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Subject: Session Report rss

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Patrick Brennan
Australia
St Ives, Sydney
NSW
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Andrew and I started off with a 2 player game of Tantrix. This is a New Zealand game with a pouch of 56 bakelite hex tiles. Each tile has three different coloured "ribbons", similar to Take It Easy, except that the ribbons come in all sorts of different combinations of straight, slight
curve and tight curve across the hex. There are 4 colours, and each player is trying to create the longest 'ribbon' in their colour. Your score is your highest scoring ribbon, where a ribbon scores 1 point for each hex you've
managed to connect in your colour. If you manage to close a loop (say of 8 hexes), it scores double (eg 16).

You start by playing any tile (there's no board, just plonk it down) and other players build off that. The tricky thing is the forced moves aspect. All empty spaces that touch 3 played tiles must be filled by 1 of the 6 tiles in your hand if you can. After which you have your free play. There
are some restrictions, like you can't surround a space with 4 tiles and can't play along a side which is awaiting a 'forced move' filling. After your free play, you check for 'forced move' spaces again which you must fill if you can. And in fact, filling a 'forced move' may create more 'forced move' spaces so you must fill them all if you can. You replenish after every tile played so there's continual checking of whether the new tile can be played or not.

Which makes for a game that has some tricky thinking involved. You need to observe what tiles everyone has and therefore work out the implications of a number of moves, who can fill potential 'forced move' spaces that you create
and will those fillings advance your scoring ribbon or someone elses. And with a heap of tiles out there with different colours and all sorts of patterns, you can sit there and think it all out forever to get the optimum
move if you like. But then, to counter all this tricky thinking, comes the luck which can cruelly hose you. After each play, you replenish your hand. If you've created some forced moves that the next player will be able to fill to your advantage (a good tactic), its possible to pull out a tile which alas fits the 'forced move' space which must be played and which could be terrible for you.

The contrast between the thought required to create good plays, and the consequent largish downtime for other players, and the luck generated by the replenishment makes it an unsatisfactory experience all up. Interesting idea, but the balance between skill and luck is out of kilter. This becomes more evident with more players (we've played with 4 the other time) where it's impossible to plan between goes - and 'player luck' as to whose ribbons get extended by default and whose don't is quite high.

Scores: Andrew 23, Pat 18

A rating of 5 after 2 plays for 'average game, slightly boring, take it or leave it'. Interesting, but with problems.

 
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Dave Dyer
United States
Playa Del Rey
California
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You're quite right about the degree of luck in any single game,
but that's a feature that makes the game interesting even between
significantly mismatched players. Poker involves a lot of luck
too, but it's fun even if it's your pocket that is being emptied.

The online version at tantrix.com is more fun for beginners than
playing with real tiles.

 
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