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Subject: Dirk Must Die rss

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Josh P.
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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Earlier this week, my fiancée and I tried Alhambra for the first time. On first glance, it looked like our type of game. Tile placement, set collection, and some mild economics looked to make this a clear winner based on our tastes. We unpacked the game, dived into the directions, and then we met Dirk.

Dirk, for those of you who don't know him, is the imaginary third player in a two-player game (also the name of the designer, coincidentally). Dirk gets tiles and scores points along the way. Why is this? Well, because the game was designed for a very-balanced 3-6 player experience and Dirk was the only way the designer could make the game equally balanced for two players.

This immediately struck us as a huge turn off. We both agreed that this is a 3-6 player game trying to fool buyers into thinking it is a 2-6 player game. We were still really excited about the mechanics, so we deiced to play the game anyway.

As we set up the game, the first thing we noticed was the components. The components were of really high quality and impressed us greatly. There is a great cloth bag for the tiles, the artwork is clean and well-designed, and the box is very well-organized to hold everything.

As we played the game, my fiancée focused on getting the longest wall, while I focused on set collection for high point colors. As things started to "click," my turns became longer as I tried to strategize what I was doing. I started thinking about taking things I really didn't need just to screw my opponent, and mentally debating the cost-benefit analysis of these moves. I was starting to see the strategy, but I was trying hard not to over-think it because that would drive my finacée far into boredom and lead to her having animated conversations with Dirk.

In the end, I won, but not my much. It was a good game and we both enjoyed it, but as we boxed it up, we both noted that something was still bugging us: Dirk. Dirk is a cop-out. He's only in the game to maintain a balance of sorts. We could try playing without him, but we fear it might break the game. Dirk is wrong. Dirk is a cheat (a designer cheat anyway) and we don't like him. We both decided that we would enjoy playing the game again, but it would have to be with at least three players. After all, neither of us need another imaginary friend.
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Sheldon Morris
Canada
Fergus
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My fiancee and I enjoy this game a lot too; especially with her parents. Her mother loves the game and we've even had to leave it there with them. We played it a few times just with the two of us but we didn't find it as fun.

Then we 'discovered' Dirk and his special rules. He adds so much to the game, despite his propensity for trash-talk, and always include him in our otherwise two-player games. It may be a designer's cheat, but I think it was a very good designer's cheat.
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Eugene
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joshp wrote:
Dirk is wrong. Dirk is a cheat (a designer cheat anyway) and we don't like him.


Don't be dissin' Dirk.

2-player with Dirk is how I learned the game. And until just the other day, I had never played Alhambra except as 2-player. My first 4-player session was very disappointing. There was so little planning and conniving that could be done by the time one's turn came around that any and all buying opportunities were snatched up whenever the situation allowed it, exact change be damned.

I'll give it a shot with 3 human players, but as it stands, 2-player with Dirk what we'll stick to.
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Hugh G. Rection
United States
La Mesa
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Check out Alhambra: The Dice Game. It supports 2 without any additional placeholder players. It also has an alternate rule set to incorporate the Alhambra base game, but I haven't tried those yet.
 
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Dennis Leung
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Half Moon Bay
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We actually prefer Dirk...he's not really a player, insomuch as an additional way to affect the other player's standings. We use Dirk aggressively---we give him tiles to hurt the other player and make sure they get third place points or prevent them from getting first place points. Dirk's tile draw also changes the tile distributions, which adds more variety to the gameplay. In fact, I think this is one of the few games that specifically adds more strategy with two players. We prefer playing two player with Dirk than playing with three or four players.

We tried playing without Dirk once...and the game did break. Once I had established a majority of purple tiles, there was no incentive for me to pick up more purple tiles. Similarly, there was no incentive for my girlfriend to waste her money buying purple tiles since she couldn't catch up. The four available tiles? Purple.
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Christopher Steele
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Farmers Branch
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I liked playing with Dirk until he started checking out my wife.
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Eugene
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csteele12 wrote:
I liked playing with Dirk until he started checking out my wife.


Keep an eye on Dirk. His last name is Diggler.
 
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Mike Pranno
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Chardon
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Hugh_G_Rection wrote:
Check out Alhambra: The Dice Game. It supports 2 without any additional placeholder players. It also has an alternate rule set to incorporate the Alhambra base game, but I haven't tried those yet.

Ummmm... Dirk is in the dice game, too. He's even easier to beat than vanilla Alhambra but just as necessary to maintain a balance.
 
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Linda Baldwin
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White Plains
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Yup. Had my doubts too, but I think Dirk works very well, having played many games with various numbers of players.

What does NOT work well is Alhambra as a 5-6 player game. Strategy goes out the window. 2 player, with Dirk, is not broken. Without Dirk, it's pointless.
 
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