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Subject: The most elegant game you'll ever sit down to play. rss

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Robert Seater
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Ashland
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This game is stunning in it brilliance. Brilliant like a blank white page, but more stunning. Stunning like being hit on the head with a blank white box, but more brilliant.

It manages to be completely devoid of luck, despite the inclusion of dice. Yet, despite that, it is not 'solvable' with any degree of mathematical analysis or game theory. I've had trouble even drawing the payoff matrix for the game!

It also manages to have no inter-player politics what-so-ever. And yet, it does not degrade into multi-player solitaire. What a tricky balance! And nobody would stain the game with the label 'point salad'. Indeed it's scoring is so elegant that there is not a single rule you could imagine removing. In that sense, the game is the embodiment of elegance. Each rule is exactly as it should be, and all the rules fit together perfectly.

It is so easy to learn that a child can master the rules, and yet even after a lifetime I doubt I will have mastered it. I have never lost a game of ENC, so I feel that I am an authority on the matter.

The genre-defying nature of this game comes across when you ask players to classify it. Some say abstract, but true abstract fans deny this vehemently! Why, it has roughly 3 fewer rules than Go, which is as simple as any abstract gets. Many euro-gamers assume that it is a war game, given the level of conflict surrounding the game, but wargamers object to the complete absence of chits, hexes, or combat resolution tables. Even though there is a combat resolution table on every player mat, and included as a backdrop of every figure in the rulebook!

The publisher, Hoke's Games, assures us that it is best classified as a new genre -- the ROOS. He has not yet revealed the true meaning of that acronym, but assures us that it capture the game perfectly.

However, while I have so far only talked about the game itself, it is customary for a review to also cover components. While I appreciate the publisher's willingness to include a free PDF download of the rules, I must object to the image resolution of the scans. All of the examples have had their text smudged, so they are a little hard to read. At least this isn't one of those games where key rules are hidden inside of examples -- all of the rules are clearly presented in bold text within the rulebook. Anytime you think you have missed a rule, you can also just check the player aid -- all the rules are there too.

Sadly, my copy did come with a misprint. In fact, one of the cards (entitled "Role Summary") does not contain a single correct rule -- every single rule on that card is inconsistent with the rulebook. I don't know why that card was even included, since the rulebook is already about as concise and succinct as one could imagine. Fortunately, there is another deck of cards included that has all of the offending misprints removed. Every single error on the misprinted card has been corrected in that other deck.

Thank you for reading this review, and I hope you will join me in simultaneously rating this game a 1 and a 10 (but definitely nothing in between!).
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Chris Wood
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Darien
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I'd say more about this review, but my mind is pretty blank.
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Matthew Gabbert
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An excellent and thorough review, made all the better by the wonderful photographs of the artwork and components. Kudos!
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rseater wrote:
The publisher, Hoke's Games, assures us that it is best classified as a new genre -- the ROOS. He has not yet revealed the true meaning of that acronym, but assures us that it capture the game perfectly.

During the Kickstarter, the publisher did explain that ROOS was a new printing technique called Regulated Operator Optical Screening (R.O.O.S.). It made components appear blank to non-gamers, but visible to gamers.

See this video for an explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKjamOJ_Pbg

It's quite a ruse, really, and as you can clearly see, it relies on a higher level of sophistication than you'll find in a litre of bleach.
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