's player elimination. But it's not entirely an "abstract", either. It's a bit of both. My wife remarked that "it feels like a mix of Carcassonne and Zertz. It's like Carcassonne because of the tile laying. It's like Zertz because the win conditions require you to get rid of two types of buildings."

I guess I can understand what she's saying, although I wouldn't compare Taluva to Zertz. To me, the strength of the game is that it plays differently depending on how many players you have. With two players, you can be quite aggressive, and the game typically ends with someone running out of buildings. On the other hand, when you play with three or four, usually the tiles will run out and the victor will be determined based on Towers and Temples.




Is the price tag justified?

I bought Taluva for $25 bucks a few years ago. A used copy will run you at least twice that, and a brand-new copy will run $100 or more. That is, if you can even find a copy at all.

If the price of cardboard ever skyrockets, sure, Taluva might be worth its current high cost. The first thing you'll notice about the game is that the tiles are thiiiiick.

I'm pretty opinionated on the "out of print value" issue on BGG. When a game goes out of print its value and awesome-ness magically increases, and I think that's silly. This site is how I came to learn about Taluva. At the time, the consensus was that Taluva was an okay game. No one was particularly interested in it. But of course, now that its market value has skyrocketed, people are heaping a lot of praise on it.

If you can nab this game for $30, $45 tops, and you really enjoy abstract games, then Taluva might be worth picking up. However, this game really isn't worth the $50+ price tag. I'm not saying it's a bad game. I'm just saying that the gameplay itself doesn't justify the price tag. Still, I'm glad I own it and if you are interested in a unique and worthwhile abstract, Taluva fits the bill. It's an above-average abstract with beautiful components, a nice balance of gameplay options, and volcanoes.
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Runcible Spoon
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Nice review and like you I am glad I picked up a copy a few years ago for cheap.

Also like you, I am a bit surprised regarding the OOP fever that has recently developed around this game and I certainly couldn't recommend to a friend that this is a game worthy of the current price levels of course for some people who really like this game a higher price tag might be a justifiable expense, to each their own.
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Darrell Hanning
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I have to disagree about one thing. Taluva was receiving positive comments before it went out of print - it's just that most attention was focused on "bigger" releases at the time.

But it was a positive review that convinced me to buy it before it went out of print, as it is not a type of game I normally purchase.
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Jeffrey Nolin
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Taluva and Court of the Medici are the two games that, from the very first play, felt like they were designed specifically for me. I've been a big fan and advocate for both of these games.
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Steve R Bullock
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Very nice game. I was not aware it was OOP.

The game has a nice feel to it, and is very attractive as the different thicknesses of tiles are built up and the island begins to grow.

The tiles reminded me of Java, which was why I bought it. A totally different kind of game from Java (much lighter, with fewer decisions), it was a nice game to add to my "island tiles" collection.
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Now a Major General
United States
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    Holy crap -- if this thing's worth $50+ it's going on the trade pile.

    Don't get me wrong, I really like the game but that's some serious scratch for this package and a buddy owns a copy.

             S.


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Jae
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Bryan
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I concur with the final summary of the author.
Taluva is a fantastic game, but definitely not worth more than forty bucks.
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Tom
United States
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Sagrilarus wrote:

    Holy crap -- if this thing's worth $50+ it's going on the trade pile.

    Don't get me wrong, I really like the game but that's some serious scratch for this package and a buddy owns a copy.

             S.



Honestly, I like this game but I am starting to think a lit pile of dog crap that is "out of print" will go for $50 (or more) because of BBG hype. Seriously, I bought this game for $15 because the store couldn't sell it along with Nexus OPs for $5 because they had twenty copies they could not sell. I can sort of understand collectors picking up Taluva because there are few games that fit this niche.

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Adrian V.
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Following the demand dynamics for a game like Taluva is indeed amazing.

Taluva is one of those games in the vein of "good old" Euro-style designs that were simple, interactive and exciting instead of overcomplex, solitairish and dry. It's a really good game, but the current price developments are something between ridiculous and totally nuts. Those who seek a similar experience for a much lower price might consider Survive: Escape from Atlantis! or Torres.

It's just the same with some of the old Games Workshop stuff, btw.
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Andy Andersen
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Ada
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I paid $50 for my copy a few months ago and would easily do it again. Fantastic game.

One BGGer (Tom) has suggested removing 1/2 of the tiles with a 2P game and it works very well.
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Mycroft Stout
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Orangemoose wrote:
I paid $50 for my copy a few months ago and would easily do it again. Fantastic game.

One BGGer (Tom) has suggested removing 1/2 of the tiles with a 2P game and it works very well.


Sounds like a great solution to playing with just two!
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Patrick C.
United States
Milford
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From a game player's pov I understand the frustration regarding games that are OOP, but just don't seem to be worth the above MSRP asking prices. As a business owner, however, it's just a simple matter of market forces - supply and demand.

Whenever any product goes OOP, as long as it's of reasonable interest to x number of people, its monetary value goes up. This is always about perception, emotions, psychology etc. There is nothing inherent in the value of an OOP item whether it be a game, a book, a CD or whatever. It's only "more valuable" because no more will be made and there are enough people who are interested to keep the prices high.

