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Subject: If a tree falls…. rss

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John Hansel
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Spencer
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Introduction

If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it make a sound? If a game is said to suffer from AP (analysis paralysis) and gamers avoid it, does it still suffer from AP?

If there is one exhaustive complaint I have heard about this game, it's that AP is an issue (yes, this is a bigger problem than the other thing). I'll explain the theme and rules a bit, and we'll see why people think AP is a problem.

Theme and Rules

If theme is important to you, avoid this game. In no way do you feel like a sultan manipulating merchants, traders, assassins, viziers, and elders. Rather it feels like you are playing Mancala moving blue, green, red, yellow, and white meeples around a variable set up of tiles.

You begin a turn by bidding for turn order. You bid using coins, which are also victory points. This adds a level of tension to the game (I call this stress-fun). Deciding what to bid can be a gut-wrenching decision. Do you want to spend a lot of victory points to make a big move or bid nothing and possibly have a weak move?

On your turn you pick up a meeple or multiple meeples from a tile and begin dropping them off one by one in a orthogonal fashion. You will have one meeple left in your hand. The meeple left in your hand must match a color on the tile where you end your move.

The tile where you land has either optional or compulsory actions involved. The actions allow you to collect Djins which give you special abilities, place palaces or palm trees which give you points at the end of the game, or get cards from the market which give you money or victory points at the end of the game.

The color of meeples that you collect also allow you an action. Green - traders let you take resources from the market, red - assassins allow you to clear a meeple off the board or from other players, blue - merchants give you money, yellow - viziers give you 1 point for each one you collect plus 10 points for every person you have more than, and white - elders give you 2 points per meeple, they can also be used to buy djins.

Last, you will check to see if you cleared a tile. If you did and it has no camel already, place your camel on the tile. Claiming tiles grants points and gets you one step closer to ending the game.

The game will end once someone has placed their last camel or if there are no more possible moves available.

Players will count their coins, points from djins, points from claimed tiles, points from viziers, points from elders, points from palm trees, points from palaces, and points from market cards. The player with the most victory points is the winner.

I won't get into any more specifics. If the mechanics sound interesting there is a full rulebook on the Days of Wonder site to read.

Components

The components in this game are top notch some of the best I've seen. The art is great but doesn't necessarily match the theme. They are a bit cartoony for all of the sacrificing you'll be doing during the game.

Conclusion

Okay time to address the AP problem. From my experiences it just isn't there. I have played this game 10 times and not a single one has gone over an hour. Our games of Smash Up have gone longer than this (don't get me started). This includes all player counts and almost every game has been with different people.

As you can see from the rules there are multiple paths to victory. You have a lot of decisions to make during this game causing some to think that AP is a problem.

You'll have to decide how much to bid for turn order, which meeples to manipulate, which strategy to employ, do you want collect djins, market cards, etc.

Here is why I believe this game does not suffer from AP. After the first turn players have adopted a direction. Maybe they bought a Djinn giving them extra points for viziers. They have a direction now. Maybe a player got some market cards. They will more than likely try to collect more. This direction makes choices easier for players.

If you haven't played this game because you are worried about AP, give it a shot first. It just might surprise you.

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Nathan Gentry
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I think the components really add to the theme. Sure, the colors are cartoony, but you're playing with great wooden camels, palm trees and palaces, and there's a very pervasive Arabian Nights feel to everything. There's not much story, but it's hard to ignore the theme with all the golden palaces everywhere (I love the djinn that lets you eventually put all the palaces on one square).

AP comes down to who you play with. I could see certain gamers spending way too much time figuring out possible moves, especially before bidding for turn order. With folks I've played with, we have an unspoken agreement not to take an unreasonable amount of time plotting moves.
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Witek W
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I got Five Tribes from my wife for Christmas. I knew I was going to get it and after reading few reviews while eager to try it, I was scared as my wife (with whom I mostly play) is very AP prone. Yet it turned out that problem was non-existant to us.
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Ryan M
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I've only played this once so far and loved it, but the game did take closer to two hours. It was 4p and 3 of us were completely new to the game. But the reason for the length is because we didn't do what you claim would happen...have our "plan" right off the bat. Instead, on each turn people were scanning the board trying to figure out the move that would give them the best points that round. This may or may not have changed between the bid and the actual turn.

Do I think AP is a problem with this game? No. I think this is just reviewers trying to make the game seem heavier and more "thinky" than it really is. It seems one or two reviewers said "maybe there could be AP" and suddenly every review was warning about AP problems whether or not they ever experienced any.

