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Subject: Dominant Species 3p rss

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Kurt FromVirginia
United States
Northern Virginia
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Chad:

I've not met you, and probably never will. I'm a 40 yr old professional with a good job, lovely family and otherwise a happy boy that enjoys the board gaming hobby every weekend. Nonetheless, be on notice that I will come find you on the opposite side of the country and put a flaming back of poop on your doorstep.

Your game is brillant, engaging, and full of moments where you cultivate new curse words directed at good friends who just so happen to be playing a competing color. But it's a bruiser that I have no idea how to make it less consuming on our evening. Ultimately I fear this goes on the space of the shelf reserved for games that we look at and say "We should really play that more often".

3p game tonight for me, the Norweigan and Strike. First time and last time we played was about 6 mos ago. Need a quick reread of the rules - but we were ready to roll after about a 15 minute setup/reboot. BIG COMPLEMENTS for an air tight rule book.

The game is full of ebbs and tides. None of us have a strategy well baked in the first few turns. It seems Norweigan and Strike are trying to dump their species cubes out en mass early on, so I hold back recalling plenty of Dominance cards that effectively nuke the board. A couple of well timed Glaciation action reduce the number of cubes on the board, but ultimately this allows the Norweigan to rack up many points in the end of round scoring over multiple rounds. The man owned the penguin.

The game evolves and I am pinned (playing the mammal) as the last player. I try from time to time to move up on the initiative track to get a better crack at the primo Domination cards but I constantly get drilled backwards. My moment of opportunity arises to claim the Domination card with the Volcano - i.e. pick a tile and remove all species as well as one species from every tile adjoining. This thins the Norweigan and Strike armies - to the point Norway has about 10 cubes left in his gene pool while Strike and I are at 30 or so. I get a few F bombs lovingly volleyed my way.

Despite this cube advantage, Norweigan goes on the attack using his Spidey powers to pluck off species cubes and control the tundra tiles for big points at every round. It's a losing fight to go after him in the last round as the best I can do is keep him from getting 21 points on the tundra cubes by devoting all of my actions to swarming in from adjoining cubes. I get control of the tundra at game end but ultimately he's got a huge advantage in Dominance over the tiles on the board.

End game - Norway 220 ish, me at 180 ish. Strike at 140 ish.

So, we clock in at about 4 hours or the high end of the range per the box. Lots of deep thought on each round by all the players but still a fair amount of forehead slap moments. I understand there is a short version of the game that eliminates 4 or 5 cards and probably trims 45 minutes off the game. Will probably be how we play going forward.

Big thumbs up on DS from me. I don't see how you could get this to a shorter time frame without really cheapening the experience. I'm signed up and preordeered on GMT for DS-Card Game (and Urban Sprawl) and will buy all future Jensen non-war games on spec. DS-Card Game is advertised at 30 minutes. I'm hopeful this complements the big boy game as San Juan does for Puerto Rico, Magna Carta does for Caylus and Campaign Manager does for 1960 Making of the President. There will always be a time to suck it up and break out the real game - but if I can get the majority of the DS experience in a 30 minute box I'd reconsider my earlier terrorist intentions.

Great game.
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Jack Smith
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Removing the 4 cards with AP's added or taken out does reduce the time quite a lot we found although this does mean the game is a bit off balance (less cube management as less rounds as well as less actions played) so some adjust the species as well. Also you will get quicker with more players. You may be able to get a 3 player down to 2 and a half hours comfortably I suspect. We average 90 minutes for a 2 player game now and we don't rush.
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