I enjoyed my first, recent playing of Oasis, and then I realized something disconcerting. Getting hemmed in never was a significant factor. Yeah, you always want to stay open to expand, but if it's a color you don't care about, you can live with it. If it's a color you do care about, you can start another group.
Well, to the degree this is true, then the game just becomes all about getting the right combination of cards - a pretty thin game.
So what are people's experience with the game? Have you had important plans foiled by an inability to expand - or have you always found a way around that obstacle?
Re:How much does the board matter?
When played properly (and by properly, I mean people playing offensive and defensively with the card offers, the sets chosen, tile/camel placement) and with 5 players, the board seems to matetr a great deal. With less than 5 players, it is far too hard to contain territory and especially camels. The other main problem with new players is the don't often understand some key points of this game:
- don't let the leader have the #1 token every other turn, which means you can't keep taking his set -- no matter how good it is for you, sometimes sacrifces must be made
- get aggressive with the Stony Plains tiles, they are perfect for hemming in
- if a player is starting to mount a big lead (either in multipliers, or in a territory on the board) then...
1. Don't let him have the #1 pick
2. Do not to offer more than a card or two when it is clear he will benefit from them
3. Grab cards that you know he wants; you should be able to make nearly everything useful in this game, even if only to block!
- since the game is all about containment, CONTAIN! Contain each others holdings, be careful about what you offer, and most of all, don't let one player run away with a 26-camel chain
This is not a strategy guide, just a quick overview of how to make sure the game stays close. I suspect I have been in on more games of Oasis than anyone else on earth (except Alan & Aaron and their playtest team ), and these are the basics that I have seen make the game better.
It's not a hard game to play properly, so point these little things out to your players, then the games start to get tighter and tighter, and let the good times roll!