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Jesse Dean
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Hansa Teutonica was an Essen 2009 release by Andreas Steding. Like many I was completely unaware of the game until it suddenly ended up fairly high in the various show rankings at the end of Essen 2009.
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pointed it out to me, and at his prompting I looked it up. I was unimpressed looking at the pictures. "Cubes and cylinders on a busy looking board! How can that be entertaining? Bah!" What really caused me to take notice of the game was the generally positive reaction from BGG.Con and the positive reviews that emerged afterwards.

I was on the fence about whether to purchase the game or not until I saw it for sale at Funagain Games. After a bit of indecision I went ahead and purchased a copy (which was helpful considering how quickly it left stock) with it arriving in my hands a week later. I was not disappointed. We played it twice in the same night (five player games), and each time I did fairly poorly, coming in third place and fourth place respectively. Despite this, I was hooked. What was on the surface a fairly straightforward abstract area majority game with a tech tree attached was already catching my imagination. By the time the year ended it has usurped Power Struggle’s position as my Gamer’s Game of the Year.

The rules for Hansa Teutonica are deceptively simple. Each player has a set of cubes ("traders") and discs ("merchants"). Some of these are available for use in the player’s personal supply. The remainder are unavailable for use and are in the player’s stock.



On each individual player’s board there is a representation of the various special powers that are available to that player. As a player perform the options required to advanced the potency of their special powers they gain an additional trader or merchant in their active supply. Merchants are available only through advancement of the "Book of Lore" special power, making them particularly rare and valuable.

On any given turn a player has two actions in which they may complete one of an array of different options. The number of actions a player has can be increased over time through the development of the player’s actions power. The first time this occurs, and every other time after that, the player gets an additional action up to a maximum of five actions.

The first option allows the player to move 3 pieces from their stock to their personal supply. This is another option that has the potential for improvement. The first time a player moves up the

“Money” power track they are able to move 5 pieces from their stock to their supply. The second time enables 7 pieces to be moved from the stock to the supply. The third time enables all pieces to be moved from the stock to the supply.

The second option allows a player to place one piece in an empty spot. This option can not be improved.

The third option allows a player to displace a piece that another player has already placed on the board. In order to do so, they place their piece in the location of their opponent’s piece, discard an additional number of pieces equal to one (if the displaced piece is a trader) or two (if the displaced piece is a merchant). The player who is displaced then moves the displaced piece plus a number of bonus pieces from their stock equal to the number of additional ones that displacing player discarded into spots on routes that are adjacent to the route they were displaced from. This is one of the more unique aspects of the game, and one of the things that allows the game to really stand out in my eyes. Because of this option, placing a piece is never a permanent affair, and putting a piece in a position to block your opponent (so that you can get additional pieces onto the board) is a viable tactic, particularly when you do not have a specific move you want to accomplish or do not want to give away your intentions.

The reason that getting extra pieces on the board from displacement is actually useful is because of the next available option, which lets a player move two of their pieces from the piece’s current location to any other two empty spaces on the board. This has a number of benefits, including the ability to claim a longer route in a single turn and the ability to claim a route and then refill it before other players can move in and potentially block you. By moving along the "Book of Lore" track you can move additional pieces (3, 4,or 5) and gain access to additional merchants. These additional merchant pieces are important because they give you additional cities that you can claim and they give a player more control over the board, allowing that player to put powerful blockers in more positions. And with the ability to move additional pieces the player will have even more control, no matter where their pieces are on the board.



The last option available is to establish a trade route. This is the options that all of the set-up involved in the previous options leads up to. Two different things can happen here, with the potential for there to be a third. The first is that the player can place one of the pieces they have on the route into the least valuable available position in a city adjacent to the route as an office. This can only occur of the player’s "Privilege" is at the level required to place a piece in the city. If one of the adjacent cities depicts one of the special abilities then the player can instead choose to advance that special ability. In that case they are unable to place one of their pieces in the adjacent city.

This option is the only way to gain victory points and is really what the game is about. By placing kontors in key cities, the player who owns the kontor gets three benefits. The first benefit is that this city is now considered to be part of a network. For each city in a player’s largest network that player scores one victory point. The value of each city in a network is increased by taking the town key technology. The second benefit is that as long as the player has the most valuable kontor in the city (based on which privilege level it is at), that player gets 1 victory point each time someone completes a route that is connected to that city. This is the major source of points scored prior to the end of the game and can frequently be a major portion of the points scored in general. The third benefit is that if, at the end of the game, a player has the most valuable kontor in a given city that player earns 2 points.

