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It's good to have friends. Specifically, it's good to have Geekbuddies who know your taste in games, and who know what you might like.

LordDillon and I tend to choose low aggression, low conflict games. We enjoy mid-weight Euros where we each hatch a strategy, and see whose pans out the best. About a year ago, after having it recommended to me several times and researching it extensively, we purchased Antiquity. It is a very good fit for us, and we're happy to have it in our collection.

Knowing that Splotter produces games that stand out from the crowd, I've always been curious about Roads and Boats and Indonesia. I reluctantly wrote off Roads and Boats because of the impression that it had to be very aggressive and cut-throat, and that just wouldn't work for us.

Recently, in a discussion about Roads and Boats, I lamented that it was so aggressive and laden in conflict. JohnRayJr told me that it didn't have to be, that it played well as a low-conflict, low-aggression couples game! His R&B mentors were in fact a couple who enjoyed playing it in just that way.

JohnRayJr is a trusted geekbuddy - we know what each other likes, even if they are not the same things. I read the comments by the couple he cited, and did a little more research, but I was eager to try it. At worst, I could always sell or trade it, and at best, it would be another jewel in our collection. I ordered it, and, a few days later, it arrived.


Photo by amikulaschek


The box is large, like Antiquity (or Clue: The Great Museum Caper). It is heavy, and full of gaming goodness. There is a full complement of wooden tokens for each player in interesting shapes, plus Settler-sized land hexes, and two sizes of cardboard chits, plus markers for the Wonder, glass stones to track Research, a roll of clear plastic, and various other things. It took me several hours to punch it all. Often we'll multitask, where I'll punch and LD will read the rules. The rules booklet is long, but the rules make sense, and most can be remembered after you do them the first time. Other than looking for guidance for a tricky situation here or there, we didn't have to refer back to the rules booklet much at all.

We set up the Africa-shaped 2-player scenario, and covered it with the plastic, held down by tape (I have a tile-top table, so I wasn't worried about tape damage, but it's worth some planning so you don't take the finish off of a valuable antique table). After the first game, we switched to the plastic from a poster frame held down by blue painter's tape.



R&B allows very different approaches, and creative thinking. LD tends to start water transporters very early, while I tend to upgrade my land transporters, and jump straight to rowboats a bit later. He stayed on his side, and I stayed on mine, and neither of us stole resources the other had produced. The challenge is in having an efficient layout, and getting your goods from one place to another so that you can have gold, coins, and stock certificates for points at the end of the game. The other way to score points is by placing bricks on the Wonder. At the end of each round, you are given an opportunity to spend resources to place a brick on the Wonder. Each row of the Wonder is worth 10 points, and points are distributed based on the number of bricks you and your opponent have on each row. If someone buys lots of bricks, this speeds up some phases in the game, some good, some perhaps not so good (at a certain level on the Wonder, a brick will cost 2 goods instead of one, a desert tile will be irrigated, and the end of the game will come about). Even if neither of you buy a brick that round, a neutral brick is placed, and when all of the neutral bricks have been placed, it's the end of the game. Placing bricks is very minor on the scale of player aggression and interaction, but I'm noting it because it's the only real interaction we have in our games. The conflict in R&B can be diminished down to that point, where it's practically non-existent.

Like Antiquity, you start out with a set pile of resources, and what you choose to do with them is up to you. Like Antiquity, you'll want a steady supply of wood. Unlike Antiquity, you have to process and upgrade your goods, so not only will you need wood, but you'll need to build a sawmill, and take it to that sawmill, then take it to the hex where you'll build your next building or transport, or turn it into something like fuel. This facet of R&B is akin to Le Havre, only I find it more realistic when I'm doing it on a developing countryside than on cards laid out in front of me. R&B has a wonderful, believable theme. I find it very satisfying.


Photo by blindAngle


What are some things you should know if you're considering purchasing Roads and Boats?

Game length - we clocked in at about 3 hours for our first several games. I'll be surprised to have a game under 2 hours. We have the ability and desire to play 3 hour games, but others may not.

Tons of chits and bits - I love the variety of chits, and the fun wooden shapes. However, several Plano boxes are almost a necessity. The hexes are larger than in Antiquity, but you're also more likely to have more on a space. I like seeing piles of resources that my civilization has produced, but if stacks of little chits scare you, R&B might not be for you.

The roll of plastic is hard to work with - I'm hardly the first one to mention it, so I won't waste much time on it, other than to mention the ready-made solution of the plastic from a poster frame. This works great for us.

It's going to take a while to punch - I enjoy punching new games (though even I had to take breaks this time). I mention it because it's not the type of game you can take to a game group and break open and play.

