Ur’s debut at Essen 06 resulted in 77 votes and a score of 2.19 (lower the better) in the ‘live’ Fairplay magazine poll at the fair. It achieved a respectable 11th place.
A friend of mine (shyam1houston) brought this to Malaysia straight from Essen. We played this a couple of times and had a rather pensive but fun time.
Our first game was played off-the-cuff as we read the rules.It took us about three turns to figure out what’s going on, as we familiarised ourselves with the turn sequence and the actions depicted on the tiles. After all players have gotten used to the actions, the basic gameplay was easy.
Shyam placed his beginning pieces at the north of the game area. Dave huddled in the centre. Alan started somewhere in the east and I went south. The only person who really knew what he was doing in the first few turns was Shyam, since he owned the game and was reading the rules (for the first time) as we played. Shyam meted out an early trading strategy as he grew his population. Dave, a wargamer in real life, farmed and started a war, attacking Alan. As for me, I turtled in the south and kept conspicuously inconspicuous.
As we got used to the game mechanics and effects of the player actions, we refined our strategy. Shyam started cashing in on agriculture in the midgame, Dave cooled down and started a big culture movement in his population. Alan did the same and I began to trade a lot. Shyam was the first to build a ziggurat. We then appreciate the tactical reasons for building one: to guarantee the control of the tile the ziggurat was built on, to reclaim and re-use the cubes, to block and intimidate other players (ziggurat areas are out of bounds to cubes), and to hasten the end of the game. Dave and I quickly built on each. Alan then focused on war. Shyam built his second ziggurat after further trading. I built the last one.
Final score: Shyam 36 points, Dave 25 points, Alan 13 points and me, 31 points.
We had a great time, eventhough the first few moves were akin to planned chaos as we learnt the rules. Boy, this is one fun brain-burner.