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Subject: Bombay - Elefun? rss

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G. Gambill
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Ok, this is my first review, so please be gentle!


Image from user Laszlo Molnar

I just purchased this game for my daughter for her birthday. The whole idea and theme of the game is, essentially, pick up and deliver silk and sell it for the most profit by moving your cool little elephant that actually HOLDS little colored cubes that represent silk on their back. I mean, who wouldn't love that! The board art is beautiful, and the components are very nice indeed. How does it play? If you'll forgive my little joke, as Shakespeare would say, "The plays the thing..."

Overview:

First, players set up the board (see below), then, they get to play a certain number of rounds which is dependent on the number of players. Each round is made of turns in which players can spend three action points to either move their elephant, buy a bale of silk from the market, sell a bale of silk in a city, or build a palace in any space that does not contain a city or market. Most of these spaces are set up with a bonus token which is put on the board randomly at the beginning of the game for a player who builds a palace in that space by spending an action and a bale of silk from their elephant. The point of building palaces is to gain these tokens, work towards an end game bonus (which goes to players with the most palaces and client tokens (more on these later)), and to gain income every time players stop at or pass by their palace that is paid to them by the bank, not the other players. Buying silk uses a creative supply and demand mechanic. At the beginning of the game, each city has a set demand for silk by color, arranged from top (most in demand that will fetch the best price) to bottom (in the lowest demand which will get the least money, but will gain you a "client" for selling so cheaply!) These demand markers move as the demand is met, so if you sell the most popular color of silk to Bombay, for example, it then moves to the bottom of the demand chart for that city, while the others move one ranking up, a clever mechanism. In addition, at the start of each round, nine random cubes are pulled from a bag in either yellow, blue, purple or orange which represent the availability of each silk color in the markets. The most rare will be the most expensive in game terms (costing two actions and two coins) while the most common (palace fodder I call 'em) sell for only one of your three actions and one coin. These prices are fixed for the round, and when a particular color of silk is sold out from the market, they're gone, and the matching color markets on the board are flipped over to the "closed" side for the rest of the round until new cubes are drawn again at the start of the next round. Players spend their rounds moving (one action per space unless climbing a hill which costs two) their elephants around, buying and selling silk for the best price, and building palaces to acquire bonus token and work towards end game rewards. While on that subject, there is also another bonus given to players who sell in three out of four, or four out of the four cities on the board, but supplies of these tokens are limited (number of players - 1), so not every player can gain this bonus. Clients are acquired by selling for the lowest price as described above, but can also be acquired by selling a purple silk at any price. They can also be gained through bonus tokens when constructing palaces. Selling yellow silk always gains a bonus of one additional coin (rupee). At the end of the game, the player with the most money is the winner!



Pros and Cons:

Cons:


The game is fiddly to set up for its length of play. The rulebook is very good at explaining the setup, and gives clear instructions and examples, but there it is. The game takes about one half hour to forty five minutes to play. The board is set up according to the number of players. The more players in the game, the more silk markets, and the more bonus tokens that are distributed on the board. The end game bonuses also are adjusted according to the number of players. For a game this short, I just feel it takes a little too long to set up, but that's just my opinion. (I call this the Hey, That's My Fish!phenomenon )

The rules state that if you wish to pass your entire turn (use NO action points) you can gain a rupee for sitting there. This is called "consolidating your fortune" and it's a terrible rule. As other have written, you can just sit there the whole game and sometimes beat players who actually tried! Happily for me, I don't play with people who would ever do this, and we've instituted a house rule that says you can do this only once per round. This seems to work well, but I'll let others decide that.

The bonus tokens are two sided which can be confusing since the rule book states they are to be placed yellow side up, but the picture on the back does not match the picture on the front. This is actually the only part of the game I am unclear about. We just use the yellow sides, and have decided to viciously ignore the confusing underside. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Thanks to Javi for the reference to the Ystari website. I have copied this directly from them to clear this up:

Please pay attention to this adjustment:

In 2-player and 3-player games the palace tokens are placed orange side up, while in 4-player and 5-player games, they are placed yellow side up.

Thanks again Javi!

Pros:

The game is fun to play unless you play with someone who plays the "sit" strategy. This is the most important thing to me. The random draw of the silk for the markets at the start of the round, and the movement of the demand markers in the cities keeps the game different from play to play, though most people will build palaces in the "prime" positions (you figure it out, I'm not telling!) on the board in the same way each game.

The game board and illustrations on the player screens are beautiful and fun to look at.

The elephants are awesome, and my daughter loves the pink elephant (pink elephants on parade?) and they CARRY stuff! (wait, I already geeked out about that, didn't I?)

The insert is very good and useful.

The creative supply and demand elements of this game are quite fun!

Overall:

This is a fun, light game that presents interesting choices. It scales well for many players due to the board setup at the start of the game (as I said, fiddly, but effective), and has been a hit with six out of the seven players I have introduced it to. The one who did not care for it just could not get past the inclusion of the "sit" strategy. I would recommend this game for those looking for a light, quick game with some creative economic mechanics. I rate it a 7/10. I would rate it higher if not for the inclusion of the often mentioned "sit" rule above. Perhaps another edition will revise this.

