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Subject: Before you buy... rss

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Colonel Mustard
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This review is written based on my personal experience. I have not included strategies or an explanation of the rules. Instead I hope to give you a heads up on what you may be in for should you purchase this game. There are some excellent reviews posted. There is even one entitled, “Will I Like Tigris & Euphrates Enough to Buy It?. I suspect it may cover some of the same points made here. It is more than likely well deserving of your attention - it has received a good number of thumbs-up, after all. (I have not read it. But, at the risk of repeating what was said, I wanted to write this review without any outside influence.) Here are my two cents...

It can be played with 2, 3 or 4...
The box cites Tigris and Euphrates as a 3-4 player game. However, it plays well with two players without any special rule adjustments. And while it does work with every group size, many players feel it is best with 3-4. I feel this is because the more players involved during a game session, the more interesting and complex the game becomes. Fewer players, equals a simpler game. If you find the three of four player game mind numbing, try it again with two. There is much less to think about.

What it is about...
The game centers on the rise and fall of ancient civilizations in the region of what is now modern day Iraq. As players seek to build kingdoms they gain victory points in four areas (represented by four colours of tiles – Red, Blue, Green and Black). These kingdoms often come into conflict with other kingdoms that are rising. Such ‘war’ results in further accumulation of points (sometimes not for the one who started the conflict). Many complain that this is merely an abstract game of playing coloured tiles in such a fashion that you collect victory points. Others see the theme as integral to the game and indispensable to understanding it. Either way, it is a tile-laying game of confrontation that requires clever tactics to come out on top.

How you win...
The scoring is one of the most interesting aspects of this game. Players collect victory points (cubes) throughout the game. However, the only victory points considered at games end, are each player’s lowest of his four colours. Players only compare their weakest grouping of points (in any given colour), with the other players’ weakest group. The player with the highest number of points in their weakest colour wins. This is a most excellent game dynamic and ultimately forces players to work on all four areas.

There is a learning curve...
The 16 page rule book is clear and the illustrations are excellent. Every stone is unturned and no question is unanswered. However, the rules themselves are just cold facts. They tell you “what” you may do. They clearly explain “when” you may do it. But “why” cannot be discerned from reading the rules. The only way to understand Tigris and Euphrates is to play it. And like many heavier games, it may take several plays to understand things fully. If you have someone teaching you this game it is easier to learn.

You’ll have to be patient...
Granted I may be a moron, but it took me five full games before I started to see the sense of things. But every game was an eye-opener. The reasons for certain rules came into focus. Strategy began to emerge and the game came to life. Some find it a challenge to understand the difference between the two types of battles – the Internal and External conflicts. It simply takes time. I have seen new players form an attack only to lose every battle in the war. The learning experience in such a moment is priceless (and again, cannot be explained in the rules). It just takes a bit of patience...and it is actually fun.

This game is truly fascinating...
Tigris and Euphrates is a deep, clever game that is full of continual twists and turns. There is minimal down time, especially when battles start taking place. It is always interesting to consider, at games end, all the different configurations of kingdoms and regions (a group of tiles) that once existed. The board is in flux and flow as kingdoms rise and fall. One never knows how long a kingdom will survive or how long a player will be successful to cull points from a monument. On top of this, because victory points are hidden (each player uses a cardboard screen) it is often difficult to predict who is in the lead. You may feel quite secure in your position...but the end of the game may prove otherwise.

There is a luck factor...
Often heavier games eliminate luck or at least reduce it significantly. However, Tigris and Euphrates exposes players to a “luck of the draw” situation constantly. Tiles are drawn from a bag each turn - players are allowed to hold six. The tiles, (in the four colours), are what often determine what you can accomplish on your next turn. There can be times when it feels very frustrating to be in need of a certain colour, and being unable to draw one can hold you back. However, this game element is the same for all players. No one is subject to more ‘luck’ than another. Part of the skill of this game is learning to deal with the tiles you have drawn, even if you are short in a particular colour.

