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Micropul» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Quick, cheap, and pretty fun rss

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Rick Roppolo
United States
River Ridge
Louisiana
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I made a quick and dirty micropul set before a recent flight so I would have something to do while waiting at the airport. Since my flight was delayed, I got to play several solitaire games before boarding. I even played a few games on the little tray thingy on the airplane! (This added the challenge of an "out of bounds").

I then played several 2 player games with my roommate when I got home. When explaining the theme to my roommate, I realized the theme is so barely there that it was easier to just call the elements on the tiles circle, dot, and plus. In fact, we've started using the phrase, "How about a quick game of circles and dots?"

First off, I prefer it as a 2 player game, but the solitaire version isn't bad.

I'm not going to restate the rules, but just to summarize, each player gets 6 tiles in their hand, and the rest of the tiles go into the "core." When you place a tile in a way that activates a "dot" you get to take a tile from the core into your "supply." Each turn, a player gets one action only - either 1) place a tile, 2)take a tile from your supply into your hand, or 3) claim a group of circles (like a city in Carcassone) by placing a token (meeple). You get points for the size of the closed groups of circles you've claimed (cities) plus 2 points for each tile in your "supply" and 1 point for each tile left in your hand. The game ends when the core is empty. This happens very quickly.

In the 2 player game, you wind up putting off taking a tile from the supply into your hand because it counts as your one action, then the other player gets to go. But if you wait too long you'll have to take one from the supply several turns in a row while your opponent closes your group by placing 3 or 4 tiles before you can find one to extend it. Also, activating a "plus" gets you an extra turn. These mechanics combine to create some interesting tactical situations that you just don't get in the solitaire game.

One of the things that makes the solitaire game feel a little strange the first couple of plays is that it removes the challenge of only getting to do one action before the other player gets a turn. So you can play a tile that allows you to take an tile into your supply, then immediately take the tile from the supply to your hand, then immediately play that same tile. This does take away some of the excitement of the 2 player game, and it plays more like a puzzle.

One thing about this game that was a pleasant surprise is that it's not solely tactical - you can play at least 2 different strategies: "supply stack" or "huge groups."

Try placing tiles to get as many into your supply as you can, draining the core as fast as possible while doing everything you can to close your opponent's groups. Near the end of the game, if the other player still has any open groups, you can switch to preventing them from closing before you end the game. You can end up with a huge stack of tiles in your supply at 2 points each, your opponent frustrated because he felt like the game ended before he could do anything.

I've seen others state that the "supply stack" strategy is too strong, but in our games there seem to be a pretty even split with the "huge groups" strategy. In general, if you're going for huge groups, you want lots of pluses and tiles with 4 circles of the same color. If you're going supply stack, you're going to want tiles with dots and as few circles as possible.

One of the biggest issues I have with this game is the same issue I have with Carcassone and scrabble: sometimes it can just come down to right tile/right time, wrong tile/wrong time. Granted, micropul minimizes this by giving you a hand to choose tiles from.

The best things about the game are that it's really quick, very easy to set up and put away, and offers a decent amount of tactical sparring. Oh, and did I mention it's free? (Free to download, anyway. Some people get carried away and make the ultra-deluxe set made of hand-carved imported Italian marble. Mine is an inkjet printout stuck on some cardboard.)
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