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Subject: First play, family of three. rss

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David Etherton
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Edinburgh
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My wife is a reluctant gamer. She likes sparkly things in real life, so I thought that perhaps I might have luck with this game and its basic mechanism of picking up sparkly things and taking them elsewhere.

My son and I set this one up, and I went over the rules to make sure everything made sense to me (I'd read them over previously, and had punched the game, but hadn't played it yet). Once I was pretty confident, we called her over and I stumbled through the rules explanation.

For some reason, this game sounds a lot more complicated than it really is when you try to explain it out loud, at least when I'm doing the explaining. My wife looked pretty tired and miserable by the time I was done, so I suggested we just try a turn or two and maybe start over tomorrow once we understood the rules.

I went first, figuring it was my duty to demonstrate the basic mechanism. I picked up a gold and brought it to an equipment city and bought a shovel. I think we all pretty much did the same thing at first -- my wife admitted she really didn't know what she was doing in the game yet.

But a couple of turns in, it clicked -- for all of us.

Gold buys equipment, which lets you hold more gems at once; coins buy commissions, which let you turn gems in for craftsmen tiles. If you're the first to get enough craftsmen tiles of a particular color, you win the associated workshop. If you have a workshop, you get bonus tiles when you finish more commissions in that tile; more importantly, that gem color becomes much less valuable to your opponents from then on!

You need coins to turn pages, so drop by a silver mine once in a while.

Once everybody had the basics down we started paying attention to who had how many tiles, and planned accordingly. We also started to notice that when leaving a city, you want to plan for your final destination and pick an appropriate gem source to avoid wasting an extra turn stopping in another city on the way to the customer. My wife was the first person to turn in a three-color commission. At one point in the game, all three of us had two sun (gold) tiles, and she beat my son by a turn to the third one. She wasn't too thrilled when she realized the workshop wasn't worth any points, but I reminded her that you get bonus tiles too once you have the workshop.

One rule I missed at first -- you can turn in multiple commissions on a single turn (you'd need a horse and/or cart to pull this off for anything except silver). As the designer himself pointed out in another thread, this is important for silver and gold. Since my wife had already made a play based on that misunderstanding (she could have easily turned in two green commissions at once had she known) we decided to play without that rule just for this game.

As the instructions warn you, the game picks up pace near the end. All but one of the workshops were claimed by the end; we tallied up points, and my wife won handily, points on cards and points from having all seven tiles putting her ahead of my son and me.

Tameri 157, Michael 138, and David 141. We finished in about an hour; everybody thought the game was fun.

As I was putting the game away, I noticed what a pain it was to laboriously sort all of the cards to make sure I had an even distribution between the two sets of cards. I made a mental note to come here to BGG and whine about that. I was reading through other threads and saw somebody mention "different borders" and thought, "oh, duh..."

I immediately went to my set, and looked at the cards -- yup, light and dark borders, plain as day. I don't know how I missed that. So my single complaint about the game was due to my own inattentiveness.

I had a feeling this game would work for my family (I also have Tobago waiting in the wings, but I figured this one would be an easier sell since we all enjoyed Zooloretto regularly). This is one of those games where it's probably easier to just set it up and cover the bare basics and start playing than it is to go over everything up front like I did. Also, the turns go by extremely quickly, which keeps everybody engaged (although my son had to be admonished several times to stop playing tiddly winks with the silver coins...)

-Dave
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Russell Howell                (What's Right?) (What's Wrong?)        
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Canoga Park
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Great review! It is amazing how many people miss the borders on the cards. I can even tell them what to look for and point it out to them and they still will not see it.

Tobago should be a real easy sell as soon as you pull out the statues from the box and tell everyone that you are REQUIRED to make the sound of grinding stone every time you rotate them (It's in the rules!)
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Douglas Glisson
Canada
Alberta
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Great review. Sounds like it might play well in my house as well.

P.S. If your wife's name is indeed Tameri, tell her what a beautiful name that is. If it turns out to be YOUR name... Well, let's just pretend I never said anything. OK?

Kraken Fan #69
 
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