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Subject: Navegador as a follow-up to Stone Age and Lords of Waterdeep rss

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Malko Mann
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Hi,

I'm mostly playing with two decidedly non-gamer girls, which means that the game selection usually is to the lighter side (Dominion, Carcassonne, King of Tokyo, etc). Two of the most sure-fire hits with them, however, has been Lords of Waterdeep and Stone Age (and Alien Frontiers to some degree). Accesible worker placement games, that are easy to grasp and look great, without that "dusty euro-feel". I'm looking for the next step euro in that vein, while upping the depth a little.

Navegador is the game on my radar for this - it looks amazing, and while it's not worker placement like the games I've mentioned, the rondel mechanic looks fun, and it seems like the pace of the game is relatively fast. I worry that it may be too complex, however. LoW and SA are both weighted at 2.5 here on BGG, and Navegador is weighted at 3.1, so it seems like a reasonable jump. I fear that the whole stock-market thing with prices going up and down, and the low luck factor, may be too intimidating as well.

Does Navegador seem like a good fit? Or should I look at another game that fits the above description better?

Looking forward to your input!

EDIT 15/11: Thanks for all your feedback, I think Navegador may be the way to go. Follow-up question: Would The Manhattan Project work as an alternative or supplement to Navegador?
 
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Laura Creighton
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Do you have some examples of what hasn't been a hit?

Do you know why these others have been a hit -- by asking these people not guessing based on what they have in common? If the WP is absolutely essential to the enjoyment then you might be better off with Last Will. But otherwise, the geek weight number is pretty meaningless. We really don't have more precision other than 'light', 'medium' and 'heavy' because when talking about 'weight' people throw all sorts of unrelated things into the mix. How long it plays. How complicated the rules are to explain. How deep the strategy is. Whether you have to change your strategy a lot based on what other people do, or whether you can just stick with your plan.

I don't think that the low luck factor will be intimidating unless somebody has already done the evil business of training these people to be afraid of low luck games. The Market is really easy to understand, but explain it last, after people already know how to get factories and colonies. Now, playing Navegador _well_ may take a while, but then they may not be playing LoW well, and still enjoy it. If they don't like games where their play will improve with practice, then stay away, but otherwise this is a pretty good place to begin with such things.

Hmmm. I just had an idea -- pretend that I am explaining this to them. I've already gone around the rondel explaining what each square entitles you to do, and have finished up with the market:

The single most important thing which they may not be used to is -- keep track of how much money other people have at all times. Since money is open, this is not hard -- and you can ask -- but you have to remember to do this. How much money your opponent has determines when he has to go to the market.

The second thing that could be new-ish for them, is that this is a game that is won, not by the people who do a little bit of everything, but by the people who specialise in something that is under represented at the table. Stone Age is a bit like that, in that you can decide that you want to specialise in tiles that give bonus points times the number of axes while others are doing bonus points in tiles times the number on the food track, but in Navegador this is explicit.

The third new thing will be the rondel. In Navegador you often want to get around the rondel as quickly as possible. This can mean that the best strategy is to go to a rondel square and then not take the action possible there -- for instance, early in the game, you might go to 'privilege', and then don't pay a worker for one because you are still trying to increase your worker population. All you wanted to do was to get around the rondel quickly, so you can get to the squares that have actions you _do_ want to take -- buying workers, or shipyards, or what have you. Some people do not think of this on their own -- they think of the rondel as actions they _must_ take, and so explaining this is a good idea. You have to advance around the rondel on your turn. You don't have to do whatever action is on the square where you land.

The rulebook in English has a serious mistranslation from the German. It says that you can use the Navegador card to sail before any person's turn. This is wrong. You can only use it before your own turn to sail. Once you know this, the rules about ending the game with the Navegador card by sailing to Nagasaki make sense -- before they are incomprehensible. What the rules say is that, should you end the game by sailing to Nagasaki in the usual way, by taking a sailing action on the rondel, the game proceeds one more time around the table, so everybody gets one more turn, finishing up with you as last. If, instead, you end the game by sailing to Nagasaki using the Navegador card, you then take your usual turn, and _then_ the game goes once around the table so it will still end with you as the last player.

You can only take one teal exploration token per sailing turn, even if you have a huge fleet that would otherwise be capable of exploring more than one place at a time. You can, of course, sail with the Navegador card before your turn, take one token, and then use your regular turn to sail, and take the second token.

You can pass the Navegador token even if you have no ships, and therefore cannot really sail.

The purpose of this game is to get victory points. You can have the biggest colonial empire on the board, but if you didn't bother to collect the colony privilege multiplier, you will still loose to somebody with many fewer colonies each of which counts for a lot more.
--------------------

These are the only confusing bits in Navegador. If you think this is beyond them, then wait but otherwise I would suggest you go out and get this game as soon as possible. If this is the sort of thing that gives you fun, then this is one of the games that will give you the most of it. Highly recommended. I explain how to play game X to people who have never played game X before all the time. Navegador isn't one of the games where that is difficult.
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Malko Mann
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What a marvellous post Laura, thankyou! All my nerd senses are tingling reading this, that has to be a good sign.

