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Creech Sonic
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Back when Oasis were first acquired, I used to play it frequently. Then there were more games and soon was overwhelmed and distracted to others, but deep in, I know that I still want to play it. Finally, I found my chance in introducing this game to my nephew, who has fallen in love with board games and card games recently (eversince I introduced King's Breakfast, Carcassonne etc).

We had a game of Rat-A-Tac-Cat and a quick introduction to Squad 7 prior to this more heavy weight game. Opening the box unfold a beautify desert map and lots of components. Each player is given 4 control markers of their color for marking their area. There are also lots of resouce tiles (of 3 different type of terrain) and camels of the player's color to be acquired during the game. This is accompanied by a handfull of multipliers associated with the terrain and camel. Finally there is the deck of cards that are used for the bidding process and the priority token with nicely illustrated picture of the royal family. Basically Oasis is a majority area control game where you win by trying to control more of the area available while blocking the other players in their development. However, the twist here is that it is combined with a interesting bidding mechanism where you offer goodies to other players to bid for the rights to be the first player. To be the first player has an advantage where you will be given a free resource of your choice on top of being the first to choose among all the offers bids by the other player. Player take turns based on the priority token to choose their offer, once you have selected the offer by one player, you passed your priority token faced down to that player. In the next round, the player will take the priority of the faced down token. This is quite clever as players will try to make their offer attractive enough so that player with higher priority, hopefully the 1st priority, will take their bids so that next round they will have more choice of getting the right resource. Once the offers is taken, the player get the resources listed on the card and start placing them on the board or if there are multipliers, the player will keep it faced down. Scoring is only done at the end of the game where the player will take the no of the same type of terrain they control multiply by the number of related multiplier that they own. The camel, on the other hand, works differently where only the largest herd will be counted. Since there are only 4 control markers, player has to be careful where they wanted to develop vs stoping other players.

Through my experience, this game is best taught by going through the first 3 rounds guiding the others what to do instead of trying to explain how it works. So, I started the round with sharing some strategic placement of resource, how to guess and manage your bids as it goes on. Of course, since I'm playing with a small kid + 1 new player, I do share with them some of the strategic placement that I should have deployed but did not actually do it. After the initial 3 rounds, both of the new players started to get the game and that's where things get really interesting. There are more thinking in putting down the resource and more table top as to trying to influence the offering by other players. In the mid game, my little nephew is happily developing in his own area while myself and Sis-in-law is fighting out at the other area :-) Occasionally, we also hinted to the kid about his placements and he soon graps more area while stopping us from developing. Finally, the game ended with him getting the last resource. Tallying up the scores, my little nephew won his first game (*smile*) and generally have a very good feel about the game. I come in a close second while Sis came in third.

This is definately a game that can promote strategic placement and tactical planning while at the same time managing the limited resource and assessing your board position. Though the underlying strategy might not be obvious, the nice theme and simple game play do open up access to the younger player. My nephew can't wait to get his own copy just so that he can play with other childrens of his age :-)
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