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Subject: Finca, or a Knizia-esque Ticket to Ride rss

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David C
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I'm going to write this review of Finca in how it relates to another famous set collection and delivery game, Ticket to Ride.

A good overview of this game components, some discussions of the rules I'll rehash is here:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/423172
I have a hard time doing any better than that when it comes to relating pictures and descriptions.

Setup:
*A fixed supply of fruits to gather for the use of completing routes, akin to cards in Ticket to Ride
*A randomly generated "rondel" used to determine what fruits, and how many of each, are gathered - there's really no analog to Ticket to Ride here; Ticket to Ride uses a collection of cards
*A randomly generated collection of 'demand' tiles.
*A distribution of bonus tiles.

High-level overview of Gameplay: In TtR, one gathers cards for given routes, and completes them. In Finca, we gather fruit, and deliver them.

However, there are stark differences in both the gathering mechanism, and the delivery mechanism.

Gathering mechanism.
With TtR, gathering is done on a person-by-person basis, collecting cards. We can collect cards based on the desirability for a given route, or we can collect something else that someone seems to want in an effort to stifle their plans. In either situation, the methods of doing so do not require much thinking. What's availble this turn, may differ from the next turn, and so on, and so forth. With Finca, what we collect has a bearing on what we get, but also what the adversary has the ability to collect, at all times. Likewise, what your adversary has claimed and could claim, is available in full view, while TtR is sight-unseen. This offers a very deep, deep, analysis prone weighing of what we want, vs. not letting your adversary get what they want, and how that's going to play out, many turns down the road. It is here that the element of luck, is relatively eliminated compared to Ticket to Ride. There's some adversarial techniques that can throw-off all your best-laid plans, such as the move-twice option, and the land anywhere option.

Delivery\scoring mechanism.
With TtR, delivery is done in terms of framing a route, and points are awarded for completing a route. This is very similar to Finca in that points are awarded for completing a set of fruit (provided you have a donkey token).

Finca has a bonus mechanism, akin to completing a full route in TtR, in that ANY player with the most of a given fruit scored, wins that bonus tile for that particular province. What I like about this, is it leads to almost a Knizia-esque sense of not doing something that would benefit you, because it would benefit your opponent even better. ...and it's here the game really shines and stands-out as something more than a SDJ-nominated set-collection clone. Because the bonus tiles feedback to the fruit you've already collected, and also feedback onto your positioning on the Rondel, and controlling yourself as well as your opponent. It can be quite the brain burner, if you want it to be. I've played about 5 games of this in the last 5 days, and it's always, always come down to scoring and controlling the Finca bonus tiles. You have to have just one more than your opponent in many different fruits than dominating the board on one fruit when the Finca tile is awarded, and it's not easy.

There's also a few constraint mechanisms. It's wise to complete a set 1-6 and get your bonus for completing the set, because more often than not, you'll be close to getting a 1-6 set anyway. Blocking is done via just outright winning what one thinks your opponent is going to grab, although chances are their fruits of labor will be worth something.

Theme:
We really don't need to use fruits or farmers, but a game like this needs something pasted on. This does the trick. Where ticket to ride basically does need trains to explain some sense of reasoning behind what we're collecting, this just needs...something. What was I saying about Knizia, earlier?

Final thoughts:
I really think this game runs like a finely-tuned machine. I do see where it bears resemblance to most of your set collection games out there. It explains incredibly easy, makes sense to nearly everybody after the 2nd turn, and carries a great amount of depth of analysis when you want it to.

My only complaint is that the "cool stuff you can do" is relatively limited to gathering and delivering fruit, with the exception of tokens that can modify how much of either you can do---so after the second play in a row, you're ready for something with a little variety.

Rule-lawyering in advance:
There was one element of contingency that came-up for us, and it's addressed here. One of the finca bonus tiles is a '?' fruit tile, and we didn't know if it was all fruit, or just wild-card fruit.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/410403
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John Earles
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Re: Finca, or a Kinizia-esque Ticket to Ride
[cough] Knizia [cough]
 
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David C
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jearles wrote:
[cough] Knizia [cough]


Thanks. (I had a misspell on the great one's name)
 
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Joe Lott
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I saw the Rondel and said to myself "this might be my type of game, I liked imperial" but then you began comparing it to TtR and VOOM, I now have NO desire to ever come near this game. Thanks.
 
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Steve Duff
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You should try it anyway, because never in a million years would I have compared this to TtR.
 
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David C
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
You should try it anyway, because never in a million years would I have compared this to TtR.


There were quite a few others that did/would compare this to ticket to ride. While I don't think it's an obvious ticket to ride clone, I think it has quite a few similarities in audience and style.
 
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