There are other ways to earn victory points too. Bonus tokens, each of which gives one of several different special benefits, are on the board with three being available at any given time. Acquiring these tokens give you points at the end of the game in addition to providing their special benefits. Building a network of kontors across the board between two key cities gives a player seven points if they are the first to do it, with decreasing returns for each successive player who completes the same route.

So the rules for the game are pretty simple. The game’s complexity and general attractiveness come from their interaction, providing a tapestry of decisions that makes the game constantly engaging and fun. The key to this is the sheer flexibility of board play. No spot is ever truly "unavailable" and a reasonably large amount of board play is either about managing the incentives or the expectations of your opponent.

As noted above, a frequent move is to place one of your pieces into a location where an opponent has two or three pieces in order to encourage that opponent to displace you, costing that opponent a little bit of efficiency (as they will have to take an action to refresh their supply earlier), in exchanging for giving you a larger bump (you can fill up a three spot route with two moves instead of one, and may not need to take a refresh action as soon). This appeals to me quite a bit for another reason to, because whenever a move is made, a player must figure out whether it is going to help them or the opponent they are targeting more. There are no moves that you can make against your opponent that are zero-sum. Any move of that type will also help your opponent. It is up to an individual player to decide if the move will help the opponent more than that player and if that is the case whether that is okay.

It is quite possible, however, that your opponent was playing his two pieces there as a holding action in preparation for another move that they wanted to wait this turn to perform. If that is the case, then you potentially wasted a move placing your piece in that location. In this case it is simply a minor drag on your overall efficiency to do this, as you can simply move this and other remainders that you have on the board using the move option.

This play and counter play, feint and displace, and races for particular spots on the board are what really make the game for me. It results in every game being anywhere from slightly to dramatically different depending on the choices made by each player. This is why this game keeps me constantly involved, and why it has made my list of Top 10 games and achieved a rating of 8. I could even see it creeping higher except for two items I find slightly problematic.

The first is the game’s fragility. As my gaming group has come up with more advanced moves and countermoves, it seems that the game has become more susceptible to the impact of a newer player less advanced maneuver. By making poor decisions about what routes to complete and when and where to take bonus tokens, there is some potential for the game being tipped in favor of one player or another. While this is not a major problem in my mind (a lot of my favorite games are like this), it is something that greatly bothers other people and is one that you, gentle reader, should be aware of before acquiring this game.

The other item is a bit more problematic, but could ultimately be nothing more than a phantom. Already the first three moves of the four or five player game are scripted, and it looks increasingly like the fourth moves and fifth moves might be as well. If this is the case, will we find that further and further moves out are the "correct" ones and that the game might, ultimately, be solved or get close enough to being solved that it is no longer interesting? I don’t think that this will be the case, but I admit to some hesitancy about the game because of this potential, no matter how faint it might be.

Even if both my fears become manifest, then this game will still be an excellent one to explore until that happens. I have played it once or twice a week every since I bought it, and it is one of the few that has met with almost universal acclaim among the people that I game with. Check it out. You (probably) won’t be disappointed.
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Breno K.
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I'm still deciding about this game, but the variable advantages of the bonus tokens (with some being clearly better in the early game, like the free upgrade) can give the game some variability.
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Brian Brokaw
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Good review. You've hit on my favorites about the game as well.

A few nit-picks: devil
doubtofbuddha wrote:
This option is the only way to gain victory points and is really what the game is about.
Well, not tje "only way" to gain victory points... But clearly the majority!


doubtofbuddha wrote:
The second benefit is that as long as the player has the most valuable kontor in the city (based on which privilege level it is at), that player gets 1 victory point each time someone completes a route that is connected to that city. This is the major source of points scored prior to the end of the game and can frequently be a major portion of the points scored in general. The third benefit is that if, at the end of the game, a player has the most valuable kontor in a given city that player earns 2 points.
Remember, "control" of a city is based on kontor majority... how "valuable" the seats are only matters for tie-breaks.
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Great review. I agree that Hansa Teutonica looks very unimpressive (I couldn't make myself even try it at Essen, since the cube pushing on an ugly map in medieval germany looked so incredibly boring), but is actually a very good game once you try it.

