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Subject: Our 3 evening game rss

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Krista Donnelly
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Beltsville
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I got the 1994 version from a fellow game thrifter. I've found and played a number of Family Pastime games over the last two years, and so my 7 year old daughter asked to play this one. It's rated for 9 years and up, probably due to the amount of reading on the cards and the constant simple addition. She's a good student, though, and neither the reading nor the math were beyond her.

The rules for the 1994 differ significantly from those described in the other review here. You win the game by developing all 24 locations in the community. You buy developments through earning money at the work locations, but must also manage your levels of love and bad feelings. If any player ever gets 10 bad feelings, you lose the game. More importantly, each location has a chart to dictate what happens when you land there. On half of them, results differ according to whether you have more bad feelings or more love. The other half rely on the roll of a die - bad results on odd, good results on even. On both locations, the good results are amplified and the bad results lessened if you have developed the location. At various spots on the board, you must take an event card. Occasionally an event card will immediately send you to a location (usually the Medical Center), but usually you just save them up until a meeting is called. Event cards are divided into two main categories - those that represent potential conflicts within the community and repair and maintenance within the community. Conflict cards will add to your love total if you as a group have more love than bad feelings or add to your bad feelings if bad feelings already overwhelm the love. Repair and maintenance just require you to spend money. There are also 3 disaster cards - forest fires, snowstorm and a violent windstorm. These will destroy developed locations, with the amount destroyed again depending on whether love or bad feelings hold sway. You will lose the game if you cannot successfully resolve all event cards when a meeting is called. Some events will also call a meeting. Meetings can also be called whenever a player wants to call one.

It didn't take long to read the rules and absorb them, though the fact that bad feelings win out during ties in unfortunately hidden in an example caused a bit of unneeded re-reading. We ended up playing the game in three sessions, each 20 to 30 minutes long. When we started the game, we split our opening developments between a location that gave a lot of money, the cemetery and one that gave 4 bad feelings if it wasn't developed. That session we were preoccupied with building up our love and seemed to struggle a lot of keep the bad feelings down. About half way through my daughter develop a love of going on the Hillside Spiritual Quest and building up her love. Bedtime hit and then passed some as she begged to keep playing.

The next evening during our second session, we developed some more and started drawing event cards. We hit a long string of events that required maintenance or buying supplies for various locations. At this point, we took the wrong track and started hoarding our money to be sure of being able to pay for all these events when the next meeting was called. As a consequence, we didn't develop very much. We did pay everything off when the meeting was held, but then not long afterward we drew the forest fire card and lost 3 developments at our next meeting. Since we only had 7 or 8 at that point, it was quite a blow. Then, not long after that, the snowstorm struck and we lost another 3. After two sessions of play, we were back to the original 3 locations that we started with! Bedtime hit, my daughter begged to keep playing, but then had to go to bed. She was so obsessed with getting our love and money totals up, though, that a little later she crept out of bed to come and down and play a few more rounds, moving my pawn as well as hers. [She sent me on the Hillside Spiritual Quest to build up more love!]

Then on the third evening, I realized my major strategic error from the previous night. You can always sell developments for the same amount as it cost to buy them. So, it's pointless to hoard your money. You should always put it to use by buying developments as soon as possible. With a little strategic placement, they'll soon pay themselves back. It's pretty clear you should develop the money locations first (offices, store, factory, etc), then the ones that give the most bad feelings (laundry!), and then the rest. Reap what you can from them, and then sell some if you have to when a meeting is called. Once I realized this, we raced along in our third session, buying as soon as we gained any money. It was a race against time as events built up that would cost us money at a meeting while the pile of developments to build dwindled lower and lower. Finally, we made it! We developed all 24 and never had to go to the meeting to deal with the violent windstorm and pay the large amount of accumulated maintenance.

For most adult gamers, the sessions will go too long, though nowhere near as long as Monopoly, and the luck will probably be too much. Earlier on when my bad feelings overwhelmed my love, I was grateful to land on the locations where a roll of the die determined my fortune, but later it started to annoy me when I had a well managed supply of love. There are definitely choices to be made - do you take the shortcuts to bring you back around to where you've developed the locations, but take the risk of drawing more event cards? Do you develop the small money locations after the big money ones are done, or is it time to invest in reducing the bad feeling locations? We never had a time when both of us had more bad feelings than love, and with the ability to always call a meeting to use our love to reduce each other's bad feelings, I never felt us to be in danger of losing the game to the bad feeling limit.

My daughter's verdict: "I love this game!"

Me: I wouldn't choose to play it on my own, but I'm happy to play it with her. I rated it according to my daughter's reaction.
 
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Randy Cox
United States
Clemson
South Carolina
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1024x768 works just fine - Don't Wide the Site!
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kldonnelly wrote:
I'm happy to play it with her. I rated it according to my daughter's reaction.
As well you should. Games need to be rated for their age-appropriate audience.

Thanks for the review.
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Krista Donnelly
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kldonnelly wrote:
We developed all 24 and never had to go to the meeting to deal with the violent windstorm and pay the large amount of accumulated maintenance.


We played again tonight, and I realized that we didn't truly win the last game. You have to deal with all face up events to win. It's just that you lose at a meeting if you can't deal with them. So we might still have won, but it would have taken longer.

Our game tonight ended with a decisive loss. We played for about half an hour when my daughter hit 10 bad feelings. We'd struggled all session since we both started out with more bad feelings than love, and had the bad luck to land on the bad feeling spaces on the Hillside Spiritual Quest. After we lost, I also counted up our face up events (which were all money ones). We would have owed $30 and would only have come up with $28 if we'd sold everything. Another utopia crashes and burns.
 
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