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Subject: A different review rss

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Adriaan de Goeij
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Deventer
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Let me start of to say that this is the first review I have written for the Geek, I do occasionally write reviews for our club magazine and these tend to be well enjoyed, whether that is courtesy or honesty I don't know.

Indonesia
The first reason I bought this game was simple, a dutch game company that makes a beautifull (pleasing for the eye) boardgame, that needs to be supported, although I was put onto second thoughts by the price (€60.=). This is a game of econimic competition decided on the basis of whoems overal worth at game end is the highest.

As has been mentioned by Ben Nevis in his review the quality of all parts is very nice, but I have one set of items I do doubt is going to last the game, the cards used for placing new cities at the start of new era's, aside from the material concern there the color tone is OK (although the colors of the boats are bright). The play board is of a sturdy material and the counters used for most actions are of a sturdy cardboard and appear to be quite wear resistant. The playfield has colorscheme of varying from brown to light grey for the production regions (provinces) and these are subdivided into plantations. The rulesbook provided is bilingual in german and english and also contains illustrated examples of play in the gamne colorscheme. The board may appear boring at first inspection but the colors of the tokens used for cities (glas beads) and plantations/ boats add the color to the game board, which during play does not distract form the game mechanics. All players receive a playmat which specifies cash, bank, game sequence and basic values for products, boats and shipping.

The sequence of play is dived in seven phases:
New era
Bidding for turnorder
Mergers
Acquisitions
Research and Development
Operations
City growth

New era
The game lasts for three era's when the fourth era would start the game ends. The number of turns in the game is determined by the actions of the players themselves. A new era begins if there are no companies left or only companies of one kind. If a new era begins players in turnorder place a new city in one of the area's highlighted on their personal cityplacment card for that era. A city can only be placed into a plantation where no production plantation is present and only if no city is already present in that region. The plantation of the production region in which the new city is placed is no longer considered part of that region.

Bidding for turnorder
Players bid money from their personal cash in turnorder to determine the turnorder, only once a bid may be made, thus players that went first are at an disadvantage. The money bid for turnorder is transferred into their persnal bank.

Mergers
Merging is a double edged sword and may come back to bite players hard if wielded poorly. I have seen players lose badly while having started most mergers and having the highest R&D rating in it. Also the gameclock is largely run through the merging mechanism. Games will be merged into ending. This will cost people victory, thus when applied properly it will win you the game. Now why all these comments? Merging is done in the following manner, the player that wants to merge has to have an available slot (this may be achieved by merging one or more of your own companies), has to have the money to make the opening bid and has to have a rating in Merging equal to or greater than the number of certificates involved in the merger. Thus the player does not have to be the owner of the involved companies. The opening bid is determined by multiplying the number of plantations with the base value of the resource involved, with the exception of the so-called Siap Faji mergers. Thus merging a company of three rice plantaions with a company of four rice plantations will yield an minimum opening bid of 7x20=140 Rupia (the denomination of Indonesian money). The merging player may increase the opening bid in multiples of 7 to e.g. 154. Then bidding proceeds to the next in turnorder, who may only make a bid I he/she has an available slot, and he/she has to increase the bid or pass forever on this merger. Bidding continues until all but one player has passed. That player then pays the original owners by ratio. I.e. the final bid was 224 for the earlier mentioned company, the owner of the smaller rice company will get 3/7 x 224=96 the remainder goes to the other owner being 4/7 x 224=128. Merging can thus be used to judge the depth of one's oponents pocket, or willingness to retain/ obtain control of the involved merged company.
Siap Faji mergers, are mergers between rice and spices companies. These are resolved in the above manner and will yield a Siap Fajiu company (readymeal company). The base value of rice is 20 and the base value of spices is 25. The opening bid is based on the base value of the spices thus if two spice plantaions are merged with three rice plantions the minimum opening bid is 125 Rupia. The same procedure is followed as above but after the handing over of the money a final step is added, the transformation of half (rounded down) of the involved plantations into readymeal "plantations". The remaining plantations are removed. The base value of readymeals is 35 so all in all the net worth after the merger will be less but the potential will be much higher for this company. The removal of plantations may enable new companies to be acquired in the vacated area's, thus some care should be taken with the removal of plantations when resolving the Siap Faji merger. An astute player noted to me already "All next generations of Indonesian people will know about rice is that it comes spiced, packed in plastic dishes with foil over them after that "ping" sound...". Trust me on this one there will be too much production capacity and that will cost you victory more than once.

