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Subject: First four play sessions, thoughts on the races I played rss

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Josh Knipp
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1st play with Nomads (didn’t finish game) 2 players. Wife played Witches – This was the first time playing the game. I had read about it and saw the funny video by the SD&SU crew. So I was really excited. I only understand at this point bit of the strategy. As to be expected the box was comically heavy. It is chalk full of nice wooden pieces. I love the colors. Even though I am colorblind and the cult tracks, especially the brown and red give me some trouble distinguishing but at least they have a corresponding symbol (albeit small and hard to discern at a distance). The first play was just me and my wife on a Friday night. She was very tired, and being a real trooper for going along with it.
I had watched the Rahdo Run through on how to play the game, plus I had read through the rules once. (By the way the rules were easy to follow, unlike the Bora Bora, or Power Grid Factory Manager rules) And I was fairly confident in my ability to teach the game at this point. I am the rules person and most often the game teacher of our small little gaming group. But it’s fair that this is my burden because I am constantly the one buying new games. The only rules that were a little unclear were in regards to adjacency and the difference between direct and indirect. When first explaining the game to my wife she gave me a look of incomprehension. But this is not Bora Bora, after we started playing she quickly picked up the flow of the game. As the rulebook suggested we picked Witches and Nomads as our starting races. I gave the choice to my wife and she picked Witches. I did not want to suggest she play Witches of course!
Her Stronghold ability seemed really cool. Each race has two abilities one they start out with and one that they get by building what we call the “Wumbo” (See Sponge Bob Square) Piece. Funny thing about the different pieces in the game, the first two buildings in the build-order look like they were cut from the same factory as Catan, so we are hopeless to refer to them as anything other than Settlements and Cities. (I think they are Dwellings and Trading Posts, but that could be wrong). Anyway when the Witches build their Wumbo they unlock their Broomstick ability that lets them settle on any Forest on the map once per turn. This seems really cool + thematic; you can’t get blocked in, which was a real problem in Settlers of Catan.
(After my 4th play through I realized getting blocked in wasn’t a big threat due to shipping and that honestly it seems best for most races to build next to each other due the power bonuses and discounts afforded for doing so. So unlike Settlers when I absolutely delighted in being on a little corner of the board by myself.)

My ability as Nomad was to start out with three Settlements/Dwellings when most every other race only gets two. My stronghold ability seemed cool two I get to terraform one spot a turn for free. See, the game revolves around terraforming since your race can only build on its home terrain and has to shape the tiles next to them to their liking before being able to expand.
We are just starting to scratch the surface of the game but it is slow going since I have to consult the rulebook occasionally for clarifications and I can see my poor wife is starting to fall asleep (quite literally) so we end the game short.



2nd play with Alchemists (won), 3 player game, Think Ashley played Nomads, and Wife played witches again. It’s funny I remember this game less than the first play through yet it occurred more recently. I just remember absolutely loving the power flow of the Alchemists. Their first ability of being able to transform gold into points or points into gold never became relevant when playing. I had more them ample money the entire game, largely due to my Stronghold’s ability to produce 6 gold a turn. But their second ability of getting two power each time they used a spade (the thing that lets you terraform, the thing you have to do all game long anyways) seemed absurd. The power bowls in the game are just so elegant and satisfying, it has a circular nature to it, since these little purple tokens move from one of the three bowls, the lowest bowl is completely spent energy, the next bowl up is the like the batters on deck in baseball, and finally the third bowl is fully charged power ready to be used, of course when it is used it goes back to bowl one to start the cycle all over again. It reminds me of the circle of life heheh, in this day and age of sustainability it is no wonder such an idea was incorporated into a game. Anyway there are these actions you can take with power. Two in particular, that are of great interest to the Alchemist, the 6 power for 2 spades and 4 power for 1 spade. Now if you think about it getting two power back isn’t actually a 2 power discount when using the 4 power ability because two power only lets you move the tokens from the lowest bowl to the second bowl. Yet still it felt like cheating to spend 4 or 6 power only to receive 2 or 4 power back in return. I was monopolizing these spots all game with glee.
My biggest qualm was with worker-- I could not get enough of them. It is funny that the Alchemist have the ability to spend points for cash but it seemed absolutely useless when all I needed is workers (which are another resource in the game). And there is no way to transform cash into workers. They are immutable. C’mon you are alchemist but you can’t figure out how to turn money into labor?? Anyways, despite that I still won the game. But I am guessing this is because the other two players were still trying to get all the fundamentals of the game down. If I play Alchemists again I should definitely focus on getting more workers by building more dwellings. But I think rushing the stronghold ASAP is well worth it since the spade bonus is great (and I forgot to mention you get a 1 time shot of 12 power when it’s first built!).



