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Subject: Wyspa - review rss

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Piotr Konieczny
Poland
Katowice
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Wyspa (Polish for Island) is an economic strategy game, in the popular genre represented by titles such as Settlers of Catan and Puerto Rico.

Onward with the review. Components are of average quality; of those the paper money gets the "barely ok" grade, and the LEGO-like bricks get the "nifty" grade Rulebook, if the single double sided piece of paper can be called that, is not bad. The game is in fact rather rules light for an economy game. Thinking about it, Settlers of Catan, which is rather similar in complexity, still needs a rulebook with 10 or so pages, Wyspa manages to to it with 2. All that means that I was able to learn the rules and start playing with friends five or so minutes after having opened the box for the first time.

Game itself goes on like this:
* players elect starting positions (province on a map)
* 24 turns start, each turn:
** players reveal an event card (language dependent component, which together with the rulebook would need to be translated before the game is playable by non-Polish language speakers)
** players collect income
** players may purchase more provinces
** players take actions (build, sell, exchange)

Simple enough. There are five natural resources (wood, stone, iron, oil, fruits). All but the fruits can be processed into buildings or processed goods. My favorite element of the game is here, as the LEGO like resource bricks can be used to "build" the processed goods (ex. if you have an automobile factory, you can stack one wood, one iron and one rope to build one automobile). I like this mechanic, unfortunately there are only two types of goods that can be created that way (automobiles and machines), and stone and fruits are never used in that fashion. If the game designers focused on what can be done with the resource bricks in a more creative way, this could have been a much nicer game... sigh.

The one game we have played was good enough, but we all agreed that a major issue with the game is re-playability. Map is mostly static, as almost all resource locations are fixed (hard printed) on the map. There are five random resources in the centre, but they give you only so much change. The game is relatively fun for the first time players, and I can see how one may want to play it few more times to figure out the best strategy, but after that, I don't think much can be done. If the authors have made all the resources random (with perhaps some suggested map layouts), the re-playability could have been much higher.

I cannot shake the thought: "what were the authors thinking?", seeing as the ony customers for it will be the small number of Polish fans of that genre (the game has many language-dependent components, so it is not a good buy for non-Polish speakers)... If the authors had exploited the stackable LEGO like resource bricks, the game could have been quite innovative. If the authors had made the map more random, the game could have had a larger re-playability value. In the end, ss things stand, Wyspa is a good game if you are looking for an easy and quick-to-learn economic game, likely as an intro for a new group of players into that genre (but Settlers do that just as well, with a trade-off in slightly larger rulebook for much larger re-playability...). For experienced players it is one of those games that you can play once, shrug, and maybe play again at some point in the future - no promise. Wyspa is not a bad game, however, all things considered, it is just medicore.

Pros:
* simple rules
* amusing stackable, LEGO-like stackable components

Cons:
* low re-playability
* Polish-language dependent
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Piotr Zuchowski
Poland
Lublin
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Thanks for the review, Piotr!

Please notice only one thing - this game was produced by Kuźnia Gier, but the publisher is Polkrak - the game was designed for their order by an author not connected with KG in any way.

It was the publisher's decision to make the game how it is now.
 
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