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Subject: ... So bad we must have been playing it wrong rss

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Seth Jaffee
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Back story:
About a year and a half ago, a friend of mine was interested in Goa. He bought it, cracked it open at my house and was checking it out, but for some reason I was disinterested and paid it no mind. I wouldn't even try it. Now, a year and a half later, I have finally tried Goa, and it was nothing like I thought it was going to be... and it's great.

In an attempt to learn my lesson, I agreed to play Reef Encounter tonight - another game I've been actively avoiding.

Hederj explained the rules (he'd played "once or twice" before) to Tyler and I (n00bs). I understood them and thought maybe the game would be allright. I had heard some good things about it after all...

Well, not more than a turn or 2 into the game I quickly realized that I was not going to enjoy the game. Maybe I had some sort of built up expectations, but with a list of 10 things you can do in a turn, I expected turns to be a little more interesting than "I'll draw these 3 tiles, go." That seemed to happen over and over and over - just as soon as everyone had thrown down their initial tiles, claiming any decent spots on the board.

Initially I thought it was interesting that you had to sort of choose between the tiles you want and the cube you want, and thatyou could always get the cube you want, at the expense of getting useless tiles (and no tile is compleely useless... I suppose). However, with the 'build-up, build-up, build-up' flow that occurred, it wasn't hard to get the cubes you want (you only need maybe 2 of any given color at a time, from what I could tell) - but it was frustratingly difficult to get the colored tiles you want. In particular, it was annoying when the color of tile, or worse, the color cube I wanted started with 1 tile. In this particular game, I had a few White tiles at the outset, and the White cube started with 1 tile. Eventually I gave in and took it. The replacement? 2 white tiles to go with the white cube :/

It seemed to me that very quickly the boards got down to 3 territories each, and Shrimp were placed strategically such that it was difficult to eat up any tiles - thus the many 'build up' turns in a row.

Hederj was the first to cash in a reef (I would have been, but it was explained that getting just 2 tiles for my fishy was a really small amount, so I held out). Hederj fed his fish a bunch of Yellow tiles, then locked down 2 of the dominance tiles in Yellow's favor.

My white area wasn't getting any bigger because there just weren't a lot of White tiles coming up, but I was amassing a large number of black (gray?) tiles and cubes. At one point I did a potentially sneaky play - I had accumulated 3 white tiles, so I placed 2 of them on Hederj's White ares, eating 2 Black tiles for in front of my shield, and the third I placed in my own area. I asked, and John said that was legal. I had 5 black tiles in front of my screen and 8 behind it.

I finally decided to make my big play... I ate my meager White reef, feeding just 3 or so tiles to my fish. Then I started a black reef on that board, using 2 of my actions to place tiles - from behind the screen each time, the1 free one on the starfish, and 3 of the five from in front of my screen. I then spent the other 2 black tiles and 1 other tile from in front of my screen to lock down 3 dominance things in black's favor.

The next turn I ate the black reef (yummy 8 tiles) and started a big yellow one in a similar manner (8 tiles from behind the screen, 1 free starfish one, and 1 on the board already) - eating the only other tile on the board, making that large yellow reef indestructable.

On Tyler's turn he spent all the tiles from in front of his screen to lock down the remaining dominance thingies (John had locked down 2 or three already), ending the game. As an aside, Tyler and I are they type to play to win, even if we're not enjoying the game. This was a rare exception that Tyler ended the game so that we could stop playing. One could call this kingmaking, but looking at the situation after the game it was clear that nothing John could do would catch him up to me in any way.

I mentioned several times (as did Tyler) how terrible this game seemed to be. I even said out loud "...it's so bad, it's like we must be playing wrong or something." John pointed out that at the time my large black reef was going to be worth a lot of points, to which my reply was "just because I'm winning doesn't make it fun."

Frankly, I've never seen a Eurogame that has such limited and superficial interaction, such fiddleyness, or so much luck of the draw involved - especially not one which is often highly praised. I hope to god we really were playing some significant rules wrong.

And to top it all off, it was infuriating to dig through the draw bag every turn to find a particular colored tile!
 
