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Subject: Some thoughts upon improving your garden... rss

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Brad McKenzie
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Hi all,

I was thrilled to have my copy of Octopus Garden arrive, and am really pleased with the overall quality of the game. I thought I would share a couple of thoughts on possible variations for the game that I think might vary / improve your gardening experience:

1 While the base game is good, the three expansions - Parrot Fish, Diver, and Coconut Octopus - make it even better. As the Parrot Fish is the only promo that is readily available (through the Geek Store at time of writing), it is frustrating that the others are near impossible to find. A solution to this is to purchase extra copies of the Parrot Fish and create color labels to create your own Diver and Octopus. While I've had success with this method, I'd love to hear if anyone else has found another way to get around this lack of promos.

2 I love Stu Glennie's Diver variant, having the diver swim about your garden instead of him being immediately removed from the game. Gives you a little more interaction with your garden beyond just the starfish. You can read more about his great idea here:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/732102/diver-variant

3 I've always felt that in a 2-player game there are way too many seagrass and anemone tiles. Secretly remove a set number of tiles at the start of the game (sort of like what happens in Zooloretto) so that the exact number of each tile in the bag is an unknown. Not only is there tension regarding whether you can earn a second seahorse, but additional tension as there may not be enough tiles in to succeed regardless.

4 I had an annoying game of Octopus' Garden where my opponent seemed to get everything he was looking for, and I was being stuck with loads of bottles. An action similar to what happens in King of Tokyo where players can spend 2 pearls to wipe a row or column of items from the grid would give players a chance to hopefully find something more desirable or block your opponents from receiving something great.

5 My final thought on how to change / the game comes with a request to Roberta for another promo tile. While I don't usually play games that heavily attack other players, I do like a little more interaction than simply being able to say, "Aww, I was hoping to buy that..."

Create an undersea storm tile that costs four pearls to buy. When purchased, an undersea storm hits the gardens of your opponents. Draw a tile at random from the bag. All opponents lose 3 (if available) of those tiles. Each player can choose which of the tiles to remove. Seahorses and clown fish are removed if their habitat has been destroyed, and divers swim away. The purchaser of this tile is not affected by the storm, as you knew it was coming and were adequately prepared.

Anyway, those are some thoughts on variations that will help to keep this game fresh. I would love to hear your thoughts on the game and any variations you use when building your gardens.
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Roberta Taylor
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Neat ideas! I think that the storm tile may be a bit too powerful (imagine playing it right before you fill your board, taking out an opponent's 3 relics), but I see what you're trying for generally, andI think that allowing players to pay to wipe the board will add quite a bit of the interactivity you're seeking.

Hopefully the other expansions become available from Valley soon- I understand that it's their plan to make these available there, but I don't know the timeline.
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Justin Rubin
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Just bought the game for my family (wife and 12 year old who LOVES anything aquatic and plays games like Lisboa that are thinky). We love the game as it comes in the box - to make things tighter we have a rule that if you CAN purchase a row/column you MUST instead of waiting - only if you have insufficient pearls can you pass.
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Roberta Taylor
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That's a neat idea- I'm curious how it plays, and may have to try it. I've been experimenting with allowing passing, but the player who passes must discard one tile from the market back to the bag and replace it with a new one- if you try this, be sure to let me know which you prefer!!
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Justin Rubin
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OK - we tried it - once it seemed to work - the second time it didn't - but the rules I think should stay as you originally wrote them.

The issue is that I got caught constantly having 3-4 pearls every turn without the ability to get any more oysters thus getting me stuck permanently in a low-value purchase.

Love the game as is - the more we play the more the theme glows. PS After playing today my son asked to go to the aquarium - so that's where we're off to. If that's not a great success in gameplay/life-impact I don't know what is. Looking forward to finding the promo/expansions.

 
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