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Gerald Gan
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DISCLAIMER: So me and a few friends decided to try this game a couple of days back, but we had to stop after a few turns because other people from our gaming group came in and everyone decided to start a new game of Steam so everyone can join in. Tonight, me and a couple of friends decided to sit down and play this game again. So this review is based on a play and a half, so take it with a grain of salt. Also, I have never played Merchant of Venus before, so there will be no comparison of the two games. I will also not be discussing the rules too much as you can easily download the rules online. Lastly, this is only my SECOND review, so please be gentle.

Duck Dealer is a game about traveling all over the galaxy, trying to ship goods, mine goods and build factories... all to make big bucks. I like how the game decided to represent money directly as VP because there're less things to track (albeit there're a ton of chits) and its easy to plan ahead as to how much you need to score/earn.

The components are hit/miss... meaning some people (like myself) like 'em, and some people won't. But it is consistent with regular Splotter components, so if you've played Indonesia or Antiquity before, then you kinda know what to expect. Tons of wooden bits. Tons of colorful chits. I personally don't mind the randomness of the goods (from rubber ducks to diet pills to religion) and neither does my play group. I like how its quite colorful and the goods become easy to remember because they're just so dosh garn unique!

Components: 7/10

The gameplay is simple and VERY deep at the same time. Simple because there's really only a few things you can do during your turn. You either take energy or do actions. Very deep because from turn 1, you need to be planning way ahead as to what you intend to do. From the make-up of your ship all the way to mine positions and the placing of consumers. I don't own alot of games, but this is the only game I own where I have to plan that far ahead and I like it. It feels really good to devise a long, laid-out plan and see it unfold seamlessly (well, almost seamlessly). Its a total brain burner and I love it.

Gameplay: 10/10

The way I see it, interaction is something the players create most of the time. In games like Chinatown, you're forced to interact to do trades. But in games like Duck Dealer, interaction is done not only thru trading, but its also based on the type of people you play with. We loved goofing around discussing the various random products and what factories can produce. I'm one who feels that interaction should not be confused with conflict (but that's just me).

Interaction: 8/10

Now, the question in everyone's mind... is it worth the cost? For me, yes. It's a deep game that offers great replayability (there're tons of strategies to try out and react to) and I like what I got with it (though obviously they could've added better components, like plastic ships being ridden by ducks instead of the cardboard ships). And, as with all Splotter games, you're mostly paying for the great gameplay, which I feel I got in spades.

Value For Money: 9/10

So, in conclusion, adding in my personal biases, I rate this game a solid 9/10. Its something I highly recommend all gamers (who like long term planning and heavy brain burn) try and I'm already looking forward to playing it again and again in the near future.



EDIT: I originally titled my review 'Quacks in Space' Michael Debije's review had the same title. I'd like to extend an apology to Michael, as I totally missed reading the title when I initially scanned the few reviews this game had to check and see if it'd be a duplicate title. I have hence changed the subject/title of this review to Ducks in Space, but the change doesn't seem to reflect on the game's main page. Sorry again Michael... it was unintentional.
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Bruce Murphy
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We found an unfortunate combination of needing to planning really far ahead with things changing under you as you tried to do it made for a really really slow game. Did you find this?

B>
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jbrier
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thepackrat wrote:
We found an unfortunate combination of needing to planning really far ahead with things changing under you as you tried to do it made for a really really slow game. Did you find this?


I think experience with the system makes it easier to figure out how to achieve goals, which reduces downtime. Certainly my first couple plays were plagued with downtime and people being generally clueless.

The other issue is player propensity to over-analyze. Once again, the more you become familiar with the system the less time you spend figuring out the logistics of a particular goal and can sit down to analyze "higher order" stuff. But if players are trying to be super competitive their first couple times while still becoming acquainted with the game that could lead to an overly long experience.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, I totally encourage paper and pencil with this game. It just makes things so much easier.

Duck Dealer in my group has taken about 2 - 2 & 1/2 hours, which isn't bad.

EDIT: Oh! also, I strongly encourage players to just sit down and think about their moves, even if it means other players are just waiting (they should be thinking about their moves too during that time). Often players will feel anxious about holding the game up when all they're doing is taking some disks. I tell them to not worry, because in the end thinking your move through cohesively rather than in fragmented fashion will actually result in having to spend less overall time thinking.
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Gerald Gan
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thepackrat wrote:
We found an unfortunate combination of needing to planning really far ahead with things changing under you as you tried to do it made for a really really slow game. Did you find this?

B>


In some ways, I was worried this would happen alot with us too. But its part of the game to have just the right timing to execute your plan before you get screwed out of an opportunity. Also, to get to screw with other people that much, it usually means you're taking alot of little actions, instead of a few big ones. While this works to a degree, I think its less effective in the long run since you're unable to stockpile enough energy to make the bigger point deliveries in the end (but I could be wrong as I've only played it 1.5 times).
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Gerald Gan
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someotherguy wrote:
thepackrat wrote:
We found an unfortunate combination of needing to planning really far ahead with things changing under you as you tried to do it made for a really really slow game. Did you find this?

