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Subject: Definitely not StarCraft rss

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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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I played my first two games of Phoenicia tonight, and was delighted, as was my gaming buddy Dick. We chose it at the last minute, and neither of us had a clue how it would work going in.

We stumbled initially getting our bearings in the first game, because although Phoenicia is not complex, it has an unusual feel. That quickly passed, though, and a clever game emerged. We played as we normally do when learning something new; not competitively so much as just learning the ropes, and pointing out opportunities to one another so we could see what might work.

The game evolved along similar lines both times, with Dick grabbing nearly all the workers, and me gobbling up workhouses and production bonuses. It appears that the nasty robber baron will defeat the proletariat in such a scenario, as a bunch of hunters with no storage facilities can't put together enough of a poke to buy the big developments at the finish. Once the robber baron controls the auctions, he can finish things off at his leisure.

It goes without saying that this analysis* may go out the window in our next session, and wouldn't work the same in a game with more players anyway, but it did give us a starting point to explore the game's possibilities.

I received Phoenicia as part of a trade when I decided to get rid of StarCraft. I mention that because I see a relationship between the two: both are tech tree games. I'm a wargamer at heart, and expected a great deal from StarCraft, but was disappointed. I expected far less from Phoenicia (in spite of my appreciation for Tom Lehmann designs), but found far more.

Where StarCraft is a gas-guzzling Hummer, huge, unwieldily, and hard to park, Phoenicia is an MG or Triumph (I may be showing my age there), nimble and responsive, that lets you feel the breeze in your hair (if you still have hair) as you dart through traffic with the top down.

Phoenicia is a clever design which scales well, comes with good quality components packed in a reasonably small box, and provides a steady stream of interesting choices as you attempt to wend your way towards victory. Very cool game, which I'll gladly play again.


* Note to Phoenicia veterans: My thoughts on strategy are undoubtedly off base at this point, but please don't enlighten me here (unless I have rules wrong). I prefer to avoid strategy articles until I've figured things out for myself, and don't mind getting my brains beaten out as I'm learning the ropes.
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Tom Lehmann
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I would never have even thought of Phoenicia in the same sentence as StarCraft! ;-) Hope it continues to work for you...
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Steve Duff
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Sphere wrote:
Phoenicia is an MG or Triumph (I may be showing my age there)


Sung to the tune of Born Free:

"MG, I live just to touch you,
And when I double-clutch you,
It gives me a thrill!

MG, I'll wash you and wax you,
But if some Chevy smacks you,
I'll die, MG..."

I read that in Mad Magazine, must be 35 years ago, and I still remember it. shake
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
I read that in Mad Magazine, must be 35 years ago, and I still remember it. shake


That was more than a decade after my last ride in an MG! I've got bits and pieces of old Mad Magazines still rattling around my brain as well.
 
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Tom Lehmann wrote:
I would never have even thought of Phoenicia in the same sentence as StarCraft! ;-) Hope it continues to work for you...


I doubt I would have either, had they not figured in the same trade, but tech tree progressions are key elements in both.
 
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Sean Shaw
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Phoenicia is a fun game, half the fun though is with more people and trying to get the limited number of advancements that you want while everyone else is trying to get the same thing.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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GreyLord wrote:
Phoenicia is a fun game, half the fun though is with more people and trying to get the limited number of advancements that you want while everyone else is trying to get the same thing.


The two-player game gets you to a similar place because only one card for each advancement is used. I definitely want to play with more players, though. I assume the original design didn't focus on two players, but was pleased to see how well it worked that way.
 
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Steve Hope
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I really like Phoenicia--very streamlined without sacrificing the basic civ-like feel. My friends don't seem to like it as much for whatever reason. Tech trees and bidding is usually a nice combo.

EDIT: Using "enjoy" twice in a single line is lame. Rewrote my post. Great game!
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Tom Lehmann
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In my opinion (I'm obviously biased): Phoenicia -- since it is so streamlined -- is a very demanding game, with a few subtleties, where there's not much slop for casual play or errors. This works well when all the players are experienced; it can be a bit too harsh when some players are inexperienced.
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We played 5 more games last night, all two player, and it's a brutal game in that format. I've played wargames that didn't seem half as deadly! There are many ways to ruin your opponent.
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Tobias Sölvefjord
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We played our first game yesterday and I was also very impressed.
I agree that the tech tree is important but I would say that your focus on developments must harmonize with your economic Micro/Macro management.

I over empathized the power of a fast techtree climb as I quickly grabbed a City center, and hoped to sieze the two (it was a three player game) Public works with a neat cost reduction on City walls in mind.
However, my opponents were not as narrowminded as I and built up a more efficiant economy due to my lack to Macro and, only having advanced hunting, inability to Micro. Their production raced ahead of mine and in the end I found myself picking up the left overs from my opponents bidding table.

This might sound confusing, and it probably is since it was out first game ever. But I think I recognized much more similarities to Rftg, in which you must be ready to revise your strategy due to the circumstances, rather than Starcraft. All in all, I really love this game and hope to bring it to the table many more times in the future.
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Jason Farris
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Sphere wrote:


...Where StarCraft is a gas-guzzling Hummer, huge, unwieldily, and hard to park,...


I've been trying to explain to many of my fellow gamers my true opinion of FFG big box games and you have given me the perfect analogy. While many would disagree, I think all their big box (and some of the small box ones to) games are gas guzzling hummers that take an enormous amount of time, bits, and rules to play a game that would be much more fun streamlined.


Thanks!
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