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Subject: Sparrows and Relativity rss

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Matt
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Apologies to the people of Ulm but the story of the Ulm sparrows does not really signal them out as the brightest of folk. According to the included chronicle, which has an interesting potted history of the city, "the inhabitants of Ulm needed a large beam for the construction of the Cathedral but couldn’t get it through the city gate since they tried to transport it crosswise. Only when they noticed a sparrow carrying a twig lengthwise in its beak and shoving it into a recess in the wall did they allegedly get the idea of carrying their beam lengthwise, too."

Ironically Ulm was also the birthplace of Albert Einstein, Which begs the question are we giving these inspiring sparrows the credit they deserve? Maybe they were also Albert’s inspiration for The Theory of Relativity?

Much like the crisscrossing conundrum faced by the people of Ulm the heart of the game is the 3x3 crisscrossing grid of action tiles which players slide to perform various actions. This is quite a clever and innovative mechanism that works well and is neatly interwoven into other aspects of the game. Players begin each round by drawing an action tile and then sliding it into the grid from any of the nine edge spaces. The player then gets to carry out the three actions represented on the tiles in the row or column that they moved, but does not get the action of the dislodged tile that now sits outside the main grid. I was a little concerned that the grid may have been fiddly and hard to keep lined-up, but fortunately the tiles are quite chunky and I didn’t have any problems.

Some of these actions are straightforward, allowing the player to take a coin or dislodged action tiles from any one side of the grid. The card action allows a player to trade in two action tiles for the top card. If the tiles match then the player can choose from the top two cards. Alternatively players can use the card action to play an additional card (you are allowed to play one card each round without using an action tile). There are three types of cards all of which can either be played and discarded for an immediate bonus or played face-up in front of a player for bonus points at the end of the game. You need to spend an appropriate action tile to take advantage of the immediate bonus of Cathedral and trade cards, or you can lay out sets for points at the close of the game. The chronicle cards either let you carry out a unique special action or you can save them for the end of the game and get points for completing various goals such as travelling furthest down the river or having majorities in the various city quarters. These are nicely varied and give a long-term focus to your strategy, as long as you are lucky enough to draw then early in the game.

The river option allows you to move you barge down the Danube to the next available free space. If you do not reach the bridge by the end of the game then you will suffer scoring penalties. The current position of your barge determines the remaining action which allows players to pay gold to place a seal in a city quarter directly to the north or south of the barge. The bonuses earned from occupying the various quarters are nicely varied and include acquiring face-up action tiles from the dock or carrying out various card actions. At the Oath House Quarter you can gain the services of descendant who will offer a special power such as earning extra money from coin actions or moving extra spaces when using river actions. There are a nice selection of these and only four of the eight are used each game which should help keep things fresh.

At the leaning house and garden quarters you have the opportunity to acquire crests for the various city quarters. You draw two and keep one and for each quarter there two types silver and gold. In addition to getting victory points the crests allow you take ownership of one of the corresponding spaces around the edge of the selection grid, also the golden crests provide influence in the matching quarter. Whenever a seal action is carried out in a quarter where a player owns the crest then that player scores points. Each time an action tile is pushed from the grid into a space where a player has the matching coat of arms then they receive a sparrow token. Each sparrow can be spent to swap an action tile drawn from the bag with one of the face up ones in the loading bay.

There is quite a bit of luck in Ulm, each round one of you actions is normally going to be determined by the tile you drew from the bag and the blind card and coat of arms draw is not going to go down well with everyone. That said there are various ways of bending fortune to your favour by drawing extra cards and swapping action tokens. Since the cards themselves have two uses you can usually find a worthwhile use for most of them even if they are not what you especially wanted.

The way that the rulebook is split into two has the potential to be annoying, but it works surprisingly well, once you know the basics you will only need to refer to the chronicle. A rather over the top 3D cardboard cathedral Is used to stack the tiny round tiles, representing the ever growing steeple. However, it feels a bit flimsy and obscures some of the board information. The artwork is up to the usual high standards of Michael Menzel.

I have played both two and three player games and enjoyed the game at both player counts, although obviously fewer players means less competition for spaces and a more difficult journey up the river as there will be fewer barges to skip over. Two player also means that the action grid isn’t going to change so much between turns which gives you a bit more control.

There is an advanced variant which introduces a different condition each turn, these are known a turn in advance to aid planning. Some are good, improving the basic actions whilst others can cost you points. The variant doesn’t really add that much complexity but gives players a little more to think about so I don’t really see any reason not to include it as soon as you become familiar with the game. The only problem is that each turns condition is illustrated by icons on the reverse of the tiny tiles that track the round. I would have preferred larger cards and ditch the cathedral stacking.

A two player game flies past, taking little more than 30 minutes. There are not major amounts of interaction but since all players are using the same constantly shifting action grid and placing on the same board this game is far from multiplayer solitaire. Ulm might not be a headline Essen release and doesn’t stray too far from the typical eurogame template but the innovative action selection grid and the way this seamlessly interacts with barge movement and seal positioning makes Ulm one of the best mid-weight euro’s I have played for quite a while. I also like how the action tiles also serve as a commodity that can be used to purchase and activate the cards.

