So I decided to play every game on yucata.de
Alison Mandible
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I originally created this list just because I wanted to view a list of Yucata's games sorted by BGG rank. Oddly, you can't view other people's lists by a different sort order than they've chosen, so even though there's an official "every game on Yucata" Geeklist, I couldn't use that to get the listing I wanted. I think.

That official list, by the way, is ---> here <---.

But then I decided to try all the games on Yucata at least once and this list became a place to write notes about that. Please read and enjoy!
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1. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:11]
Alison Mandible
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The first game I played on Yucata! A while ago.

This has the "two screen" problem a lot of online Euros do. The solution is sharp and well-suited to Castles in particular-- instead of "click to show the market", various spots on your player board show the relevant parts of the central board when moused over; if you need to actually interact with the central board (for instance, you placed a boat and are picking which bin to take goods from) then the mouseover display pops up on its own and doesn't go away until you do the thing.

Also, the mouseover text for buildings, reminding you what each one does, is great. It would be nice if there were some way to access it while thinking about a move, not just when the tile is in your reserve. On the other hand, the faithful reproduction of a printed player board means you have iconic reminders for building effects in front of you all the time. They just also faithfully reproduce the color confusion and general obtuseness of the original game's design choices.
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2. Board Game: Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:142]
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Added to yucata after I had finished trying all the other games. I'll try it someday.
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3. Board Game: The Voyages of Marco Polo [Average Rating:7.95 Overall Rank:41]
Alison Mandible
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20th game played on Yucata.

I'd played this once before-- though as it turns out only once! I really thought it was more. I guess my plays of Grand Austria Hotel bled backward into my memories of the designers' earlier game.

The two-screen thing (map and actions, in this case) is hard. Even when it's the best choice for a UI it's hard. They made the right choice by having some of it be redundant-- you can see your available city actions on the map by looking for your trade posts, or (more clearly) on the action screen. I think any way to avoid repeating that information would have been a disaster.
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4. Board Game: Russian Railroads [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:70]
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123rd game played.

Feels like a loose, do-what-you-want point salad, but there are clearly wrong ways to play. This time I picked one!

Progress tracks turn out not to be my favorite thing. Having options about what the tracks look like (we played with German Railroads) is nice, and maybe makes it a little more like a tech tree? I still have the feeling that if I had extra space to unfold the game into, conceptually, it would come apart into several separate parts-- that the links between various game systems are illusions.

I'm not trying to pass this off as an insight about the game; I'm probably wrong. But that feeling of playing a simple game that's been obfuscated gratuitously to make it more challenging, that is how I feel playing Russian Railroads, even if it's not THAT simple underneath. I hear people complain about Feld games in those terms sometimes, but I don't think I've had that reaction to one of his. Maybe to Luna?
 
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5. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:57]
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56th game played.

You know how some games, you read the rules and it just sounds exciting? That was me and El Grande. Then I played (in person, a few months ago) and it was frustrating.

I've run into several games like that on Yucata, and I'm mostly happy for the opportunity to give them another try without friends glaring at me about my diffidence.

After another play (a full one-- my in-person play was only 6 rounds) I feel exactly the same. There is something shiny and exciting here, but I don't actually enjoy this sort of area control; I can't really see how to play for anything but maximum short-term score. Close to winning your home province? Throw more cubes at it!

The interface isn't bad, but it's too literal with all the cubes depicted in each region. Color-coded numbers would have been nice, or reordering the sets of cubes by who's currently winning. Or both? 972 is much easier to read than seven blue cubes followed by two green cubes followed by four red cubes and a line break and five more red cubes.
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6. Board Game: Polis: Fight for the Hegemony [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:544]
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68th game played.

Learning this from the rules was a gnarly mess of "what is even going on". I'm embarrassed to say I ended up looking for a basic strategy article just to get my bearings-- embarrassed because it turned out my opponent was also a first-timer and was just as confused. The game ended abruptly when he couldn't feed his cities. I think?

