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Subject: An Absurd Review rss

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John Cabral
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REEF ENCOUNTER



I have only played the two player game so I cannot comment on any other player count. I can assume that it plays just as well since the amount of boards used depends on the amount of players.

Brief Overview

Reef Encounter is a tile laying strategy game for 2-4 players. Players grow coral to be eaten by their parrotfish. They use shrimp to claim and defend their coral against other coral.

What do all these pieces do?



Playing Boards



There are 4 different boards in the game. The player count for the game is the amount of boards used. This is where the polyp tiles and shrimp are played.

Polyp Tiles



There are 5 types of polyp tiles. White, grey, orange, pink and yellow. Two or more polyp tiles connected form a coral. Coral can take over another type of coral depending on it's dominance. 1 polyp tile may never take over another type of coral(there must be at least two connected tiles before taking over another type of coral). Tiles stay behind the player screen unless they are consumed tiles.

Consumed Tiles

When a coral takes over another coral, it consumes polyp tiles from the weaker coral. Any tiles that are consumed get placed in front of the consuming players screen. These tiles can be used like regular polyp tiles, to get a larva cube of the same color and to use algae cylinders.

Larva Cubes

Larva cubes are mostly used to place polyp tiles. The color of the larva cube must match the color of the polyp tiles that are placed. Up to 4 polyp tiles behind the screen and any amount in front of the screen can be placed. Larva cubes can be used to trade for a polyp tile of the same color to put behind the player screen. Only two larva cubes can be used to play polyp tiles per turn.

Player Screen



The player screens are used to shield all pieces from other players except for consumed tiles. Consumed tiles go in front of a players screen.

Dominance Tiles



Dominance tiles determine what color corals are dominant over another color coral and how much each color coral is worth at the end of the game. Algae cylinders are used to flip or lock down dominance tiles.

Algae Cylinders

Algae cylinders are used by spending a consumed tile to flip or lock down any dominance tiles. At least one coral must be eaten by a parrotfish before locking down any dominance tiles. Only one tile can be locked down per turn.

Shrimp



Shrimp are used to claim and defend coral. Only one shrimp can be played onto the board per turn. Any shrimp on the board has no restrictions as to how many times it's moved during a turn. Shrimp can move to another color coral. No shrimp can be placed on a coral that's already claimed. There are 4 shrimps per player. Everytime a coral is eaten by a players parrotfish a shrimp is eaten too. A player may only feed their parrotfish 4 times throughout the game.

Open Sea Board



The open sea board has all dominace tiles on it. It also has larva cubes and polyp tiles for players to pick at the end of their turn. Algae cylinders are also used on the open sea board.

Parrotfish



The parrotfish are used to store all eaten polyp tiles.

Hmmm...

After starting this review I'm thinking now that I shouldn't have done it. There is so much to this game. I did not go into great detail on the rules. I just wanted to briefly go over what the components do.

What's to like?

1 The player interaction is great! There is usually a way to get to another players coral or you're always trying to figure a way to keep your coral safe from others.

2 I love the strategy and tactics of this game. There is a great balance of each. A lot of the time players can use their turns to pile up on certain colors to play a bunch at one time. At the same time players must be flexible enough to react to someone elses moves.

3 Clever moves are bound to happen in this game. And they are never expected so it seems that much more clever when it happens.

4 The manipulation of dominance tiles is an incredible mechanic. Not only can players manipulate what color coral takes over another, but they can also manipulate the score for each color.

5 The balance of the game is great. Deciding on whether to take the time to create huge corals to consume or quickly consume small corals feels really balanced. I have tried both strategies and have not seen a dominant one.

6 The components are really nice. I think the whole game looks great as well.

What's not to like?

1 Players prone to AP may take awhile with this one.

2 Play time can seem longer than it should due to AP.

3 Down time between turns can happen due to AP.

All three things "not to like" are all caused from the same thing. Players with AP will not ruin this fine game. It may just feel a little longer than it should.

What to do now...

thumbsupPlay it!



All picture are from the Reef Encounter gallery.
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Jason Cookingham
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I really want to get and play this game, but my playing circle have a lot of trouble with AP-type of games.

Thanks for the review!
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Brian Brokaw
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I would assert that TEACHING the game can be a mark against it. Many of the actions require knowledge about the other actions and there are a fair number of rules to get through.

Definitely grab yourself a player aid from the files section and make sure everyone gets their own copy to refer to.

If everyone whole-heartedly agrees to learn this game you should have no trouble teaching it... but if anyone is reluctantly or half-heartedly giving their attention during the rules explanation, they will be lost quickly.
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John Cabral
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brokasaphasia wrote:
I would assert that TEACHING the game can be a mark against it. Many of the actions require knowledge about the other actions and there are a fair number of rules to get through.


I definately agree with you. The only reason it didn't even cross my mind to add that is because I haven't experienced this yet. I have taught it to two people so far and no problem. I really thought I would have a problem teaching it to my girlfriend and not only has she astonished me by learning it so quickly, she has beaten me 4 times in a row. I won the first game and since then it has been all losses. You figure I wouldn't like the game. But I enjoy it a lot.

cookinjr wrote:
I really want to get and play this game, but my playing circle have a lot of trouble with AP-type of games.


My girlfriend has major AP and this is why I made a point to put it in there. I have to deal with it everytime I play with her. If no one else minds, then this shouldn't stop you from getting or playing the game. The good thing is, during their turn you can always be thinking of things you can do. I'm sure with more people it is harder to plan way ahead though.

Just can't say enough about this game though.
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Chuck Turnitsa
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Bah! My wife and I played it this evening for the first time, cold (I.e. Not having had it explained to us by someone else). It was great! All the way through we were talking about which of our friends would like it, but it never occurred to us that it would be hard to teach.
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Douglas Lesavoy
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cookinjr wrote:
I really want to get and play this game, but my playing circle have a lot of trouble with AP-type of games.

Thanks for the review!

So does most of my main group but I'm getting it anyway. From what I read it sounds like this game is excellent for 2 players and my fiance and myself are the two least susceptible to AP in the group.
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