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Subject: First game today rss

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Travis R. Chance
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Played this for the first time today. Mark was kind enough to teach a group of four (he being the fifth player). First and foremost, Mark was a great teacher: generous with his insight, impartial during play, kind in a way most gamers (esp. as creator) just cannot be. He even indulging my every-other-turn probing about the design process, and how he came to arrive at the awesome place were Samsara resides.

As an abstract, this is a great game. It is nestled in a niche, and in that niche it stands out in this strangely familiar, yet unique way. Think diplomatic checkers with a twist, but even that doesn't suffice as an explanation. The play is simple; the strategy deep. I myself am not a huge abstract lover, but within the first few turns, as the options and potentials unfurled, I was deep "in the tank," plotting out moves (which fell short of victory, but served me well in terms of familiarizing myself with the game), enjoying the purity of the play, and drumming my fingers until it was my turn yet again. It is rare that I find myself captivated, and Samsara did just that in the 45-minute game we played.

For those of you who enjoy abstracts, and are on the prowl to 1.) try something new, and 2.) support a self-publisher, I would highly, I highly recommend this game! Kudos to Mark; I look forward to playing again soon!
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Mark Salzwedel
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Thanks, Travis. It was fun playing with you, and I appreciated your analysis. When I invented the game, I was not a big abstract fan. I hated chess, feared Go, and had managed to figure out Othello as a kid. The idea when I started Strategic Space was to bring out a line of games with minimal rules and good variety in strategies and replay value. I think that's true of the games I license too, like The Climbers. Unfortunately, with low-luck games like these two, for example (the only luck is in the setup conditions), the rule books have to be a little long to explain the variety of conditions that arise with such open playing surfaces, despite the base rules being fairly simple. I've been meeting a lot of players lately who don't like to spend more than 2 minutes learning rules, and a few only want to learn as they play, so I keep that in mind too, so that any special rules can be explained as they're needed during play.

The base rules for Samsara: Pawns come off the lotus point one at a time. Only one pawn per space. Every turn divide 4 moves between all your pawns. After you move, if you've got more pawns surrounding a single pawn or pawn stack, you can absorb that pawn under one of yours there. Players can cooperate in absorbing another player's pawns. You win by controlling the most pawns when anyone loses his/her last.
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