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Subject: Not sure where the hard decisions are rss

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Jonathan Degann
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I've long been a fan of Kramer, (whether with Kiesling or Ulrich) and finally got to try Swarm this weekend. Kramer tends to put a lot of "extra stuff" into his games (such as the action card mechanism) but despite so many submechanisms it was difficult for me to see where the interesting decisions were.

OK, you avoid being near the whale or in line with a tsunami - and you might grab the card if you can punish multiple players.

You are probably going to take a balance of ship cards and researcher cards. Not much tension or conflict there. You need to get some researchers down early so that every time you lay tiles, you can lay serveral.

The path building itself had limited tactical opportunities. In some games you need to get to a crucial location first. There is no blocking in Swarm since you can easily promote a tile. I did get locked into a corner sometimes. Occasionally I could yank a tile out from an opponent's ship, causing him to take fewer than he'd otherwise expect to.

When our game was over, everything was connected to everything else. Admittedly I did have to sweat a little to insure that my 4th edge station was connected, but that wasn't too troublesome.

At best I can see the tile laying a little like track laying in Transamerica. You can't block but you can play defensively to avoid helping your opponents out... as long as possible. Maybe the primary strategy considerations are there.

Any thoughts?
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jbrier
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I agree about your general point that the game lacks ambiguous or otherwise difficult decisions, at least for my taste. But I think it's a bit of a stretch to assume that everyone will connect to all four sides so easily. I often see players only connect three sides and even win doing so. Since players bid victory points in order to draft 'better' cards, one can end up accomplishing less during the game but also bidding less and thus ending up ahead in points.


Quote:
You are probably going to take a balance of ship cards and researcher cards.


Not necessarily. Sometimes you focus more on one or another. Of course, this is often more the result of a tactical situation than a conscious strategy. I agree that the card draft isn't that interesting as there is limited room to specialize (which was your general point).

The one place I think you don't give the game enough credit (and which is really the most interesting part) is the spatial element. Depending on what tiles you discover (and of course discovering more increases your odds of having what you need) the tile laying puzzle can be quite challenging, with blocking becoming a big factor as players often don't have the right tiles to overcome obstacles put in their way.

So in sum- I agree with your general assessment, but think there's more to the tile laying than you experienced in your game.
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Jonathan Degann
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I'd certainly acknowledge that with just one play under my belt, it is possible that in a game against experienced players, there may be a more hard-fought contest hiding in the box. The way the game is structured made me believe it's not there - but I'd grand its potential. I tend to trust Kramer & Kiesling.
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jbrier
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The more I think about it, I think the game works best with 4, as the board is more crowded and route building becomes more difficult. With a less constrained board there is little of interest left to the game.
 
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Jonathan Degann
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Funny - but I had a feeling it needed four. When I played I was able to get 3 to volunteer easily, but held out... and just barely found a fourth in time.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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A little late to the party, but...
Jonathan Degann wrote:
At best I can see the tile laying a little like track laying in Transamerica. You can't block but you can play defensively to avoid helping your opponents out... as long as possible.

Well, in TransAmerica the tracks are shared. The are not shared in The Swarm. You can and do block other players. But it's a soft-block, rather than a hard-block. If players are blocking aggressively, then the number of tiles available to overplay will be found to be lacking. I've also seen people play a 4-connector tile when not needed, specifically so that another tile may not be placed on it. With this kind of tile blocking, players find themselves needing to use boats to make connections, which I find interesting. Especially when hazards are used aggressively.

But yeah, it's not brain-melting like Cavum.
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Jonathan Degann
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But they are shared in Swarm. You extend your track and overlay onto existing track, and everyone uses the entire network.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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Jonathan Degann wrote:
But they are shared in Swarm. You extend your track and overlay onto existing track, and everyone uses the entire network.

One of us is confused. You certainly do not share the entire network. Each player's network only extends to/across spaces that they have their own buoys and/or their own boats on, and the connections on the tiles match up (with boats connecting to all four sides).
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Jonathan Degann
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In Transamerica, you are isolated, only building out from your home, until such time as your network reaches another player's, at which time you are part of the combined affair.

As I recall, similarly, in Swarm, you build out from your research stations (or ships), but as soon as you can connect it with a larger network, the entire combined affair is now shared, and you may extend from the greater network.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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Jonathan Degann wrote:
As I recall, similarly, in Swarm, you build out from your research stations (or ships), but as soon as you can connect it with a larger network, the entire combined affair is now shared, and you may extend from the greater network.

This is incorrect. See the scoring example on page 7. Red has 5 stations, lots of buoys, but none of his stations are considered connected to the queen. His station on the west is also isolated and not connected to his north/east/south stations.

That makes a huge difference!
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Jonathan Degann
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Indeed I see your point. While the examples are unambiguous, I don't believe that the term "connection" is ever defined. Thank you for the clarification.
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Curt Carpenter
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No worries. The rules are admittedly not super clear. Sadly it's so common in translated rules I'm virtually numb to it.

Anyway, the game is actually decent. I recommend trying again.
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