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Subject: An Average Joe Review rss

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Rick Struve
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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Average Joe reviews are aimed at the average gamer. You know who you are!

Those of us who:
1) Know what ‘Eurogame’ and ‘Ameritrash’ means.
2) Know that enjoying the game is more important than winning.
3) Don’t own more than 50 games.
4) Don’t consider their FLGS a second home (maybe a 3rd or 4th though).
5) Like to read a review without being overloaded with information.



Goal of Game:
Grow your Japanese empire and influence by not only obtaining territory, but making the best use of the territories you control.

Components:
Terrific. Hey, it’s a Euro-game… so there are TONS of cubes! Many little cardboard pieces and standard stock cards. One very large, yet beautiful, board. Best of all, there is a combat tower which I find very unique, and quite fun!

The Rules:
Decent. There are a lot of instructions, but nothing too complicated – and it will take at least one round (season) before you fully understand the game.

The Game:
Excellent. The game covers 2 years, a total of 8 seasons – and you have a very limited amount of time to get things organized; taxing for money to build castles, temples and theaters; taking rice to feed all your people; and building up your armies to raid surrounding territories while defending your own – all this while doing your best to not tick off the peasants in order to avoid a revolt. Sounds simple, right?

The rounds consist of spring, summer, fall… and then winter is a scoring round each year. Great fun figuring out how to best use each territory you control. There is SO much strategy going on! Many ways to gain points. Each territory you own, you may do the following: Build a castle, temple or theater – Steal rice - Tax for gold – Place armies – or use armies to raid neighboring territories. The possibility of peasant revolts is a fun way of keeping you in check and not going too control crazy. There is plenty of interaction between players, and definitely many ‘drink your milkshake’ opportunities!

While it would seem that this game is highly focused on raiding and fighting, it is actually more rounded than that. A person who focuses on domination through conquering neighboring territories will find it very hard to pull off a successful victory. This I like – mainly because there are some people who love battle, and this has a tendency to punish those who follow this violent strategy.

But best of all – if you haven’t heard yet, this game has a COMBAT TOWER! One of the most creative ways of doing battle in my humble opinion. You gather up all the army cubes involved, toss them into the top of the tower… some will get stuck in the tower (waiting for future battles) but most will tumble down. The player with the most armies tumbling down wins the combat. Not as random as dice, but just enough luck to make it interesting. It is always a blast when a few extra cubes come down that nobody was expecting – causing an upset!

Downtime:
Medium. There is some downtime each round when players are figuring out how to best use their territories. This won’t seem too bad, mainly because everyone will be having the same difficulty laying out their best plans… and the wait only comes for those players that figure things out faster and must wait for the others to finish. This really does not seem to be a major problem during the game though.

Analysis Paralysis
Heavy. If you have a thinker in your group, be prepared to wait a little longer! Each player will have a lot of territories, and how best to use each territory will cause a lot of strategizing.

Game Length:
A little long. Games take at least 2 hours, which will start to drag towards the end… though this is not a huge problem for most serious gamers. There is usually something going on for everyone to think about, and they will be too busy thinking to pay attention to the clock!

Finish:
Great. The scoring table stays pretty close after the first year, and by looking at the board you will probably have a good idea who has the best chance of winning come winter time of the 2nd year. But that last scoring round can really pull a few surprises.

Replay-ability:
Excellent. Especially with thinkers. Like Power Grid, you really need to think ahead as much as possible… and thinkers love this type of strategy. For us average gamers, the game plays different each time… and that combat tower always adds just a touch of luck.

Pros:
Combat tower.
Many ways to score and win.
High replay-ability.

Cons:
The game can drag towards the end.
Takes a lot of table space.
There is a territory called ‘Bitchu’ – ok I admit, that’s a con in my girlfiend’s opinion…

Overall:
Terrific game. This is one that everyone will love right away. You will quickly learn strategies and what to watch out for… with plenty of 20/20 hindsight. The combat tower truly makes this game. As long as the game can be, people will want to play a second game right away. I have found that I have not had any games that worked out the same way – and it constantly makes me not only plan my strategy, but figure out how to correct or change my strategy when things start going majorly wrong. I love this one.

I give Shogun a 9/10
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ketchupgun
Canada
Toronto
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rstruve wrote:
Average Joe reviews are aimed at the average gamer. You know who you are!

Those of us who:
1) Know what ‘Eurogame’ and ‘Ameritrash’ means.
2) Know that enjoying the game is more important than winning.
3) Don’t own more than 50 games.
4) Don’t consider their FLGS a second home (maybe a 3rd or 4th though).
5) Like to read a review without being overloaded with information.




um..that's like totally awesome! I commend you and look forward to all your subsequent rants!
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James Hemsley
Italy
Desio
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Good review, Rick. We'll have to play this again sometime when you're in Iowa City!

--James
 
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John Herrera
United States
Highland
California
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Thanks Rick, just orderd the game today.
 
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Achim Zien
Germany
Oldenburg
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There's a theory: if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There's another theory: this has already happened.
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Nice review - compact, yet structured and extensive. But why do all games which sound like fun have to be 2h+ long? I find that annoying.
 
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The Seal of Approval
Austria
Vienna
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PiHalbe wrote:
Nice review - compact, yet structured and extensive. But why do all games which sound like fun have to be 2h+ long? I find that annoying.


You might want to choose "advanced game search", and pick a maximum playing time of your taste, and a fairly high rating (say, 7.5 to 10). Good luck!
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