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Subject: My impression after two plays rss

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Anthony Heitzinger
United States
New Mexico
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So, I grabbed this game for a friend while I was vacationing in Japan, and now that I've returned we've played the game a couple of times, and overall, my feeling is pretty lukewarm.

The gameplay is basically Carcassonne with a bit of its own unique elements. You draw a tile on your turn and you place it in your garden. You have the additional options of discarding what you draw, storing it away for later, or offering it to another player (and you really want to do this because you also get rewarded). I like this mechanic the most as it enhances the feeling of being peaceful monks wanting everyone to have a lovely garden. There's also the ability to steal a tile an opponent is about to place in his/her garden, but it seems this rarely happens as the player is usually more than happy to just give you the tile (since they get rewarded for doing so). The second part of the game is gaining and spending the only currency on getting stones and placing them in your garden. There's a few different types and a few different patterns you can form, but basically, you just form the pattern of the card you're given at the start of the game (your name garden) along with another pattern or two as well.

So it's a pretty simple game with very minimal strategy. You kinda just sit back and relax as the game happens. Winning or losing is pretty whatever, so long as you're happy with your finished garden.

With that said though, it does seem like the different famous gardeners and name gardens you can get are not very balanced at all. Each game you're given a random gardener and garden card at the start, with each gardener having a unique power and the garden having you position stones in a certain way to get a bunch of end-game points. The gardens seem somewhat imbalanced, as the bonus points range from 10-14 or so and the point differences don't seem to reflect any added difficulty to do (meaning it's always better to get a higher scoring card as it's no tougher to do than a lower scoring one). The gardeners are completely inbalanced though. Some gardeners have an expected value of 1-3 free turns (gives you an extra tile or a free movement) while two of the gardeners give an expected value of 4 and 7 turns! The very best gardener lets you grab any stone you want and place it anywhere you like in your garden, which is bounds above any of the other abilities. Compare this to the worst gardener, which allows you to block another player from stealing your tile one time. That ability may not even activate all game since players very very rarely want to steal a tile.

Anyways, it's a very pretty game, but it seems a tad too non-engaging, as the gameplay is very simplistic, and the final outcome is rather unimportant. At the least, I don't see this game's experience worth the $90 price tag...
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Alan Castree
Japan
Osaka
Osaka
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ACGalaga.com
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What da heck?!
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Thanks for your nice write up. Always think about getting this when I see it at the store. However I'd be buying it blindly and it's really expensive, so I usually just out it off. The price tag is really about buying the box full of hand painted rocks

Would still love to try this out sometime, but I don't think I'll be buying it anytime soon.
 
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