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Subject: As in real life : the settlers won rss

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Ben Verhaevert
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Yesterday we played our first 3 player game of Dakota : a 2 natives against 1 settler game.
The explaining of the game took us about 25 minutes, the set up 10 minutes since youo got quite a lot of things to do and chits to place.

I explained the game by following the very good structured oversight on the back of the rules manual. There were no rules questions left, which is always a good sign.

Since it was a first play for all 3 of us, none was really sure how to dive in. I quickly went for the saloon, generating a wealth token every turn. This turned out to be important at the end of the game.
My 2 natives adversaries went for the horse herd/rifles to strenghten their position. Since I was all alone I got blocked in round 2, but the 2 natives didn't get the idea of co-operation:negation so one of them blocked out the other. This caused some real suspicion amongst them of which of course I benefited.

In round 4 I was able to get a train, while they were now investing in totem poles. I had gathered some money now and through bying (market place) and selling I was able to evade some of the fighting over land an could further develop.

The first rows were not that quick emptied so it took a while (I believe 5 or 6 rounds) before the interesting resources became available to me.

roubd 8 and 9, things went vey fast. We had hit gold (a 6 wealth token for me) and they found out that bying and selling was a mechanic that could work for the natives.

We ended up close 15 -14 -9 but alas, the settles had won one again.

My conclusions : it is a game full of caniving and backstapping. It is indeed a game of negationtion and partly co-operation but in the end it's everybody for himself. The strategy to win differs for settlers and natives.
I think you got to play the game a few times to get a hang of it. It plays deeper than it seems and it's not enough to only look at your own plate.
The fact that even uneven factions can play together is a rather unique mechanic (at least to me it is. Also the fact that the different sides have diffferent boards in which te value of the resources differs gives it a special feel. I think this adds to the theme whereby some resources are more valuable for one faction than for the other.

It is certainly not a bod game, but I doubt it will become a classic.

Pro's :
- easy to explain and play
- has some nice mechanics (reverse order for second placement)
- is (can be) very interactive

Con's :
- easy to always bash the same person
- a lot of chits, tokens ans stuff to put away and set up

I rate it a 7, a game that will come out from time to time.
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