In my own experience, while that first game took a couple hours, that time flew by and I can also see future games taking less time. So I agree that AP probably isn't a problem with Five Tribes unless you play with that rare player who absolutely refuses to ever make a move unless they've analyzes the whole board for 10 minutes each turn. Mostly, I think the AP issue is just a parroted speaking point spread by group think in reviews.
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Patrick Riley
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AP has been an issue with the games I've played, but then our group tends to be AP prone anyway.

Let me summarize the AP spiral:
"I need to make the most out of my move."
--check all possible options--
"I need to not leave an opening for the next player."
--double-check all the options--
"I need to maximize my points."
--do a cost-benefit analysis on all moves before bidding on turn order--

It all comes down to how much time you want to feel you need to take to maximize your points and at what point do you just give give up and made a bid/move.
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M. Shanmugasundaram
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And yet, it occurs to me that when a player need not concern themselves with whether they're leaving an opening for the next player, the game gets accused of being "mostly multiplayer solitaire."

Point denial may only be an issue if you're in a kingmaker or marginal-win position.

It's curious that 7 Wonders moves so swiftly compared to 5 Tribes. Both games share many similarities -- tracking what others are doing, maximizing your own position, having to manage multiple victory point generation streams....
 
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A. B. West
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Beech Grove
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Yeah, I'm going to be picking this one up. It's just a matter of time now I fear.
 
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Cory Yates
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There is a case of AP in this game, especially in 2 player games when you can take 2 and sometimes 3 turns in a row. If you want to make smart moves back to back that takes time to analyze, unless you're just naturally really really quick at that. I am good in most games but this one does cause some AP for me. However, I agree that it's not so bad people should avoid this great game.
 
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Steffen Eichenberg
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Loophus wrote:
Our games of Smash Up have gone longer than this (don't get me started).


THIS!

I can totally second that observation/statement. Like Smash Up, this game is not a fast moving game. But Qwirkle isn't a fast moving game either, and I have not read complaints about it being AP prone. In fact when I think about it, with the people I play, time per turn per person is about the same in Five Tribes as it is in Qwirkle.
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Steffen Eichenberg
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rumble wrote:

It's curious that 7 Wonders moves so swiftly compared to 5 Tribes. Both games share many similarities -- tracking what others are doing, maximizing your own position, having to manage multiple victory point generation streams....


Oh, I have seen my share of heavy AP when playing 7 Wonders. Especially with one player we need to use a countdown timer . And we haven't even started playing with the Babel expansion gulp
 
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Jaime D.
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Absolutely. This game doesn't suffer of any AP syndrome. Even my dad, 70, who hardly play games did a good work in his first play.

So, indeed, give it a try. It's worthy. Definitely.
 
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Patrick Riley
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Almilcar wrote:
Absolutely. This game doesn't suffer of any AP syndrome. Even my dad, 70, who hardly play games did a good work in his first play.


There are many games in which you can do a good job on your first (or subsequent) plays. The question is whether you are doing maximally good.
 
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M. Shanmugasundaram
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Wait. Are we talking about time-suck, or AP?

Because all AP contributes to time-suck, but not all time-suck is AP.

I wouldn't allocate the lion's share of "blame" for time-suck to AP in Five Tribes. I'd attribute it to having multiple game-rule-shifting elements -- the genies. It can be pretty brisk to figure out where you want to move. But then putting that together with any Genies you or others have, where you have to actively read about and remember exceptions definitely adds to time without necessarily adding significant AP.

A lot of simple games unnecessarily become time-sucks by making you read a ton of stuff on cards for every play. Smash-Up was one of those, and even King of New York.

For me personally, bidding always creates AP. Trying to walk through the numbers is just aggravating. I usually just throw up my hands mentally and just bid enough to make sure the other guy pays through the nose, or I bid 0 and don't care.
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David B
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rumble wrote:
But then putting that together with any Genies you or others have, where you have to actively read about and remember exceptions definitely adds to time without necessarily adding significant AP.




You are making the Djinn's sound a lot more complicated than they really are.
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Mehdi B
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I've recently introduced this game to my friends and some of us were having major cases of AP, mainly when looking for the best way to NOT open tiles for claiming to the next player.

We finished the game with less than half of all the tiles claimed. I don't know yet if this is typical or if we just spent too much time denying others.

Anyway, that game lasted north of 2 hours and, although we loved it, we will be adding an hourglass next time for sure.
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ozzy perez
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This is the best game of 2014 in my humble opinion... I absolutely love it. However, it did cause some serious AP in me.. which is weird because I normally play pretty quick. However I think the AP hit the worst during the 2p games, where you can potentially leave two good plays open for your opponent if you don't analyze your strategy carefully. One thing is for sure.. AP or not, this is one of the best games I've played since I got into the hobby.
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Seb J
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The day I'm getting this to the table, I will for sure start the explanation with "except if you are Big Blue, you won't be able to calculate all the possible moves so don't even try, play with your guts!"
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