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Subject: Taj Mahal , a great game but tough ,how to introduce it? rss

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Paul Sommer
Denmark
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I have been play testing taj mahal recently( plus online taj mahal) and can see it is a marvelous game .

However I fear to bring to the table as my players might get overloaded by the many and confusing array of choices to be made in this game .

Any tips out there from taj players?

Thanks

 
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Adam Smiles
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Dedham
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Work Backwards. Start off explaing how you get points so when you get to the card play, they understand why they want to play cards and why they might want to not play cards.

1. Commodities Scoring - show them both the special chips and the elephant tokens.
2. Connection Scoring - don't worry about why the palaces are placed, just show how they score.
3. +2 Bonus - Comes from chips or special card.
4. End game bonus for longest suit.

5. Now go over the play of cards. Play one colored card with optional white card. Must stay with suit started.
6. Go over placement rules for the mogul and how to pick up special chips.
7. How you get more cards.
8. Explain the extra card for wussy folding (our group's term for not playing any cards).

9. Point out the importance of getting a single thing cheaply instead of blowing your whole hand in one round to get 3 things.

If most of the group is new to the game, I would suggest playing a practice round or two so they get a feel for how it plays and then re-start.
 
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David Boeren
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Taj Mahal can be a bit subtle, so I like to emphasize to people that you must conserve your strength and use it wisely. Get good deals, know when to bow out, and learn which prizes are more important to get.

Another thing is that most people are not used to planning so far ahead in a game. In Taj, you really do need to be looking several turns ahead and see what is coming up on the auction block. That way you can recognize what rounds you need to be strong it and what rounds you can recoup. If you see 2 rounds in a row where you need to win something you REALLY need to know ahead of time so you can hoard massive strength since there is no time to recover in between.

If you point out some tips like these it will help people understand what they should be doing. If not, they could end up overextending themselves and winning almost nothing the whole game. I've seen it happen, a player who doesn't understand can really get POUNDED and will not have fun and will not want to play this again.

To teach rules, I would probably deal out 5 cards each to some dummy players and go through the motions of them playing out a region and showing the scoring afterward. Sprinkle some palaces around to show chain scoring and how the placement can be important to some players and important to block for others. Let them know that for beginners the elephants are probably the easier strategy to pursue for their first game rather than palace chains.

Finally, there is an excellent 2p variant here on the geek with very good rules for a dummy player. I've even used it to play solitaire against several dummies and it was quite enjoyable as well as challenging.
 
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Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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To work my backwards: I found the dummy play enjoyable, if a little on the easy side, even when the dummy got the best two special cards right from the beginning. Once these were out of its hands, the human players pounded him into nothingness.

The main problem with Taj Mahal is that it is fairly easy to see what you should do, but that doing it is difficult for a lack of cards. Sometimes you happen to be a bit lucky, and sometimes not. In any case that means that you should point out to newcomers that they should plan ahead, but not more than a few rounds.

Point out to newcomers that if one of them is lucky enough to hoard resources, he should try and focus on that. Resources not only increase te score, they increase the rate of scoring as well. Double whammy! However, this strategy has an obvious downside: for this particular player the last resources are crucial, and if he lacks the cards to secure it... You get the idea.

Taj Mahal is a game where you should seize every opportunity to score points by the bonus card, bonus tiles, and palaces. (Resources too if they are distributed evenly.) Don't forget the card scoring at the end: sometimes it is more useful to bail out early to secure a good hand than to just place a useless palace in the 12th province!

Palace placement really shouldn't take very long. It is quite easy to spot the sites with the greater connectivity. Sometimes the Mogul comes in very handy, don't underestimate the bloke. The only agonising decision is when one needs to decide between a bonus tile (preferably a +2-one) and a good building spot. But even then basic arithmetic will suffice.

If a province holds no obvious benefits, bail out early to secure three cards instead of two (or one). In addition, point out that card management is crucial: yes, you got that beautiful province, but now you only have three or four cards.

You need to play the game two or three times to get a feeling for the timing involved, but it's never boring.
 
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Thomas Donnelly
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TiNYTimIDFluffYBunnY wrote:
I have been play testing taj mahal recently( plus online taj mahal) and can see it is a marvelous game .

However I fear to bring to the table as my players might get overloaded by the many and confusing array of choices to be made in this game .

Any tips out there from taj players?

Thanks



Ivanhoe is the best bridge there is. Casual gamers will 'get' Ivanhoe quickly and it's a stripped down version of Taj. Once they are comfortable with Ivanhoe, the switch to Taj is easy.

 
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Paul Sommer
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Thanks for all the tips here guys :-)

I will report back how it went!!
 
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