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Subject: War Of The Wind Roses rss

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Lars Arndts
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3 Newbies Tackle A Feld.

A couple of days ago I played Macao for the first time. I had bought the game as a blind buy, read the rules, sorted all components in little plastic bags, did a runthrough… I was ready to go. But an opportunity to play the game only presented itself a few days ago. My wife and I had a friend over for dinner and afterwards we would play a game. Which game had not yet been decided.

Our friend is not a regular gamer. We had played some games with her a couple of weeks earlier. Easy stuff, strictly gateway and party games. She enjoyed it a lot and when we made this appointment she specifically asked to play a game. My wife had mentioned she wanted to play Stone Age again. I really wanted to play Macao and was convinced that if I explained the rules in a clear and concise way, our newbie gamer friend would understand.

I brought both Stone Age and Macao to the table and introduced the games. I really tried to sell Macao: “In this game we are playing Portuguese adventurers who are trying their luck in the far eastern city of Macao. We’ll be trading for goods and trying to be the first to sell our goods in faraway ports….”etc. My Stone Age selling pitch was more succinct as I tried to downplay its appeal. “Yeah.. this is basically a game where we’re playing a tribe of hunter gatherers who want to expand their village…. With dice…. Had I mentioned Macao features tiny wooden ships!?”

Still after all my hard work both my wife and our friend were eyeing Stone Age. I knew I had to come up with a really good reason why we should play Macao instead of Stone Age. I thought I had it: “You know, the thing with Macao is that none of us has played it. So you don’t have to be concerned that you’re at a disadvantage because you don’t know the game. We don’t either.” This seemed to appeal to our friend so Macao it was. Result!

Now I had to explain the game. I had explained the theme, but how should I best go about explaining the rules? I decided to explain the game in reverse. First the actions, than the dice and the wind rose and finally the cards and their uses. That worked pretty well, if I may say so myself. After 10 or 15 minutes of rules explanations and game preparation, we started the first round.

My wife was the first player, I was second and our friend third. Immediately all three of us went for the cards that seemed to give us the biggest advantage in the game. At this moment we were blissfully unaware of the fact that some cards would prove pretty hard to activate. I, for instance, managed to grab the Researcher card which allows you to get on additional action cube of the colour of your choice. But it takes 4 different colour cubes to activate!

The first three or so rounds went pretty smoothly. But then disaster struck. Both my wife and myself had no action cubes when we reached the third phase of the round and as a result both of us received a punishment marker. Our misfortune didn’t end there because in the following round both my wife and I had to grab a card but our tableaus were full. Punishment markers galore! I discarded my Researcher card and decided to pay more attention to my tableau instead of the game board. A round later my wife and I had the exact same thing happening to us. No action cubes and no space on our tableau resulted in additional punishment markers. I had earned 12 PP so far, but I also hard 4 punishment markers. So basically I was back at square one (or zero).

Our friend also had to flip one ownership token into a punishment marker when she had no action cubes at her disposal. But she did a far better job managing her cards and had activated a lot of them. My next turn was a big one and really turned the game around for me. I took control of a city quarter, moved my ship and activated 3 cards. Also I moved to first place on the wall. My wife and our friend were also finally “getting” the game at this point and their strategies were taking shape.

In the last rounds our ships were racing across the oceans trying to be the first to reach the harbours and sell their goods. In the final turn my wife and I, having learned our lesson earlier in the game, managed to activate all our remaining cards. Our friend had 1 card left, so she only had 2 punishment markers. When we subtracted our punishment from our scores, she was ahead. But now it was time for end of game cards and city scoring. Two of my cards bagged me 10 additional PP and I had taken control of 8 adjacent city quarters. With those 26 additional points I sailed (no pun intended) to the lead.

Final score: My wife 27, our friend: 41 and me: 57

Although it hadn’t been easy sailing and we had to face some rough seas, we did manage to reach the harbour safely in the end. All three of us agreed this was a challenging but enjoyable game. I look forward to playing it again soon.


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Harv Veerman
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Nice report!

(Bring it along of one of our wednesday-evening sessions after the holidays, I love to play this game!)
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Lars Arndts
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Thanks Harv. I'll bring it along when we meet again.
 
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