Examples of non-hits: Rivals for Catan (due to a somewhat confusing tablau-build with the cards, I suppose) and Small World (not quite sure of the reasoning here - maybe too confrontational?). I've consciously attempted to introduce games to them that aren't too daunting, so I can't give too many examples.

For SA/LoW, they have certainly been on a steeper learning curve than I have, and I have won the majority of games. However, after alot of plays, they're definately catching up and I feel like then playing field has evened alot. I hope that would also be the case for Navegador, but I fear that introducing a game with a too steep learning curve would never get off the ground. When I explain the gameplay to them, they seem intrigued, but are also a bit wary of levelling up in difficulty level.

The reason I mentioned low-luck as a possible con, is that I'm unsure how they'd cope with longer-term strategy and planning than what they've experienced in these gateway games (I could never imagine playing Chess or war games with them, for example). That's why I assume Navegador could be appealing - isn't this a game where analysis paralysis doesn't come up that often, since the turns are so relativey fast? Would you say that this game has another sort of catch-up mechanic, despite of the low luck factor?

Thanks so much for the rest of your post, I'll definately take explanation notes of it if I end up buying this game.
 
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Charlie Theel
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I can't speak to Navegador, but Glen Drover's Empires: Age of Discovery (AKA Age of Empires III) is the perfect follow-up to Stone Age IMO.
 
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Shane Larsen
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I think Navegador would work swell for your situation. IMO, Navegador isn't a very big step up from Stone Age. I've always considered Stone Age to be slightly above entry-level complexity based on its end-game scoring. Navegador's game play is slightly more complex, but it's simplified by the rondel. And end-game scoring is easier to see because it's right there on your board, increasing as each player progresses.

You mentioned a concern for their ability to put together long-term strategy. The rondel really helps players along in this regard because they can look and say, "Okay I've got one of these three, I'll do that next. Then I'll have one of the next three--ooh, I'll do that one after that, then I can do that one , and..." You get the point, it gives them a perfect visual layout for stacking multiple-turn strategies.

And yes, the rondel helps a lot with cutting down AP.

Tell them not to worry about the step up in complexity. If they can handle SA and LoW, they're ready for Navegador, IMO.

Have fun!
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Laura Creighton
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Navegador is a 'score it all at the end' sort of game, like Stone Age, rather than a 'keep track as we go' game like Alien Frontiers. It is not deep like chess, or complicated like the average wargame. The strategy is fairly simple. Try to wait until others have committed to a strategy and pick one they don't have. Of course, they are waiting for you as well. If your RHS opponant has factories that demand a certain good, buy colonies of that same good. Conversely if he has colonies of a certain good, buy factories of that same good. This way, when he goes to the market he will improve prices for you, and since he is on your RHS you will be the first person to get to benefit from his trip to the market.

It's really bad, therefore to be specialising in the same colonies or factories as your RHS opponent. Every time he goes to the market, he will ruin the prices for you. And you may be broke and have no choice but to go to the market and get a terrible price. It's not so bad to have the same specialisation as your LHS opponent -- you will keep ruining things for him, of course, but the market should have a chance to recover before you need to go there again.

So, for people who haven't played any deep games at all, this is a good introduction. The strategy is fairly simple. The tactics is where it all happens -- do I go to the market now, or wait? Sacrifice a ship to get around the rondel faster, or not? Cross this imaginary line in the sea and make workers cost more to hire, or wait until next turn?

Since the rondel limits what you can do, figuring out what to do next is not a matter of building a huge search tree with a zillion options, but predicting what it is that your opponents want (or need) to do, and how your action will effect this.

The Market looks good for me, so maybe I should raise cash now. But it looks like MalkoMan wants to buy gold colonies. And, ha ha! he is broke! This means that he has to go to the market his next turn, because otherwise he won't be able to buy any colonies the turn after. If I go to the market now, I will give him better prices. Instead, I will wait, and go to the market after he does, so that he will instead give _me_ better prices!

That's the sort of decision making you have to make. It's not that hard, but it's fairly meticulous. The 'ooops, I wanted to buy 3 ships but I only have cash for 1because I forgot to go to the market first' problem will make you lose the game until your look-ahead gets better, but it is not that deep a look-ahead if you know what I mean.
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Shane Larsen
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FWIW, I think many the things Laura is detailing are things to discover by playing the game. They're definitely not things with which to concern yourself while explaining/teaching the game, IMO.
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Steve
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I've played Navegador three times. Our 4 & 5-player games each took about 3 hours. I think the 2-player game took about an hour-and-a-half. It's a great-looking game and there's plenty of depth there. However, moving on from Stone Age I've found that Puerto Rico plays more quickly and goes over better.
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David B
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Wow...I would be really careful unleashing Navegador on two decidedly non gamer girls. Some titles that may be a little more suited for that crowd:

1) Fresco. The theme of mixing paints and restoring the painting on the cathdral ceiling is quite charming. You need 3 players, though. The game comes with three expansion modules that gives you the option of keeping it simple or cranking the difficulty up.

