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Subject: First Play Report rss

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Michael J
United States
Folsom
California
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I finally had a chance to play my copy of Container last night! It had sat on my shelf for 4 months with no action at all. I had read through the rules four or five times, and read many reviews before purchasing, but didn't really know what to expect when we started playing. One thing I DID know was that it would take me a little bit of time to get acclimated to the economic system.

We loaded up our docks with 3 players, all of us new to the game. I knew it would be a game of rookie mistakes and misguided analyses of incorrectly understood economic theories as to how the game actually worked. After a quick overview of the rules, we were off. One thing I can say after playing was that the rules are fairly simple, and explaining them was a breeze. Putting the rules in context to form a coherent strategy was another matter. But still, it's nice to get into a new game within 20 minutes rather than 45, even if the 20 minutes are head-scratching affairs.

So with our 3 players, we embarked on the game. Player 1 seemed to serve as the major producer and warehouser, but ended up bogged down by higher prices when Players 2 and 3 undercut him. Player 1 eventually lowered his prices, but had probably lost some income as a result. Player 3 (me) was pretty much neutral in all categories, not producing too much, not warehousing too much, not shipping too much. I think Player 3 was too much of a generalist, and didn't really find a niche that could give him enough cash to keep a smooth production engine rolling. Player 2 seemed to land the largest profits off of shipping to the foreign island, and this was probably the difference in the game.

In the end, Player 2, with the most goods on the foreign island, actually earned very little off the island, but held the most cash on hand. Player 3 had a small number of containers on the island, but met all 5 colors, and had a handful of goods in the harbor. Player 1 decided to fill his cargo ship to the max with 5 goods and end the game with a quick production cycle rather than try to fit all 5 colors on the island. So who won? Player 2 won, with $81. Player 3 was second, with $78. Player 1 came in last, with $73 (actual final totals may be different, this is to the best of my recollection). Not only did we not know who would win, it was very interesting to see all the scores come out close through completely different strategies.

My general feeling throughout the game was that I couldn't MAKE anything happen. I knew what I WANTED to happen, but making it happen was a different story altogether. You need other players to do things for you, and you have to manipulate your inventory and prices to encourage those players to do those things. And even then, the other players may not oblige. Therefore, you can't settle on a single strategy to accomplish your goals. I suppose you have to take advantage of shipments and prices when you can, even if they are not perfect, because you can't wait for the exact right combination of containers to meet your goals.

After the game, I found myself thinking about how I could have made my opponents do what I wanted, speculating on strategies. I think this is the mark of a good game. With so much dependent on human behavior, no amount of analysis before the game can earn you victory. You have to work within the flow of the game, read the economic situation at all times, and time your moves. I don't want to say more at this point, because I feel like I barely understand the game as is. But I enjoyed my first play, and look forward to the next time I play it!

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Paul Newsham
England
Hampshire
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I enjoyed your session report. It's making we want this game more, and I've been thinking about it for a while.

I like the idea of the openness of the tactics and stretegising. I'm sure more experienced players will come up with some more linear approaches to the game, but it'd be fun to learn those independantly.

thankyou.
 
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