It's got good player aids - Helpful, easy to use player aids are included, so that you know how many boards you need in addition to your donkey to make a wagon, or how many gold to put in your mine. Graphically very simple (black text on white), they do the job, and put a lot of information at your fingertips in an accessible way.



So, was it worth it?

For me, absolutely. Tons of bits, tons of choices. Although I have the basics down, I still want to improve my execution and strategy. The modular board gives different challenges, and then there's everything that's included in the expansion. I look forward to playing this for a very long time.
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Guy Riessen
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Great review with a worthwhile perspective! Thanks for posting it!
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John Earles
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I'm glad you guys enjoyed!

Roads and Boats also works great as a solitaire optimization puzzle.
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Cliff
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Think I'd like you guys as my geek buddies! Glad you've joined the logistics train! Have you folks gotten to Duck Dealer yet? I missed it's premiere.

Also, I've had my plano box for R&B&etc. bits for a while but I'm thinking about "upgrading" to circular storage containers that screw into each other - as applauded for Le Havre. I'll have to take a picture a little while later to show you my thinking.
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Have not tried Duck Dealer yet. I think one Splotter game a year is all I can afford!
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William Springer
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There are color player aids in the file section, which I like a little better.

I've played several 4-player games of R&B with new players lately and they came in at 3.5 hours each; adding more people doesn't seem to extend the game time by much.

Thanks for the suggestion of using the plastic from a poster frame; that sounds a lot more manageable (although harder to store) than the included plastic roll
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Bryan Maxwell
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I bought a sheet of plexiglass today from Home Depot for $8. I'm ready to begin. I'll start with the first solo scenario/puzzle to learn.
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Dice bags!
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aboveriver wrote:
Think I'd like you guys as my geek buddies! Glad you've joined the logistics train! Have you folks gotten to Duck Dealer yet? I missed it's premiere.

Also, I've had my plano box for R&B&etc. bits for a while but I'm thinking about "upgrading" to circular storage containers that screw into each other - as applauded for Le Havre. I'll have to take a picture a little while later to show you my thinking.


This is what we have Le Havre in:





http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/425079
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Железный комиссар
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I really stumbled my way into that title-credit!

laugh

Glad it's been such a hit for you and LD.
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Sterling Babcock
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Well done review.

I would humbly recommend my color player aids:

http://boardgame.geekdo.com/filepage/19526/rb_playeraid_colo...

For the plastic cover, I highly recommend the thick plastic vynal from Walmart's Fabric Department. The extra thick has the orange print on the white separator sheet. It rolls up real nice for storage, and it lies flat by itself.
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Michael Jean
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Solamar wrote:
Well done review.

I would humbly recommend my color player aids:

http://boardgame.geekdo.com/filepage/19526/rb_playeraid_colo...

For the plastic cover, I highly recommend the thick plastic vynal from Walmart's Fabric Department. The extra thick has the orange print on the white separator sheet. It rolls up real nice for storage, and it lies flat by itself.


I use them all the time and they are greeeeeat! Thumbs up!
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Cliff
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These are the containers I spoke of...



The old Plano storage container is to the right.
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Kurt R
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All life is only a set of pictures in the brain, among which there is no difference betwixt those born of real things and those born of inward dreamings, and no cause to value the one above the other.
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Great review, IP! Really gives me a sense of what this game is about. I think I'd really enjoy it and it may go into my recently vacated space for grail game (since I acquired Indonesia).
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You can't handle the truth?
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Wow, sorry for the very late comment to the review.

My Fiancee and I also play roads and boats, and also enjoy the optimization over being aggressive.

Do you just have an informal agreement to not disturb the other player, have you done something else to make sure it stays that way?

The way we handle it is with the "Don't be a Jerk" rule", which is basically a one full turn warning that we are going to come over and steal all your stuff.

That way, you have a full turn to make sure you can pick up all of your stuff, before the other person tries to steal stuff.

We find this way, it helps to keep us honest with our logistics, and not just have a mine spitting out tons of materials, with no real way to grab them, but our games are sped up, because we don't need to constantly keep track of each other, and checking the ranges of everything, so we can remain safe.

In practice, the way the rule usually plays out, is someone makes a stock certificate, the other person gets annoyed, and declares "Grab yer stuff, 'cause I'm going to be a jerk!", then the other person scrambles and makes sure they can pick up all of their stuff. Meanwhile, the other player never actually comes over to steal anything.
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We have an understanding not to steal stuff from the other person. We have similar understandings in other games, like not using the black cards against the other person in Utopian Rummy (but it's okay to use them to get rid of a bad card on your own side).
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