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Subject: External, internal - either way, a great game rss

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Royce Hix
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Yes, another review of Tigris & Euphrates, a game that has quickly gone from Wishlist to one of my top rated, favorite games. Let me give you a brief background of the game from my perspective, and why I like it so much. One thing I should note, is that when I bought it, I didn't realize that the 'Advanced Rules' variant in the book was actually something added on after the fact in a second released version. I have the perspective of playing the Advanced Rules game as though it were the normal one.

d10-1 Setup

When I got the box home and opened it up, there was a fair amount of punching to do. 'So many tiles!', I thought to myself. Colored tiles, blank tiles, wavy tiles, dynasty tiles. Throw in some buildings and wooden Leader discs, and I was already thinking this game must have a lot going on.

Now that everything is punched, bagged, and put in the box though, it doesn't take too long to setup. The plastic player screens are small, simple, and effective. Cover your goods, make it easily seen what dynasty you're playing, and it also has some rules reminders on the side facing you. Pick a board side, place treasures, pick dynasties, tiles, and turn order, and you're just about ready to go! Takedown is even easier, although by the end of the game it can be a bit tedious to snag up all the used tiles and put them back away.

d10-2 Rules

At first, the rulebook was a bit daunting. I read through it all, and tried a game with me playing all three players. All that stuff about which leaders get which points, then building monuments and all the conflict rules and exceptions. It would likely have been easier if taught by a friend, or at least having someone to play against who could learn with me.

Now that I've learned them all (after playing a couple times incorrectly with taking treasures, greatly shortening our game length!), it doesn't seem so bad. Basically, you place your leaders to collect victory points, which you do by placing tiles of each color in the proper kingdom. However, only certain leaders get certain points, and you must have conflicts, either internally or externally to either remove a leader from your kingdom, try to get into another kingdom, or try to takeover another kingdom. There are then Monuments, Buildings, and a Ziggurat that will all add to your scoring in one way or another. I don't want to go any further in-depth, as I'm sure you can find these basics, plus far more, in the forums, or in another review.

d10-3 Gameplay

Here's where T&E really stands out to me. As someone still pretty new to eurogames, the ideas presented in this game were new to me. The scoring system is a great idea, and one that will drive your decisions throughout the game. Low on blue points? Make sure you have a black or a blue leader somewhere and play some blue tiles in their kingdom. Or, try to get your blue leader into a waterlocked kingdom to nab a blue point or two if you have no tiles to do so. Or, try and get your blue leader into a kingdom with a blue monument (or two or three!). Or, get a building put together so you can get double points for each blue tile. Or, work on a ziggurat so you can get a free point each turn in whatever color you'd like. Or, try to take over a kingdom that has a number of blue tiles, but with few enough that you can dominate it and greatly increase your blue score.

I've found that this can cause slight AP in some people, as for each type of point you're looking for, and based on the status of the board, there can be quite a few options for what to do with your two actions. That's an aspect I think is great though - every turn you are presented with a wide breadth of choices to make, each of which can have not only a scoring effect for you but sometimes a profound impact on the board layout, and what each of the following players will be doing on their turn. It's extremely interactive, and you can have subtle friendships and unspoken agreements, or heck, full blown chaotic war.

In the one two-player game we played, it has too much of a runaway leader problem. While I was getting beaten at first, once I became re-established and took over his kingdom via an external conflict, I then gained three monuments, two buildings and the ziggurat - with enough defense to prevent him from joining back in, even internally, as I just drew red tiles, receiving my points free each turn. Of course, the box says 3-4 players, which makes sense. At least with three people, even if one person has a huge kingdom and appears to be dominating, the other two can build up their own and chip away at the leader, knocking out one leader a time, or using their catastrohpe tiles in unison to separate chunks of the kingdom. There's far more interaction, and less prone to such a runaway situation.

Really though, each time I play, I want to play again, and more frequently. I am sure that as we all play it more, and our strategies and knowledge of the game tighten, we will enjoy it even more. T&E will only be played with my game group, as it's a little heavy for casual gamers, but very rewarding once I do get it out on the table again. Currently, it's rated a 10 in my scale - I don't foresee this changing anytime soon! If you're on the fence about this one, and are ready for a little bit of learning curve for a deep depth of enjoyment, I would definitely advise a purchase or play of it!

d10-4 Pros/Cons

1 Further understanding of the game drives further enjoyment of the game
2 Well crafted, interesting game pieces that all fit tidily inside the box
3 Tense, strategy-heavy, interactive gameplay
4 Many interesting choices to make every single turn
5 Conflicts can feel like epic battles, External conflicts which reward you greatly in points, or can crush you if you're unprepared

1 Heavy learning curve - I may have a hard time getting this game out more than once a week
2 Not very fun with 2-players, definitely should have 3 or 4 to enjoy this game
3 Can be subject to runaway leader syndrome, though can be remedied if everyone stays semi-aware of the situation
4 A minor gripe, but for the Advanced board, there are 14 treasure temples, but only 10 treasure pieces
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Klaus Brune
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The four missing cubes is a known issue. Contact Mayfair via email and they'll send you the missing cubes for free...

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/372063

http://mayfairgames.com (email contact info under the "About Mayfair" button)

I'm among those who had to send for the pieces so definitely a thumbs up to Mayfair customer support.
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Tim Maloney
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hend wrote:

2 Not very fun with 2-players, definitely should have 3 or 4 to enjoy this game


There is a map for two players here on the Geek in the files section.
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Royce Hix
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Gruumsh wrote:
The four missing cubes is a known issue. Contact Mayfair via email and they'll send you the missing cubes for free...

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/372063

http://mayfairgames.com (email contact info under the "About Mayfair" button)

I'm among those who had to send for the pieces so definitely a thumbs up to Mayfair customer support.


Ahh, you can see how new I am to this yet, heh.

I'll have to go ahead and do that - we ended up using the Archer wooden cubes for our extra 4 treasures last time. A bit confusing, to say the least!

indiexxx wrote:
hend wrote:

2 Not very fun with 2-players, definitely should have 3 or 4 to enjoy this game


There is a map for two players here on the Geek in the files section.


I can see some benefits to that two player map, though the same problems I depicted in more detail apply. IMHO, there's too high a probability of a runaway leader - if the other player wipes out half or more of your kingdom and moves on in, unless you draw heaps of red tiles to reclaim it via internal conflicts, you're going to be in very rough shape. Even if you are able to slowly take your territory back, desiring the couples monuments, a building or two, or even the ziggurat - you'll be bleeding out the points each turn until you're re-established.

Perhaps that's my naivety of the game's tactics speaking, but that's my main gripe with the 2-player game. When we tried it, I ended up in that type of situation, and just ran the board for the next third of the game. I'm glad you brought it up though, as I'm now aware of it!
 
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Jamie Pollock
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I used to be of the mindset that 2-player was an inferior game, but having now got accustomed to it, and assuming you have 2 fairly equally matched players, I think 2-player is awesome.

Funnily enough I'd always have labelled T&E as more of a tactical game than strategic. That's one of the reasons I love playing it online here. You can log in, make your moves based on the current state of play, and then log out without too much worry between turns. The board and the leader can change very quickly and as a result long-term strategising is often difficult. Meanwhile, opportunities for short-term tactical gains are massive.
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Stew Woods
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Quote:
I'm among those who had to send for the pieces so definitely a thumbs up to Mayfair customer support.


Agreed - just over a week to arrive in Australia thumbsup
 
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