I'm not particularly worried about the lack of replayability angle. There's at least three openings that look plausible for the 4th player, one of which I still haven't seen anyone even start exploring in any of the games people have played here (probably a couple of dozen so far). If it turns out that one of them is dominant, there's still a big butterfly effect from even tiny variations, and some variation is guaranteed by the bonus tiles. And if even that is insufficient, there's always expansion maps (official or fan made). Even tiny map changes should have a big effect on the game. For example the picture you linked to has an obvious difference to the final production board, and I'm tempted to try playing with that change at some point just to see what the effects would be.
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doubtofbuddha wrote:


The other item is a bit more problematic, but could ultimately be nothing more than a phantom. Already the first three moves of the four or five player game are scripted, and it looks increasingly like the fourth moves and fifth moves might be as well.


But won't player 1's decision still vary in terms of which side of the "action city" they go on? Because they will have to decide whether to allow player 3 to get displaced to either the key city or the Coellen/Warburg prestige field, depending on what player 1's strategy for that game will be.
Or do you find even that decision has been staying constant?
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Good review. This has become one of my group's favorites.

doubtofbuddha wrote:
The first is the game’s fragility. As my gaming group has come up with more advanced moves and countermoves, it seems that the game has become more susceptible to the impact of a newer player less advanced maneuver. By making poor decisions about what routes to complete and when and where to take bonus tokens, there is some potential for the game being tipped in favor of one player or another. While this is not a major problem in my mind (a lot of my favorite games are like this), it is something that greatly bothers other people and is one that you, gentle reader, should be aware of before acquiring this game.
Is your concern that less experienced players can make less "optimal" move that would decide the game between two skilled players (giving one more of an advantage than the other)? Or is it something else?

doubtofbuddha wrote:
The other item is a bit more problematic, but could ultimately be nothing more than a phantom. Already the first three moves of the four or five player game are scripted, and it looks increasingly like the fourth moves and fifth moves might be as well. If this is the case, will we find that further and further moves out are the "correct" ones and that the game might, ultimately, be solved or get close enough to being solved that it is no longer interesting? I don’t think that this will be the case, but I admit to some hesitancy about the game because of this potential, no matter how faint it might be.
I think after the first round (which accounts for an extremely small % of the total game), the combination of different options, different bonus markers, different route, etc would seem to be far too numerous for any solvable set of moves. The game has a lot of subjectivity. I have played this with several different groups and it has consistently been a very different game with different paths to victory.

Also, with respect to the "scripted" opening moves, we had an interesting opening sequence in a game this week where the first 3 players did what was expected, the 4th player placed two on the bag route, but the 5th player decided to displace one of the 2nd players traders and one of the 3rd players traders with a trader and a merchant on his 1st turn (both on the activities track). Sure the two displaced players each got an extra merchant on the board (in less than optimal positions), but he was now sitting in the same position as the 1st player but still had two extra traders. We thought it was a decent counter move that may (at a minimum) force the first two players to use their merchants early on? Have you seen this before? Thoughts?
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Great review, Jesse.

Have you played any two-player games? I generally rely on your opinion of games, but was disappointed with my single, two-player session of Hansa Teutonica.

I have no doubt that we played very, very poorly, but it still felt like something was off. I said somewhere else that I was hoping for a cross between Endeavor and Othello (and the game you describe sounds a bit like that) but that's not what we ended up with.
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chally wrote:
Great review, Jesse.

Have you played any two-player games? I generally rely on your opinion of games, but was disappointed with my single, two-player session of Hansa Teutonica.

I have no doubt that we played very, very poorly, but it still felt like something was off. I said somewhere else that I was hoping for a cross between Endeavor and Othello (and the game you describe sounds a bit like that) but that's not what we ended up with.


I have to believe that the two-player game is an afterthought. It's a pretty large hack when you have to introduce a completely new mechanic to accommodate a player count.

The game for 3+ is damn solid.
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kneumann wrote:
Is your concern that less experienced players can make less "optimal" move that would decide the game between two skilled players (giving one more of an advantage than the other)? Or is it something else?


This, I think, is exactly his concern. A couple of our games have come down to which one of the experienced players was able to take most advantage of the newer, inexperienced players actions.

I do not think this is a huge problem because the amount of games it seems to take a player to "get up to speed" in the particular game is quite low. But I definitely think this is a valid concern.
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Sean Todd
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I actually liked the board and overall look of the game with one minor qualification: I think the bonus chips should have had bright borders so they would stand out more on the board. In my first four plays we forgot to replace them several times and that's partly because they blend into the board and it's easy to forget they're there (or not there).

