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Subject: The PERFECT blend of Ameritrash and Euro rss

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Brian McCormick
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Hello, my name is Brian and welcome to my review for Let's Go Fishin'. This game caught me by surprise when my friend brought it over last weekend after my group's usual sessions of Age of Steam, Troyes, and Dominion. While I expected a light, quick-to-play filler, what I found was a game with surprising depth and balance, despite the random elements. Having played this game as a child, I should point out that the fundamental design and gameplay mechanics have stood the test of time in the wake of newer boardgames hitting the market.

Designer/Publisher: Pressman Toys

Number of players: 4 (6-8 if fingers are used)

Play time: 5 to 75 minutes



courtesy kevintlee

What makes this game so special?

Don't let the cartoony box art or bright colors fool you. Haven't we all learned our lesson from Glory to Rome yet? Let's Go Fishin' comes with 21 plastic fish with various colors, several fishing poles, and a sturdy, plastic game board. You can kiss board bending goodbye! Pressman Toys made an excellent design choice by making the board out of plastic, because it allows for easy set-up and it won't wear out as quickly as a cardboard (or paper) board. Though the plastic components do add to the overall cost of the game, it's nice to know that some boardgame companies out there are still keeping their customers' best interests at heart.

The theme and gameplay mesh wonderfully. A common complaint of many boardgames is that the theme is pasted on. This isn't the case with Let's Go Fishin'. Every choice you make, every fish you catch completely changes the outcome of the game. Sure, you might have grabbed a fish from the center of the board, but now there is an empty spot. I wish more boardgames (especially the Euro engine-building crowd) would take note of this simple but entertaining mechanic.

I should mention that in earlier editions of the game, the fishing rods used a weighted string. In newer editions, the entire rod is made of plastic, including the "string". This presents some interesting strategic choices, and fans of complex engine-building Euros should pay attention. When you are using a string fishing pole, you are able to hover your pole over the board and consistently bring up fish. Now, you might not necessarily always catch the colors that you want, but it's a useful technique. Euro-lovers who enjoy methodically building up their strategy will feel right at home with this approach. The all-plastic fishing pole is another beast entirely. The stiff plastic string can make it difficult to hover over the board. So, players will need to jab their pole at the board at just the right moment as if they are spear-fishing. The all-plastic pole also offers some advantages when it comes to combat (which I will describe later).


courtesy kevintlee


THE MAGIC

So far, I've talked a lot about the components, but I've saved the best component for last: the board! Like I mentioned before, the board in Let's Go Fishin' is made of plastic. Besides the obvious advantages when it comes to stability, the board has another very unique twist.

It rotates!

Okay, I know what you're thinking. Why would that matter? C'mon, reader, don't you know anything about boardgames? A moving board creates infinite replayability! No game will ever be the same. Sure, you might attempt your well-planned strategy the same way every time, but the configuration of the board will never the the same twice, meaning that you need to adjust your actions while you go. This is a revolutionary concept in boardgames. I understand that not every boardgame company can develop and release a motorized plastic board, but I'd expect this sort of innovation from the likes of Fantasy Flight or Rio Grande, not a no-name toy company.

The different colors of the fish also play an important roles in your strategy, because the layout of the colors will be different from game to game (unless you specifically match the layout of the box cover's picture, which is considered the "introductory" board setup). Even though all the fish are worth the same amount of points and there is no gameplay advantage to owning more of a certain color, pursuing certain colors can create some dynamic shifts in balance throughout the game.

Let me give you an example. At the beginning, a lot of players might be going for red fish (a common early-game strategy). However, as the number of red fish dwindles, players will fight over the last remaining red fish, leaving an opening for another player to focus on blue or green fish completely uncontested. What this accomplishes is a living, breathing supply-and-demand market mechanic in Let's Go Fishin', determined entirely by the players. It is brilliant in its simplicity, and it makes other Euros look wooden in comparison. There are some people who complain about the early-game "red fish rush" because of the heavy emphasis on grabbing red fish, but I've found that if your group's favorite color is blue or green, players will rush for those colors instead.