Acquisition
Available companies can be founded in turn order if players have available slots. Slots can be researched. If players have more than one available slot they found as many new companies as they have slots but can pick only one company per acquisition round. So you can acquire more than company in a gameturn, but others get to pick before you get to pich again. There are 5 differently colored company certificates, Rice - yellow, Spice - green, Shipping - blue, Rubber - purple and Oil - grey. Siap Faji (red) companies do not have their own certificates, these are provided by the merged companies. Certificates indicate where companies start, and shipping company certificates indicate the number of boats a shipping company may operate during an era.

R&D
Players get to advance one of their markers one space on the R&D track of their choice. There are 5 R&D tracks:
+ Turnorder bid
+ Slots
+ Mergers
+ Expansion
+ Hull Player

Turnorder bid - Can be increased to 5x, 25x, etc this will make your bid more valuable although you money is not actually increased by it, it counts for more by the multiple indicated. So far I have seen very few players taking steps in this track (maybe something for more experienced players?).
Slots - See above description of Acquisition.
Mergers - See above description of Mergers.
Expansion - This track indicates y how many boats plantations you may expand your companies by either free or paid for expantion during Operations.
Hull Player - This track indicates how many goods can be transported by production companies using the players ships through a seazone. This is the only R&D track that may be improved by other players than yourselve.

Operations
The operations of shipping companies is different from that of production companies. Shipping companies are operated by expansion up to the number of seazones indicated on the certificate and limited by the expansion rating on the R&D track.
Production companies get to do several things during operations:
Delivery of goods
Receiving money for delivered goods
Paying for shipping transit
Expansion
If a company can deliver goods, it has to deliver these goods. To deliver goods to a city the ships of only one company may be used no company switching during transit is allowed. Production regions will transport goods to the sea by themselves but not to a city present in the production area's, shipping is required for that. Transport occurs automatically to the seaarea's adjacent to the production regions. Clever city placement will limit access to seaarea's from production regions. For each ship used in transit 5 Rupia is due to the ships' owner, thus rice will yield 20 Rupia when delivered in a city but may cost 25 to deliver (remember if you can deliver you must deliver) if the transit involved 5 ships! Although this may sound good for the shipping owner, winning the game with only shipping companies is virtually impossible. If the production company has delivered all the goods it can produce (which is equal to the number of plantations) it qualifies for free expansion. This is the best way to increase your wealth, imagine the newly merge readymeal company from the merger example. It has only two plantations after the merger and would have a value of 70 Rupia, but the new owner has an expasionrating of 4 and after delivering his two readymeals places four (!) new readymeal plantations thereby gaining 140 Rupia in value.
Money earned in the last operation round is doubled, if only one player has three companies only that player doubles his/her earnings, as do the shipping company owners that were used by the player operating that company.

City growth
Cities grow (there are three sizes) when they get all goods currently manufactured delivered to the city in the quantity required by the city level. Thus a level 1 city can only receive one good of each commodity and will grow in this phase if it has received one of each commodity produced. A level two city can take two goods of each commodity and a level three city three of each commodity. On the back side of the plantation markers black icons of the commodity are present and these markes are used to indicate delivered goods. If there are no more markers left no more goods can be delivered of that commodity nor can there be any new plantations added (this *will* happen).

Victory
At the end of the game people sum their money (in both cash and bank) and add an amount equal to the current value of their companies. The player have the highest amount wins. Ties are extremely unlikely.