The only other almost-criticism I have about the game is that it might have a bit of seating order dependency. In future, if I play the game several times in a row with the same group, I would want to change seats after each game. One of the nice things about the game is the short playing time makes this possible. Any opinions on seating order?
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greyareabeyond wrote:
I actually liked the board and overall look of the game with one minor qualification: I think the bonus chips should have had bright borders so they would stand out more on the board. In my first four plays we forgot to replace them several times and that's partly because they blend into the board and it's easy to forget they're there (or not there).

The only other almost-criticism I have about the game is that it might have a bit of seating order dependency. In future, if I play the game several times in a row with the same group, I would want to change seats after each game. One of the nice things about the game is the short playing time makes this possible. Any opinions on seating order?


I can agree with this (seating order matters) assuming one of two scenarios. 1) experienced players are playing with less experienced players and are sitting directly after them, they might be able to leverage there player order to their advantage. 2) a certain player tends towards a certain strategy again and again, for example lets say the person coming before you has a strong tendency towards a getting the bonus markers... that means that you will often have first crack at the ones he is putting out, as opposed to coming after a player that never tries to collect bonus markers making it harder for you to get the most valuable ones.
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michaelreneer wrote:
This, I think, is exactly his concern. A couple of our games have come down to which one of the experienced players was able to take most advantage of the newer, inexperienced players actions.

I do not think this is a huge problem because the amount of games it seems to take a player to "get up to speed" in the particular game is quite low. But I definitely think this is a valid concern.


In that case, I have also seen this a bit - a newer player determined to get an upgrade for example without realizing the results to other players or seeing other moves that would be better for them. However, I would think that this could/would be a potential issue for any game with this level of interaction. I also agree that after 1 or 2 plays all of the numerous options come in to focus a bit better for newer players.

greyareabeyond wrote:
The only other almost-criticism I have about the game is that it might have a bit of seating order dependency. In future, if I play the game several times in a row with the same group, I would want to change seats after each game. One of the nice things about the game is the short playing time makes this possible. Any opinions on seating order?
We have changed seating order when we play multiple times. Not sure how much difference it makes with similarly skilled players, but since each person has their own ideas on what they think is the best chance for the win, we figure it could mix things up a bit.
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doubtofbuddha wrote:

For each city in a player’s largest network that player scores one victory point. The value of each city in a network is increased by taking the town key technology.


Should be for each Kontor (not city) in a player's largest network that player scores one victory point--or more depending on their town key ranking.

Great review Jesse!! I'm glad you still like it!!

kiss
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Jesse Dean
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EgorjLileli wrote:
doubtofbuddha wrote:

For each city in a player’s largest network that player scores one victory point. The value of each city in a network is increased by taking the town key technology.


Should be for each Kontor (not city) in a player's largest network that player scores one victory point--or more depending on their town key ranking.

Great review Jesse!! I'm glad you still like it!!

kiss


Yes. This is correct. I only recently discovered this rule, so while we use it while playing, I still have not gotten it straight in my head.

I am glad you still like it!
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Jesse Dean
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jsnell wrote:

I'm not particularly worried about the lack of replayability angle. There's at least three openings that look plausible for the 4th player, one of which I still haven't seen anyone even start exploring in any of the games people have played here (probably a couple of dozen so far). If it turns out that one of them is dominant, there's still a big butterfly effect from even tiny variations, and some variation is guaranteed by the bonus tiles. And if even that is insufficient, there's always expansion maps (official or fan made). Even tiny map changes should have a big effect on the game. For example the picture you linked to has an obvious difference to the final production board, and I'm tempted to try playing with that change at some point just to see what the effects would be.


Agreed. My replayability concerns are now more in the range of what happens after 70 games, rather than 30 or 40. I set a rather high bar for games I rate a 9, so I want to be fairly certain that this one has extremely high replayability before I pushed it farther up in my Top 10.
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kneumann wrote:
Good review. This has become one of my group's favorites.

I think after the first round (which accounts for an extremely small % of the total game), the combination of different options, different bonus markers, different route, etc would seem to be far too numerous for any solvable set of moves. The game has a lot of subjectivity. I have played this with several different groups and it has consistently been a very different game with different paths to victory.

