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Subject: The 2007 hit in the Ystari family rss

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Kristof Tersago
Belgium
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What’s it about?
'Amytis' is a game about building the hanging gardens of Babylons. Players try to acquire resources to buy plants, to irrigate the gardens and to ask for favours from the gods. All this to obtain victory points because the player who has the most victory points at the end of the game, wins.


How does it work?
The game setup consists of the Babylon-board, where the hanging gardens are build and where you can also find the farmers/ workers and the temples, and the Mesopotamia-board, where you can keep track of the caravan, supplying plants and goodies. The hanging gardens consists of four levels of terraces. The higher you will build, the nicer the plants need to be but the more points they will generate.


During his/her turn, a player can do one of following actions:
1) Buy a worker

which grants the right to acquire a resource (farmer), acquire a camel (caravan), irrigate a canal (engineer) or gain influence in the temple (priest).
These workers are placed in as many series of three as there are players at the start of each round. The first of a serie can be chosen for free, the second will cost one money token and the last will go for two money tokens.

2) Advance the caravan
Pay at least one camel, advance the caravan on the Mesopotamia-board by as many camels as you have paid plus any bonuses and execute the action of the field where the caravan stops. There are basically two kinds of fields. One kind will grant you 'upgrade'-cards which will give you money on each round, more options to move the camel, a one time point bonus,... The other kind will give you plants which can be put on already irrigated fields on the 'Babylon'-board. These plants will also generate points and bonuses. Both the plants and the 'upgrade' cards require you to pay resources (which you have obtained from the farmer).

3) Pass
meaning your round is over. However each time it would have been your turn, you'll gain one money token.

The round has finished when the last player passes.
Now there is some housekeeping to do.
1) The first player who has passed, gets a free entry in a temple of his/ her choice. On both other temples a neutral piece will be added.
2) Temples are now scored giving extra points, camels, resources,... depending on the type of temple.
3) The new round starts with the passing of the starting player and a new set of workers which are put on display.

The game is over after a certain amount of fields is left on the 'Babylon'-board. Bonuses are given if you have build a certain amount of plants and winner is he/ she who has the most points.

Where is the fun?
'Amyitis' is a typical euro-game with good strategy, a tactical filling and a fine layer of theme. It not only involves resource/ money management but has a very good integrated timing aspect. When should you buy your workers? Which resource do you need and how can you get it? When will the caravan be at the point where you need it? Since all info is put on the table, you have all information to see what each player is up to. All actions are closely interacting with each other which creates a lot of player interaction.

Why should I like this?
- Typical euro-game of the Ystari family
- Heavy timing and tactical aspect
- Different possible winning strategies

Why shouldn’t I like this?
- Theme might feel pasted-on
- Might be too complex if you play a lot with non-gamers.

Final verdict
'Amyitis' fits perfect in the Ystari family next to Caylus and Ys. Typical euro-game, heavy on strategy, light on theme, lots of possibilities. If you like other 'Ystari'-games, this can be a blind buy. If you like minis, theme and dice-rolls, it might be better to try before you buy.
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Stephen Tudor
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Paoli
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Thanks for this overview and the vote of confidence. Nice to hear Ystari hasn't lost its touch. I've been curious about this one and how it compares to the others.
 
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Andy M
United Kingdom
Norwich
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Is it true that Ystari designed this game by cutting up the rules from all their previous games, put them in a hat, then drew them out in a random order?
 
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Karis Shem
France
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Unfortunately we couldn't find any hat, so we had to to it differently this time ! But don't worry, i'll probably buy one for the next game
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Jarosław Czaja
Poland
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Karis wrote:
Unfortunately we couldn't find any hat, so we had to to it differently this time ! But don't worry, i'll probably buy one for the next game

Sense of humour is what I like in people
 
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Greg Jones
United States
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Musti wrote:
Theme might feel pasted-on

Maybe? I think they picked the theme based on finding a name that has the letters Y and S in it.
 
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Karis Shem
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Ok, now for a serious answer.

Maybe the theme may feel pasted on, but it is not pasted at all.

In fact the game was developped after a serious documentation about the hanging gardens (even if there's not much left and nobody can prove those gardens existed). In fact i even visited several Museum, including the Berlin Pergamon Museum which owns the authentical gate of Ishtar...

From there, i developped a lot of ideas (like ressources, irrigation and the general shape of the gardens) . Of course it's an eurogame and the rules are not intended to recreate Babylonian life, but i developped the game with those informations in my hat. Oups i mean head

Regards,
Cyril
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Kristof Tersago
Belgium
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Let's say that this game is as linked to the hanging gardens as T&E is linked to the rise and fall of civilization in Mesopotamia.

I'm quite sure that the game design starts with a theme but we euro-gamers like our game to be finely distilled and analysed until proper mechanism are left over.

The reason for mentioned the 'pasted on theme'-remark was that some other euro-games can create some more atmosphere by their board design or gameflow (e.g. Funkenschlag or Cuba).
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Karis Shem
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You're probably right on this one.
During the developpement process, you need to forget the theme a bit in order to fine tune correctly. That said, i think we're closer to the theme than T&E which is nonetheless a great game !

Regards,
Cyril
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Fine review. It made me look up the stuff available.

Having read the rules I decided to buy the game immediately. The pieces look first rate. The "passing" rule mechanic is a fabulous thought; I think it will rank up the "withdrawing" from a province -- my favorite rule from my current favorite game, Taj Mahal. In fact, the rules reminded of Taj in their elegance. This looks like it has the makings of another favorite and a potential classic. Good work.

Also, as for the theme, being an avid readers of all things Mesopotamia and the Bronze Age, I would say that this one does an excellent job in illustrating the period and the event, without getting too bogged down in the rules.

I am not one to speak glowingly of many things, but getting this game to our table is one of the things I am most looking forward to before November is out.
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Gary Webster
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Pretty good review; you got Cyril the game's designer to weigh in!! I am rather fond of both Ys and Caylus, and am interested in Yspahan, so this looks like another one to aim for.

If you're tuning in, Cyril, these are pretty darn good games you're designing here!
 
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Karis Shem
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Thank you very much. I appreciate
 
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