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Subject: Review three years later rss

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mike Lee
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Norman
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I bought this game roughly three years ago and enjoyed it from the start. It has gone into and out of the rotation of games I haul out to play. Right now it's back in. Three years and many new games have intervened since my initial thoughts. I think this game is better today than the day I bought it.

What keeps the game fresh is that there are variables built in. Every game sees a different board as the discovery of islands is conducted in a random fashion, although I think it's fair to emphasize that while random, players committed to finding islands will usually do so while players who prefer to "turn inward" or go on the attack will rectify the misfortunes dealt by chance.

In addition to the exploration processes changing the board each time, the game offers players viable strategic options which can and really must be mixed and matched in reaction to the forces of chance and to the choices of other players. Essentially players choose between colonizing the islands their explorer has discovered (or those found by other players' explorers), conquering known islands, conquering opponents islands, building up one's civilization, scouting for sweet potatoes, and defending what you have. For a relatively short game, that's quite a lot of choices and several of these choices invite nuances. Our group of players agree that the game has worn well precisely because quite a lot is going on in each and every game as players select from viable strategic options. There is no RIGHT way to play as all options, when emphasized carefully, have led to victory in all four starting positions. Sometimes intricate negotiations break out over the table, which makes for still more fun.

The game tries to negotiate a difficult board game divide between a Euro game wherein players essentially build up their position through skillful seizure of opportunities and a multi-player historical simulation of the sort I loved as a young fellow in the 1980s. What still amazes me is how well the game concludes that negotiation.

For the Euro gamer it offers a short playing time. 90 minutes is a very fair estimate. It can be a touch shorter if the players remain mostly peaceful with one another and a touch longer if all four players enter into the hurly-burly of warfare. Four experienced players could finish a robust and competitive game in less than 90 minutes. The exploration phase which opens each turn allows players to explore the surrounding ocean searching for islands. Euro game enthusiasts in my circle like this phase very much. I especially enjoy it when I can explore for sweet potatoes, an optional rule that I think is both simple and fun. The movement phases are simple and made more interesting by the presence of dummy counters that players use to bluff opponents into guessing which islands are best defended. Building up a system of supply canoes linking one's island chains will feel familiar to Euro game fans. Building also takes on a Euro feel as players choose from a variety of viable strategic options in preparing for the next turn.

For the historical simulation enthusiast, there is direct conflict in this game. These conflicts follow a very simple set of rules for resolution, so as a simulation, this game operates in a realm of abstraction. What I like about the conflict rules is that battles are brief and balance luck with planning in a way to makes it possible for those civilizations that have fallen behind to catch up. The inferior force can act more boldly and even win for it. Moreover, the conflict aspect makes it "anybody's game" most every time out. Most finishes are quite close.

Beyond direct conflict, the game also resembles a multi-player historical simulation game in that cooperation, the exchange of assurances and all the other things that happen in multi-player historical simulations happen here.

The designer, Kevin MacPartland, has also added an interesting booklet laying out the historical justification for many of his design choices. Like many historical simulations, this one actually feels educational in a way that works quite well.

When it came out, I felt good about buying this game because it played differently from any other game I owned. Three years later, that's still true, which is something I really appreciate. It feels carefully playtested, thoughtfully conceived to please a wide swath of gamers, and sustainably able to offer multiple strategic options.
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Very nice review, thanks for contributing it. It's nice to read a contemporary take on an older game, especially by someone like yourself who has a longer (and ongoing) relationship with it. I just picked this up for a steal and am eager to introduce it to my group, and your explanation of how CoP attempts to negotiate the gap between Euro and historical simulation (particularly the direct conflict part) gives me some reassurance that it'll actually fly with my fellow players.

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loris Pagnotta
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Hi Mike
You're right, this is one of the most beautiful and fun games I've played in more than thirty years. Only the historical setting has denied him the fame he deserves.
Loris
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Nate Merchant
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Thanks, Mike!

I've been trying to get this game on the table with two separate groups for years with no luck yet. What Optional rules do you play with other than the Sweet Potatoes? Do you use the expansion cards?

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Jim C
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Natus wrote:
Thanks, Mike!

I've been trying to get this game on the table with two separate groups for years with no luck yet. What Optional rules do you play with other than the Sweet Potatoes? Do you use the expansion cards?



Geez Nate, how many groups do you belong to? You've never once brought it up on a Tuesday night!
 
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Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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Adverb wrote:
Very nice review, thanks for contributing it. It's nice to read a contemporary take on an older game, especially by someone like yourself who has a longer (and ongoing) relationship with it.



'Contemporary take on an older game'? It's from 2007 for crying out loud!
I wonder what 'modern eyes' make of games from 2009?

Anyway, nice review.
 
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Nate Merchant
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zonk67 wrote:
Natus wrote:
Thanks, Mike!

I've been trying to get this game on the table with two separate groups for years with no luck yet. What Optional rules do you play with other than the Sweet Potatoes? Do you use the expansion cards?



Geez Nate, how many groups do you belong to? You've never once brought it up on a Tuesday night!


Sorry, Jim. JR and crew played the 3-player version and came away unimpressed. Since then, it's been pretty tough to get any sort of off-the-beaten-track older game on the table (there or in Brooklyn) without rapturous reviews to accompany it. I'll still forge ahead, though!
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Kevin McPartland
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Jessup
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Well, this review is rather rapturous. It certainly made my day! Or week. Or maybe even month, at the rate it's gone so far...

Thanks for the great review, Mike. It's stuff like this that keep us going.

Kevin
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mi_de wrote:
'Contemporary take on an older game'? It's from 2007 for crying out loud!
I wonder what 'modern eyes' make of games from 2009?