Stategy
I have found it very hard to determine any specific strategy for this game. Usually the first R&D will be a new slot, but taking Merge may be equal based on the conditions (e.g. two shipping companies up and running). If you are big in shipping you will want to pay attention during city placement as the further the city is from the production location to more money is to be made in shipping goods there. Equally good is increasing the hull of a diferent player during R&D so that you may ship all of your produced goods to nearby cities, thereby gaining free expansion and forcing your direct oponent to deliver his goods (of the same commodity) very far away costing him/ her a fortune in shipping fee's.

Final verdict
I find this game compellingly complex. As there is no clear cut strategy to win this game I expect this game to hit my table often (it already did the previous three weeks, since I got it in Essen). I can see this game turn ugly if players have too much of a cutthroat mentality in much the same way 1830 can turn ugly. Although winning is what all players should aim for in a game, having fun is in my estimation more important, some players will become very ugly when they see their chances at the win turned to ashes. I am afraid that this game is very good at putting the leader down and out and as such it is very important to time the game end. Two R&D tracks influence this Slots and Mergers. Slots will simply allow you to operate more companies (remember when you run out of companies the new era starts) and merging will allow you to free up slots to also acquire new companies. At the start of new era's also new companies become available so timing new slots or mergers can be essential in ensuring you get the new juicy companies while ruining somebody in the merger. Also mergers are good for emptying peoples pockets, and may well be simply set up to weaken the oponents' defenses against the more desired merger. To win this game you need to be a very good judge of character as the merger phase is all about bluff and gambits, if you can pull of a number of good mergers, you may yet win the game, but you might lose out because your oponent chose to operate his giga company ahead of you leaving you with no nearby destinations to deliver goods. As such the value of a company is not only judged by how much money it made including doubling their income, but also by how much free expansion the owner managed to pull off... There are many more nasty details in this game which is exactly why I rated this a 9 as I think the way the rules interact is extremely well balanced, this is in my view the release of 2005. Another good point is that it lasts relatively short for these kind of money gathering games, 1830 has a tendency to last at least 6 hours and Age of Renaissance will last that long too, Twilight Imperium will take at least 8 hours to complete (note these figures are based on my playing group, which is not well known for speedy play). Oposed to those figures Indonesia lasts a mer 3 to 4 hours maximum independent of the number of players! So lo and behold, at long final last an economic money gathering game that may be played during the week without running deep into the night.
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Derek Carver
United Kingdom
Cobham
Surrey, UK
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My thanks Adriaan (and also Ben Nevis) for your in depth reviews. I have the game and greatly look forward to playing it. But when I put a new big game on the games table the looks that confront me are often like telling a 7 year old to tuck into and enjoy his first fish pie! Reviews such as yours are great because I can send them out in advance and smooth the path.

Derek
 
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Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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Thanks for the review . Anyhow, I found two small mistakes in the way you've been playing (or at least, how they differ from how we play ):

Diziet_Sma wrote:

Money earned in the last operation round is doubled, if only one player has three companies only that player doubles his/her earnings, as do the shipping company owners that were used by the player operating that company.


All money earned by companies during the operations phase of the last year is doubled - not only that of the last companies that operate. Makes for an interesting twist though...

Diziet_Sma wrote:

At the end of the game people sum their money (in both cash and bank) and add an amount equal to the current value of their companies. The player have the highest amount wins. Ties are extremely unlikely.


Only the amount of money is counted - it doesn't matter how much your companies are worth (that's what the doubling of money in the last round is for approximately).

Hae fun playing!

--Jeroen
 
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Derek Carver
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Re: A different review (Indonesia)
Hi Adriaan

I read your review most carefully before playing the game for the first time this evening. BUT there is one point that puzzles me. You categorically state "Victory: At the end of the game people sum their money (in both cash and bank) and add an amount equal to the current value of their companies." Now, although the idea seems to make sense, I cannot find anything in the rules that states players "add an amount equal to the current value of their companies". Such a rule would have changed our result.

Is this a new Splotter rule? I ask because I know that they missed out the rule that cities had to be built on a coastal province and there was a problem with te sea around 'Bali'. So maybe they have now added this rule also.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Meanwhile, Cheers for now and good wishes

Derek
 
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Ben Nevis
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Jeroen already commented on this (see above post). All money earned during the last round is doubled. If all goods produced are sold it boils down to the same: current value of companies = goods sold. If not there are discrepancies.
 
