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Subject: Expect the Expected - unless you didn't expect it at all rss

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Mat Thomsen
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Medway
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I can't tell if this game is exactly what I expected, or nothing I expected.

I know I didn't expect to like it and I did.

I didn't expect to like it because I had heard it is a themeless, dry, overly complex, abstract, boring city-building game. Now I like plenty of themeless and abstract games. I love Feld! But it was the overly complex, boring and dry parts that had me convinced this game was not for me.

Here is what I found after my first play:

It was wonky and puzzly and kind of all over the place, but the production is beautiful and the actions were quite satisfying. This is significant to me because I can't really explain why or how they were satisfying, just that it felt good to execute them on my turn. Even when I really wanted to do something else but couldn't, the alternative often ended up better than I was expecting based on card or location bonuses.

The goal of the game is to have the most of your player markers in each different district in the city at the end of the game. What's fascinating about this though, is that those districts are constantly in flux, and if you don't stay on top of managing your resources, you will have to spend your action replenishing and your opponents might build right over one of your tiles. But what's cool about that is you get to put your displaced markers back into your supply so you can pounce right back on your turn. It's a kind of an elegant give-and-take even though it's really wonky at the same time. There is just a lot of stuff to track during and after each action and a lot of stuff that triggers at the same time. It took me more than a few rounds to fully grasp all of the ramifications of my actions.

The game's art design is really nice. The images are colorful and evocative but they are not cohesive in any way. One building does not show its purpose any more than any other, but they are sure nice to look at while you're playing. The experts are the characters that each player starts with and these too are gorgeous to look at, but not tied to any thematic base. The tiles, cards, and tokens are all very high quality and feel good to pass and manipulate around the table. Really nice production all around. A big part of this game's wonkiness is its lack of a clear iconic language. As nice as the art is to look at, it's not helpful at all when it comes to conveying the game's rules. The learning curve here is pretty steep.

After one play I must admit that I'm tempted to buy it. It has a bit of Suburbia with the city districts and bonuses, a bit of Prosperity with the art design and tile-based income, a dash of Rialto with the area control give-and-take, and a pinch of Notre Dame with the the card action drafting. So yeah, it's all over the place, but in many really good ways. Cool game. Give it a try and enjoy the unexpected.
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Ken Thibodeau
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I agree Gingkopolis is a one of a kind game. I too was suspicious when I first tried it, but it clicked surprisingly fast and I immediately bought it, along with the expansion which I think is a must to keep it fresh after several plays.

Most of my friends despise it though, which is strange because we usually have pretty similar tastes.

It's also a hit or miss type of game. I don't know anyone who just like it ok: either you love it or you hate it.

It's definitely one you must try before you buy.
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Mat Thomsen
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fardoche wrote:
I agree Gingkopolis is a one of a kind game. I too was suspicious when I first tried it, but it clicked surprisingly fast and I immediately bought it, along with the expansion which I think is a must to keep it fresh after several plays.

Most of my friends despise it though, which is strange because we usually have pretty similar tastes.

It's also a hit or miss type of game. I don't know anyone who just like it ok: either you love it or you hate it.

It's definitely one you must try before you buy.


Agreed. Well said.
 
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Tim Schmitt
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South Portland
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fardoche wrote:

It's also a hit or miss type of game. I don't know anyone who just like it ok: either you love it or you hate it.


Well, there's me. I like the combination of mechanisms, but I wish the theme felt a little more integrated. While the art is gorgeous (particularly the player screens), the color scheme for the tiles doesn't do it for me. That's of course an entirely personal thing. In any case - I am neither in the love camp nor the hate camp with respect to Gingkopolis.

edit: grammar
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Jonathan Franklin
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I love it, but feel the art does not really match the cut--throat nature of the final few round/area majority part of it. For me it is cognitive dissonance.
 
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James Best
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In case you weren't aware, you can play this online at www.boiteajeux.net
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Jason Garland
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I have been really enjoying it. For most people it is hard to grasp, but once it clicks the actions and combos you do are so satisfying. I feel like it definitely has some long term strategy and a major amount of tactical planning each turn. Puzzling out what you can do based on the cards you have, the tiles you have, and the resources you have is so fun and has many "ah hah!" moments. The playing time is a major selling factor to me. This is definitely a medium weight game compressed into an hour long experience.

Even though I'm usually terrible at area control and dislike games where that is the major emphasis, the "re-districting" that happens with this game is fun. I think what keeps it going for me most if all though is all the bonuses. After awhile you have turns where you're like "I build this on top of this, which gives me this this, this and this!"

I really wish the theme was integrated better. I feel like the expert cards could have had a lot more variation on them. Maybe things changed a lot from initial concept to production because of balance?

I'm looking forward to trying out the expansion. I usually try to hold off on buying them in general until I get so many plays of the base game. That will not be a problem with this one though - everyone I've showed it to has been really impressed by it and I think it will get played a lot this year.
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boardgamemuse
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I really enjoy this game.

It is both elegant and thoughtful.
In addition, it can play pretty quickly or you can really ponder if you choose.
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Abdiel Xordium
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I love the game but it's influences seem pretty clear to me. It has the card drafting of Norte Dame or 7 Wonders combined with the building/area majority game of a Kramer Mask game like Java or Mexica and a touch of tableau building for flavor.

I think he similarities to the Mask games are often overlooked because those older games are hard to get hold of now days.
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Will Plante
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Didn't know you played this one Mat... Been trying to get a copy which isn't easy to do. Nice review, Rahdo's run through helped me wrap my mind around the game play, it doesn't appear to be very intuitive based on what you've said.

Here's hoping we can play this some time.
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