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Subject: Duel of the Princes is the way to go for this game rss

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My main motivator for buying this game was to find something with a good theme playable by two players. I disliked Lost Cities and I've grown tired of abstract games such as Go and Blokus. Overall I enjoyed the game and will look forward to the expansion.

I won't get into the basics of the game because it is well-covered in the other reviews. Instead, I will focus on the Duel of the Princes variant which I found the most enjoyable. I've played through 8 games now (1 Basic game, 2 Gold, 2 Progress, 1 Turmoil, and 2 Duels). Mostly games end with a less than two point spread, and tend to take 1 to 1.5 hours. We ended a couple games early upon realization that a couple games were runaway (one person had twice the points).

The Duel of the Princes theme uses a reduced number of cards from the other three themes. They are separated into three stacks, the Era of Progress, Gold, and Turmoil. The basic deck gets split into three more stacks. This actually helps reduce memorization as compared to the other themes because you only need to memorize what is in the three basic stacks.

The main feature is the availability of all the game mechanics at once. This leads to much more interesting games because there is more of a race to get the cards you need. For instance, we both wanted the single Town Hall (pay 0 resources to look through the deck). Later, once the single hedge tavern is built, the other person must go on the defensive and prepare for building-destroying arsonists.

One good thing I noticed was the way distinct phases formed depending on who was racing for what. There are a few turns preparing for and then bracing against card-destroying cards, then phases of battling for the strength and trade advantages. There is a lot more give and take when it comes to the strength and trade advantages. We both want to only buy the minimum number of heroes and trade ships necessary so it is difficult to hold onto both. This keeps the game exciting because the lead gets traded multiple times before the final push.

My main complaint is that the plague event serves to only lengthen the game. I started to dread the event card stack because the riots and plagues would penalize both of us equally. Then again, it could just be poor strategy on my part since I chose to take the risk rather than buy specific buildings to protect against it.

Ultimately, if you purchase this game I would recommend at least playing Duel of the Princes before making a decision whether you liked it or not.
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Marc
Germany
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thank you very much for your nice review - i am really looking forward to try the duel variant!
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Josh Brodie
Australia
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I've played the various themes a few times each, and decided to step up to the plate for the duel. You're right, it's great to have all the game mechanics available all at once.

However, all the bright and shiny different coloured themes may have blinded me. I followed your advice re: tracking down the town hall, and proceeded to get a right spanking as I pursued it at the detriment of principality development. Long story short, I lost. 13 - 3.
I know.
It was a runaway, but didn't want to take the thrill of victory away from my housemate. Constant brigand barrages, plagues and the lack of trade advantage didn't help my position.

So I've taken the time to have a think about it, and I've come up with a couple ideas for next time:

- rush to get the hedge tavern. Even if you don't build it immediately, it means the vicious archer/traitor/arsonist can't be played against you. The strength advantage is out the window if Candamir gets shot. This also means you don't have to waste resources on defensive city expansions like fire brigade/lookout tower.

-rush for the only toll bridge. The 2 gold plus 1 resource on plentiful harvest makes a massive difference early in the game. Even more so if you build a pirate ship. Try and snap up the gold cache if you end up building these cards, as the gold will be rolling in.

- keep an eye on the makeup of the event stack, react to it depending on how many plagues/feuds there are. Eg build a bath house if all 3 plagues end up in the event deck.

After only 1 play, my experience is very limited, but so far I'm loving this game.
 
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Damon Asher
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Jefferson
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Thanks for this nice to-the-point review.

I upgraded from the previous version to this one, and have been digging it. I originally thought that I would also prefer the "Duel of Princes" scenario, but I found that is not my favorite way to play. I find that the Princes scenario dilutes out the flavor of the decks too much and somewhat undercuts the "race" nature of the game. The Era of Turmoil deck is particularly less fun for me when only player will get to build the Hedge Tavern and throw down some attacks. When we play just that Era alone, we are both racing to get our defenses in place as we are throwing attacks at each other, and I like that. When you play a single Era, the game is more of a head-to-head battle, competing for the same buildings, and that feels to me like a more enjoyable way to play the game.

In fact, one of my favorite things about this new version is the way the nastier attacks are segregated into the Turmoil deck. Playing with that Era alone is fun because I know what I'm in for. However, I found those attacking cards to be annoying in the previous version of the game, where they were spread out in the basic deck.

I can see the appeal of the Princes scenario as well. However, I find that it creates a more asymmetric experience that does not seem to me to put the game in its best light. Just wanted to offer another view to complement yours!

Play on!
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