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Subject: Alchemy of a Board Game- Ta Yu rss

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Dan Cain
United States
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The Evil-Do That I Do-Do
In perusing The Geek I have noticed that most reviews give general game information, and what I really wanted was what exactly goes into the gameplay. Is there area control? Blind bidding? Resource production? Or maybe some good old-fashioned luck? On top of that I really wanted to know was how these elements meshed together to form the gameplay. Like was it a strategy vs. luck game? How about tough choice resource management? Or maybe something like a concealed element blind bidding game. I believe this is the alchemy of the game, the part the makes each game unique. In each review I will go over the usual elements (Theme, Components, & Gameplay), but I will also give the Alchemy of each game, and also a Philosopher's Stone (my own feelings/thoughts) score for each game. Enjoy!

The Alchemy of a Board Game- Ta Yu

The Usual:

Theme: Ta Yu, a Chinese hero, saved the land from a flood by creating canals to divert the waters into the ocean. Players are trying to reenact this heroic act by skillfully placing tiles to divert the waters from the land.

Components: The board has beautiful Asian-themed art, and the tiles are ceramic with simple canal etchings.

Starting the Game: Each player chooses whether they want to go North and South, or East and West. The first player pulls one tile from the the reserve and places it so that at least the starting square of the board is covered.

Goal of the Game: The goal of the game is get as many canals to exit on your two sides of the board as possible.

At the beginning of a turn the player pulls one tile from the tile reserve. They then must play the tile on any tile previously played so that the canals make logical sense for any other tile the played tile is touching.

(In the example above, the "m" shaped canal piece can not logically be placed on any of the other tiles already played onto the board. The game is over.)

A canal "exit" is an opening in a tile touching one of the sides of the play area. Endgame score is determined by the number of canal "exits" on one side of the board multiplied by the number of "exits" on the opposite side of the board.

(In the example above, if the last tile has been played, the E-W player would have a score of 12 (W-6*E-2=12). The N-S player would have a score of 0 (N-3*S-0=0).)

The Game ends when a tile can by played onto the board in a logical position.


Beauty: I think everyone partially judges game on the actual look of the game. This game is always one that I take a moment at the end of the game to admire. This simple canal tiles, with the beautiful art combine to make a memorable gaming experience.

Long Term Planning Vs. Complete Luck of the Draw: A major strategy in this game is to make sure you plan for any tile possibility. You never want to leave yourself painted into a corner because you didn't plan on pulling a particular tile. There are variants that allow for a less luck-inspired game.

Simplicity of Play: Another, I think, key component for some players of boardgames. Especially for games we want to play with SOs. Most non-gamers want to be up and running in less than 10 minutes. This simple and beautiful game fits many key components of "Gateway Game."

Use of Negative Spaces: This is a key to defensive play in the game. A number of games I have played have this aspect to them, and I always enjoy seeing how "negative space play" affects overall play.

Philosopher's Stone Score:

This game was actually my first introduction into the world of Eurogames. I picked this up on a whim from a small FLGS in Vermont. I was intrigued by the look of the game, and the gameplay did not let me down either. This has become a staple game with any of my SOs. Easy to learn, complex enough to allow for many replays. Over time my gaming interests have changed, but I still have fond memories of the time I spent with Ta Yu.

Final Score:
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