Recommend
18 
 Thumb up
 Hide
6 Posts

Canoe» Forums » Reviews

Subject: I hate ‘Canoe’ but love the game. rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Mark Mitchell
United Kingdom
Brighton
East Sussex
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
When I found this enigmatic looking game when rooting around on the site I was taken by its craftsmanship and seeming links with classics like backgammon or chess. It has what I would call that “Cigar and Whisky” feel. Like something you would play on a cold night with a friend in front of a roaring fire.

Departing from my rather romantic and quite possibly marketing suckered rose tinted specs I decided to buy three of them as they were on a sale.
I had read the rules and liked the idea, also they seemed like nice gifts as well.

My partner is pregnant at the moment so bigger games or move around games (like Ascending Empires) where not really possible so Canoe was a perfect size to put on the bed. (BTW I have a beautiful little daughter now). So we played and played and played Canoe.

The premise of the game is quite simple. You have a grid on which numbered cubes are placed. You roll two six sided dice and move the cubes around the board attempting to either capture (pinch) an opponent’s cube by matching the number or by creating a ‘set’ of your own cubes by moving one of your own onto a matching numbered cube then ‘bearing off’ this set to score the points.

Once all the cubes of one person have been ‘beared off’ that player then ‘sweeps’ the opponents cubes to add to their score.

The combination of moves and possibilities are often tied into the duality of odd and even, because each time you move a cube you must either increase its value (if even) or decrease it (if odd). This creates a very interesting odd/even tactical situation on the grid. A little planning goes a long way in this game and taking a gamble on whether to ‘pinch’ grabbing short term points but enabling the other player to go out quicker or to ‘set’ build for the long haul can create some interesting decisions. Blocking also plays its role enabling you to stop the final cube ‘bearing off’ or by limiting your opponents moves. Games usually last about 25 minutes which is a good time for a game of this complexity. I would say it is similar to backgammon on that scale and certainly plays and feels like backgammon in its pace and brain power required. It is essentially a nice relaxing game, it feels nice, it plays nice, it sounds nice, and it smells nice. It definitely fits into the English pub gaming feel and certainly could develop a bit of a following over here if it were more widely known.

The components are crafted by Bruce Alsip who stamps and signs the back of each board. I have the mahogany set with leather case for the cubes. The cubes are nice heavy plastic, the dice are standard, the board is a nice piece of mahogany with a great finish. The quality of the components are excellent, the board and pieces are just about the right size and make a lovely sound when you move them around on the board.

So why do I hate ‘Canoe’?

The name of the game is also the name of a rule in the game called a ‘Canoe’. This rule determines that the first player to bear off scores both of the cubes rather than just one of them. I absolutely hate this rule. We found so many times that the early luck of the die determined who scored first and if you score 80 with a canoe it is extremely hard to come back from that. Also it feels like a dice race at the beginning and make early scoring and positioning shallow.

We only played with the Canoe rule a dozen times and found it made the game too random. Since removing this rule the game is a lot more balanced and we have played most probably over 50 games.

Without the Canoe rule, Canoe is a great game. It is on the light side, and definitely something that will play well in a pub or a winter evening open fire scenario. It plays quickly and you will definitely want to play it again and again as layers of tactics open up. It won’t set the world on fire but it will bring a nice warm glow to any gamer who appreciates fine things.

p.s. I got completely hammered with import tax in the UK, so beware Euro buyers.

*Edited to change from 15 to 25 minutes as the odd game can be significantly longer*
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Di Ponio
United States
Lake Orion
MI
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the write up Mark. It's been on my wishlist for a couple of years now. I guess I will have to work on acquiring a copy. I am sure the sale of my complete set of Warhammer Quest will take care of the problem!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Mitchell
United Kingdom
Brighton
East Sussex
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ptdnet wrote:
Absolutely agree with you on the 'canoe rule.'. We also ignore it!


Try playing the Canoe rule in reverse by halving the value of the cubes that bear off. Makes for some interesting play.

If you like an earlier rush/race/random element and a quicker game the 'Canoe' rule will certainly do that.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robert
Malaysia
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Personally, I've played about five hundred games of Canoe (I keep a journal) and I've not noticed as much of a bias against the person who bears off a Canoe first winning, unless they happen to score a 40/40 (Willits). It does add tension to the early game, but yes, it can be dictated somewhat by luck.

It is an easy enough rule to modify and should not discourage anyone from buying and enjoying this lovely game.

One strategy that I developed to counter the Willits was that I would purposefully try to bear off a set of 1s if I didn't have the opportunity to bear off anything else. I managed to score "double blunt" enough times that they almost named that feat after me...

It's a very situational strategy though... it's almost always better to bear off points rather than blanks, but I had one particular opponent who ALWAYS went for forty stacks so I simply denied him his double 40 enough times to show him that playing to always score 40 stacks was not very efficient.

YMMV, but do try this game if you can. The sets are absolutely beautiful and if you don't like the Canoe rule, don't use it.

-Robert
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dennis Driggers
United States
Indianapolis
Indiana
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Canoe is my favorite game. I like the canoe rule, and find it adds a lot of tension into the early game. I agree with the previous comment that often the best strategy is to form and bear off a set as quickly as possible, even if the set has low value. But if you don't like the rule, ignore it! With or without the canoe rule this game is both challenging and fun.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.