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michael dorazio
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I can see one thing you were doing wrong: A player can only lock down ONE coral tile per turn. But I don't think that playing said rule correctly would really enhance your enjoyment of the game. It's just not your cup of tea apparently, and that's cool.
 
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Geoffrey Engelstein
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I'm not sure what you were doing wrong, but it sounds like it was something... I've never seen an 'indestructable' reef, and the shrimp are always more like stopgaps rather than strategically placed guardians. Our games have always been alot more dynamic than what you are describing.

You were playing that you can only have one shrimp per reef, right? It also sounds like you might have been missing out on some of the tile swapping combos (the details of which escape me right now). There are usually ways to get what you need.

Geoff
 
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jbrier
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Even moreso than Tigris & Euphrates, this is a game that makes you go "huh, that's it?" or "what's the point?" the first time you play it. I think it takes a couple plays to understand the many subtle things you can do, most of which are related to using tiles in front of your screen, which is why these are so important and tend to become so scarce after the beginning of the game.
 
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Leif Norcott
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Quote:
I can see one thing you were doing wrong: A player can only lock down ONE coral tile per turn. But I don't think that playing said rule correctly would really enhance your enjoyment of the game. It's just not your cup of tea apparently, and that's cool.


If you are locking down more than one coral per turn this can massively change the game since this is one of the factors that ends the game.
 
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chris carleton
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Drew wrote: Again, assuming you mean "coral" . . . this is correct. But also, you can only have two of your shrimps on the same board (or "rock")

We missed this rule when we first started playing the game because while it is mentioned under the "shrimp" section of the rules, it is mentioned in neither the "Introduce a new shrimp" nor the "Move shrimps" section of the rules, where it states that you can "introduce a shrimp onto any coral that does not already have a shrimp on it."

The rules could definitely be laid out better.
 
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Seth Jaffee
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In reading the responses, it appears the only rule we had wrong (so far) is the multiple lockdowns per turn. Frankly, that's not among the many complaints I had about the game.

Earlier I sort of asked about the legality of a play - I didn't mean "am I allowed to play on my opponents coral," but "am I allowed to place the 'up to 4 tiles' in different locations, or do they all have to go in the same coral?"

As for the indestructable coral, the Yellow had eaten up all the other colors on one of the boards, so (as I understand it), no new corals could be started, and nothing could attack the yellow coral. There was just the one coral with my shrimp on it.
 
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Seth Jaffee
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Drew1365 wrote:
If I understand what you're saying, then this is incorrect. You can start corals anywhere. All you need is a tile and a matching cube. At game start there are a bunch of corals already started (the initial layout of the tiles on the boards) but you do not need to use them to start a coral.

This would make a big difference. The rule was explained that you could only start a coral on one of the starting locations.

I thought that sounded fishy (no pun intended).

I'm not sure whether this would be enough to entirely fix the game for me though. I'm certain it would make it much better.
 
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Michael McCall
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sedjtroll wrote:
As for the indestructable coral, the Yellow had eaten up all the other colors on one of the boards, so (as I understand it), no new corals could be started, and nothing could attack the yellow coral. There was just the one coral with my shrimp on it.


This definitely sounds like the major playing error. Coral may be grown in any bare spot. The coral that is placed in setup is not the only starting point of new coral reefs.

If a coral is at least two tiles in size then it may consume a weaker coral. Unless yellow filled the entire board it was on (save single isolated spaces), or nothing else was stronger than yellow, yellow could not have been indestructible.

If yellow did become the strongest, or filled up its whole board, then your fellow players were too nice to you
 
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David
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Incorrect rule interpretations aside, the key to enjoying this game is 'consumed polyps'. Consider attacking your own corals. Get lots of consumed polyps and things will be far more interesting.
 
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Ryan O'Rourke
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I'd love to play another game on SBW. However, I'm a noob too, only played one game. I didn't really understand the rules or the strategy at all, and I lost terribly. I didn't really enjoy it, either. But my reason was that I didn't undestand it. If someone wants to start a game with a noob and teach me a little, then please invite me.

p.s. I've read the rules, I just don't really get it.