I may just not be up for long wargames, or even war-influenced games. Antike Duellum, A Few Acres Of Snow, and this-- all three left my head spinning a little in kind of a numb way, and all three seemed to depend on having a plausible long-term plan from the beginning. At the very least, they aren't good matches for the "play everything once" style. I'm mostly suspending judgment. For what it's worth, this is the most appealing of those three to go back to. Maybe because I read a strategy article and so had a little bit of board vision by the end?
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7. Board Game: Pax Porfiriana [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:388]
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6th game completed on the site, and more or less the reason I started exploring the options.

This is a tough game to absorb. The open hand rules seem crucial to asynchronous play.

There's a tightly packed player display showing shorthands for... a lot of things, I've already forgotten which ones. In that it seems to mirror the game itself; there are a ton of aspects that straddle the line between general rules and "do whatever the card says". Gun stores are worth 2 gold every time someone plays an orange card; they all say that on the card and there's a special icon for "this player has a gun store" in the online interface.

I have traditionally not had much patience for games, like this and Innovation and Race For The Galaxy, that are barely legible until you've played several times. Games that slowly reveal themselves while being coherent at each step of the way are more my thing. But, perversely, this one has such a reputation for being like that as for me to be unsurprised that I had little idea what was going on at first. Maybe my tolerance for uncertainty is even going up? Who knows.

10 Jun 16 - Update! I've played a few more times online and I'm pretty sure I actually like it. I've now poked my nose into a few other Eklund rulebooks and good heavens, having an independent and automatic check on whether I have a particular detail right during play seems like it would be very very useful for all of them.
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8. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:81]
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104th game played.

I usually just say that I don't like worker placement games, because basically I mean I don't want to play Agricola or Lords Of Waterdeep. But I like Dungeon Lords/Petz a lot, and don't mind Russian Railroads, etc. What makes the difference?

My theory is that the rawest WP games involve having to figure out what everyone else will do not just in a general or intuitive sense (games should involve doing that!), but at the same level of detail you figure out your own actions in. And that raises the stakes! I'd better really enjoy your mechanics if you want me to play them out 4x as much in my head.

I don't enjoy Stone Age's mechanics that much.

Interface: Good job with the mouseovers (I can't even remember now what you mouseover to see what things; it was that intuitive) but some of the meeples blend right into the background. Sometimes I'd nearly click on a space to use it before discerning that the yellow player had already gotten there.
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9. Board Game: Targi [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:138]
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96th game played.

It took me longer than it should to accept the basic fact that your opponent can always block a particular space if they want to; your first move should either be in a line with TWO cards that you'd be happy with either of, or should be designed to force them to take something they don't want in order to block you.

I think the level of denial and blocking here is JUST over my threshold for fun. So I keep being tempted to embrace the game by its cool action selection and abstract feel. But the bitter aftertaste is still ultimately a little too much for me.
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10. Board Game: Navegador [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:174]
Alison Mandible
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129th game played (incomplete).

And so this project ends with a whimper.

I am getting the feeling I don't like Mac Gerdts's designs much. It's too bad. I think the first several games I played with a circular action selector were ones that people said "That's not REALLY a rondel" of, but since I liked those games, I expected to like the real Gerdtsian rondels at least a little. And so far I don't. They feel trudgy-- based on a relatively scripted order the actions 'want' to be performed in.

Until recently, though, I said that about Kiesling's games too, that they're scripted. And now I appreciate them. Not to mention that I did like Concordia the one time I played it. Still, there was a heavy, opaque barrier between me and the fun in Navegador, and I didn't even get to find out whether my strategy was going to work. Slow Yucata players: bah.
 
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11. Board Game: First Class: All Aboard the Orient Express! [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:330]
Alison Mandible
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99th game played.

I thought "Weird, this seems like Russian Railroads. Did somebody play that and just think that was how Euro games had to all be now?"

But no, it's just the same guy. One of them.

The "vanishing row" card selection is fun. I think I'm just not fully attuned to this style of game, and don't know whether I'll enjoy the process of getting better at them. But I do okay. The interface on Yucata does an all right job of presenting the many things you can do (especially when trying to order your optional actions during a scoring round) but a less good job of showing you the things you might need to know to decide. I never did figure out whether there was a way to view my whole train route at once.
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12. Board Game: Jaipur [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:112]
Alison Mandible
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58th game played (oops, skipped it at the time).

