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Subject: Thief's Market - A Singaporean's Review (Not Bad La) rss

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Amos Cai
Singapore
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After reading so many reviews (including some stellar ones replete with pictures), I'm gonna take a first stab at it and maybe introduce some Singlish to the BGG world

COMPONENTS

Cards, dice, and tokens all kept in a small box.
thumbsup Portability
thumbsup Cool dice
thumbsdown Tokens. As everyone has mentioned, there is no reason for the 5 infamy token to be almost indistinguishable from the 1 infamy token. There could have chosen a different colour for the font. And the tokens feel a little flimsy, and in my opinion, of a size which just makes you think they're cutting corners to save costs.
thumbsdown Box insert. It works fine with the game as it comes to you. But once you sleeve your cards (with the free sleeves you get if you Kickstarter-ed it), it doesn't fit so well. Which is stupid if they already know you are sleeving it with their free sleeves.

RULES

Pretty concise (in the foldable rulebook, which again hints at the low cost of the game?). We misplayed the first few times purely because I missed reading the 1 gold token at the beginning in the "SETUP" and also in the handy player guide.

However, my real issue with the "RULES" is that while it seems to me that the designer clearly intended for there to be two separate and distinct phases in the game: splitting the loot and purchasing cards, etc (I'm uncomfortable with the phrase blowing the loot), the detailed description of the individual cards sometimes does not indicate specifically which phase of the game it should apply to, etc. It would have been easy IMO for them to have just stated with each card, "this applies only in phase 1/2, splitting the loot, etc." Hence, you have people debating some cards like "Lucky Animal Appendage", "When can I reroll the dice?" "Does it apply to the bonuses which allow me to purchase another card?" and so on.

GAMEPLAY

I've only played it 3-4 times with 3 players and 1 time with 4 players so far. However, I think the gameplay differs significantly purely from the limited resources (i.e. die). With 3 players, 10 dice + 1 starting marker equals a split of 4, 4, 3 most games. With 4 players, 11 dice + 1 starting marker equals a split of 3 per player most games. Hence, the value of the same card is very different in a 3-player game as opposed to a 4-player game.

I imagine a 5 player game with 13 dice, creating a split of 3, 3, 3, 3, 2, might actually be so different I wouldn't want to play it because the later-game "C" cards are so strong and there's a distinct lack of resources.

Let me explain further, whilst caveating that I have not played a 5p game.

In a 3p game, it's a lot easier to build an engine, i.e. choose the cards which allow you to change the die face, or buy more cards, etc. Hence, I have won, or seen people win, in a 3p game with a variety of stratagies: pure VP cards, gem-changing engines, gold-taking engines, etc.

In the sole 4p game we've played, the player with a great engine after the the first stage, "A", finished last, whereas I who stumbled into a gold-taking strategy, finished first despite having a horrible "A" stage. IMO, this was purely a result of the lack of resources leading to several overpowered cards and strategies.

Of course I've only played one 4p game and I look forward to a few more 4p, or even 5p, games, but I really do foresee the lack of resources playing a key role, and accentuating the benefits of taking the starting player token even more.

Another imminent danger in the game IMO is kingmaking. To the best of my memory, there is no hidden knowledge, i.e. every card purchased is face up, every gold and infamy token taken is also in front of you for everyone to see. Hence, it is not that hard for people to calculate everyone's projected points (including any bonuses for henchmen, gold, etc.) and decide to continually deny the leader.

RATING

I intend to review games according to a different scale:
Best La - roughly equivalent to 9-10 BGG scale
Very Good Leh - roughly equivalent to 8 BGG scale
Not Bad La - roughly equivalent to 7 BGG scale
Ok Only La - roughly equivalent to 6 BGG scale
Siao Ah - roughly equivalent to 5 and below BGG scale (i.e. you must be crazy if you think I'm going near it again)

Why is Thief's Market "not bad la"?

I really liked it the first few times I played it 3p. It was easy enough to learn, tactical whilst not being devoid of strategy, and close enough that everyone was engaged till the end.

Yesterday's 4p left a strange taste in my mouth even though I won. It felt way too imbalanced, whilst losing several paths to victory. Also, with open knowledge, the possibility of kingmaking is very well. While I cannot see how 5p will mitigate my misgivings about Thief's Market with 4p, I look forward to seeing how it will play out. All in all, with further 4p and 5p games, I foresee the game becoming either "Very Good Leh" if it can handle 4p and 5p games, or moving to a "Ok Only La" if it turns out only to excel at 3p games.

My small, and slow, contributions back to the BGG community.
Amos
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azza rein
Australia
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Wah lao eh

Are there any games you would compare this to?
 
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Amos Cai
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It seems silly that I have not played Splendor but it seems rather similar in some ways and different in others.

Otherwise, nothing comes to mind in terms of the mechanism of "splitting the loot" to get resources. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm willing to try them.
 
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Liam (Away/AFK)
Scotland
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Thanks for sharing!
 
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Jared Lock
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Nice review. A couple of other "I split you choose" games off the top of my head: Animals on Board, Piece o' Cake and the upcoming Skyward. I've only played Animals on Board and it's very simple but fun.
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Amos Cai
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Thanks for that Jared! I'm definitely intrigued by Animals on Board and Skyward. In fact, the KS for Skyward is very tempting atm.
 
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