B>


I suspect that there is not much re-playability in the game once you have "solved" it. The big decision you need to make with experienced players is if you can delay and make the whole move you want to make, without new "discoveries" on the board destroying your plans.

I wonder if the game might play better if you simply played without half the discs.

By the way, here's what I mean by "solving" the game:

** SPOILER ALERT **

If you build plants on three nearby planets that produce three basic goods that are adjacent (up and down-wise, including wrap-around) on the development chart, you can place two factories that produce medium goods and a third that produces the high-scoring good that uses the two medium goods on those three plants (assuming no one mucks up your plans). You can then run around these three planets scoring buckets of points. Sure, another player could also come to your three planets and copy what you're doing, but by the time you have set up this system, you should also have taken most of the privileges and all the quick-travel spots that you can, meaning that you will use the system more efficiently than any other player. [I'm getting some of the terminology wrong here, but anyone who plays the game will know what I mean.] I have posted a score of over a thousand points, but, with refinement, I'm sure that scores of several thousand are possible. Once everyone is onto this system, I expect the game would be pretty dull, although I enjoyed playing enough to figure this out.


With all due respect... if your opponents couldn't see thru the plan early on, then that does make the game solvable. I'm no expert, but I could see someone trying to pull off this exact same move the last time we played and we stopped him dead in his tracks by using minimal energy.

I feel that one doesn't need to be alert to only his/her opportunities, but the opportunities of other people as well and how he/she can exploit or stop it. After all, the second tier and third tier factories only have one of each kind.
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Michael Debije
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Raiyfe wrote:

EDIT: I originally titled my review 'Quacks in Space' Michael Debije's review had the same title. I'd like to extend an apology to Michael, as I totally missed reading the title when I initially scanned the few reviews this game had to check and see if it'd be a duplicate title. I have hence changed the subject/title of this review to Ducks in Space, but the change doesn't seem to reflect on the game's main page. Sorry again Michael... it was unintentional.



Hey, I guess the title was pretty good! But don't be silly, no problem at all. Nice to read your review.
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Bruce Murphy
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Raiyfe wrote:
thepackrat wrote:
We found an unfortunate combination of needing to planning really far ahead with things changing under you as you tried to do it made for a really really slow game. Did you find this?

B>


In some ways, I was worried this would happen alot with us too. But its part of the game to have just the right timing to execute your plan before you get screwed out of an opportunity. Also, to get to screw with other people that much, it usually means you're taking alot of little actions, instead of a few big ones. While this works to a degree, I think its less effective in the long run since you're unable to stockpile enough energy to make the bigger point deliveries in the end (but I could be wrong as I've only played it 1.5 times).


I don't think this is strictly about avoiding being screwed entirely, but being forced to make a small adjustment halfway through your grand plan that requires everyone else to sit around while you re-plan it and adjust it.

B>
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Scott Nelson
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someotherguy wrote:
thepackrat wrote:
We found an unfortunate combination of needing to planning really far ahead with things changing under you as you tried to do it made for a really really slow game. Did you find this?

B>


I suspect that there is not much re-playability in the game once you have "solved" it. The big decision you need to make with experienced players is if you can delay and make the whole move you want to make, without new "discoveries" on the board destroying your plans.

I wonder if the game might play better if you simply played without half the discs.

By the way, here's what I mean by "solving" the game:

** SPOILER ALERT **

If you build plants on three nearby planets that produce three basic goods that are adjacent (up and down-wise, including wrap-around) on the development chart, you can place two factories that produce medium goods and a third that produces the high-scoring good that uses the two medium goods on those three plants (assuming no one mucks up your plans). You can then run around these three planets scoring buckets of points. Sure, another player could also come to your three planets and copy what you're doing, but by the time you have set up this system, you should also have taken most of the privileges and all the quick-travel spots that you can, meaning that you will use the system more efficiently than any other player. [I'm getting some of the terminology wrong here, but anyone who plays the game will know what I mean.] I have posted a score of over a thousand points, but, with refinement, I'm sure that scores of several thousand are possible. Once everyone is onto this system, I expect the game would be pretty dull, although I enjoyed playing enough to figure this out.



Did you come up with any house rules to "fix" this problem in your games?
 
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J C Lawrence
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The above claim is obvious and not a problem. The same non-problem exists in Merchants of Venus, with the detail that the loop is "discovered" rather than built. The same aspect of the game in both cases keeps the game viable: how long with the game last? In general the game lasts only 1-2 "actions" after the first such loop is created.
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Scott Nelson
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clearclaw wrote:
The above claim is obvious and not a problem. The same non-problem exists in Merchants of Venus, with the detail that the loop is "discovered" rather than built. The same aspect of the game in both cases keeps the game viable: how long with the game last? In general the game lasts only 1-2 "actions" after the first such loop is created.


Thanks for the quick reply, and good to hear.
I find it odd that there are no videos that review DD, after all these years.
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