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Mikko Saari
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Fresh Fish is a neat game. I like it a lot. It's a tile placement game, but with a twist: rarely is a tile-placement game so focused on the squares where the tiles are not placed!

The goal of the game is to connect one's four shops to the four corresponding production facilities with the shortest possible road. The catch there is the road-building, which is not in the players' hands.

Actually, building is a bit indirect, too. Instead of placing tiles on the board, players place reservations, claiming a property for later building. Players can then draw tiles to place on their reservations. In case of a shop, those are auctioned to take the power from players' hands even more.

The road-building. Yes, the horrible road-building, which without a doubt makes many people shiver in horror (I think I've scarred some). Why is that, one could ask, as the expropriation follows two simple rules: all roads and undeveloped plots must form a single, continuous area and all production facilities and shops must have access to the road. To be honest, while those rules are simple, they produce complex situations. That isn't helped by faulty rules and unclear errata. Even after understanding the concepts, it's just too hard for some people. Brains either are Fresh Fish -compatible or not.

Mine is, and I enjoy the game a lot. It's always a challenge to come up with good plots for shops. Even more interesting is to place buildings so the road takes the best turns and ends up taking opponents' shops far from the production so their fish is far from fresh when it finally reaches the shop.

There are annoying graphic design issues (reservation cubes have bad colours and are tiny, that's number one), but nothing to prevent one from enjoying the game. Learning the rules correctly is not easy, but it's very important. Fresh Fish is a tough game to learn - a group of newbies is almost certainly bound to get something wrong about the expropriation, but if there's an experienced player teaching the game, it's not that hard.

If one's looking for something quite unlike anything else and has a preference for cerebral games, Fresh Fish is the best thing I know.

(Originally published in Gameblog)
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