The board motor requires 1 "C" battery, which might be hard to find because no other electronic device on the face of the earth uses that size of battery. I wish Pressman went with two standard AA batteries so I could swap batteries out of my now-obsolete Nintendo Wii remotes (obsolete because now I play this awesome boardgame) to replace the batteries in Let's Go Fishin' in a pinch. If I have any major gripe, it's probably with the batteries. I understand that no boardgame is going to be perfect and that the fanbase will always complain about one thing or another, but I really wish they did a better job in choosing the battery size.


Bloodthirsty battles

At this point of the review, you're probably thinking to yourself Wow, this game sounds like it's taking engine-building to the next level! Not so fast there, my pre-industrial agrarian cowboy. This game isn't just about building the best fishing village on the block. Sometimes, you have to play dirty. This is where Let's Go Fishin''s well-balanced Euro mechanics collide with the Ameritrash genre. In order to win at this game, you have to be willing to fight.

While there is no player elimination, it would be a mistake to sit in the corner and hope that your economy wins you the game. Players can - at any moment of the game - use their own fishing pole to bump someone else's fishing pole. So, if you want a game where you sit at your side of the table and optimize your little fishing village, Let's Go Fishin' is not for you. The combat aspect of the game force you to make a tough decision between the stringed fishing pole and the all-plastic fishing pole. While the stringed fishing pole is typically better at consistent catches, they are at a disadvantage during a head-on-head battle with an all-plastic fishing pole. In addition, players using a stringed fishing pole should think carefully before attacking another player with a stringed fishing pole, as this can lead to an "entanglement" status, which brings both player's economies to a standstill and allows other players to race ahead while you untangle your strings. It's design choices like this which really make me respect Pressman. They could have kept the stringed fishing poles in all later editions, but instead they decided to shake things up and allow players to pick their pole of choice, adding yet another layer of strategic depth. Bravo, Pressman!

Sometimes, players might catch the same fish at the same time. As a rule, you have to throw the fish back into the water and try again. This keeps the game moving at a quick pace while preventing any rule lawyers from trying to slow things down. The name on the box is Let's Go Fishin', not Let Us All Go Fishing, which should indicate that the fast way is the best way. Like I said above, even though the Euro mechanics form the foundation of this game, you can't play it in a slow and ponderous manner. You have to be fast.


courtesy EndersGame

The Verdict

I hope I made it clear that I really enjoyed playing Let's Go Fishin'. My first impression (when seeing the box and seeing the small children in the corner) is that it wouldn be a fun, quick filler without much depth or strategy. Boy oh boy, I was wrong! The friend who brought the game beat me several times in a row because he had learned the strategy and had spent more time developing his all-plastic pole combat maneuvers. But I have to give the game credit: it allows a total newbie like me to learn the basics and form my own strategy in a short amount of time (5 sessions, maybe less if you're more strategic than me). I still lose about 2/3rds of the time, but when I win, it's satisfying, and all players involved know that it was not just brains but also dexterity (and a bit of luck) that won you the game. Definitely give this game a try if you get a chance. It is not out-of-print (THANKFULLY!) and you can pick it up at your local Wal-Mart, Target, or garage sale (but make sure you check for missing fish or poles).

Thanks for reading!

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James 3
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lol?
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Dan Wells
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Awesome.
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The Kid
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Aurendrosl wrote:
Play time: 5 to 75 minutes

lol - loved it!
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Brian McCormick
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Drew1365 wrote:
I'd like to point out another important feature of the edition pictured above: the battery compartment is ON TOP! You don't have to turn over the contraption and dump out all the fish to replace the battery you've worn out from the endless replayability. With barely a pause in play, you can replace that battery, and then continue your grudge match against your fellow fisher-persons.

It's true. Knowing that so many gamers complain about fiddly bits, they made the choice to put the battery case on top because flipping the board to change batteries and continue playing would be classified as "fiddly". Clearly, Pressman Toys thought of everything when vetting the design for Let's Go Fishin'.
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Manuel Pasi
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Pure brillance!
 
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John W
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While this is an parody of a review, I actually agree with the thought of introducing a little Euro-scoring elements to Let's Go Fishin'.

No, I'm not kidding.

* Anyone who gets the most fish of a particular color (ties don't count) gets 2 bonus points.
* Anyone who doesn't get at least 1 fish of each color loses 3 points.
or
* Anyone who doesn't get at least 1 fish of each color doesn't score at all.
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