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A Derk appears from the mists...
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Drew, Ken, John, Derk

This game has got to be the winner of the coveted ‘Ken’s Most Played Multiplayer Game’ award. Not that I’m complaining. I can’t agree with Ken’s, “I’ve never had a bad game of Marracash” statement, but I will say that it’s a very solid game. Plus, it seems to have more and more strategic possibilities each time I play it. We ran through the rules for John and Drew’s benefit, and then began.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: “This is a weird game.” I’m not sure why this game seemed so odd, but it certainly was. The bidding was actually quite low at first, as we each felt out the other players. John would have the first major tourist influx in a yellow shop in the center of town. I quickly responded by auctioning another yellow store closer to the entrance, and won the bid. I got quite a bit of business there, and was able to take a decent cash lead. Or at least it seemed like a lead to me.

I won another auction for a shop, paying a decent amount for the shop considering the amount of like-colored tourists milling about. Remember the way I’d ‘mistreated’ John earlier in the day? Well, let me assure you, John still remembered. He promptly auctioned off a like-colored shop to mess with me. It was a bad thing, because I’d bid lots of money for that last shop and needed to make up the cash. As the old adage goes, “In for a penny, in for a pound…” (although I never understood what coins had to do with weights). I countered by buying another shop in the same area in an effort to cover my earning potential. The game quickly took on a different pace, as John and I contended with each other. (To be honest, I ended up spending more money than I absolutely needed to. But at this point I needed huge influx of tourists into my over-priced shops, and the last thing I needed was to have everyone thinking that I still had a huge pile of money!)

After a while, we calmed down again (mostly by virtue of John running out of money, but that’s just my theory) and the game rapidly came to a close. I still had a significant pile of money, and I could possibly win the game if the others hadn’t done very well in the end. After all the shop buying that dominated the last half of the game, I shouldn’t have been terribly surprised that Drew (and his two pathetic shops) won. Personally, I was just happy to see John’s total…

Drew: $3125, Derk: $2650, Ken: $2175, John $1375

<em>Drew: It helps not to be a target in this game. The decisions are difficult, the game has no random features except the order of thepieces at the beginning (which constitutes the perfect amount of randomness for me), and I think it is extremely well designed. The only flaw to me is it ends right as it gets interesting. I would prefer to play ‘til the last tourist has found a home. Rating: 9

John: This was a pretty delicious game, if only for the opportunities it offers to dick your opponents. However, one aspect of the game really bothers me: the layout of the board seems to ensure that the vast majority of the interior stores are unlikely to ever be purchased. In the game we played none of the 8 stores that were bought was an interior property (by this I mean a property that did not have at least one entrance facing the path that runs around the inner perimeter of the walls). Why would anyone ever purchase some of the shops deep inside the city? Not only does the geography of the board argue against it, so does the logic of movement. The fountains on the perimeter path are spaced much further apart than those inthe interior, which acts as a further disincentive to buy interior shops because of the difficulty in controlling tourists long enough to get them to your shops. It seems that the designer should have made it a bit easier to move through the interior in order to add value to the properties there. I'd really like to see some changes to bring the interior shops into play a bit more. As it is, I can imagine that this game might fall into a fairly standard pattern of play that would hurt its replayability. Rating: 6, but would be much higher if the whole board could be used effectively.</em>
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