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Subject: Deeper than it seems rss

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Zoe M
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Aquädukt has a simple premise: it's about building houses and connecting them to a water supply. The player who has watered the most houses at the end of the game wins.

This is a quick game, and the rules are very straightforward. On his turn, a player can do one of three things:
1) Place a well at an intersection. This is where the water comes from!
2) Place two aqueduct pieces. These carry water from wells to houses. They're placed along the edges of board spaces, and a house tile that has an aqueduct along at least one of its sides is considered to have access to water. Two aqueduct pieces can be placed on the same edge, to create a double aqueduct that provides water to farther-away houses as well.
3) Place houses. Up to three times, the player rolls a d20 and can place a house tile in the corresponding region on the board. House tiles contain 1-4 houses, and are accordingly worth 1-4 points when connected to water. If a region becomes full, any unwatered houses in it are removed from the game. This means that placing houses can be risky: if you roll a region that would result in the destruction of some of your houses, you don't have to place a house in it, but in that case your turn ends immediately--so it's possible to end up accomplishing nothing at all.

Needless to say, there's a lot of luck in this game. One bad roll can be really brutal, forcing you to miss a whole turn. Or a lucky roll from an opponent late in the game may allow him to place a 4-house tile in a square that's already watered. Cautious play can reduce your risk of bad rolls, but there's really no getting around the luck element here.

In fact, in the first few games I played, it seemed like it was all luck. I thought this was a terrible game where player actions had no effect on the outcome and the die determined everything.

Fortunately, a few more plays made me realize that I was mistaken. Despite the large luck factor, there's also a fair bit of thinking involved. One thing that should be noted is that, while players place houses in their own colour, the wells and aqueducts are communal. And there are certain important restrictions on the placement of aqueducts: no more than two can originate from a single well, and no branching is allowed. This means that watering your houses isn't as simple as building a well followed by a nice straight aqueduct: your opponents will try to foil your plans as much as possible, whether by starting two aqueducts in the wrong directions as soon as you place a well or by turning aside an already-started aqueduct later on. Consequently, you need to consider how to place your houses, wells, and aqueducts in the way least susceptible to interference, and the right placement isn't necessarily obvious.

Of course, this isn't the deepest strategy game out there--and with a play time of only 30 minutes, it doesn't need to be. It's a filler, but one that requires just enough thought to be satisfying.

I should note, though, that I've played mostly two-player games, so it's possible that games with more players would feel too unpredictable. Still, I'd certainly be happy to give it a try.
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Randall Bart
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It's nowhere near as random as it seems. You get to decide whether to place a big or little house. You get to decide the exact spot to build the house. You get to decide where to place the wells and aqueducts. The die influences your opportunities. You make the most of those opportunities. I have had games where I scored all my 3s and 4s. Once you have accomplished that you can talk about the luck in this game.
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Pete Hornburg
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I love this game. It is definately one of my favorite gateways. But I think this game is a little weak 2p. Much better 3 or 4.

We did try the variant 2p game where you only use half the board-but 2p just doesn't shine for me.
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Zoe M
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Barticus88 wrote:
It's nowhere near as random as it seems.

Yes, that was my whole point with the title "Deeper than it seems" and statements like "in the first few games I played, it seemed like it was all luck... Fortunately, a few more plays made me realize that I was mistaken."

At the same time, you can't deny that there's a luck element. There's a die roll, for God's sake. Yes, the die influences your opportunities... and offers some players better opportunities than others. This isn't Go.

Quote:
Once you have accomplished that you can talk about the luck in this game.

Fortunately for this community, it's not up to you to set the threshold at which people are allowed to talk.

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I think this game is a little weak 2p. Much better 3 or 4.

I'm glad to hear that it's even better with more players. Thanks!
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Tomello Visello
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Your brief summary of gameplay works nicely, but while you say you have learned more about the luck level involved your statements are still quite forcefully negative.

Dunyazad wrote:
One bad roll can be really brutal, forcing you to miss a whole turn.
Yes, you might lose a turn but the game outcome will not hinge upon it. Also, I view it as a positive factor that you can choose not to accept the damage of the roll (turn loss is the trade-off), or pay up and keep moving onward. The fate of the die is not absolute

Dunyazad wrote:
Or a lucky roll from an opponent late in the game may allow him to place a 4-house tile in a square that's already watered.

On the surface that sounds pretty discouraging but in actual play your opponent must follow another rule you don't mention and is most times is going to be limited to a lower scoring tile, except (as you say) quite late in the game.


One of the reasons I enjoy this game is becuase the die roll is NOT the dominant factor. It just assures that development is spread over the whole board instead of all players concentrating together in one place. After that, many choices are in your power.

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Zoe M
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Quote:
Yes, you might lose a turn but the game outcome will not hinge upon it. Also, I view it as a positive factor that you can choose not to accept the damage of the roll (turn loss is the trade-off), or pay up and keep moving onward. The fate of the die is not absolute

The thing is, there's more to a game than just whether you win or lose. Missing a turn because of a bad die roll is annoying and not fun, even if you still win in the end.

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in actual play your opponent must follow another rule you don't mention and is most times is going to be limited to a lower scoring tile, except (as you say) quite late in the game.

