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Qyshinsu: Mystery of the Way» Forums » General

Subject: Qyshinsu: Review and Session rss

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T.W. McLain 3
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Tulsa
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HISTORY:

I began my boardgame evolution with a copy of Risk and Stratego that I remembered and repurchased from my childhood. Then around '94 I picked up a copy of "Betrayal at House on the Hill", and became a die hard Ameritrash fan in the Tannhauser, Space Hulk, and Memoir '44 vein. For the past year I have found myself leaning towards Abstract Strategy games such as Easter Island, Hive and Cathedral.
About six months ago I saw some images of a beautiful, circular wooden board divided by 12 wedge shaped spaces on the front page here at the 'Geek. Thus begun my journey towards discovering and owning R.A. Frederickson's excellent original game "Qyshinsu: Mystery of the Way".

As the game mechanics are discussed in detail elsewhere, I will limit my thoughts to the components themselves and a quick session with another gamer.


WANDERING:

http://rafrederickson.com/qyshinsu
Although Frederickson's site is easy to find, it is not your typical e-sale site. You will learn about his games and even download rules manuals, but don't expect a conspicuous "BUY IT HERE NOW!!" button cramming a product down your throat. You must email Mr. Frederickson and inquire as to the cost of his handmade, wooden games. I did so, and promptly recieved a quote on what a copy of "Qyshinsu: Mystery of the Way" would cost me.

It is not my place in this report to state what Mr. Frederickson charges for his games. However it is important to note that this high quality wood game is very much in the same price range of the "big budget" games that are all cardboard counters and generic plastic pieces.
I also think it relevent to note from the time I inquired about the price of the game, and the time I actually ordered it was about a four month difference. Upon later responding to the initial email I had recieved previously, the price had not gone up one penny- my quote was my quote. I promptly ordered.

RECIEVING:

Email response was quick, and the order was shipped within the week via priority USPS with a tracking number. The game arrived within 2 days.

BEHOLDING:


The board is hand made and stained a dark mahogony around the edges, lip, and intersecting board wedges. The lip is an excellent idea and really handy- it allows you to "lean" the last removed piece from the board for courtesy purposes to the opposing player, and it works great. The board is about 10 inches in diameter and has a nice weight to it- would look excellent on any coffe table. I was surprised there is no signature, number, or stamp on the underside of the board for the sake of posterity; it would be a nice collector's touch.

The 24 "stones" or wooden playing pieces are clearly marked by color and number, and appear to be cut from very large dowel rod.

The stones hold my only minor complaint about the game. Although the pieces are a very light wood, three of my pieces ( the red 1 stone, the red 3 stone, and the black 4 stone) all have a very noticeable glue or stain imperfection on one side/partial top of the stones. This in no way affects play or recognition, but is not cosmetically pleasing. I doubt this is problematic with all copies, but just a reminder that this is a handmade and made to order game.

The rule book has caused more teeth nashing on this site than any other component of "Qyshinsu: Mystery of the Way". For the life of me I cannot understand why.This beautiful, full color rulebook is about the size of a very thick cd insert. The sturdy and glossy pages included a very kind personal note written by Mr. Frederickson himself- reminds me of when that was how you won the loyalty of customers. It breaks the play of the game down in a very logical and easy to understand fashion, clearly explaining the rules through a very poetic and well written pilosophical/fiction narrative.
My suspicion is that detractors who moan so loudly about the rules are not heavy readers, or are simply impatient. I was able to breeze through the rulebook and enjoy the story for what it is: ambiance for the mind. If you are literate and have a little patience you can get through this book and ENJOY learning the rules in about 25 minutes or so. But I admit that opinions are objective on these things so to each their own. I've been rereading the dry-as-bones rules to Diplomacy for about three years now, and still don't have the slightest idea how in the hell you play the game

THE ART OF MASTER STRATEGY:

In closing, I feel that "Qyshinsu: Mystery of the Way" is exactly what R.A. Frederickson proclaims it to be; part of a Masterwork Collection.
I look forward to seeing what his offerings and visions hold in the future both for his fictional traveller "Hakummar", and for we loyal gamers along for the journey as well.


SESSION REPORT:

I played my first Qyshinsu game with my buddy Kevin last night, who generally trounces me in the abstract department. I allowed him the first black stone move as a courtesy. I admit that I really had no strategy as I played, other than to limit his movement as the game progressed. We played an introductory game which I won but did not record. I also won the third game (!) but it was rather long and believe I recorded it improperly in my notes. I thought this 2nd game was a good example however of how you can win rather quickly if you get yourself into the rythym of returning to the way.

(Note I used a modified notation from sites like Boardspace.net to signify movements. I.E. K: 5st 1sp

T: 2st 8sp
translates to: Kevin (blackstone) moves the 5 stone to the 1st space. (spaces start at 1:00 top of circle and move clockwise to 12:00) Tom (redstone/me) moves the 2 stone to the 8th space.

So here is the session, which I miraculously won in six moves:

K: 5st 1sp

T: 2st 8sp

K: 2st 10sp

T: 3st 12sp

K: 1st 3sp

T: 4st 4sp

After this move, Kevin could no longer place/remove his stones, and I Returned to the Way.Simply-beautiful!
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Scott Reynolds
United States
Indiana
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I've been thinking about purchasing this game, because of the unique look. Great review - thanks.
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T.W. McLain 3
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Thank you scott- my first so I wanted to do this game justice!
 
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Jason Arvey
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This is a really good review: well described and well discussed. As one of the people who does grumble about the rulebook (and also the one for Zhadu, by the same designer/author) I would like to point out that my main complaint is that it is not easy to go back and find a rule on which you need clarification. I had this problem with Zhadu once (How do we set the pieces up to start?) and continually with Qyshinsu (How do the empty stones work again?) Both games would benefit greatly from having a very quick one- or two-page rules summary at the back of the rulebook or as a separate insert. And, to have it suggested that somehow I am not a "heavy reader" or even not "literate" because I want a concise rules option is silly. I enjoy a wide variety of books, nonfiction and fiction like, and am constantly reading one. But when I pick up my newly-purchased game to learn how to play it, I don't want deep philosophy and character development. I want stereo instructions.
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T.W. McLain 3
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Not meant as insults, just an observation! I even pointed out that I cannot even understand the Diplomacy rules after repeated (and repeated) rereading of the rules. But at its' core this game has three rules and a pretty simple concept- and a bare bones rules sheet can be printed from the designers website. Thanks for the reply!
 
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