As a seller I simply can't justify selling a game at MSRP or below when it's OOP and still desirable. If it's not worth that price then it's probably not worth worrying about. IOW, if Taluva isn't worth $50 or more to you then I wouldn't worry about owning it or trying to get a copy. And I say this part as a game player - because I wouldn't mind trying out this game. It sounds like something my gf might enjoy. But I don't want it enough to pay the current prices. So I'll wait. No harm no foul to the sellers who want $50+ for the game. I know why they're asking that much.

Board games have a fraction of the print runs of many books. I know of some titles that probably have 100,000+ copies in print and their values remain at $100+ for years and years. There's a business book from the mid-90s that has sold for as much as $2000. A modern guide to golf courses that originally sold for $40 10 years ago now sells for $250. And a knitting book that now goes for $150+.

The increase in value of an OOP game is a reality of life. I'm sure I've posted this multiple times here on BGG - I don't understand why so many BGG members take issue with it.
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Ernest S
United States
Renton
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I own ($20 purchase) and enjoy this game. I just wish I could find people in my group to play it with me. We tend more toward the Fantasy Flight style games; Taluva is NOT that.
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Zé Mário
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100% agree, here. Nice abstract game. Worth 30$, tops.
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William Lester
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Paid 40, worth every penny. Love the game.
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Canadian Dave
United States
Lehi
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Really, this is one of my favorite games. I love the simplicity and the elegance. I didn't buy it for a few years due to the cover art (never having played the game), but then I put it on my wishlist and secret santa included it in last year's present. I'll be forever grateful.
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Michael Howe
United States
Cromwell
Connecticut
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Wish I owned another copy. I've heard that two copies with reduced tiles makes a longer, more intense two player game.
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jood shine
United Kingdom
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had some good fun with it but it soon waned and went to the charity shop!
seems someone would have had a good bargin !
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Jeff Goostrey
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Minor point which may be over looked rules or mis-stated in your review. In order to place a temple the settlement needs to cover three spaces not three huts as mentioned.
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Alan Kwan
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Come on, a game goes OOP because the publisher sees that there is not enough demand to justify a reprint. The game just isn't popular enough, unlike Settlers, Carcassonne, Puerto Rico, etc. which not only don't go OOP, they even get new versions or special editions. It amazes me that people don't care about the game when it was easily available for a reasonable price, but then suddenly go head over heels infatuated about it when it goes OOP.

I second the OP: Taluva is good for but its list price.
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Zé Mário
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Alan Kwan wrote:
Come on, a game goes OOP because the publisher sees that there is not enough demand to justify a reprint.


Popular is not the same thing as good, though.
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Patrick C.
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Stefan Feld games are balanced and mathematically elegant while being obtuse, emotionally detached, and mechically inelegant. The most overrated designer of modern games. The King of JASE.
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Asur wrote:
Alan Kwan wrote:
Come on, a game goes OOP because the publisher sees that there is not enough demand to justify a reprint.


Popular is not the same thing as good, though.


QFT

Also, it's incorrect to suggest that a game goes out of print because there's no demand or interest. At one time Caylus was OOP. Popular BGG games go OOP all the time! And Rio Grande is infamous for allowing good games go OOP.

Secondly, a game's "worth" is totally subjective and proves almost nothing. This last Christmas I sold 8 new in shrink copies of Life: Twists and Turns at an average price of $130 each. There's no accounting for taste. The average BGGer is going to think Taluva the far superior game, and yet most won't spend $130 for it. So what's "worth" rally mean? I don't have the answer - because it's based on demand and interest or ability to pay.

I own Taluva and I rank it as probably the best abstract game I own. Abstracts are not my favorite, but if I'm going to play one Taluva would be my first choice. What I would pay for a copy isn't relevant because I own hundreds of games and, in an ocean of choices, it's hard to justify me paying top dollar for any specific game. YMMV - IOW, subjective worth.
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Richard Morris
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Alan Kwan wrote:
Come on, a game goes OOP because the publisher sees that there is not enough demand to justify a reprint. The game just isn't popular enough, unlike Settlers, Carcassonne, Puerto Rico, etc. which not only don't go OOP, they even get new versions or special editions. It amazes me that people don't care about the game when it was easily available for a reasonable price, but then suddenly go head over heels infatuated about it when it goes OOP.

I second the OP: Taluva is good for but its list price.
But Taluva is better than Settlers...
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Alan Kwan
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AnnuverScotinExile wrote:
But Taluva is better than Settlers...


I won't disagree: I won't pay list price for Settlers.

It just befuddles me that Taluva was not worth list price back then (otherwise everyone would have been buying it like crazy, and it would never have gone OOP), but then suddenly worth several times list price when it went OOP.

To make it clear, I am happy with my copy (bought at list price back then) and do think that it has above average value for its price.
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Russ Williams
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Alan Kwan wrote:
It just befuddles me that Taluva was not worth list price back then (otherwise everyone would have been buying it like crazy, and it would never have gone OOP), but then suddenly worth several times list price when it went OOP.

An explanation which seems reasonable to me:

Many people weren't aware of the game when it was in print and easily available. It has a fairly active forum here at BGG, for example, so I suppose that many people who didn't know about it when it was easily available stumble upon it here and think it sounds like a good game they'd enjoy. Or they get to play it with a friend's copy and discover that they like it enough that they want to own their own copy.
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