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Subject: Review Quest - Short Review - Sometimes I Love This Game rss

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Kurt
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Kirkland
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For a description of my Review Quest please see my geeklist where I hope to collect these reviews. On to the review...

Components: Excellent quality components in the large Rio Grande box. The board is large and pleasing to look at, the jewels (or Chicklets) are fun, and the cards and tiles are substantial enough to withstand play.

Gameplay: Centered around blind bidding for areas on the board, the gameplay can be extremely tense. There's a good deal of potential for AP (analysis paralysis) for players prone to indecision. At its best this game is tense and exciting as players bid, guess, and bluff.

However, if players aren't careful (as in not paying attention to the other players) it can also be prone to a runaway leader problem early in the game. It is possible for players paying attention to gang up on a leader and pull them back down, but it will often require a semi-coordinated effort.

The game also gives the option of playing with or without Magic cards (cards that allow for rules to be broken, extra actions, etc.). Perhaps if you were concerned with someone not grasping the rules you could play with out them, but I highly recommend that they be included in play.

Who is it for: This is not an entirely complex game. However, compared to many Euros, it is fairly aggressive, as you are openly bidding and outbidding your fellow players for control of the board. As such I haven't played it with my parents (big fans of Ticket to Ride and Bohnanza), but I do believe they could handle the limited complexity.

That being said, if everyone isn't playing at the same level and only paying attention to themselves, someone is going to get out in front and stay there with little hope of recovery for the rest of the players. This is probably the biggest caveat surrounding this game. Everyone needs to be playing at the same level for this game to work. Otherwise it can amount to a pretty disappointing experience.

Bottom Line: I have had one of my most memorable and exciting gaming experiences ever playing this game (see session report here). I've also had some relatively flat experiences as well. I don't believe this can be played in with mix skill levels satisfyingly.

If you have a group playing at the same strategic level, and like to guess and out-guess each other's moves, there is a very good chance they'll have a great time bluffing and bidding their way through this game.
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Driver 8
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This was one of the first games I bought, and a favorite of mine for a while. But there was always something missing from the game. It's a good game, but not a great game. I'm trying to put my finger on what that is and possibly fix it with a variant or something.

Runaway leader and anti-climatic ending. Those seem to be the reasons I hear why others don't like it more.

Good review!
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Jonathan Kandell
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Tucson
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I own the game but haven't played it yet. People often include qualifiers when they talk about liking this game. I've wondered how it compares to the other multiplayer games that rely on a 'rock-paper-scissor', blind-bidding, second-guessing and bluffing--maybe some of these other games work better overall. (E.g. Hoity-Toity, Citadels, You're Bluffing, Ys, Basari...)
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Kurt
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Kirkland
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Driver 8 wrote:
This was one of the first games I bought, and a favorite of mine for a while. But there was always something missing from the game. It's a good game, but not a great game. I'm trying to put my finger on what that is and possibly fix it with a variant or something.

Runaway leader and anti-climatic ending. Those seem to be the reasons I hear why others don't like it more.

Good review!
Yes. Anti-climatic ending and runaway leader will often go hand in hand. And this is no exception.

Everyone needs to be on their game for this this game to work. If half the table is just paying attention to their own proceedings, they are going to fall behind early, and have a hard time catching up. But if everyone is paying attention to prevent anyone from getting too far out in front, it can be incredibly exciting.

But that's unfortunately a difficult proposition for any given game group: everyone being of relatively skilled level and paying attention enough to bid wisely and bluff each other. When it works, it's awesome, when it doesn't, it can be dull.

Jonathan, I wish I could compare it to other blind bidding games. Of those listed I've only played Citadels. Citadels is a nearly completely blind 'bidding' game, where there is much more room for bluffing in Aladdin's Dragons as what you are bidding on is open knowledge, even though the amount you are bidding is not. Citadels requires more knowledge of the cards to deduct what those before you may have chosen and those after may chose.

Citadels is probably the easier of the two games for mixed skill groups to play. It can be frustrating to feel as though you can't play several round in a row because someone assassinated you, mostly likely randomly, again. But that's an entirely different aspect of the game to be talked about in another review....
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Sean Shaw
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I find this to be a great game, however if I had to say a game which is most like it, I think that I'd say Ys is a game which is probably more like this game than others, however, not a match for it in mechanics either. However, if you like Aladdin's Dragon's you may consider Y's as well. Different in approach, and I suppose it could also be considered anti-climatic perhaps, but similar in some ways as well. I'd say a much closer match than Citadels.
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