I played with Swarmlings (2nd place) 3 players. Wife played Witches?? I think. Ashley played Chaos Magicians. – We were starting to pick up the pace of the game now that it was our third go at it, which is good, I would love to play two games per visit. And I think it’s doable since it’s around 90 minutes per game.
The Swarmglings are a trap! You seem unstoppable from the very start, you get so many more workers than anyone else it seems insane. I did notice that all the prices of my buildings were slightly higher, but not so high that it seemed balancing. I was able to immediately rush the double Terraform upgrade on turn one by grabbing the Priest using the power action. Since it costs one priest per terraform upgrade and you start with one at the beginning of the game.

It normally costs three workers to terraform a spot that is if it’s next to your terrain on terrain dial, sometimes it can cost two to three times that. Just think how hard it would to transform a lake into a dessert versus transforming a wasteland into a dessert. I like the thematic soundness of this idea.

I am not it was smart to rush the terraform efficiency upgrade, it just seems like a move that pays the most dividends when done early on. Maybe I should have focused on upgrading rather than expanding, the “Swarmling” name gave me the idea that I should sprawl out rather than build up. I think gold was the problem in this one since the Swarmglings have the highest worker income in the game. Rushing the stronghold would not have been worthwhile in the beginning since the stronghold ability is that you get 3 workers when completing a town, something that is not going to happen on turn one.
I am not sure how I lost this game. I was well ahead of everyone for a while but them my wife just came out of nowhere and beat me. She always gets the largest contiguous town bonus at the end of the game which is a huge 18 points. I think my two towns were not connected, she got the bridge power, and aside from the engineers that’s the only way to build a bridge, so she made sure to grab it first in the last round to block anyone else from stealing her points. Smart, one should be cognizant of that going forward. However, the Swarmlings are never going to be the one to pass first and grab the starting player token, they just have too much resources to spend. I want to give these guys another shot. I need to pay special attention to the income of each building since everyone is different.

I played with Engineers (2nd place, was close despite terrible start) Wife played Halfings, Can’t remember what Ashley Played, maybe Nomads again?– This game was by far the most frustrating. It brought out my whiney side. I built next to my opponents and they built next to me, but the way the expansions and upgrades were angled I rarely got any opportunity for power bonuses. While they were having a “Love-fest” over there, by constantly feeding each other bonus power. I was left out in the cold. I don’t think I cycled my bowls more than twice the whole game and that was with removing some of the power from circulation (which is a gamble you can take for short term gains).
On top of this, the income of the engineers seems so economically sparse that it is broken. Some of my dwellings don’t even produce workers when placed. I start with 2 workers and 10 gold. I think the lowest amount in the game. But I saw my buildings were also so very cheap. It’s funny to go from Swarmlings to Engineers they are on opposite ends of the spectrum. I realize now that I made some terrible misplays from the get go. I spent my precious few workers in the first turn to upgrade my terraforming, I thought this was a good idea but there were no cheap spots to terraform near my huts anyways. I have no idea what I was thinking when placing my Dwelling during the setup phase.
I was focusing on the bridge building aspect of the race. So I looked for spots near the river. You see, Engineers alone are the only race than can build a bridge without the one semi-precious (since it’s largely ignored until later in the game) (first come, first serve) power spot. But at the cost of two workers it is crazy expensive for a race that barely gets three workers a round. I don’t think used it the whole game instead opting for the power spot in building bridges.
Why the obsession with bridges? The races stronghold ability is that it gets 3 points a turn for each bridge that connects two of your buildings. You could start racking up 9 points a turn, since there is three bridges max. And I did hit this mark by round 5. And I was at two bridges by round 3 or 4. So it was earning me tons of points. But on the flipside my economy was so pitiful and my spots for expansion so exorbitantly expensive I passed first every time and my opponents would often take 3 or 4 moves after I was done with their plethora of resources. You see the thing about Engineers is that sure their buildings are cheap but the other two things: upgrading your terraforming and terraforming itself are still exorbitantly expensive when your economy is so meager. When I play these guys again I am going to make sure I pick spots that are easy to expand to, I noticed that there was two mountains right next to each other in a remote part of the map with only a river separating them!! It seems the absolute obvious spot for a mountain-dwelling race of bridge-builders to go. One of the other two things I totally missed in retrospect was that the second temple provides a 5 power income a turn. That is really, really good. I need to make sure to examine my player board carefully before covering the income spots with the wooden pieces, because Ashley complained about the same thing when she discovered her stronghold gave her some crazy income a turn on one of the races. (Chaos Magicians I think). The other thing I missed had to do with placement. The race with a bridge obsession was not even able to score the contiguous town bonus! I never connected up my second settlement spot even though it was near me. I wasted one bridge out of convenience by connecting a solitaire spot. I might have been able to connect these two areas together if I had placed closer and more carefully. It’s funny despite my meager economy and terrible early placements I still almost won this game on the back of the end-of-turn-bridge-bonuses alone. I had next to zero movement up the cultist tracks which is another source of big points at the end of the game.
I want to try these guys again, even though it seems to involve sitting out at the end of each round since you run out of steam much more quickly.
Also halfings seem busted. My wife scored so many points by terraforming at the end she was just terraforming for terraformings sake with no intention of building on the spots. Like a gardener tilling soil with no intention of doing anything other than leaving it fallow, oh and racking in the points.

