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Subject: SUMMY: it looks simple, IT IS FUN! rss

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Miguel
France
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My latest game: Big*Bang, a simple abstract about the first minutes of the Universe
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My best-rated game: TETRARCHIA, about the tetrarchy that saved Rome
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CONTEXT

When I first heard about this game before Essen I thought "still another easy conversion of Scrabble into numbers" or, since it was part of a three-game bundle, "Cwali didn't know how to complete his bundle and made a quick game for that"... The fact that they made only 501 copies for sale (not confident enough?) confirmed my feeling! And I don't like Scrabble, so why would I try a quick remake of a game I don't like?

COMPONENTS
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The game is "just" 94 wooden tiles: [0-9]x6, [+,-,x,:]x5, [=]x14. Very thick, they stand up on their own, it is always a good thing when you don't need holders! All inside a thick wooden box, great production quality.

The different tiles are colored differently, which makes the game-play easier: you can know if there are only a few "5" left, for example, at a glance. The operators are different shades of gray, with the darker ones the ones that have priority (:,x), good call too. The "=" are white, again very easy to find on the table. I said table, because there is no board!



RULES

The rule "book" is just a page folded, including examples and scoring. Very clear. So at that point I said to myself "not only this has been designed too quickly, but it looks horribly simple"... And then I stopped thinking and started playing!

The game is for two player/teams only. You put a starting "=" on the table, hold 8 tiles, and must play a sum: at least two numbers separated by one operator equal one number (a number can have several digits). Or discard a few tiles out of the game. You end your turn by replenishing your hand of 8. So no equations, any expression = one number, from left to right or up to bottom. The only restrictions are:

- You must always use at least 1 block already on the table.
- The space before the first and after the last block of a sum must remain empty the whole game.
- Sums placed parallel and adjacent to an existing sum are allowed.

After placing a sum, you score the sum of all digits in the sum. Period! When the draw pile is empty both player/teams keep placing sums until none of them can.



HOW DOES IT PLAY

I admit: all my expectations were wrong! I loved the game, right from the start. Indeed, the author gives a tip: "Trust the rulebook (this games is prepared during 15 years) and play it with groups". I should have trusted Cwali!

The things I didn't like about Scrabble:

- The board. It limits your placing area and guides your moves with the variable point scoring.
- The words. Well, as a disclaimer I'm a scientist... You better know strange words, or words that use the high-point letters. And there is the subjectivity that makes you accept words without knowing if they exist (or you need to check them with a dictionary, if you have one).
- It is (of course) language dependent! I would have a hard time playing Scrabble in French...

In SUMMY there is no board, the only thing you need to look for is a tile where you can connect your sum to the existing ones. Almost everywhere. You don't have to worry about the validity of words, the sum is right or wrong, there is no "well, it could be"! You can place parallel adjacent sums, which simplifies the placing a lot. And you cannot extend existing sums, no "+1 on both sides" here.

So in the end you find yourself PLAYING. You have choices, but they are not overwhelming. For example, if you don't have "=" you know that you must connect your sum on a existing one. If you don't have operators, you must connect on one. If you have only numbers, you must discard (you could place a sum, but it is very unlikely!). If you have all the ingredients you have more choices, but the number of tiles is not huge. The only addition I can think of is forcing a player to choose the "discard tiles" option if he has not placed a sum within a given time limit...

The scoring is brilliant too. You don't need to make very complex operations, "98-97=1" gives you a lot of points (34). Some people complain about having low numbers, but since you can connect with the high ones already played, I don't see this as a problem. Of course you may want to discard your low numbers, but a good way to do it without loosing a turn is, for example, adding your "0" to a valid sum, like "630:9=70": they don't give you points but you get rid of them "for free".

FINAL WORD (well, SUMMarY)
meeple
After a few plays, I find that this game is: simple, easy, fast, fun... and it makes you think! Well, all these things together are not too bad for a game. Cwali has been working for years on this one, I think he can be proud of the result. Just to avoid being 100% positive, there is one thing I don't like: 501 copies are too few! I hope this game will spread and that he will be forced to make many more.

My kids are 10-12-14, and they don't like to play long games: they ask to play this one! Which in addition is good for their maths. BTW, Xmas being close on the horizon, I see this as a very good choice for a gift to ANY child/family. But don't forget to tell them "this is not Scrabble with numbers, play it and you'll see"!

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Pieter
Netherlands
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Corné told me he already had two contacts with foreign publishers who want to release Summy; if those deals get made, many more copies of the game will get on the market.

In the meantime, he still has copies of the game available, so you can still buy one of the original ones if you want. They are sold for EUR 25 28. See below.

Make sure you take a look at the other new Cwali games. Especially Sun, Sea & Sand is an excellent game in its own right.
 
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Corné van Moorsel
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Hi,

The price in the Essen-booth was 28,- for Summy. I don't sell games self. In Essen Summy was purchased by http://www.philibertnet.com and http://www.ludibay.net in France.
 
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Corné van Moorsel
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Still fun to read this review, especially the introduction parts.
In the meantime SimplyFun http://simplyfun.com/products/sumology in the US and Morapiaf http://www.morapiaf.com/jogos-detalhe.php?jogoid=38 in Spain made it too.
(I'm told it had some coverage in the Today Show in the US.)
Not many other reviews, I found this in Spanish: http://www.labsk.net/index.php?topic=89270
145.000 matches played on http://www.jijbent.nl and mirror-sites in the meantime. But last Essen-fair I sold only 4 in 4 days, while for example 20 SunSea&Sand in 2 days (had not enough for the weekend). The thematical games I can sell self much better. But I play Summy often.
 
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