Also, with respect to the "scripted" opening moves, we had an interesting opening sequence in a game this week where the first 3 players did what was expected, the 4th player placed two on the bag route, but the 5th player decided to displace one of the 2nd players traders and one of the 3rd players traders with a trader and a merchant on his 1st turn (both on the activities track). Sure the two displaced players each got an extra merchant on the board (in less than optimal positions), but he was now sitting in the same position as the 1st player but still had two extra traders. We thought it was a decent counter move that may (at a minimum) force the first two players to use their merchants early on? Have you seen this before? Thoughts?


You are probably right, which is why I said it was a small hesitancy.

The move that you mentioned is actually the likely scripted move of the fourth player that I mentioned in my review! The move for the fifth player is to go for the remove three pieces from the board bonus token. I have to admit that we haven't explored this set of moves much yet and are not yet really sure of the true impact of them later down the line. Considering how excited I am about that idea, I think its safe to say I love this game.
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chally wrote:

I have no doubt that we played very, very poorly, but it still felt like something was off. I said somewhere else that I was hoping for a cross between Endeavor and Othello (and the game you describe sounds a bit like that) but that's not what we ended up with.


Yeah, I haven't played Hansa Teutonica with two players yet (though I think it sounds pretty interesting). I think it still mosltly shines with 3 or more players.

What was off about the game? What particularly bothered you about it?

On the bright side, even if you don't decide to keep it, then you can probably trade it away very, very easily.
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kneumann wrote:

In that case, I have also seen this a bit - a newer player determined to get an upgrade for example without realizing the results to other players or seeing other moves that would be better for them. However, I would think that this could/would be a potential issue for any game with this level of interaction. I also agree that after 1 or 2 plays all of the numerous options come in to focus a bit better for newer players.


Yeah, I mostly don't care about it as most of my twenty games suffer from this effect in one way or another, even the "low interaction" action drafting games. It was just something to note, particularly for those people who have a problem with games that can be impacted by this. The fact that during the last game I played a newer player kept taking bonus markers and then playing really useful ones in positions where Mike could get them easily while still advancing his position on the board just made that fact fresher in my mind. He got all of the bonus action markers that game. All of them. It was kind of frustrating.
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JohnnyDollar wrote:
But won't player 1's decision still vary in terms of which side of the "action city" they go on? Because they will have to decide whether to allow player 3 to get displaced to either the key city or the Coellen/Warburg prestige field, depending on what player 1's strategy for that game will be.


There are three openings, but all three result in an identical board state. One player has two tokens left of the action city, one player has two tokens to the right of the action city and a third player has one token on both sides of the city. Whether player one places left, right or both does not really matter. The pattern on the board is generally identical. About the only real variation is whether the players use two traders or a merchant and a trader.
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jmucchiello wrote:
JohnnyDollar wrote:
But won't player 1's decision still vary in terms of which side of the "action city" they go on? Because they will have to decide whether to allow player 3 to get displaced to either the key city or the Coellen/Warburg prestige field, depending on what player 1's strategy for that game will be.


There are three openings, but all three result in an identical board state. One player has two tokens left of the action city, one player has two tokens to the right of the action city and a third player has one token on both sides of the city. Whether player one places left, right or both does not really matter. The pattern on the board is generally identical. About the only real variation is whether the players use two traders or a merchant and a trader.


Yeah, I realize that, but I was saying the sequence will vary depending on whether player 1 is particularly interested in keys or in the prestige field in that game. I guess whether that means it's scripted depends on how strict your definition of "scripted" is. Anyway I personally don't mind the action-city-heavy 1st moves. I love chess, and despite nearly all my games starting with white's e2 pawn movement, the variety of gameplay after that is immense.
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doubtofbuddha wrote:
kneumann wrote:

In that case, I have also seen this a bit - a newer player determined to get an upgrade for example without realizing the results to other players or seeing other moves that would be better for them. However, I would think that this could/would be a potential issue for any game with this level of interaction. I also agree that after 1 or 2 plays all of the numerous options come in to focus a bit better for newer players.


Yeah, I mostly don't care about it as most of my twenty games suffer from this effect in one way or another, even the "low interaction" action drafting games. It was just something to note, particularly for those people who have a problem with games that can be impacted by this. The fact that during the last game I played a newer player kept taking bonus markers and then playing really useful ones in positions where Mike could get them easily while still advancing his position on the board just made that fact fresher in my mind. He got all of the bonus action markers that game. All of them. It was kind of frustrating.