Final comments...
Tigris and Euphrates is an excellent game. But keep in mind it is a gamer’s game. On top of that it takes a bit of time to learn. For some, it takes too long and you may give up hope of understanding what is taking place. But if you are looking for a tense, demanding game that offers clever tactics and strategy opportunities, (and is designed by a brilliant mind), this is it. But give yourself the time necessary to truly learn to play. With patience, this gem really shines.
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Bill Heaton
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I really liked this review. You've finally settled it for me. I've thought about this game for a long time, but I shall not be purchasing it.

The people I play with won't put the time in for this, we don't get to play games often enough to justify the effort needed obviously.

You've probably saved me some pain...nice one bruuvveerr.
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David Urminski
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I agree with this review completely. I do enjoy playing this game and have found when I have been beaten that I use it as a learning experience and gain skills in this game. However, I don't know if I would purchase it since finding someone to play with is difficult. And someone who is new to this game may not appreciate it until they have played it a few times. I did not like it the first time I played it. Now it is one of my favorite games.

DaveSki222
 
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John Timberlake
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This game is a pretty big hit at our monthly GASP meetings and one I have been meaning to try.

The games I enjoy most are action based (ie:killing all things and letting someone else sort 'em out), but I have expanded my game boundaries a bit thanks to all the games that get played at Games Day. One game I enjoy and which surprises everyone is Caylus. I think T&E is along the same line...I think.
 
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Peter Mumford
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Tigris is like Caylus? It is hard to imagine two games more different, except for the fact that they are both complex.

Everything about Caylus is linear. You move along various tracks as the game progresses. Its complexity stems from the multitude of characters and buildings that combine and interact in interesting and thematically appropriate ways.

Tigris has comparatively few rules. Its complexity stems from its extraordinary depth of strategy. The strategy is highly geometric: patterns of colors on the board create either stable or unstable formations (kingdoms). Kingdoms are often shifting and growing, but they can be broken apart by an attacking opponent in unpredictable ways. The only game I can compare it to is chess, or maybe go.
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JT Call
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photocurio wrote:
The only game I can compare it to is chess, or maybe go.


Well, that settled it for me. I love Go and have been wanting to share it or something similar with my fiancee. I've also been looking for a good 2-4 player game to add to my collection. If it's simpler with 2 people then that will make her happy. And if it's heavily strategy focused, that will make me happy. We'll see!
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John G
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I can see someone comparing this to Caylus. Mechanically it is quite different, but I can understand people having a sense they are the same.
1) They both have some "screw you" potential, but are not entirely combative.
2) They both give that sense of peeling back an onion over the first ten games as the strategies start to reveal themselves.
3) Paths to victory are overstated as linear and simplistic by those that haven't played them much.
4) Players that like one tend to like the other in my experience.
 
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Taylor Nakamoto
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photocurio wrote:
Tigris has comparatively few rules. Its complexity stems from its extraordinary depth of strategy. The strategy is highly geometric: patterns of colors on the board create either stable or unstable formations (kingdoms). Kingdoms are often shifting and growing, but they can be broken apart by an attacking opponent in unpredictable ways. The only game I can compare it to is chess, or maybe go.


This sounds a little like Reef Encounter. Does it compare?
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The Elder
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ColMustard wrote:
Every stone is unturned and no question is unanswered.


Should this be, Every stone is unturned and all questions answered?
 
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Gerald Rüscher
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Good review!

However I'd delete the part about "equal luck" which is pretty senseless:

ColMustard wrote:
Tigris and Euphrates exposes players to a “luck of the draw” situation constantly. [...] However, this game element is the same for all players. No one is subject to more ‘luck’ than another.


 
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Rafael Fuentes
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Otomakan wrote:
photocurio wrote:
Tigris has comparatively few rules. Its complexity stems from its extraordinary depth of strategy. The strategy is highly geometric: patterns of colors on the board create either stable or unstable formations (kingdoms). Kingdoms are often shifting and growing, but they can be broken apart by an attacking opponent in unpredictable ways. The only game I can compare it to is chess, or maybe go.


This sounds a little like Reef Encounter. Does it compare?


I'd say yes, but T&E is more dynamic and streamlined. But yes, both games are very organic and very volatile.
 
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