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Subject: 2 player game: how to play to avoid slow progression? rss

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Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
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So, the GF and me sat down with our freshly bought Amyitis to play a game for 2. We slowly digested the French rule text, only to find that when playing the game is quite fast (in terms of performing your actions) and not at all that difficult.

However, about three quarters of the way through, we began to get quite irritated by the lack of actual progress towards the end. The game ends when 3 or less garden tiles remain on the board. The 'clock' of the game is governed by the farmer and his resources, and indirectly by the priest of Tammouz. Unless we misread the rules, only they can give you resource chips and a coveted gardener card with which you can beautify a cheap plant.

However, since a good portion of your resources is channeled into other things (if not by your own actions then by plain capping the amount you can retain at the end of a round), this means that as the end approaches, you are just waiting and waiting to get the resources you need to move the caravan to the correct town. If you cannot afford to move far enough, then the lack of camels begins to make itself felt, and the temple of Ishtar suddenly begins to become important. So you get cycles: first Ishtar and camel breeders to get the caravans; then Tammouz and the farmers to get hopefully the right resources; and hopefully being able to move both to a spot where you can buy a plant without a gardener card. After of course fighting over the engineer to get things irrigated so we could actually place some plants there. We were doing this for 90 minutes straight when we grew bored of this pointless running around, waiting for good cards to appear again or the farmer plots to fill up so one of us would get a new gardener, and broke off with just 6 garden tiles built.

We are not expert players, and probably should have focussed relentlessly on Tammouz and the farmers, but there is still nagging doubt as to what would actually improve by doing that. You cannot introduce more resources in the game, and changing their type is also not an option. (Tammouz' second ability is locked away in a 2P-game.) The game also loses much of its appeal, for it should be possible to focus on different aspects of point gathering (like for example the palaces). If the game needs both players just to get it to end in a reasonable time, then it is not meant to be played at that low a number of players.

We're feeling we're missing something very obvious here. We'd been hiping for something fast as Yspahan, but Amyitis refused to give away her secrets so easily. Can some expert player please explain how to play a 2P-game of Amyitis without it becoming a chore halfway through?
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Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
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Eep, first major booboo found. We forgot that the gardens are built like a quarter of a pyramid, and played instead that the quality of the plants was organised in rows instead of terraces. In other words, our game featured 8 plants of quality 3, 3 of quality 2, and just 2 of quality 1; instead of 5 of quality 1, 4 of quality 2, and just 4 of quality 3. That will certainly have an influence sauron. Let's try the game again and see what happens meeple.
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Karis Shem
France
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Your error had certainly a major effect over the course of the game. Let me know if the new configuration works better for you

By the way, the quality of the plants is written on their back, and the colors should help you to sort them...

Regards,
Cyril
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Maarten D. de Jong
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In the new configuration the game went by much more quickly---we were finished in an hour. It's good to know that Amyitis now 'works'. However, my girlfriend wasn't at all convinced. Early on I was able to dominate the farmer fields thanks to a bit of agressive priest-usage, and she thought it was best to counter me via the engineer. After all, that gives you 2 points per cubes placed. Unfortunately, that proved disastrous: instead of working against me, she was actually helping me to move the camel around at my own leisure: I had the resources, and could therefore plant whatever I wanted because she had already irrigated everything for me.

I pointed out that instead of chosing the Engineer, she should have focused on the palace improvements with the occasional garden thrown in if the bonus offered happened to be good. That would have slowed me down considerably for her to be able to catch up and form a major threat. She wasn't truly convinced: she dislikes the mechanism in the 2P-game whereby someone can 'secure' a Gardener by just having 3 cubes in a single row. I pointed out that Gardeners are not very useful the way we played it now, but she was difficult to convince otherwise. She will play another game to see how things work out if she focuses on other things, though.
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Karis Shem
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Hi Maarten,

The problem is that the 2-player game is probably the most demanding version of Amyitis. We're really happy with the flow of the game and balance, but on the other hand it's really difficult to play it correctly if you've not mastered the timing aspect of the game.

I would not recommand it for "beginners" because it's really difficult for them to find some counterplay...

For example as you already noticed it, massive irrigation is not a good idea (thus well-played irrigation can be really powerful). As you pointed it, having a gardener is good but that's certainly not the ultimate strategy (since you throw it sooner or later).

By the way i just want to check that you did not forgot the ressource limitation at the end of the turn, did you ?

Regards,
Cyril
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Maarten D. de Jong
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Thanks for taking the time to point out tips and tricks. Regrettably, we have little alternative but to play it with just the two of us; there's not that many opponents around over here. Despite that, I think I'm beginning to like this game---not because of my winning by a landslide, but because it is indeed quite subtly balanced. When I compare it to other 'multiple ways to victory'-games (Notre Dame comes to mind, although there are many others) I like this game better because players get in each other's way more often, but actually need each other too at times. It's a tricky but not too overly long balancing act.

To answer your last question: yes, we did. In fact, I needed to look up in the rules exactly when the cap is imposed, namely before or after the gods bless us mortal souls with their gifts.
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Karis Shem
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Honestly, i think the game gets better with replays.

I've read that no rules are particularly "new", and i think it's quite true (maybe this passing mechanism is new, but i won't swear it).

Anyway the game is not a "regular" ressource management game because of this tempo thing. So i'd say the novelty is not in the mechanisms, but in the "strange" dynamic. At least that what we tried to create...

Of course i'm really really biased

REgards,
Cyril
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