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Greg Schloesser
United States
Jefferson City
TN
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Editor’s Note: My full review of Emira will appear in the next issue of Counter magazine.

While I do admire the originality of the theme, and can even get past the inevitable jokes about the women’s attributes, I have some serious issues with the game design. My major concerns:

1) Specialization. There are four attributes that a prospective lady seeks in her sheik: appearance, palace size, wealth and notoriety. Each lady will seek a particular attribute first, and then consider a secondary attribute if more than one sheik is tied for dominance in the first attribute.

The result here is that each player will tend to pursue one attribute in which to dominate. It is nigh impossible to dominate in more than one attribute. Once a firm lead is established in a particular attribute, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to surpass that player. As a result, each player tends to target one attribute, resulting in a “specialization” effect. Thus, it simply becomes a matter of hoping that the girls desiring your attribute appear in quick succession. Other than some attempts at deck manipulation via the event cards – which may be quickly reversed by an opponent – there is little one can do to influence what ultimately occurs. This ultimate result severely tarnishes an otherwise enjoyable game … but it is enough to ruin it for me.

2) Auctions. Simply put, there are too many of them. Each turn consists of a series of auctions, one less per round than the number of players. With the treasure chests of players often overflowing, this means each auction can go round-and-round and take a considerable amount of time. It grows old quickly.

3) Camels. This aspect is intricately connected to the auctions. Each camel acquired gives an initial 50 gold credit when participating in an auction. The amount of the credit can increase dramatically by the play of certain event cards. The net effect is that this artificially escalates the bidding during the auctions. While this is clearly the intent, it is dissatisfying.

4) Length. I don’t normally mind longer games, but the 2 – 2 ½ hours it takes to play Emira to completion is a case of the game outlasting its welcome. This occurs for me due to the repetitiveness of the auctions and the “specialization” that occurs, which has the result of making the ultimate winner a factor of which girls appear from the Emira deck.

So, while I do find the theme intriguing and fresh, and much of the game is enjoyable, the flaws are just too great to ignore. Sadly, unless reasonable variants or “fixes” are devised, Emira is destined for banishment to the desert.
 
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gschloesser wrote:
The result here is that each player will tend to pursue one attribute in which to dominate.


While i agree with some of your points, i believe that Specialization is a risky strategy and a player that gets far ahead in a specific area (falling behind in other areas) will only win if he is *very* lucky with the card draw.

For example, there are 9 Emiras attracted by Status. If a player only specializes in Status, he must get at least 5 of them to win since he will not be able to attract any of the others.

Considering that there are Event cards that allow Emiras to be placed at the bottom of the deck, delayed to appear, go back in the deck if their upkeep can't be paid, stolen or even have their tastes exchanged, it will not be easy for the specializing player to get them.

The game unfortunatelly depends a lot on the gaming group, as the game can be ruined by a bad player (as is the case with Go West).

VARIANT:
To counter for the remote possibility of all the Emiras of one type appearing very quickly you can create two decks, each of them containg half of each type, shuffle them separately and place one on top of the other. The distribution will be more uniform.
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Alexander B.
United States
Austin
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I love this game and don't agree that there is too much auction (impossible in an auction game), or that it is too long (took just under 2 hours last time I played it, which is perfectly fine with me).

The luck issue, however, is my biggest problem with it. While it might not be true that one has to specialize, there is a good chance that you'll only be "best" in 1 category at any given time. If you spread out into multiple categories, you'll be less than top in all of them, and then it is impossible to win!

So, the flip of the cards will normally determine the winner no matter what you do. Basically, go for appearance and status (the most common), hope that you get best in one or the other, then hope that the odds work out for you.

This is indeed a fairly serious flaw: still a fun game for me though, and I love the artwork. I just don't take it too seriously.
 
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diamondspider wrote:
The luck issue, however, is my biggest problem with it.


That's why i offered the above variant. A more even distribution of Emiras will reduce the luck problem and someone can experiment with different deck setups.

You can even try with 2 or 3 Emiras always face up (like Kreta). Event cards that target Emiras will not be affected much.
 
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