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Subject: A train game for the ladies with weddings and cute animals rss

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Gerald Rüscher
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Last weekend, my wife and I gathered with 4 other couples, playing
board games for the entire weekend. Needless to say, the guys are
more into the rather heavy stuff whereas the women prefer lighter
and faster games. On the first evening, one of my friends put Samarkand
on the table, looked at the ladies and said "This is a game for our wives:
It has weddings and cute animals!". Everybody laughed and and we opened
the box and started our first 4-player game (2 guys, 2 girls). It was
an instant hit and after that we played the game again and again for the
whole weekend.

What's this game about?
Samarkand is essentially an ultra-light train game on speed.
It has everything a typical train game has: companies, shares, tracks,
stations and revenue - it's just named differently:

The map
The map depicts Asia from the Near East to China which map is divided
into a large number of single spaces. Each space either contains
one of 10 large cites, one of 33 small cities displaying 33 different
resource symbols or is empty.


The cards
There is a deck of 33 cards, one for each small city.
Each players starts with 3 cards and gets new ones each time he marries
into a new family.


The companies:
On the map there are 10 large cities which are the homes of 10 trading families (aka companies).

Buying shares:
Players marry into the trading families by paying some kind of donation/marriage portion
to the family which is basically the same as buying a share from a company.
Since we're in Asia, we're allowed to marry members from multiple families :-)
Each family has only 2 shares/family members available. Players start with
10 Gold and marrying into a family costs 3-6 Gold. Players earn new money
by establishing trade routes (see below).


Laying track:
Once a player has married a member from a family, he's allowed to place camels
from that family on the board. This is similar to laying rail track: camels
are placed one by one, at most 2 per turn.


The small cities/resources:
Placing camels into small cities has two benefits: The first player who
places a camel into that space gets the resource token, scoring 1 VP.
Furthermore the player holding the corresponding cards scores 1-4 VP
(depending on whether he's married to the family placing the camel or not)


Connecting routes:
If a players connects the routes of two families he immmediately gains 2 VP.
In addition to that, the sharedholders :-) of the connecting families get 1-5 Gold each.


What can you do on one turn?
The game itself plays very fast. When it's your turn you can either marry
a new family member (aka buy a single share) or place 1-2 camels from a family
you're already married to (aka lay track).
The main source of VPs are the resource cards. Your goal is, have your families
place camels into the cities displayed on your cards.

When does a game end?
A game ends when either one family has established 5 trade routes or when each
familiy has established at least 1 route. Samarkand is a very quick game.
In our rounds, we joked that the setup time nearly equals the playing time.
Seriously, it takes about 5-10 minutes to set up and at most 30 minutes to play.

Strategy vs. luck
There's a good deal of luck involved. Basically a player who holds city cards
which a cluttered all over the map will have problems whereas a players who has
his cards concentrated in one region has an advantage because it allows him to
focus on 1 or 2 families. The major tactical decisions in this game are based
on your cards (where are my cities?) and on the actions of the other players.
For example it may be advantegous to marry into the same family as another player
because it allows us to build track two times each round.

Is it fun?
Definitely yes! As a die-hard 18xx gamer, I really love how this game very elegantly
captures the essence from train games and transforms it into a fast & fun familiy game.
Of course, there is almost no strategy involved and the few tactical decisions to make
are rather obivious.
But there is definitely a good deal of tension: Will I be able to get that resource token?
Can I connect these families first? Will the game last another two rounds so that my
latest investment pays off? Despite the short playing time, this game can really be a
nail-biter at the end.

Conclusion
All in all, Samarkand has the potential to be a new gateway game for the train game genre.
In our group, both the hardcore gamer guys and the casual gamer ladies really enjoyed it
and I plan to introduce it to my kids (7 and 10).
All in all I highly recommend it and rate it
8 out of 10.
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Lacombe
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Because, you know, only women get married.

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j s
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Quote:
Because, you know, only women get married.

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Gerald Rüscher
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NateStraight wrote:
Because, you know, only women get married.


Sorry if you're offended by the title of my review.

I was trying to ironically point out that most women are generally interested in other things as most guys (both in real-life and in gaming). But maybe the irony got lost in translation.

The gaming group I mentioned consists of 5 couples and there's a number of games which are mainly played by the guys (Agricola, Power Grid, Through the Ages) and others which are preferred by the ladies (Settlers, Bohnanza, Gift Trap). Samarkand was one the games which was very well received by both groups which I consider a sign of good game design.
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Matt Olson
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ValentineS wrote:
Quote:
Because, you know, only women get married.

:thumbsup:

You guys are too quick to jump.

Thanks for the review. The fact that you love 18xx and enjoyed this game is good to hear. It's also good to know that your wife enjoyed it - the spouse factor is an important one for me.
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Eugene
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NateStraight wrote:
Because, you know, only women get married.

Let's be honest, now. How many times have you seen a man reading a wedding magazine?
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Jesse Dean
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None of the women I know read wedding magazines either. In fact is it more likely they would be insulted about the idea of women being married off to cement mercantile deals.
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Железный комиссар
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NateStraight wrote:
Because, you know, only women get married.



Whoa man, take it to RSP!

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Eugene
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JohnRayJr wrote:
Whoa man, take it to RSP!

Because, you know, only men go to RSP.

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John Bohrer
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gruescher wrote:
NateStraight wrote:
Because, you know, only women get married.


Sorry if you're offended by the title of my review.

I was trying to ironically point out that most women are generally interested in other things as most guys (both in real-life and in gaming). But maybe the irony got lost in translation.