Ryan
 
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J C Lawrence
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sedjtroll wrote:
I expected turns to be a little more interesting than "I'll draw these 3 tiles, go."


Typically a player will do nothing more than draw tiles and a cube 4 or 5 times in a game.

Quote:
That seemed to happen over and over and over...


Something was wrong then.

Quote:
...just as soon as everyone had thrown down their initial tiles, claiming any decent spots on the board.


FWLIW I usually spend the first 3-4 turns of the game doing nothing but drawing. I find having a large pool of tiles and cubes to draw from more valuable than the early claim.

Quote:
In particular, it was annoying when the color of tile, or worse, the color cube I wanted started with 1 tile.


Then on the next turn it will have two tiles, and on the next, three tiles.

Quote:
In this particular game, I had a few White tiles at the outset, and the White cube started with 1 tile. Eventually I gave in and took it. The replacement? 2 white tiles to go with the white cube :/


You are restocking the draft pool incorrectly. There are plenty of other threads here discussing the correct pattern.

Quote:
It seemed to me that very quickly the boards got down to 3 territories each, and Shrimp were placed strategically such that it was difficult to eat up any tiles - thus the many 'build up' turns in a row.


Don't forget that you grow another player's coral over another player's coral, and in fact it is often to your advantage to do so: it converts tiles from behind your shield to in front of your shield.

Quote:
...then locked down 2 of the dominance tiles in Yellow's favor.


This was an error. Any number of dominances may be flipped per turn, but only one dominance may be locked per turn.

Quote:
My white area wasn't getting any bigger because there just weren't a lot of White tiles coming up, but I was amassing a large number of black (gray?) tiles and cubes. At one point I did a potentially sneaky play - I had accumulated 3 white tiles, so I placed 2 of them on Hederj's White ares, eating 2 Black tiles for in front of my shield, and the third I placed in my own area. I asked, and John said that was legal. I had 5 black tiles in front of my screen and 8 behind it.


This is a standard play pattern that you should see in almost every game.

Quote:
I finally decided to make my big play... I ate my meager White reef, feeding just 3 or so tiles to my fish. Then I started a black reef on that board, using 2 of my actions to place tiles - from behind the screen each time, the1 free one on the starfish, and 3 of the five from in front of my screen. I then spent the other 2 black tiles and 1 other tile from in front of my screen to lock down 3 dominance things in black's favor.


Nice turn and approach except for the illegal locking of multiple dominances.

Quote:
I mentioned several times (as did Tyler) how terrible this game seemed to be. I even said out loud "...it's so bad, it's like we must be playing wrong or something."


Yup, you were. That I can see you were doing three things wrong: refilling the draft pool incorrectly, allowing multiple dominances to be locked per turn, and starting new corals only from the starting spots. Individually they don't sound like much, but as Reef Encounter is an emergent game rather than a discrete game, they have a huge impact on the game.

Quote:
And to top it all off, it was infuriating to dig through the draw bag every turn to find a particular colored tile!


Huh? This is only ever needed for the free central tile (which happens relatively rarely), and at no other times. This could be your fourth error, whatever it was.
 
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J C Lawrence
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Drew1365 wrote:
Yes, it's legal to add to someone else's coral so that you may obtain the tiles consumed. Tricky and perhaps risky, but it's a good move. And I guess you knew that you can only play up to four tiles from behind your screen along with any number from in front, so if you used both your tile-laying actions to get rid of the 8 you'd accumulated (assuming you had 2 grey cubes) you did a legal move. Our games tend to be fast, and I generally don't keep that many tiles on hand, figuring it's better to start claiming space than it is to make a huge play like that. But that's probably just a preference thing.


One of my favourite patterns is to see two large corals side-by-side, each with a shrimp protecting their exposed edge. I'll then grow one coral over the other, cutting it in half, flip the dominance, grow the second back over first carving off another large chunk, and then drop one of my shrimp on the big bit I cut off, possibly locking one of the dominances against the bit I didn't grab in the process. Result: lots of tiles in front of my shield and other players who have been massively set back in their plans and have the dominance pattern set against them. All Good Stuff.
 
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