I like Jaipur just fine, and Yucata's perfect-memory variant is interesting (I'm usually aware of how many luxury cards my opponent has of each type, and whether they seem to be stockpiling a particular common good, but knowing they took a lone green card four turns ago can occasionally affect play too) but playing this game asynchronously is torture. Short turns = bad yucata game.
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13. Board Game: Egizia [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:291]
Alison Mandible
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43rd game played.

I played this once in person and would kind of have said that was enough. But duty calls.

So I tried an experiment. I remembered the *feel* of the game-- which resources seemed scarce, which things I wished I had paid more attention to, how sensible it felt to be bold vs. cautious. But I didn't review the rules. I remembered them! Mostly. Sort of.

I regret this now. It wasn't thoughtful toward my opponent and wasn't much fun, though it was interesting for me. In particular, it was interesting to see just how far instinct without understanding got me; I think I played a basically sound strategy at first but fell apart when there were tough decisions to make. (I also lost a full 17 points over the course of the game by having the weather symbolism backward-- the healthy green field means "terrible weather", wtf. But you will understand how badly I lost when I say that didn't even come close to making the difference.)

In theory I like the "decide how far to jump ahead on this path" mechanism; in practice, I hate it here and in Tokaido and was lukewarm about it in Steam Time (which is less linear about it). Might just be something I don't enjoy.
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14. Board Game: Automobiles [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:619]
Alison Mandible
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The 2nd game I ever played on Yucata, also a while ago.

Like many games, I think this benefits from Yucata's "perfect memory" spin. In this case it's not the opponent's hidden trackable information-- it's your own (what's in your bag undrawn). Rarely is it like "I have 7 cubes left in my bag so I know exactly what I'll draw next turn, let me plan it out in advance". It's more just "did I buy a second blue already? I did, great".

As the game has gotten more complex (I've now played with the expansion a few times) it's slowed down, with the optional weaving rules meaning a lot of extra clicks, and Crate Motor causing a flood of out-of-turn actions. Crate Motor is kind of a pain, honestly. But I think playing a 5p race on Yucata and having it take a month is probably a better experience than playing in person and having it take 3 hours.

Anyway, I continue to like this game a lot. The cube-based deckbuilding means that effects which use the discard pile (checking the number of different colors it contains, or trashing cubes from it) are easy, so the shuffle-cycle of standard Deckbuilders becomes important without becoming the WHOLE game the way it does in Hyperborea.

Making the car actually drive around the track and having each cube from your discard fly into the bag separately is a little much. Not as painful as the coins flying around in Antike Duellum, though!
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15. Board Game: A Few Acres of Snow [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:253]
Alison Mandible
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14th game completed on the site.

Online play makes it way too easy to overestimate how ready you are for a rulesy game. But this is a game with a lot to learn beyond the rulebook, like which parts of the landscape provide what resources and, um, what on earth to do in the first place.

I also spent more time than I would have liked looking back and forth between cards and the map to see what cities were connected to which. The implementation highlights possible landing spots for movement once you've picked all the right cards; it could also have marked all 'adjacent' cities on the map when you click a location card alone, or similar.

The only other Wallace I've played so far was The Witches, which was very different and yet left the same oddly specific unsatisfied feeling as this. No hurry to play again, though I am a little curious how much better I would have done if solid on the rules.

[Update: When writing about Pax Porfiriana I wondered if my tolerance for this sort of incomprehension has gone up. I guess probably? I don't think, in the past, that I would have been as willing, even in an online game against a stranger, to say "I'll try this line of play and see how it pans out". On the other hand, the opacity is still the biggest negative about my experience.]
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16. Board Game: At the Gates of Loyang [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:246]
Alison Mandible
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18th game played.