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Adriaan de Goeij
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Hi Derek,

I made an error in this regard. The doubling of money only occurs in the final operating round an dthe value of the companies is not taken into account. This rubbs me but as yet I am gathering simply play data by calculating victory the official way (doubling earnings of the last operating round), as oposed to normal earnings and adding the value of the companies. I find the two different ways do impact playstyle in the last operating round because the former way actually favours those companies delivering all their production, which is then added to the company value by the number of expansion slot you have taken (and can expand into). So far however the difference between the two methods of determining victory have yielded only marginal differences, not influencing game victory (meaning the same person won in both instances). As I have only played few games since, my data pool is limited.

Sorry for my late reply but I visit the Geek rarely these days, as such I became aware of your question only today. I hope you enjoyed the game anyways.

Regards,

Adriaan
 
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Dave Eisen
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The companies have no intrinsic worth other than what they can deliver. If you have 10 oil chits on the board but no ships to get them to market, they flat out are not worth $400.

Doubling the money on the last round is a kind of cumbersome way to account for the worth of the final board position. It also is hard to teach because it makes no sense to new players at first and they need to keep being reminded of this all the way through the game or they will forget. But I agree with the designers that it is the best way to account for the worth of the final board position.
 
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I would suggest that both this game and Twilight Imperium (3, I presume) will not take as this review says, for most players. Not to say that either game is short, but they will both tend to run about 3.5 hours when played by experienced players, and both games are generally longer with more players.

I have had a game of Indonesia last about five hours, but we spent a lot of time analyzing options and openly discussing strategy, and I enjoyed it. Indonesia is a great game that defies linear strategies.
 
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dkeisen wrote:
The companies have no intrinsic worth other than what they can deliver. If you have 10 oil chits on the board but no ships to get them to market, they flat out are not worth $400.

Doubling the money on the last round is a kind of cumbersome way to account for the worth of the final board position. It also is hard to teach because it makes no sense to new players at first and they need to keep being reminded of this all the way through the game or they will forget. But I agree with the designers that it is the best way to account for the worth of the final board position.


I always thought of the "doubling" rule as a mechanism introduced to make late game mergers and acquisitions more interesting, since even in the last round a company could be worth quite a bit more than its nominal value. But in any event I agree it is "artificial" in nature and doesn't really fit into an otherwise pretty realistic game - although I guess you could justify it thematically by saying that it is projecting an extra turn into the future
 
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Trevor Dewey
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verandi wrote:

I always thought of the "doubling" rule as a mechanism introduced to make late game mergers and acquisitions more interesting, since even in the last round a company could be worth quite a bit more than its nominal value. But in any event I agree it is "artificial" in nature and doesn't really fit into an otherwise pretty realistic game - although I guess you could justify it thematically by saying that it is projecting an extra turn into the future


The simplest rule would be to just add income plus the value of companies (see the comment above that the doubling was intended to approximate the value). However, if you don't double for the final round and instead just add in the value of goods/shipping companies shipping companies lose a lot of money (since they would not get doubled for each usage by different companies but would just get the additional one time valuation of 10xship. For shiggles & grits we might try it both ways next time we play and see how the valuation differs using the no double/just count assets plus cash vs. normal.
 
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tdewey wrote:

The simplest rule would be to just add income plus the value of companies (see the comment above that the doubling was intended to approximate the value). However, if you don't double for the final round and instead just add in the value of goods/shipping companies shipping companies lose a lot of money (since they would not get doubled for each usage by different companies but would just get the additional one time valuation of 10xship. For shiggles & grits we might try it both ways next time we play and see how the valuation differs using the no double/just count assets plus cash vs. normal.


This is a bad idea, cause the simplistic "value" of a goods company does not take into consideration the company's ability to deliver those goods. What use is a company with 10 oil fields that can't deliver any to cities?

That is why the current rule exists.
 
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