Yes, but very early on in the game it's possible to roll a number that allows you to place a 4-house tile near a single aqueduct piece touching a well, so that you're guaranteed to be able to water it on your next turn by doubling up the aqueduct. It's the same luck factor, just more complicated to explain and therefore, I think, less appropriate for a review intended for someone who hasn't played the game before.
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It most certainly is deeper than it seems. However, it's just not that deep, which is both good and bad. People say Settlers the best euro gateway eurogame. Then Ticket To Ride 1-ups that with even simplier rules and 30min less playtime. Aquadukt manages to 1-up TtR in that regard with even simplier rules (though not as big a difference as SoC vs TtR) and 30min less playtime there. It's good for those who just want to test the waters of boardgaming. As an added bonus, those type of people tend to like rolling dice. A d20 is unique and different enough to spice things up for them.
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Zoe M
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Well, I tried it again with three players tonight, but I actually think I prefer it with two. As I see it, the most thinking--and therefore the best playing experience--occurs when one player is trying to hinder another's plans. But with three players, if you spend a turn hurting one opponent, the other opponent benefits as much as you do and has an extra turn too. So I think adding a third player encourages less interaction, and correspondingly less enjoyable play.
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petegrey wrote:
But I think this game is a little weak 2p. Much better 3 or 4.

We did try the variant 2p game where you only use half the board-but 2p just doesn't shine for me.


Try my 2-player variant: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/382312, using 2 colors and 2 dice.

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Guy Riessen
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There is no "bad die roll" that causes you to miss a turn.

You get 3 die rolls. If you roll an area that is already full, you roll again for free. If you make a roll that would fill an area, you might lose the house you're about to place if it's not already watered...but you still get your remaining die rolls for the turn. The only time you won't get 3 die rolls is if YOU decide to end you turn by voluntarily not placing a house. Sometimes you might decide to do this if it would mean losing an un-watered 4-value house--but that's all part of the tactical nature of the gameplay. And if that happens, your turn probably should have been spent getting a canal to (or closer to) your expensive house!

Can you be hosed by luck in this game, sure, although it's pretty unlikely. Chances are you'll be hosed by pushing your luck...holding off placing that canal in hopes of getting in on a great house placement. But that's where the game is. The game revolves around tile-placement, pushing your luck, reading your opponents and timing your actions. Your title is right though, it is deeper than it might appear, and is quite fun for a number of plays. I question its long-term longevity but at the low-price you can usually find it, the game is definitely worth it.

Quote:
Or a lucky roll from an opponent late in the game may allow him to place a 4-house tile in a square that's already watered.


While theoretically possible, this is HIGHLY unlikely, as it would mean that this opponent has no lower value houses than a 4. You must place your lowest available house when a house is placed into an already watered position, so this typically means a lucky roll gets you a watered 1 or 2 value house.

More typically a lucky roll will be one where the position is not currently watered, but is in range of an easy to place double canal which can be built later. But that also forces that opponent to spend at least one turn building a canal which will undoubtedly help others score more points as well.
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Zoe M
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Sprydle wrote:
There is no "bad die roll" that causes you to miss a turn.


Yes, there is. You describe the exact situation immediately after this sentence. For the purposes of a review, I don't think it's helpful to explain in minute detail the background behind every statement. Does it really make a difference whether you technically have a choice, if the only good choice is to miss the turn?

Sprydle wrote:
Can you be hosed by luck in this game, sure, although it's pretty unlikely. Chances are you'll be hosed by pushing your luck...holding off placing that canal in hopes of getting in on a great house placement. But that's where the game is. The game revolves around tile-placement, pushing your luck, reading your opponents and timing your actions.


So, how does this contradict what I said? If the game revolves around pushing your luck, surely it's a given that there's a lot of luck involved? What's the difference between being "hosed by luck" and "hosed by pushing your luck"?

There wouldn't be much of a game without the pushing-your-luck part. And the necessity of pushing your luck means that sometimes you'll get very lucky, and sometimes you'll get very unlucky. Even if you try to play it safe, your opponents' luck-pushing will make you either very lucky or very unlucky.

Quote:
Quote:
Or a lucky roll from an opponent late in the game may allow him to place a 4-house tile in a square that's already watered.


While theoretically possible, this is HIGHLY unlikely, as it would mean that this opponent has no lower value houses than a 4.


Hence the phrase "late in the game".

Quote:
More typically a lucky roll will be one where the position is not currently watered, but is in range of an easy to place double canal which can be built later. But that also forces that opponent to spend at least one turn building a canal which will undoubtedly help others score more points as well.


Yes, but again, I think this is more subtlety than is needed to get the point across. In a review intended for people who haven't played the game, I prefer to use the most straightforward examples when there's really nothing to be gained from the more complicated ones. This isn't a strategy guide.
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Zoe M
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Rereading the thread, I notice that I had already made this point:

Quote:
Yes, but very early on in the game it's possible to roll a number that allows you to place a 4-house tile near a single aqueduct piece touching a well, so that you're guaranteed to be able to water it on your next turn by doubling up the aqueduct. It's the same luck factor, just more complicated to explain and therefore, I think, less appropriate for a review intended for someone who hasn't played the game before.
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Randall Bart
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Dunyazad wrote:
Does it really make a difference whether you technically have a choice, if the only good choice is to miss the turn?

You had a choice. The game is full of choices. You could have built a well or aqueduct, but you chose to take the chance of losing a turn or a building.

My goal in this game is to score all my three and four point buildings, and I usually succeed. The ones and twos are just cannon fodder. Occasionally I get a bad die roll, but generally I treat the die right and it treats me right.
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