This is the one race that I think also might benefit from not building next to anyone. You only get a two gold discount for your trading posts built in adjacency to your neighbor. And I did ok without the fickle power sharing schemes. Not to mention if I get that second temple I can be my own self-sustaining power source. I don’t need you guys, I am just going to go be a remote, bridge-building, hermit race! Git off my lawn!
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Robert Stewart
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From your description, it sounds like you may have missed that shipping also counts for connecting places up for end-of-game scoring - anything a bridge can connect can also be connected by a shipping of 1
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Josh Knipp
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rmsgrey wrote:
From your description, it sounds like you may have missed that shipping also counts for connecting places up for end-of-game scoring - anything a bridge can connect can also be connected by a shipping of 1


I was under the impression that shipping is considered indirect adjacency and therefore doesn't count towards the contingous town bonus.
 
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Dan Green
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"Largest contiguous town" is a misleading name - the book actually just calls it Area Scoring, because it doesn't require any sort of Town by the game definition. Indirect Adjacency doesn't count for Founding a Town (taking a key tile), but it does count for end of game Area Scoring.

Rulebook pg. 7: "Improving your shipping and terraforming skills not only provides victory points directly, but is also helpful in creating a large connected area." (the image shows a green area that is indirectly connected over a river)

Rulebook pg. 16: "Determine the number of your structures directly or indirectly adjacent to one another..."

This is a small, but very important clarification to make - races like Mermaids thrive on this, as will any race that upgrades Shipping. You won't see games like the one you mentioned where a player blocks off the only Bridge at the end to steal the Area Scoring bonus - really, you could have just upgraded your shipping to get it!

Enjoy the future games with the rules clarification! Terra Mystica is one of my highest rated games and I thoroughly enjoy playing it. I love the massive decision trees - every game ends with each player saying, "oh, if only I had done this!"
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Josh Knipp
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Day2Dan wrote:
"Largest contiguous town" is a misleading name - the book actually just calls it Area Scoring, because it doesn't require any sort of Town by the game definition. Indirect Adjacency doesn't count for Founding a Town (taking a key tile), but it does count for end of game Area Scoring.

Rulebook pg. 7: "Improving your shipping and terraforming skills not only provides victory points directly, but is also helpful in creating a large connected area." (the image shows a green area that is indirectly connected over a river)

Rulebook pg. 16: "Determine the number of your structures directly or indirectly adjacent to one another..."

This is a small, but very important clarification to make - races like Mermaids thrive on this, as will any race that upgrades Shipping. You won't see games like the one you mentioned where a player blocks off the only Bridge at the end to steal the Area Scoring bonus - really, you could have just upgraded your shipping to get it!

Enjoy the future games with the rules clarification! Terra Mystica is one of my highest rated games and I thoroughly enjoy playing it. I love the massive decision trees - every game ends with each player saying, "oh, if only I had done this!"



Ah that makes a big differnece you are right, thanks for the clarification Daniel. Definetly still learning this one. And I am sorry Robert you were right! Yeah this is IMHO definetly the best game I have played since Agricola. I just keep thinking about it even when I am not playing it.
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Benjamin Lindvall
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The Swarmlings don't start with a priest. Did you have the Priest bonus card to start with another one?

Its a common tactic of the Halflings and Darklings where I play. Really all the lings can use early priests well
 
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