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Subject: Hotel Amsterdam -- review based on 2 and 4 player games (family style) rss

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Shane Guthrie
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On a recent trip to Amsterdam I saw this in a shop and picked it up as both a souvenir and because it looked interesting. The shop (as a plug, it had a good selection of Euro games):


Schaak & Gowinkel het Paard
Haarlemmerdijk 173
1013 KH Amsterdam, Netherlands
www.schaakengo.nl

Rules:
The rules were laid out quite well in a tri-lingual rule book (Dutch, German and English) and were simple to understand. There's only about 4 pages, with a small section about tactics you might employ.

Basically, a turn consistes of rolling two dice (one black, one white), moving the boat, dropping tourist pawn(s) off on the outside of the board, adjacent to the canal. Next you place your hotels (in the first two turns), which mark the areas you want to have pawns resident.

Then you move the nightwatchman and the mayor space as per the white and black dice then flip (the nightwatchman is the black pawn, flips tiles on their white side to the black side) mayor flips the black to the white. When flipped, any tourists on the tile have to move to the least populated tile of the same icon (you choose if there is a tie for least).

The goal is to get 12 (or 15) tourist pawns in any of the squares adjacent to your two hotels. So you try to flip files with icons such that the tourists have to move near your hotels.

The rules are quick to understand and simple, but I had a couple confusions (which I'll enumerate later on):

Bits:
The tiles a good and thick, pleasant to turn over, but they can be a bit difficult to avoid knocking things over as you move them. I also like the wooden pawns for tourists and the mayor/nightwatchmen. I would rather have had the canal as 1 piece or a set of pieces, since there are a lot of them and they don't actually ever flip.

The art is charming and recalls things I remember seeing while in Amsterdam. However, it has some details that are a bit risque for the average American parent. The game suggests a minimum age of 6, which might be fine for a more open-minded Dutch parent, but I wouldn't want to explain the 'leaf' and 'lips' which represent cafes where you can smoke marijuana and brothels to a 6 year old.

I also found the box a bit hard to open, as there isn't an 'offset' between the top and the bottom and it fits snuggly. Just a small detail.

How does it play?
The two sessions I played were first a 2 player game with my wife, then a 4 player game with my games group. In both instances I played the 'family' option, where you roll dice. I think this is good as an introduction, but you can also play without the dice (you can move the ship and the two black/white pawns a set amount of your choice.

The two player version works quite nicely, in my opinion.
Intial setup with 2 people (me and my wife):

It started with a bit of random moving about:

but as things progressed we got the hang of things and started jockying to flip piles of tourists into our areas, with swings back and forth. I think as you become more familiar the early game would be more meaningful as you try to set things up for your later moves.


The four player version also worked well, I think the dice were once again a good intro, they helped to limit the decision making. Initial moves were a bit more 'random' and the board tended to change a bit before it got back to you and you could make your move. I would worry about Analysis Paralysis for some folks, especially with the non-dice version.

Several people came very close (sat at 11) but were knocked out by the next player, I think more experience would have made the decisions more meaningful. In the end, the dice favored one of us with a tourist drop off for 12. Had we been playing without dice, he wouldn't have been so fortunate...


People seemed to enjoy it. There were some funny moments thematically:

Imagining the mayor showing up at a cafe serving cannibus and saying:
'Well well, what have we here, a cafe? I think I'll make this into a shoe factory'
And all the smokers shuffling out in disgust.

Imagining a museum full of patrons where the night watchman shows up and says:
'Right, clear out of the museum, I'm turning this into a Brothel'

My conclusion:
I think the strategy gets a bit deeper as you go and I look forward to seeing that unfold with succesive plays. There is a memory part I'm not crazy about (since I have a bad memory) in that the back of each tile is different (if there is a shoe on one side, there isn't necessarily a beer on the other, so you don't necessarily know what you're flipping to unless you remember from last flip).

I would say this is an admirable euro style game with good replayability and a short timeframe that is easy to teach and has some good depth.

Things I was confused about:

questions that came up in play (and how we resolved them):

-Can you decide to not flip a piece when you can (we played that you could).

-When escording a tourist from the dam it says 'at random' we played with 'player chooses'. Might be better if it was 'player chooses a tile among those with the least number ofpawns?

-Can you flip the same tile twice (we played that you could)?

-When a canal boat stops on a corner that already has waiting pawn(s), does it pick it up (we played that it does, and leaves the one that it was carrying).
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Hans Van Tol
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Quote:
I would say this is an admirable euro style game with good replayability and a short timeframe that is easy to teach and has some good depth.

Things I was confused about:

questions that came up in play (and how we resolved them):
-Can you decide to not flip a piece when you can (we played that you could).
-When escording a tourist from the dam it says 'at random' we played with 'player chooses'. Might be better if it was 'player chooses a tile among those with the least number ofpawns?
-Can you flip the same tile twice (we played that you could)?
-When a canal boat stops on a corner that already has waiting pawn(s), does it pick it up (we played that it does, and leaves the one that it was carrying).



Hi Shane,

Of course I am happy to see that you (or at least the people you played it with) have enjoyed the game Hotel Amsterdam. Good review, my compliments. Quite accurate analysis. And I must admit that the game is not well suited for younger players. Even if the box indicates 8+. The game plays like a family game (in complexity), therefore we have decided to show this with this age indication. Normally a "heavy" game would be indicated with 12+. Also we have put quite some effort in making the game look a bit naughty in stead of wrong. Nobody is selling any drugs or doing other wrong things. The players are only pleasing the tourists to get their hotel fully booked:D...

I would like to help you out with your questions, but in general you did the right thing in the cases you were not sure about the rules.
- you do not have to flip a piece;
- the tourists from the Dam may be escorted by the player who visits the Dam and guides them to a day (Mayor) or night (Nightwatch) location, since you can only escort one tourist we have chosen to give the player the freedom to choose the location (regardless of the number of tourists already standing there);
- yes, you may flip a piece twice;
- when the boat passes the corner, it picks up any tourists that were waiting there; in this way suddenly two (or even more tourists) may enter the city at once at one location.

If you have any other questions, do not hesitate to ask.
I hope you will enjoy Hotel Amsterdam many more times and your thoughts go back to the city you have visited.

Hans van Tol
The Game Master














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Shane Guthrie
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Thank you very much for the clarifications and my compliments on the game.

-when the boat passes the corner, it picks up any tourists that were waiting there; in this way suddenly two (or even more tourists) may enter the city at once at one location.

This means that if the boat stops on the corner where there are waiting tourists, it drops off another one, potentially stranding several tourists. Until it actually moves through the corner without stopping it doesn't pick anyone up from there. That may be an interesting strategy when you are playing the non-family style.

Say you placed your hotels such that they are monopolizing the area ahead of a corner and you keep leaving tourists just before that corner, preparing for a big dropoff, but of course it could backfire...

-Shane

 
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