I thought your title was just fine, Gerald. Calling it a train game made the Winsome locals laugh.
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Eugene
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John Bohrer wrote:
I thought your title was just fine, Gerald. Calling it a train game made the Winsome locals laugh.

It's got to be a train game:

Quote:
Tom: John, what philosophy does Winsome take when it comes to publishing games? Or more specifically, what kind of games do you seek to produce?

John: Well, first of all, the game has to have something to do with trains or railroads.


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Claudio
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doubtofbuddha wrote:
None of the women I know read wedding magazines either. In fact is it more likely they would be insulted about the idea of women being married off to cement mercantile deals.


The family tiles have a male side and a female side. So, apparently in this game, you can use men to cement deals too.
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Jesse Dean
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Ah!

Yeah, I am just misremembering Age of Scheme were you are selling off daughters, which is more historically accurate, but also less savory.
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John Bohrer
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doubtofbuddha wrote:
Ah!

Yeah, I am just misremembering Age of Scheme were you are selling off daughters, which is more historically accurate, but also less savory.


No where in Age of Scheme: Routes to Riches is the words 'son', daughters' or 'selling'. As it said in the Introduction:

"As the head of a great Trading Family, you wish to extend your influence and gain interest in the great Trading Families through the marriage of your children and your grandchildren into those families."

I would tell you to look at the rulebook, but we did not sell you an Age of Scheme: Routes to Riches game, Jesse.

While we tend to just make train games, when I come across a really nifty title (PanzerZug, Age of Scheme: Routes to Riches, for examples) I always check it out.
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Jesse Dean
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I apologize John. I have not purchased a copy of the game or read a rulebook.

Apparently I made an incorrect assumption based on Eric Flood and JC Lawerence's comment here Uneducated initial thoughts on strategy where he refers to selling daughters. I thought because they were using the daughter terminology, that the game itself also used it.

I mean no ill will against either you or the game. In fact, I am considering picking up a copy of Samarkand myself, despite its lightness. I will definitely be picking up the Eagle Games version of Baltimore & Ohio.
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John Bohrer
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No problem, Jesse. If this was a Winsome thread, I would have ignored it. I felt a need to correct you in our Licensee's thread, though. Unlike Winsome, Queen is a major commercial publisher with valid concerns about public perception. I am sure that you understand.
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Eugene
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John Bohrer wrote:
While we tend to just make train games, when I come across a really nifty title (PanzerZug, Age of Scheme: Routes to Riches, for examples) I always check it out.

That's good to hear. Cause I've been screwing around with this game idea. The working title is Warrior Princess: Dragon Dash. It's a cute little dice-driven race game featuring dragon-mounted warrior princesses. The hook in this one is that each dragon has rule breaking powers! Think Cosmic Encounter meets Winner's Circle with Fairy Tale card drafting. I was racking my brain thinking how I could retheme it to something railroady, but now I realize it can be submitted to Winsome as is. Look for it in your PO box soon, Mr. Bohrer.
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Bruce Murphy
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garygarison wrote:
John Bohrer wrote:
While we tend to just make train games, when I come across a really nifty title (PanzerZug, Age of Scheme: Routes to Riches, for examples) I always check it out.

That's good to hear. Cause I've been screwing around with this game idea. The working title is Warrior Princess: Dragon Dash. It's a cute little dice-driven race game featuring dragon-mounted warrior princesses. The hook in this one is that each dragon has rule breaking powers! Think Cosmic Encounter meets Winner's Circle with Fairy Tale card drafting. I was racking my brain thinking how I could retheme it to something railroady, but now I realize it can be submitted to Winsome as is. Look for it in your PO box soon, Mr. Bohrer.


Sounds like it could be the first Winsome game to get a double thumbs up from Tom Vasel. Perhaps you could add a beer-coaster throwing element for strategy?

B>
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Eugene
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Would there be enough money in the production budget for those and the crayons?
 
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Mikko Saari
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Nice discussion guys, but back to business: thanks for the review, it's pretty much what I wanted to hear. I just ordered my copy from Spiele-Offensive few days ago and have great expectations. Your review confirms I probably made a good purchase.

Also, as much as the flow of Samarkand pictures in my subscription queue annoyed me, they do enhance the review well. Thanks to EndersGame!
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Asa Swain
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With all the pictures he's been uploading, I'm just waiting for EndersGame to post one of his famous comprehensive reviews.
 
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Matt Olson
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quartex wrote:
With all the pictures he's been uploading, I'm just waiting for EndersGame to post one of his famous comprehensive reviews.

I'm actually afraid now, it's around 50 pics.
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Bruce Murphy
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quartex wrote:
With all the pictures he's been uploading, I'm just waiting for EndersGame to post one of his famous comprehensive reviews.


Pictures are one thing. Individual scans of manual illustrations get up my nose.

B>
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Bwian, just
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garygarison wrote:
John Bohrer wrote:
I thought your title was just fine, Gerald. Calling it a train game made the Winsome locals laugh.

It's got to be a train game:

Quote:
Tom: John, what philosophy does Winsome take when it comes to publishing games? Or more specifically, what kind of games do you seek to produce?

John: Well, first of all, the game has to have something to do with trains or railroads.

Male or female, I think it's safe to say the young offspring are being railroaded into their marriages. cool
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Matthew Mesina
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Bwian wrote:

Male or female, I think it's safe to say the young offspring are being railroaded into their marriages. :cool:


Oh, behave!

I wish I could just move out of this hotel and into the house already, 'cuz I really want to order this game! (Old house is rubble.)
 
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