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Subject: Could an experienced Chinatown player answer these questions please? rss

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Bernard Hopkins
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I own Genoa and regard it as one of my best games. I like it with 4 or 5 players. It doesn't see the table nearly as much as it should. Some of the things that hold it back are.

1. Rules, they're easy once learned but there are quite a few things for new players to get a handle on.

2. Play time can run long.

These don't bother me at all but are taken into consideration when choosing a game for game night.

Now I’m looking at Chinatown for a slightly shorter more streamlined negotiation game. I’m worried about some of the comments from people who don’t rate it very highly. I was hoping someone with experience could address these two paragraphs…

“I perceive to be the main issue of the game that a deal's worth can be accurately calculated. Once players know how to do this quickly and accurately, Chinatown becomes a game of speculation against the luck of the draw stack and bag—my what interesting diversions. The only way to make this game work is by simply ignoring that you can calculate matters, but then I wonder what the purpose of the game is in the first place. If a trading game is going to work, values of lots must have different values to different people.”

And this comment…

“trading is mutually beneficial to the parties involved, meaning their position improves relative to everyone not involved. Thus, the person that trades most often has the greatest chance of winning. To be able to trade most often, you must have the most to offer. Having the most to offer requires drawing all the best business tiles and building cards. See the dilemma?”

Those pretty much sum up my apprehension about buying this one.



 
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Ben Bateson
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The first comment is valid, but easily countered by playing the game at a decent pace and not allowing people enough time to try and do all the calculations. Some sort of time limit on trading is advisable if your group contains an obsessive valuer.

The second comment is nonsense. There are no 'best' buildings and plots. The relative value of everything is determined by the players and will vary hugely from game to game. Trading is not always mutually beneficial if you are creative and don't always look for a 'straight swap'. Which brings us back to valuation and the pace of the game, of course.
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...sure...
Netherlands
Rijen
Noord Brabant
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It is hard to calculate in the first rounds, but in the last 2, 3 rounds, yeah. A deal can be calculated.

This game has luck. This game is about trading. That's it. Trading and luck. It's also easy to learn and fast. And a lot of fun if you have a group that likes trading.
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Bill Eldard
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Arctic Jack wrote:
“I perceive to be the main issue of the game that a deal's worth can be accurately calculated. Once players know how to do this quickly and accurately, Chinatown becomes a game of speculation against the luck of the draw stack and bag—my what interesting diversions.

In other words, it's just like real life.


Arctic Jack wrote:
The only way to make this game work is by simply ignoring that you can calculate matters, but then I wonder what the purpose of the game is in the first place.

I've read that sentence a half dozen times and I still don't get what the individual is trying to say. Since "calculation" is fundamental to any trading venture (IOW, what am I gaining for what I am losing?); "ignoring" it would indeed make the game pointless. But why ignore it? I can say that about most any game. If I ignore the calculation in chess, what's the point of playing chess?

Arctic Jack wrote:
If a trading game is going to work, values of lots must have different values to different people.” . . .

They do, and hence the need for calculation. A single lot is worth far less to me than it is to the opponent who has three lots connected to it. I can get $20,000 a turn from an incomplete business on that lot, but if the opponent adds it to his three lots to form a complete 4-tile business, the value of that lot is $40,000 per turn. That means there is a $20,000 difference between the lot's worth to me and it's worth to the opponent, and hence, we have something to bargain over.

Arctic Jack wrote:
And this comment…

“trading is mutually beneficial to the parties involved, meaning their position improves relative to everyone not involved. Thus, the person that trades most often has the greatest chance of winning. To be able to trade most often, you must have the most to offer. Having the most to offer requires drawing all the best business tiles and building cards. See the dilemma?”

Those pretty much sum up my apprehension about buying this one.

We can't ignore the luck-of-the-draw factor in Chinatown, but then, if it wasn't there, the bargaining would be nothing more than a dry math drill. When I hold on to a lot that is valuable to an opponent, but then that opponent draws a lot that fulfills his/her need (or gets it in another trade), the trading value of my lot decreases. So, knowing that, I may have a sense of urgency in my bargaining, and that will impact on what I will sell it for. Conversely, as the game progresses and the opponent can't satisfy his/her need, the opponent may be feeling that urgency.

Also, weak draws can be overcome by strong trades. I've done it.

But the purpose of my post is to correct the perceptions shaped by the quoted comments, and not to convince you to buy the game. For me, Chinatown is the best trading game I've ever played, but that doesn't mean that you will like it.
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Paul Mason
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I loved Genoa but eventually traded it away because I could not get it to the table. Chinatown is a streamlined version.
There is luck with the tile and business draw, but the core is negotiation. The major downside to the game is the last round everything is pretty much solved. Rounds 2,3 and 4 is where the game shines. ( and where you spend 90% of the game ) You can't really calculate everything in these rounds because there are too many ifs. "Sure you have the last flower tile now... I'll buy it for a price... but I can just wait next round and someone else could easily draw one, and now you lost your negotiation power"

Round six is just a formality.

As for the second comment, I do believe the person who trades the most often tends to win. But what you draw shouldn't stop you that much. Sure, if two parties both draw exactly what the other needs, congrats. But That doesn't normally happen. normally there is a third ( and fourth ) party needing to get involved. I try to weasel my way in every deal... and keep slowly improving my position.
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Bill Eldard
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ptm_junk wrote:
Round six is just a formality.


That's true, and for some, the game climaxes one turn too soon. I'm good with it, though.
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