I'm not a fan of Rosenberg. At first I was delighted to kind of enjoy this; a nice surprise! Then I read people online talking about how they always score 19 or 20 and it really comes down to the tiebreakers, which for me brought back my complaint with Uwe's games, which is that they always feel to me like they could hum along just fine without me there, and are deigning to let me play out of generosity. Like children being graciously allowed to press buttons and connect wires at a parent's job, with a prize for the kid who best simulates what the adults actually do.

That's a type of activity I can enjoy (I mean, I used to alphabetize things for fun sometimes) but I don't usually like it in games. On the other hand, this has a lot of affordances that at least gave a sense of control while I was playing-- I wasn't punished for not already knowing the ropes, like in Agricola. I just wasn't blessed with as many points. And you know, that's fine.

The interface is convoluted but after a few rounds, it seemed like it was so only as much as it needed to be. Like with a lot of these only-a-little-interactive games, I accept that clicking to see the opponent's tableau is a necessary evil.
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17. Board Game: Luna [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:420]
Alison Mandible
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78th game played.

I'd bought this, played it once, and traded it. But I was actually looking forward to the chance to try it with 4 players, since a lack of board tension was one of the things I hadn't liked.

So I went in heavily on temple tiles because that seemed like the interesting part more than because I had a plan or any specific belief that it was a good strategy. And I nearly won-- I tied someone else for score and for Council position, but they had reached the final space of the Council track before me, and unlike in most other Feld games (and most other spaces on that track in Luna!) the first to arrive wins ties. Still, the temple strategy seems to have gone okay.

It's clear part of my antipathy toward my first play came from the setup; when given access to tide tokens to start with, I felt the need to use them perfectly, which meant charting all of next round's moves during this round. In this game I just never went near that island at all and treated any movement as a big commitment. That worked. But planning ahead to where the Priestess and Architect will be in the future still isn't fun.

The dual-board solution here is also intriguing; while you do care about the temple board while looking at islands, you mostly only care about when a given tile will be threatened. So having a tile's immediate neighbors pop up when you mouse over it is nearly all the information you need. NEARLY, not entirely... so I clicked over to the temple board a lot anyway.

P.S. Making inactive novices that tiny is also a weird choice. I forgot they were there a lot, which probably also helped me stick to a consistent strategy.
 
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18. Board Game: Glen More [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:262]
Alison Mandible
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52nd game played.

An odd case of a misunderstanding making me like a game more.

I've played this in person once, and enjoyed it until the final scoring gave me the impression most of the game systems had been locked into a groove (every good you produce is worth 2 points more or less, etc.)

Playing on Yucata, I was again enjoying myself, feeling like skillful placement let me get lots of extra uses out of certain tiles... until I got to the end and remembered the penalty for taking too many tiles. So the variable-turn-order business is kind of a sham; jumping ahead doesn't give your opponents free tiles, because they'll pay 3 points each for those. It just, I guess, gives them a tiny bit more control because they might get to take two turns in a row?

Oh, but the mechanics are fun. I'm tempted to play this until I manage to have accurate expectations about how wild a game it is (I think not very?) and then see whether I actually like it. But this has managed to disappoint me twice, when a lot of worse games only do so once. I feel okay holding that against it a tiny bit.

Good implementation, though.
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19. Board Game: Saint Petersburg [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:240]
Alison Mandible
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127th game played (incomplete).

My game of this was canceled by Yucata when it hit 30 days stale. Earlier in my tour I'd start a new game when that happened, but this has gone on too long.

I played St. Petersburg pretty early in my exposure to Serious Euros, at the home of a friend who liked it but didn't have much context for it. Now I know it's by the designer of Stone Age and am not as surprised for it to leave me cold.
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20. Board Game: Mystic Vale [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:376]
Alison Mandible
United States
Cambridge
Massachusetts
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130th game played.

This got added to Yucata shortly after I ended up with the printed version and all three expansions. I'm still not sure how balanced this game is, and I miss the variation introduced by the expansions. But I find myself enjoying it a lot. And the interface is surprisingly great, down to purchasable cards always having a very intuitive distinction between the "click here to buy" and the "click here to zoom in" areas.
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21. Board Game: Carson City [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:358]
Alison Mandible
United States
Cambridge
Massachusetts
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28th game played.

