Arthur is roped into gaming now, Ticket to Ride having done its trick. However, I began to think maybe I still need to do some more work on him when he brought over Landlock as an appetizer...
In this first game we were feeling out the rules and strategy. I chose water. Gnomes in inner tubes are my friends. I get a tussock, he gets a tussock. He breaks up my ponds, I break up his islands. I somehow manage to turn my 3-side waterway into a 4-sider using a bridge. We kept screwing over each other any time we tried to place gnomes, so the game was low-scoring. I win 12-11.
I think I'm getting the hang of this. I picked land. I immediately went for a diagonal path, and "forced the grid" to make sure he couldn't go around me. Forcing the grid is an important strategy, as it prevents any plays that would cause the game to be wider or taller than 6 by 6. Then I blocked off his waterways trying to cross my thoroughfare. I managed to do so without creating any ponds for him. I connected the four sides for the 10 point bonus. Arthur had two waterways that connected each to two sides -- only worth 5 points. He plucked a bridge near the end, and would have loved to connect the two waterways together (and improve his waterway bonus from 5 to 10 points) but I had placed three gnomes in the center area, the only place where the bridge could help him. Since replacing gnomes with a bridge is a no no, he connected to a third side and secured the 7-point bonus. I won 18-14.
I was land this time. Arthur killed two of my islands by bridging them, nice job. My diagonal path strategy from the second game is working well again, but I'm only able to limit him to three sides. He also manages to get several ponds and gnome combos. I played a bridge to a corner just to waste it, then afterwards we discovered a) it was against the rules, and b) I screwed myself over four points by placing it there. Ah well. It cost me the game, which was high scoring: Arthur won 22-21.
I actually enjoyed the game. It's pretty simple, and there's luck involved in the drawing of the tiles. But there are some definite strategic choices you can make to affect the outcome. It's fast, and a good warm-up game if you have non-gamers in the mix. I'd be willing to play again. I can recommend this game for kids or as a very quick and light filler game.
Some notes on Tussocks
Tussocks are arbitray 1 point bonuses to anyone who plays them. Plus they're very useful tiles for blocking an opponent, regardless of their gnome-type (water/land). I don't really like arbitrary "hey I drew a tile I get a point without thinkin" kind of rules, but there are only three of them in the game. Plus you don't lay out all the tiles, so it's possible for one to go unplayed throughout the game. Tussocks interrupt both water AND land paths, which took me a while to wrap my head around. It's obviously a land tile, but it can't be used for connecting a roadway. In any case, Tussocks look like pets who want their bellies rubbed, so I can't get too mad at them.