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Subject: Two go players and a four year old rss

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Billy McBoatface
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Solomon, a 3d go player (3d is a rank that means that he's quite good), was visiting me recently. When he saw me playing Cathedral today against my four year old daughter, he said that the game looked pretty neat. I said it was, and that I had a closetful of games. I mentioned that one of my games was a little bit like go, but that it restricted where you could move to make the game more fun with multiple players. He said he'd like to give it a try. So once Ella and I finished Cathedral, I got out Through the Desert.

After setting up I explained the rules. Then I gave a strategy hint to him: It's easy to get watering holes and palm tree points. What you really want to do is build territory at the same time you get those points, and you're sure to win. Ella said "Oh, but we're not playing with territory" (she and I usually play without it). I explained to her that today we were playing by the whole rules. "OK, well I'm not going to try to get any territory" she said. Fine. I figured that Solomon would be my main opponent here.

Solomon got the game right away. Both of us ended up with our purple camels in positions to make lots of territory, so of course we did. In other positions we were able to block each other from getting large areas surrounded. True to her word, Ella totally ignored the go-like aspect of this game, concentrating on lots of palm trees and watering holes.

Towards the end of the game, I noticed that other than purple, there was no way I'd get any "longest camel chain" points. Oh well. I had tons of surrounded territory, that had to make up for it, right?

Finally we reached the end. We handed out longest camel chains. Me: 10 for purple. Solomon: 5 (tied with Ella for the pink/peach colored camels). Ella: 35! Yow.

Now territory: I got around 25. Solomon got around 20. Ella managed to get 5 points with her green camels (she wasn't trying to get territory, but ended up surrounding a few hexes anyway).

Final score: I got 82. Solomon counted up, "Oh, you beat me by a lot...I only have 68." Yay! I win! But first let's count up Ella's points...91??? Ella got 91??? I recounted, and sure enough, Ella, following the "I'm not going to get any territory" strategy, beat us both.

So...this game is a little bit like go??? Apparently not in strategy!

Looking back, Solomon and I both ignored camel train size. Since we both used huge numbers of purple camels, and very few of the others, it made it easy for Ella to get far more "longest train" bonuses. In addition, she had been a lot more aggressive in getting all of her camel trains to tuch as many palm trees as possible; so our territory advantage was made up in "longest train" bonuses, and then she took the lead with the palm tree points.
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Thjodbjorn K.
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I played against my cousin and another friend the other day, and I had a pretty sizable territory. 20 something points. But I only won by five. I'm not sure territory is the best way to go in this game.

Though it was only my second game.

I very much like it so far.
 
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Billy McBoatface
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I still think that area is the key to winning, but you can't ignore the other points either.

So, really the scoring is well balanced (as you would expect from a Knizia design), but because it is trickier for most people to visualize and create captured area, if you can manage to do that without falling behind in other areas then you will win.

Solomon and I were just totally going for area, we ignored camel train length completely, and we lost.
 
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Thjodbjorn K.
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I wonder if it might depend on how many people are playing, as well. In my two-player game, I had a couple territories, and I won by a considerable amount. In my three-player game, I only had one sizable territory. It also seems more difficult to really get territory in a more than two-player game, which makes sense.

I don't know. I'll have to definitely play more to see if I can't get a better feel for it.
 
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Simon Wilcock
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wmshub wrote:

So...this game is a little bit like go??? Apparently not in strategy!


It's funny, I keep seeing this quote about Through the Desert being like Go, and I just shake my head and wonder at the tenous link there. Yes, part of it is about taking territory but that's not the only route to victory.
And I don't really see actions on one part of the board affecting the other (well, nowhere near with the grace and sublimity of a game of Go).

I find it a very lazy way of describing the game. It's like saying Acquire is 'a bit like' Monopoly.

I tried to post some images of a Go board with the TTD camels on it, with a 'Go like commentary' but they were all declined as the Moderator (and I quote) "didn't get the joke".
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Billy McBoatface
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Steerpike.Instance wrote:
It's funny, I keep seeing this quote about Through the Desert being like Go, and I just shake my head and wonder at the tenous link there. Yes, part of it is about taking territory but that's not the only route to victory.
And I don't really see actions on one part of the board affecting the other (well, nowhere near with the grace and sublimity of a game of Go).

I find it a very lazy way of describing the game. It's like saying Acquire is 'a bit like' Monopoly.
I think there's a pretty strong similarity. The whole "place tokens to surround territory" originated with go, and it's an unusual enough mechanic than any game that has it will be at least a little bit reminiscent to me.

True, TTD isn't as deep as go, but it still feels the same. To me, TTD feels like go, "lightened up" to be more accessible and better with more than two players.
 
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