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Subject: CR / AG 2 - Yn rss

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Pablo Schulman
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A Concrete Review of an Abstract Game 2 - Yn


Summary:

Category: Abstract Strategy

Mechanics:
- Modular board
- Piece placement

Play Time: 10 – 15 min

Number of players: 2

Introduction

This abstract strategy game was designed to be lightly themed around range of mountains rising in the formation of the world and makes part of 4-game series of abstract strategy games based on the Pre-Socratic classical elements. This one is, naturally, their take on the Earth element.
Disregarding the theme the game is about being the player with the least number of points in the hand, when the game ends.

Components

The components are good, the artwork being top of line. The dice are of good quality and based on the small amount of rolling during the game (zero) I suppose it will withstand several hundreds of play. The game comes with a HUGE number of hematite stones and they give a elegant touch to the game.


Provided by DrGrayrock


The board: The board is made of a 32 x 32 cm square-cut acrylic piece with a huge sticker on it (like 30 x 30 cm) depicturing the artwork. I thought it was a good solution, and I like it. It is functional and the artwork matches the theme well, but it busies the board a little. The board is sturdy and can handle his share of playing, also the publisher says it is water proof (not that I’m willing to prove this theory).

The dice: The game comes with plentiful 42 dice – 36 black and 6 red (some versions came with blue dice). The black dice will be divided amongst the two players, 18 for each whilst the red dice will be used to set the board up.

The stones/markers: included in the game are 30 markers which are polished hematite stones with different size and shapes. It is a neat addition to the game in terms of visual. The markers are used in the initial set up and in every player’s turn.

The rulebook: the rules are presented in a coloured book, with seven pages. The rules are simple, can be explained in about 5 – 10 minutes and the publisher gives plenty of gameplay examples which helps clarify any ambiguous points in the rules.

Rules Overview

The rule book comes with a lot of different designs to set up the board. You choose one of them and place red dice and markers as shown in the diagram. Next you divide your dice in groups of 4, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2, 1 and 1 dice respectively, and roll them. Reserve the dice without rolling or shuffling them with other groups.

Random player begins. Players take alternate turns. Every turn consists of 2 actions.

• Action 1: Place one group (range) in the board (if possible).

- A group can be placed in any order
- a group must be placed in a straight line.
- A die must occupy a single house and a house supports just one die.
- A group must be placed connected to any existing group on the board. In the first turn if the setup has any red dice the first player must place a group adjacent to it. If not, he can place anywhere on the board.
- Groups can only be connected by dice who match their face up numbers. (No dice must be adjacent to any die that doesn’t match its face up number).
- If not possible to place a group, the player goes to the second action of his turn.

• Action 2: Place one marker in the board (mandatory).

- A marker can’t be placed adjacently to any dice on the board.
- A marker can be placed adjacent to any marker on the board.


The game is over when no player can place a group or when one player places all his groups on the board (the player who does so is the winner).

The winner is the player with the least number of points when the game is over.

Discussion

I don’t know why but the game is kind of... strange for me. You see, it seems more like a puzzle than a competition between the players. Don’t misunderstand me: the game has player interaction but maybe it needed more.

I’ve played some games, but only with the most basic setup. In this setup the board is too open and so it is very difficult to outmanoeuvre the opponent with your markers. As the board busies with dice and markers it gets more difficult to place a die and easier to mess your opponents game, but in this stage you and him are only with the small groups (groups with 2 and 1, maybe one with 3 dice) so it is still possible to make your way through the board. All I can imagine (as I didn’t play any other set up) is that in other set up the game could finish too fast because of lack of room (faster than a game that already seems fast to me).

It requires some tactical skills and counting, but it’s not like you’re going to think a hundred turns ahead. I think play time may drag with players with AP (How can I maximize my dice? Where can I place my markers in a way that troubles my opponent but gives me room to place my groups?), but the game in theory is fast, as it is impossible to go further than 10 turns or 20 plys.

The game to me is boring to set up and game play ends so fast that I’d like a larger board and more dice groups to be worth all the work to set the game up for play.

I’m glad I bought the game for the look of the board when the game is over. The look and components are great; just that alone can make me go through all the trouble of setting the game up. I’m glad that I supported a small company that is trying to make a living of the gaming hobby, especially when the company is releasing abstract games. Update: the company in question went out of business.

Conclusion

It isn’t a bad game, but it isn’t a spectacular one. I wish the game could be like its theme: A boiling tempestuous placement of pieces on the board. But it seems to me more like a warm contemplative solitaire exercise of placing pieces on the board. I still like it, but to me it’s simply not that fun/satisfying to play.
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