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Subject: Beware, beware this game is rated G rss

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Andrew Rae
New Zealand
Wellington
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Anytime a game is being mentioned for a Spiel de Jahres you know there is some serious family action going on. And thats why Arkadia is firmly rated G. No R18 chainsaws like Mall of horror here but just a nice quaint medievil game. In fact nice is just the word for this game.

Now nice is a generic word that has many meaning. "Well wasn't that flippin nice" you might say after a car drives by and spashes a huge puddle all over your new suit. Or "She had a nice personality" in reference to the not so pretty girl your aunt just fixed you up on a blind date with. Or the person who is "nice" because there is absolutely nothing else you could say about the person who was generally as interesting in conversation as a small brown rock. So when I say nice I really mean average, pleasant and family friendly.

Arkadia was a pleasant experience. The game play was easy, the mecahnics simple and everybody can figure out the basics. It was fun and relatively quick to play and I imagine after a few games that you could play it as a medium filler, much like Yshphan. It's got the building factor something like princes of Florance or blokus. It's got a market mechanism where you control the value your seals are worth by surrounding buildings. And then it has a trade in feature which asks you whether you want more men to place now or weither you want to wait for another round when the prices might be higher. All in all a good combination of gaming mechanics that are simple with a little depth.

The art in the game is nothing special, but the red brick roofs on some of the building tiles provide fond memories of Princes of Florance. It looks like any other game set in this period and I can't hikn of anything to distinguish it. What I did love though were the stacking towers. We had just played Torres where I had commented on how cool the stacking of the pieces was. Jason pointed out the same pieces were used in Arkadia. They were and they are still cool. I love how they stack and the development of the building is fun. I think physically building something is a neat game feature and I wish more people would do it. So the palace was a plus. However overall the theme for this one is weak. It seems like every other game I have ever played, where you build a palace and sell goods for cash. It was fine but again nothing special.

I mentioned I rated it as a medium strategy game. There are some fun tradeoff to balance, and I enjoyed the building of the palace. One thing I would note is that the placement of workers takes a little bit of getting the hang of. Certainly I haven't mastered this, and I was forever trying to surround mulitple building at once or wanting pick up my men and replace them. Each of your own men only has a limited use and you only get eight in the game, so they need to be used wisely. This adds soem depth to the game and is a strong point. Gameplay therefore is easy and rich, at least for a few plays.

As I have said, this is family friendly. Much like Settlers this is a good introductory game for new gamers. It is good for a wide range of ages, and I would recommend it as a gateway game. It has good strategic elements and easy gameplay that will appeal to gamers and non gamers alike. However take Arkadia with a grain of salt. If you are looking for the complete package this is not it. It lacks theme, it lacks atmosphere and you may be sctratching your head to remember that you played it when you log your games after a long day of gaming. Still it is a nice game and will provide a fun experience around the dinner table or when that newbie shows up to your established gaming group. Just remember not to give it your cell number!






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Frank Eisenhauer
India
New Delhi
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I wholeheartedly agree: nice is the word. Basicaly an abstract and I suspect I would have enjoyed it more. I do need more plays to make up my mind about it. Wanna play?
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Steve McIlhatton
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eisenphx wrote:
I wholeheartedly agree: nice is the word. Basicaly an abstract and I suspect I would have enjoyed it more. I do need more plays to make up my mind about it. Wanna play?

Nice Avatar
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Roger Fawcett
United Kingdom
Northwich
Cheshire
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citylife wrote:

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I love how they stack and the development of the building is fun. I think physically building something is a neat game feature and I wish more people would do it.

I agree. So I'm in the middle of designing a game based on life in a medieval castle. As you play you physically build a wall of the castle out of tetris style pieces. Hopefully they will eventually be 3-D. Part of the game is being besieged and besieging the other players. As this happens your wall grows and shrinks according to the damage it takes. The wall is complete when 25 pieces are built. They also count as victory points - first to 25 wins.

Btw great review, I loved Arkadia and I'm waiting for my FLGS to restock so I can get a copy.
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Bill Eldard
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citylife wrote:
It was fun and relatively quick to play and I imagine after a few games that you could play it as a medium filler, much like Yshphan. It's got the building factor something like princes of Florance or blokus. It's got a market mechanism where you control the value your seals are worth by surrounding buildings. And then it has a trade in feature which asks you whether you want more men to place now or weither you want to wait for another round when the prices might be higher. All in all a good combination of gaming mechanics that are simple with a little depth.

And these several mechanism mesh together quite qell, IMHO. It's a bit too long to be a filler, though I guess that term is always open to interpretation.

citylife wrote:
I mentioned I rated it as a medium strategy game. There are some fun tradeoff to balance, and I enjoyed the building of the palace. One thing I would note is that the placement of workers takes a little bit of getting the hang of. Certainly I haven't mastered this, and I was forever trying to surround mulitple building at once or wanting pick up my men and replace them. Each of your own men only has a limited use and you only get eight in the game, so they need to be used wisely. This adds soem depth to the game and is a strong point. Gameplay therefore is easy and rich, at least for a few plays.

The management of the one's workers --- a precious and limited resource --- is the key element of the game. Setting up the buildings so that one can surround two or more buildings on the same turn is the difference between victory and defeat, and as you noted, it takes a few plays to get the hang of. This is because careless placement usually ends up with one's opponents taking advantage. So, the art is in placing buildings in such a way as to take advantage of both your set up and opponents' mistakes.

The timing of pennant play is critical, too. A player has to have a good sense of the pace and flow of the board play and the bank of available castle pieces in order to optimize the use of the four pennants.

citylife wrote:
If you are looking for the complete package this is not it. It lacks theme, it lacks atmosphere and you may be sctratching your head to remember that you played it when you log your games after a long day of gaming. Still it is a nice game and will provide a fun experience around the dinner table or when that newbie shows up to your established gaming group.

While I agree with your assessment of Arkadia as a medium strategy game, I hold the game in higher regard than you do. Most of the gamers in our group who have played it really enjoy it and want to play it again. It's no more deficient in theme than the majority of better Euro-games, such as Torres and Tigris & Euphrates. Overall, I think Arkadia is one of the best games to come out in the past year.

Thanks for your great review, citylife.



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Gary Webster
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As a fan of abstracts, I like this game, though my group has not yet played it. I just happened upon this in a bookstore, of all places. I took a chance (I'm not a fan of Goa, Mr. Dorn's "masterpiece") and rather like the combination of building, meeple placement and scoring. I disagree that there's no theme. Of course, as an abstract game fan, I can do without theme; my faves are Through the Desert and Torres. Each of these could be accused of having a pasted-on theme. I feel the theme in each of them, though, and I feel it more heavily here. You ARE building, you accept ownership of buildings by placing builders, you hire builders by cleverly overtaking their camps with buildings, and you score points by building the castle "tower." So the theme is, um, building. Just as putting together strings of camels in TtD is a little bit like establishing a camel caravan, placing builders and towes is a little MORE like building.

I think this will prove to be a very cool game.
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