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Subject: Salmon Run, Jump, and Get Fatigued - The Wandering Dragon 9-21 rss

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jon beall
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On a sunny September afternoon in Plainfield, IL, two players were looking to play a game of Salmon racing upstream:

The Bearded Wonder, and the Magnificent G.

I explained the rules. I discussed with them that cards they play will either make their fish swim or alter board conditions in some way. An alternate to that is playing cards that would have no effect on gameplay at all, either by playing fatigue cards or playing swim cards that wouldn't move their fish in the correct direction.

The players were sizing each other up as I explained the rules. I had set up a basic three part board for purposes of the demo, and as I went over the rules for fatigue cards I said "this may not be a huge impact on this game, as this is a set-up for a short game".

The Bearded Wonder said "You clearly don't understand the way we play games". He was right. I had no idea the gameplay would be so ferocious and pointed.

The Bearded Wonder and the Magnificent G had both played a number of deck-building games. They understood the value of having a lean deck, but being able to draw cards which would move them forward quickly. They understood equally well the idea of saddling their opponant with fatigue cards, slowing their movements.

They began playing their cards, and moving their pieces. When they were able to move the bear, they used chess-like intensity, as if they were making a move and then slapping a chess-clock. I realized I should have set up a harder board using at least 5 pieces, because they were making every move possible to burden each other with much dreaded fatigue cards.

Their comment about the bear meeple: This looks like a fat bear, but one that is still hungry for more fish.

Indeed he was.

They started leapfrogging each other's pieces, laughing as they gained a space lead over their opponent.

It became clear that the game would be quite close; a photo-finish seemed not only possible, but inevitable. The Magnificent G crossed the finish line, followed in the very next turn by The Bearded Wonder. Both players counted their fatigue cards… 4 a piece. Tie game.

The tension was tight, and players glared at each other.

"We're finished" The Bearded Wonder said. "For Now..."
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Montgomery Van
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I am amazed at just how close the races end up. We have played over 25 times, and have only had a couple of 'blow outs'.

Great session report; thank you for sharing it!

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