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Subject: Yspahan -- Session Report & Impressions rss

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Greg Schloesser
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Jefferson City
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Editor’s Note: My full review of Yspahan will be published soon. What follows is an abbreviated version.

Borrowing baseball terminology, Ystari Games' is batting “1000” with me. I have thoroughly enjoyed every game in their line, and so had high hopes for their latest release, Yspahan, which is designed by newcomer Sebastien Pauchon. I was not disappointed.

The Persian city of Yspahan has become the empire’s capital, and is enjoying a cultural and economic boom. Players are merchants attempting to monopolize bazaars in the various neighborhoods, and send their goods to the far reaches of the empire via the camel caravans.

Each turn, the active player rolls the nine dice and arranges them on the tower board, from lowest to highest. Like numbers are grouped together, so all “1s” will be placed on the bottom rung of the tower board, followed by all “2s”, and so on. Beginning with the active player, each player selects one group of dice, removes them from the board, and executes one of the three actions associated with that rung.

Two of the three possible actions are the same for all rungs: move the supervisor or take a card. Each rung does have a unique action. One allows the player to take camels, and another gold. The other four rungs allow the player to place cubes in the neighborhood depicted. The number of camels or gold taken, or cubes placed is equal to the NUMBER of dice on that rung, not the value.

Choosing the option of moving the supervisor allows the player to move the supervisor token a number of spaces along one of the four pathways. The number of spaces he may be moved is equal to the VALUE, not the number, of the dice taken. A player may move the supervisor more or less spaces (up to three), but must spend one gold for each space added or subtracted. If the supervisor ends his movement beside a shop containing a cube, that cube is sent to the camel caravan. A player can prevent his cube being removed, however, by discarding a camel and placing one of the cubes from their supply onto the caravan.

When a cube is placed on the caravan, it immediately earns its owner 0 - 2 victory points, depending upon its location on the caravan. However, significantly more points can be earned on the caravan at the end of the week.

The final option a player may choose is selecting a card. Cards provide a variety of benefits, including swapping camels for cash (and vice versa), placing extra cubes, earning extra gold, building without expending either camels or coins, etc. Cards can also be used to give the player an extra die when selecting dice from the tower. So, no card is useless.

After executing their action, a player concludes his turn by having the option to construct a special building. There are six possible buildings, each of which grants a special power. Buildings cost camels and/or gold to construct, and also earn five victory points each time they construct a building beyond their second one. The powers that are granted by the buildings can be quite significant, and their construction cannot be overlooked.

At the completion of a week (7 rounds), a scoring is conducted. Players earn points for each souk they have completely occupied, as well as points for the caravan as described above. A total of three weeks are played, with victory going to the player with the greatest number of points.

I find Yspahan refreshingly different. There are a variety of mechanisms present, but they blend together nicely. The sight of the abundance of dice may be off-putting to some, but in reality the luck aspect here isn’t dominant. Players have numerous choices to make each turn, and there are a variety of strategic paths to pursue. There doesn’t appear to be one dominant strategy, and there is enough to investigate to keep me coming back for more.

The power of the supervisor struck me hard, as on the final turn of the game both Gail and Rhonda moved it to one of my shops. I used my one remaining camel to fend off one attempt to remove my cube from the shop, but could not prevent Rhonda from sending my cube to the caravan. This denied me 8 points, which proved the difference in the game.

Finals: Rhonda 62, Greg 60, Kevin 55, Gail 43

Ratings: Kevin 8, Rhonda 7.5, Gail 7.5, Greg 7.5

 
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Thomas Cauet
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Nice review as usual!

gschloesser wrote:
This denied me 8 points, which proved the difference in the game.

I don't see how they managed to deny you 8 points: even if you completed a 12-points souk, they send by their actions 2 cubes (so 6 points anyway) in the caravan, then it's a 6 point differential (and a camel).
 
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Greg Schloesser
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Jefferson City
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Osidarta wrote:
Nice review as usual!

gschloesser wrote:
This denied me 8 points, which proved the difference in the game.

I don't see how they managed to deny you 8 points: even if you completed a 12-points souk, they send by their actions 2 cubes (so 6 points anyway) in the caravan, then it's a 6 point differential (and a camel).


It was actually a 7 point souk. It was an '8' point souk, plus I had the building constructed which game me a 2-point bonus, giving me a total of 10 points. I received 2 points for the caravan placement, plus one additional point at the end of the week. 10 - 3 = 7.
 
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Thomas Cauet
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gschloesser wrote:

It was actually a 7 point souk. It was an '8' point souk, plus I had the building constructed which game me a 2-point bonus, giving me a total of 10 points. I received 2 points for the caravan placement, plus one additional point at the end of the week. 10 - 3 = 7.

Both Gail and Rhonda send each one of your cube to the caravan (you spend a camel and send a cube of your own stock the first time, then another one breaking your souk), so 10-3-3=4 points... or did I understand wrong?

Anyway you proved it was possible, I just forgot about the +2 points building blush

And it's really a detail
 
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Michael Aucoin
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Thanks for teaching me this game. I have purchased Yspahan and my friend really enjoy it. They have even asked me to play it again after just finishing it.
 
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