While this is a game I like that's tough to get played in person, I'm unlikely to play online more. Games like this with very short turns can be excruciating to play online at 4p. Actually, this was 3p and still dragged on. I guess I could use the Notes field to not forget what it is I'm doing. But broadly speaking, playing all these Yucata games is making me very aware of the short turn / long turn axis of game experience, which I hadn't focused on much before. (There's "downtime", but a game with short turns can have lots of downtime if it's hard to plan ahead so you can't think during opponent turns, and likewise a game with long turns can feel downtimeless if you're thinking and planning 100% of the time.)

I suppose I saw the flip side of this when I was surprised at how long Pax Porfiriana is reputed to take in person. Between its relatively small number of turns and its implicit multi-turn planning (seeing a card in my hand often reminds me what I planned to do with it!) it felt like I got to play a heavy game in manageable chunks, with very little friction from spacing my turns out over many days.
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22. Board Game: Vikings [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:328]
Alison Mandible
United States
Cambridge
Massachusetts
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111th game played.

As my tour winds down (I don't have any more new games to start, just 10-15 of them to finish my first play of) I am less likely to replay games that I like just-okay. I'm still a little tempted by this one. It felt much like Nauticus (which I started earlier but is taking way longer to finish) in that there are sort of... stock parts that you decide how much of to put together? The island pieces only go together so many ways. Goldsmiths are valuable at certain times and not others. The boats always go at the end of the price rondel. That sort of thing.

But even on one play I found interesting subtleties. The fact that points don't count when determining whether you qualify for the free tile pair (even though you can freely convert points to gold) makes gold a double-edged sword. The rows of vikings each have their locked-in role to play, but they also affect *placement* of the colors of viking next to them via the tile adjacency rule.

All in all, not bad.
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23. Board Game: Firenze [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:764]
Alison Mandible
United States
Cambridge
Massachusetts
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59th game played.

I like the Palaces Of Carrara-style brick coloration, and paying for towers as steadily as possible, rather than all at once, is an interesting change of pace. I have mixed feelings about the swings in block quantity that come from anybody doing the 3-for-1 trade, and the fact that some cards are actively bad for you is downright weird. But I went on vacation in the middle of this game and might want to play again.
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24. Board Game: Imhotep [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:365]
Alison Mandible
United States
Cambridge
Massachusetts
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109th game played.

I wish there were a name for this sort of game, halfway between 'set collection' and a full-blown Feldian point salad. The systems don't interact with each other, you just get a fixed point value for each stone in one place, you score 1-3-5-10-15 for groups of stones in this other place, in this third place you score by having the most relative to other players. And so on. Points buffet?

Phil Walker-Harding specializes in them, whatever you call them. At some point all those games blur together-- not in memory but in feeling, the bits of analytical thought you've done so many time they agglomerate into intuition. That psychological blurring sometimes meshes with actual analytical blurring, if a turn boils down to "3 points per stone, more or less-- but look how many different ways you can get those 3 points!"

Imhotep mitigates that significantly in some cases by making the interchangeability a piece of gameplay; if you don't care where your stones go, great! You don't have to waste a turn launching a boat! But without the added zing of literally stacking the stones on one another (which is super fun; I've played this in published form once) I still find this game hard to get excited about.
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25. Board Game: The Palaces of Carrara [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:570]
Alison Mandible
United States
Cambridge
Massachusetts
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122nd game played.

I like this game a lot, even though the harshness of it-- nearly every game I've played was a race to end the game before your opponents could collect on their plans, not a point salad game about whose plans would be worth the most points if fulfilled-- is a little outside my comfort zone.

That said, Yucata only implements the basic game. It has a Century: Spice Road-like simplicity underneath, where every brick you build is worth a point and every object you collect is worth 3 (much like how every contract in Century is exactly the sum of its cubes if you value the cube colors 4/3/2/1) and so the question is *partially* who can get stuff the most efficiently and never mind what stuff it is.

I don't like that as much, so I didn't like this as much. No discredit to Carrara, though.
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