Designer Günter Burkhardt's experience and skill come together in a game that I'm sure the Ulm sparrows will be proud of.

Here is a list of all my reviews, some with puns that I really should be ashamed of.
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Dan
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Futsie wrote:
Apologies to the people of Ulm but the story of the Ulm sparrows does not really signal them out as the brightest of folk, ironically Ulm was also the birthplace of Albert Einstein. According to legend, the inhabitants of Ulm needed a large beam for the construction of the Cathedral, but could not get it through the city gate. As they were about to tear the gate down, they noticed a sparrow entering its nest while holding a piece of straw lengthwise, instead of sideways. Realisation dawned on the people, who have ever since placed long loads along rather than across their carts. Are we giving these inspiring sparrows the credit they deserve? Maybe they were also Albert’s inspiration for The Theory of Relativity?




Way to just plagiarize Wikipedia. You copied that verbatim. shake
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Harv Veerman
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fastattaq wrote:
Way to just plagiarize Wikipedia. You copied that verbatim. shake


So? I liked the bit, and would never have read it if it wasn't for this plagiarism.

Keep sharing!
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Dan
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Mad Math wrote:

So? I liked the bit, and would never have read it if it wasn't for this plagiarism.


It bothers me that you don't have an issue with this and that you're endorsing this sort of dishonest behavior. He could have paraphrased the line from Wikipedia or he could have gone to the source Wikipedia cited and paraphrased that.

He could have even provided a link to Wikipedia and invited you to learn more about the City of Ulm. There, you would have discovered the line that you like so much.

Instead, he just copied & pasted a paragraph straight from the wiki and passed it off as his own. It's not just lazy, it's dishonest and really poor form.
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Harv Veerman
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fastattaq wrote:
Instead, he just copied & pasted a paragraph straight from the wiki and passed it off as his own. It's not just lazy, it's dishonest and really poor form.


Never have I considered the possibility that this info was his own. Obviously the source is elsewhere. Had I wanted to know more, I would have searched and found it. For now, I'm glad with this snippet of info, no matter what the source. Had the OP rephrased it, it would have been equally interesting for me.

History, legend, myth... no matter the source, information should be shared.
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Matt
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Dan, I think calling me dishonest is a bit over the top.

I put together a review of a new game that I thought people may be interested in and added a bit of background information. I deliberately didn't use my own writing style as I wanted to put across that I was recounting a tale from folklore. In hindsight I should have attributed my source, which I have now done.

A friendly reminder may have been better than the holier-than-thou approach you have assumed.


"A holier-than-thou attitude is a feeling of smug moral superiority" - Wikipedia
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Alex
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Futsie wrote:
Dan, I think calling me dishonest is a bit over the top.

I put together a review of a new game that I thought people may be interested in and added a bit of background information. I deliberately didn't use my own writing style as I wanted to put across that I was recounting a tale from folklore. In hindsight I should have attributed my source, which I have now done.

A friendly reminder may have been better than the holier-than-thou approach you have assumed.


"A holier-than-thou attitude is a feeling of smug moral superiority" - Wikipedia


Yeah, really. I'm not a lawyer but I think Wikipedia content is generally free to copy and distribute with the only restriction being that you credit the original authors; providing a hyperlink if possible.

Edit - nice review, btw. The sideways-beam conundrum is a problem my dog has experienced many times with his stick at the doggie door.
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Matt
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Rafaël Theunis
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Wonderful review!! Thanks for this :) can't wait to bring it to the table tomorrow :)
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Matt
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Thank you. I hope you enjoy playing.
 
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J.M. Diller
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Futsie wrote:
Dan, I think calling me dishonest is a bit over the top.

I put together a review of a new game that I thought people may be interested in and added a bit of background information. I deliberately didn't use my own writing style as I wanted to put across that I was recounting a tale from folklore. In hindsight I should have attributed my source, which I have now done.

A friendly reminder may have been better than the holier-than-thou approach you have assumed.


"A holier-than-thou attitude is a feeling of smug moral superiority" - Wikipedia


Comedy gold.
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Dave P
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fastattaq wrote:
Mad Math wrote:

So? I liked the bit, and would never have read it if it wasn't for this plagiarism.


It bothers me that you don't have an issue with this and that you're endorsing this sort of dishonest behavior. He could have paraphrased the line from Wikipedia or he could have gone to the source Wikipedia cited and paraphrased that.

He could have even provided a link to Wikipedia and invited you to learn more about the City of Ulm. There, you would have discovered the line that you like so much.

Instead, he just copied & pasted a paragraph straight from the wiki and passed it off as his own. It's not just lazy, it's dishonest and really poor form.


Not to mention how highly he's been compensated for this review...chill dude.
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John Rudolph
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I'm having flashbacks of the 2016 Presidential campaign.
 
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