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Subject: My Favorite Game Absolutely rss

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yegods
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Overview

Roads and Roats is a complex and versatile hex tile based production game from Splotter Spiel. One might liken it to Settlers of Catan, or Kings and Things, but then one might just get funny looks. It's a big game, that takes a relatively long time to play, but yet is so full of varying possibilities that it never gets boring. Unlike those two games, in Roads and Boats, the production facilities are free for every player to use, even though you may feel like you own them. This brings a light "it's mine, so don't touch it!" quality to what is not really a directly agressive game play.

Components

Probably the most impressive feature of the game is the sheer volume and quality of the components. There is a good reason that this game costs around $100 at retail prices. The sheer abundance of tiles and chits and cubes and stones and meeples will surely fill any true gamers eyes with glee, just for the sight of it.

The hex tiles are composed of various terrain types (mountains, grasslands, forests, oceans, deserts, rocky hills, etc) each of which can either produce primary or secondary goods, depending on the production facilities allowed there. There are also rivers running through some of the hexes -- these become an important method of transportation. They are of nice quaility, and lay flat on the table.

You might also think a whole tree went into this production, from the number of wooden pieces. There are six sets of player wood bits that have several different transporter types, wall segments (similar to Settlers roads) and other assorted items. there are also large cylinder pieces that acts as physical mines, placed on the mountain tiles.

Truly epic in size and scope.

Game Play

The game board is layed out as a set map of hex tiles. These are called Scenarios, and typically contains suggested starting positions for each player. The scenarios are given for each possible number of players. Also, some of the scenarios have slightly different setup rules, or play rules. Some are symetric with regard to the player start positions, and overall game play, and some are not. It is probably more difficult to start with an assymetric Scenarios, because this game is very unforgiving of mistakes, especially when you're just getting started.

Once the board is layed out, the plastic sheet is placed over it, and weighed down to the table in some way. I suggest investing in a couple large stiff clear plastic sheets, as the rolled plastic that comes with the game can be a little unwieldy. You can also tape the sheet down to the table.

Then the players select a starting player, and in clockwise order choose starting positions from those available in the scenario. This phase is less important in the symetric scenarios. Onto the starting tile, the players place their Home chit, three Mules, two Geese, five wood chits and one brick chit. From there you start to carefully build your production empire.

Once the players have placed their initials resources, the actual game begins. First building produce goods, then players move their transporters, either individually or at the same time, depending on the potential for interaction. After moving, the players build any facilities, walls, roads, bridges, etc. Then they have a chance to construct part of the Wonder, and then the turn is over.

This turn order and phase play continue until the game is ended by Wonder Brick play.

The Wonder

The Wonder is what really drives the game along. It is, in effect, a game clock. For each turn, no matter what the players do, a neutral Wonder brick is placed on the Wonder track. When the neutral Wonder bricks are used up, or the Player Number specific position in the Wonder track is reached, then the game is over. Players can build Wonder brick during the Wonder phase. They can build as many bricks as they have materials for on their Home site. But, they can only build bricks if they have a transported on their Home site also.

The Wonder track is composed of widening rows of brick positions. The first few rows cost one resource per brick, while the rows after that cost two resources per brick. Each row is worth 10 points, which are divied between the players who have bricks on the rows, with the same ratio as their bricks.

Opinions and Strategy

Overall, the game is fantastic, and varied. Although it doesn't have a huge amount of player interaction... what interaction there is can be quite exciting and also devestating. There is always the possibility that your opponent might come and snag some of your resources, or maybe use that valuable production building that you build for yourself! You can try to build walls, but they are relatively easy to knock down.

The game play is also quite unforgiving. There is almost a mandatory Mulligan house rule on the first turn, because you can quite easily make yourself defunct by building the wrong production buildings. Just remember, do NOT forget to build a wood chopper and lumber mill with your initial set of resources, or you will be sorry.

I have found that it is rarely worthwhile to build Wonder Bricks for just the 10 points. Only build them if you are winning and want to speed the game up, or if you don't have anything else do to with the resources. In the long run of the game, the potential maximum of 100 or so points, means very little compared to the hundreds of points from Stock Certs and Coins et al.

Also, don't over-protect your production buildings. You can waste a lot of resources by trying to block off access to these buildings. Try making deals with your neighbors instead. Because resources are only owned when you have them on a transported, it is quite easy to trade resources. You can offer to let some come in and use your Ship Factory, if they leave off an iron for your use, or something like that. Often the best path to victory is not direct agression, although it can be nice to sweep in with your Ship and drop off a Truck in someone's home town. The looks you get from that are precious.

Because you can focus on so many paths to victory, it can be overwhelming, and can lead to some bit of analysis paralysis. It is probably a good idea to add a sand timer to the game to prevent stalling out. But remember, at the end of the day, it is Gold, Coins, and Stock Certificates that win the game. Always keep in mind the end game buildings, and where you are going to place them.

Scores

Components: 10
Game Play: 10
Player Interaction: 8
Depth: 10
Overall: 10
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Sterling Babcock
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That is a very nice review and sums it up very well!
 
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Rush Howell
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Thanks for the review.

I am considering buying this game, but would purcahse it almost exclusively to play as a two player game (just don't think I could get more than that to play this one... and there are many other multiplayer games lined up in my collection.) Would you recommend it in that situation? To be even more specific, I was hoping I could use this as a game to play once or twice a year against the same friend as an epic two player game. He doesn't enjoy war games, so I thought that this might fit the bill.

Thank you in advance,

Rush
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Sterling Babcock
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That sounds reasonable. You can also play with it on your own in between as a single player game. For two player, I recommend the map SABA which you can find at http://www.amarriner.com/rb/ under maps.
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David Whitehouse
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Nice review. My family (me, wife, 10 yr old son) enjoy playing Catan here and there. Parts of this game that intrigue me are the fact that it's relatively non-aggressive, a plus for our gaming group.

As for negatives.. Price is a bit of a factor for me. Also length of the game. I noticed someone said the longest game they had was a bit over 4 hours, I wonder what the average time length is.

I'll have to keep sleeping on it.

Cygnusx1
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