Edited for palace token clarification.
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Javi Santos
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ggambill wrote:

The rules state that if you wish to pass your entire turn (use NO action points) you can gain a rupee for sitting there. This is called "consolidating your fortune" and it's a terrible rule. As other have written, you can just sit there the whole game and sometimes beat players who actually tried! Happily for me, I don't play with people who would ever do this, and we've instituted a house rule that says you can do this only once per round. This seems to work well, but I'll let others decide that.

The bonus tokens are two sided which can be confusing since the rule book states they are to be placed yellow side up, but the picture on the back does not match the picture on the front. This is actually the only part of the game I am unclear about. We just use the yellow sides, and have decided to viciously ignore the confusing underside. Anyone have any thoughts on this?


I would have never thought that Consolidating your fortune could be that powerful. When I taught the rules in my only game up to now, we all thought that this action was really a waste of time, to little money laugh It is interesting to read this completely different opinion.

About the tokens, this is a mistake in the rulebook. Check at Ystari's page, each colour is used with different number of players.

And yes, elephants are really cooooool.
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G. Gambill
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Thanks for finding the answer to the bonus token question Javi! I've made the correction in the original review. I appreciate your help!
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Mitch Willis
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ggambill wrote:
The rules state that if you wish to pass your entire turn (use NO action points) you can gain a rupee for sitting there. This is called "consolidating your fortune" and it's a terrible rule. As other have written, you can just sit there the whole game and sometimes beat players who actually tried!


Nice review. However, I disagree with you about the consolidating action being a terrible rule. It actually serves a dual purpose; 1) at the end of a round (or the end of the game) you may find yourself in a position where you don't have any profitable moves so you can at least consolidate for a turn or two, and 2) you can also find yourself short on rupees, especially early on in the game, and consolidation gives you an opportunity to raise cash. The significant downside to consolidating is that you're sitting still for a turn and basically losing position on the board to the other players...

As for people being competitive while doing nothing, I think you'll find that extremely rare, especially once every one has played the game a time or two. In all of our games thus far, if a player had consolidated the whole game, that player would have finished last in every game...
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Steve Duff
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Elefun?

Elephino!
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G. Gambill
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Thanks for the reply and the compliment on my first review. I appreciate it!

I agree that with most players, no one would ever just sit and do nothing, and I agree that, in particular at the end of a round, sometimes it's best to do nothing, so the consolidate rule can be useful. Why I feel it's terrible is that there is no limit to it, that's all. I'm sure you're right in that once you know the game, you should be able to beat someone who uses the "sit" strategy, but when you are just learning the game, it would be frustrating to lose to someone who chose to do just that. I just don't think it should even be an option other than maybe once per round. I could, of course, be in the minority in this opinion, and that's OK. I just thought I'd throw it out there. Thanks for taking the time to respond and share your insights.
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Karis Shem
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Thanks for the nice review.

About the sitting rule (which grants you up to 18 rupees) i will quote myself once again :

Quote:
I will insist on this point once more : 18 is NOT a competitive score in Bombay. Usually and fom the very first games everyone should be above 18 points, and the winner above 30.

So passing ang getting 18 is just plain silly...

Once again : if someone plan is to pass every turn, then every other players should thank this player, because :

1) he will finish last
2) he won't compete for buying and selling silk
3) he won't compete for cities marker (every other player will probably earn 8 coins and he will score 0).
4) he won't compete for palaces + clients (he'll earn 0 coins, and the other players will earn from 2 to 8 coins)

So, considering this, is anybody REALLY interested about passing all along the game ?

I would like to add thant Bombay is only simple in appearance. There's plenty of strategical and rythm options. Maybe they don't appear during the first game, but this game has a good learning curve...

Regards,
Cyril


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Alain Renaud
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Karis wrote:
18 is NOT a competitive score in Bombay. Usually and fom the very first games everyone should be above 18 points, and the winner above 30.


I played my 1st game today. I won with 34, and the other had 30, 29, 29. We never used the pass option until the very last turn.
BTW Cyril. Congrats for this game! I now have 3 of your game and love them all!!!
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Bharath Allam
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TRINDEL wrote:
Karis wrote:
18 is NOT a competitive score in Bombay. Usually and fom the very first games everyone should be above 18 points, and the winner above 30.


I played my 1st game today. I won with 34, and the other had 30, 29, 29. We never used the pass option until the very last turn.
BTW Cyril. Congrats for this game! I now have 3 of your game and love them all!!!


What are the other two?
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G. Gambill
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bharath wrote:
TRINDEL wrote:
Karis wrote:
18 is NOT a competitive score in Bombay. Usually and fom the very first games everyone should be above 18 points, and the winner above 30.


I played my 1st game today. I won with 34, and the other had 30, 29, 29. We never used the pass option until the very last turn.
BTW Cyril. Congrats for this game! I now have 3 of your game and love them all!!!


What are the other two?


One of them is Amyitis. A fantastic game that is quite complex and challenging on many levels.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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ggambill wrote:
Ok, this is my first review, so please be gentle!

From now on, I'm electrocuting anybody who starts their review with that. No reprieves - the wimpiness must cease.

ZZZ-ZZOTT-TTT!!!

Next!
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Timothy Young
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Elefun?

No. I think not.
 
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