I don't mean to brag by mentioning this, but as a result of the acts Jessie described, I think I got a turn of like 14 actions in which I was able to take all 3 token off the board in one turn (in addition to placing cubes in key cities) and they were very useful tokens: +4 actions, +1 tech, and either remove 3 cubes or +3 actions - something ridiculous like that.
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Ben
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doubtofbuddha wrote:

Yeah, I haven't played Hansa Teutonica with two players yet (though I think it sounds pretty interesting). I think it still mosltly shines with 3 or more players.

What was off about the game? What particularly bothered you about it?

On the bright side, even if you don't decide to keep it, then you can probably trade it away very, very easily.


Sadly, I don't own the game. My one play came at a convention, while quite tired. So I could easily have misread the rules. And, as stated before, I have no doubt that we played very, very poorly. That aside, here's what happened:

Hearing the rules, I envisioned that the game would involve strategically placing several defensive cubes early, and then shifting them around into an orgy of claimed routes and victory points later. I quickly learned that we just didn't have enough cubes to leave many of them on the board. We were going to have to claim routes early and often. Unfortunately, my opponent picked up on that quicker than I did, displacing me and claiming several routes in one corner and monopolizing several of the cities.

Because claiming routes in that corner would continue to benefit him, I attempted to move outward. However, in a 2-player game, cubes can only be placed and routes can only be claimed in the region occupied by a neutral figure. Mid-game thus became a weird tug-of-war. I would move the figure two regions; place cubes; maybe claim a route. My opponent would move the figure right back to his corner; place cubes; and claim a route. As a result of his hot start, his routes were getting him more victory points than mine were getting me.

In addition, the corner allowed him to develop one of his abilities, netting him more cubes. In order for me to get to another corner and develop some of my abilities, I would need to spend actions moving the figure additional spaces. If I did that, however, my opponent simply used his turn to move the figure right back the corner. It really felt like I was just spinning my wheels.

I shifted gears and tried to focus on snagging the bonus markers. The small advantages gained through the bonus markers were compounded by the openness of the board (good for my comeback; not great for the long-term balance, I think). I could place the new markers on empty routes sandwiched by my Kontours, making them much more valuable to me and less so to my opponent. I ended up being the only one to use the bonus markers.

By spreading out to claim the bonus markers, I basically walked into a connection between the red cities (the route was a little circuitous so my opponent didn't see it coming). That allowed me to jump ahead, and it forced him out of his conservative strategy.

By the end game, we had both gained a few extra cubes and a few extra actions, so the board opened up a bit and the tug-of-war disappeared. But at that point, it also became clear that I was going to win handily and that my opponent was probably powerless to stop it. I had a long route, a VP lead, and would get 2 points per city in my longest route; he had none of these things. We played out the last few rounds, but it felt a little silly (like walking through the final steps to a checkmate even though both players see it).

At the end of the game:
1. There were still more cubes on our player boards than in our stocks; some abilities had not even been touched.
2. Only two cities had at least one cube from each of us; mostly there were "my" routes and "his" routes.
3. Only one city had a cube in a non-white space; I had not even developed the ability, and he didn't claim enough routes where it was needed.
4. 40% of the board was essentially untouched.

Obviously with more experienced players some of these things would be mitigated, but the game just unfolded in a really odd way for us. It felt a little like playing two-player Power Grid: there is more space than we know what to do with, and several spots on the board seem like they will never get used. The neutral figure so restricts movement that players essentially need to agree that it's time to move somewhere else. But if one player has the advantage in a given location he can more-or-less filibuster movement.

I'd love to give it another try, if I get the opportunity. But this play bumped it from my must-buy list (I primarily play two-player games with my spouse), and buying might be the only chance I have to play the game again until BGG.con.
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Jacob
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Thanks for a great review Jesse. I enjoy reading your stuff!
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Hi nice review thanks.

I really love this game - its a solid 8 in play and only takes about an hour to 90 minutes (which is really really fast for my group!) or so pushing it up to a 9. I love the simplicity of the rules, the dilemmas about the tech tree and the varied strategies and interaction.

Now I've only played it about 5 times but I'm not sure the first moves are as scripted as we think (expects can correct me here). That last couple of games the winner diverted from the script and had a good game, one won i think,

Like many games i think it is susceptible to group think and you will do well if your strategy is not actively competed for. Depending on which that is changes each game and the group think that remembers "Well last he time won with...." and the ensuing lurch to privilege that strategy leaving others vacant etc..

Love it!

Cheers Steve



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Joel J
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Fantastic review. If one of our group did not have a copy I could try out, I would be frantically trying to track down a copy right now. Thanks.

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