Okay, poor choice of words. How about "current"? I enjoyed reading a current review written by someone who still plays Conquest regularly, after having experienced four years' worth of other games, and seeing how it has held up to their initial opinion of the game when it was released.

Thanks again for your contribution, Mike.

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loris Pagnotta
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Do not be deceived by the artistic graphic with delicate pastel colors of the game components, this is a game for cannibals players and not all are suitable to play for the conquest of paradise.
Many players call themselves conservators and fall back to games with traditional mechanics, simply because they do not know how to find strategies to tackle the new challenges.
I propose this game to some players and not others. The most suitable are those players who make a pact with you before to destroy your home country and then (with a smile) says: Look at the positive side, you do not have to worry about them.
I know players who play well to World in Flame, but can only end on the spit in the CoP, should have the patience to play it several times to get good results, but they surrender first.
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mike Lee
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Norman
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Nate: I like the malaria rule very much. I also think the south island rule is fun. I don't think it makes too much sense, but lately I've advocated playing with the two mythical islands on the bottom of the island deck. What I like about this is that it diminishes slightly the value of certain culture cards and increases the likelihood of finding atolls and waterless islands. But there's really no reason to do it other than enjoying atolls, thus lengthening the game potentially by a turn or two at most and sometimes not at all.

Everybody: I'm delighted someone benefitted from a re-review. Don't give up getting this game out. An aspect I didn't mention earlier is the constant balance you must do between expansion, offense, and defense. Defense is cheaper as warriors aren't so costly as war canoes, but you can't win just playing defense.

I only just purchased the issue of C3i with the new cards. I cut them out and played with them yesterday with friends who like the game. We loved them. They mostly help the last-place player create a little mischief and catch up a bit. At twenty bucks, I could see someone questioning the wisdom of this purchase, but I am WELL pleased despite not playing any other GMT games and therefore deriving little benefit from the magazine's many and varied offerings about what appears a solid line of wargames. I ordered online and had my order at my home in something like two days. They sent it priority mail without charging extra. I cannot see playing the game again without the random events now that I have access to them. I would like to see an option for a fifth player, maybe Hawaii.

I'll summarize my first game with the cards. Early on everyone focused on expansion to their island discoveries. I was Tonga and feared Samoa would run away with it for having found Aotearoa two hexes north of Samoa on the second turn. I'm not generally a warlike player (pace Ioris, I agree with you that the game can reward aggressive play) and worried that the responsibility of correcting such fortune would fall to me. Raiatea was also lucky discovering Tahiti on the southern map edge and two hexes further west (and two turns later), Hawaii. I decided to expand into Vanuatu for having relatively weak island groups near me, but was repulsed in upset defeats on consecutive turns. Realizing that my passivity would prove too costly, Raiatea sent a large war fleet to menace Aeotaroa and Samoa proper, but lacking double-hulled canoes, he had to station his fleet on an atoll adjacent to the Samoan hinterland. This cheered me as now Raiatea would do my dirty work and I might use the vestiges of my Vanuatu force to pick up some cheap victories. Just then, Hiva, who had been trailing, swept in to Raiatea, won a victory, and then weathered a counterattack by Raiatea who now roosted on Tahiti and had his military severed from his islands plus a subsequent cunning asault by Samoa who used double-hulled canoes to reach the battle-weary forces of Hiva on Raiatea. The next turn, Hiva discovered sweet potatoes and made himself a doubly inviting target for being both the front-runner and master of delicious tubers. Hiva survived three different attacks to realize a shocking victory with precisely 22 points on only the tenth turn. The expansion cards were not decisive, but Hiva did use some to help him repulse his many attackers including an insurrection, a shaman, and a warrior leader. It was a fun game.

Kevin: I like your game a lot. I thought of one game that came out later that slightly resembles it. Cyclades has similar war mechanics, but there are lots of weird things piled on top. It's fun. I can't help think that your game had some impact on its mechanics. The board, islands with squares for building on them, and the battle system both lend it a feel similar to CoP. But the Greek god business is quite different. Cyclades finally comes down to someone gaining access to the Pegasus to ride to victory. CoP remains quite distinct from other games, Cyclades included.
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Kevin McPartland
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I don't think it makes too much sense, but lately I've advocated playing with the two mythical islands on the bottom of the island deck.

Well, it makes sense from an historic perspective: those two island groups never came out of the box, after the Polynesian triangle was completely explored. It wouldn't work well in a 2-player game, since much of the map remains unexplored at the end, and those two islands would never come out. Same problem to a lesser degree with a 3-player game. But in a 4-player game, it encourages the players to explore every last hex!

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I only just purchased the issue of C3i with the new cards... We loved them.

I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed the Random Event cards!

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At twenty bucks, I could see someone questioning the wisdom of this purchase...

I'd bet if you offered your copy of C3i for sale- clearly stating that only the CoP cards have been removed- you would get a lot of interest here or on eBay or at the ConsimWorld Marketplace. For every gamer like you (who thinks that GMT looks like a nice company, but you don't own any of their games besides CoP) there are a dozen GMT fans who don't own CoP. They'd pay close to $20 for a C3i missing only the CoP cards.

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but Hiva did use some to help him repulse his many attackers including an insurrection, a shaman, and a warrior leader.

Oooh, sounds like Hiva got some interesting cards. Insurrection is one of my favorites. devil

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Cyclades has similar war mechanics, but there are lots of weird things piled on top. It's fun.

I'm usually not interested in game with a fantasy or mythological theme, but on your recommendation, I'll have to check it out. Looks like it comes with nice bits.

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I can't help think that your game had some impact on its mechanics.

Cool! If it did, I would be honored. modest

Kevin
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