2) Homesteaders. A game where you auction for land permits so that you can build certain buildings in your wild west town. The components include wooden cows, apples, and bars of copper. Takes a few minutes to set up but still plays in under an hour. Very easy rules, but it will take a couple of games to get a feel for all the buidlings that come out. And its ok to go into debt!

3) Carson City. Another wild west game. But this one is not an auction game; its a worker pacement/tile placement game with guns!

4) Another overlooked (well..its overlooked now...was popular for a while) game that you might enjoy: Tobago
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monchi
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I would second the vote for Carson City and would add to the mix Endeavor. I have had great success with Endeavor with exactly the same type of players you are describing. The nice thing about Endeavor is that it tends to be one of those games that you can pick up by playing. Even if the people aren't getting the rules 100% as you are explaining them, the first round or two will clarify everything. The only negative about Endeavor is that it doesn't really support 2 players.
 
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monchi
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oh, I was also going to mention that I too have had Navegador on my radar. The last time I went to buy games I took my wife with me as I try to find games she likes as if she doesn't like them I don't get much chance at playing them. I bring this up as she loves Stone Age and LoW. I took her with me as I was planning on getting Navegador. When she looked at the box and read what it was about it moved to the bottom of the list I gave her. She said it sounded and looked boring to her. I thought it would be good to share this with you as I think this could be an issue for you too. FYI, the game we settled on was Cyclades...I was pleasantly surprised she opted for this game.
 
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Sky Zero
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Love Navegador! It's a favorite of my wife and I's game collection. Be sure to use the Tom Lehmann 2 Player variant!
 
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I think Navegador is a solid game and if they're willing, go for it.

Laura's idea of Last Will was a good one, but another accessible worker placement game at about the same complexity of Stone Age, with some tile building like Carc, is Walnut Grove.
 
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Chris Toy
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Funny, I was just playing a new game last night, and the 3 games that I compared it to were Stone Age, Lords of Waterdeep and Alien Frontiers! Really!

The game was Santiago de Cuba. I would strongly suggest this game if your girls like those 3 above.
 
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Shane Larsen
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pfctsqr wrote:
Wow...I would be really careful unleashing Navegador on two decidedly non gamer girls.


These two "non-gamer girls" like and play a lot of Stone Age, Lords of Waterdeep, and (to a degree) Alien Frontiers. I think it's safe to say they're more into gaming than they think they are (or want to admit). I still think Navegador is a very small step up from both Stone Age and Lords of Waterdeep.

What's most important is to never tell your audience that something they're learning is "challenging", "harder", or "more complex". That's the first mistake in teaching any new subject, skill, or concept. Tell them it's easy from the beginning. They will believe you and process the new stuff...well, easily.
 
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Vivienne Raper
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If your fellow gamers aren't Spanish history fiends, they might find Navegador a bit dry. The market mechanism is slightly non-intuitive. The colour scheme is a bit, erm, brown - it looks serious, heavy and not fun on first glance. I wouldn't introduce it to my won't-admit-she's-a-gamer-really mum, let's put it that way, but have considered introducing her to Luna (see below).

How about:

Luna? It's a puzzle worker placement game with gorgeous island-shaped bits. Not as popular as some of Stefan Feld's other games, which I suspect is to do with the theme. I think some gamer guys aren't man enough to play a board game about moon priestesses.

Agricola? It's cute, quirky, you can teach it with the family game rules and add the cards later. For maximum 'wow' factor, buy animeeples and vegemeeples.

Castles of Burgundy? Another Stefan Feld and his best, in my opinion. Building your estate from the tiles is extremely satisfying, and the dice provide a tactical element that's kind(ish) to newbies.

Le Havre? It's allegedly great with three and has cartoony graphics, nice components and a wonderfully intuitive business/commercial theme. You really feel like you're building the bustling port of Le Havre during the two hours playtime.
 
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Malko Mann
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Thanks for all the replies! Much appreciated.

Just to clarify - the "non-gamer" girls I'm playing with definitely have a good hang of Stone Age and Lords of Waterdeep, to the point where they actually play just the two of them from time to time. They are just relatively recent members of the hobby (so am I, for that matter), and they are hungry for more.

I like the mostly positive feedback here on Navegador, I will probably purchase it. Of the other games mentioned, I have considered Carson City, although it seems pretty hard to track a copy. Based on a quick scan of the other suggestions, I'll also look into Last Will and Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery.

Mister Sugar: Wouldn't Agricola and Le Havre be way too complex for this situation? I've seen a few reviews, and those games seem really deep compared to what we've been through so far.
 
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Moe45673
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Agricola is not a light game but for some reason, it's a hit amongst almost anyone (except the obvious, like grognards). Worth the risk, IMO. One of the greatest games, plays well 2-5. Just pimp it out with Goodies or Mayday Meeples
 
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Laura Creighton
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Moe45673 wrote:
Agricola is not a light game but for some reason, it's a hit amongst almost anyone (except the obvious, like grognards). Worth the risk, IMO. One of the greatest games, plays well 2-5. Just pimp it out with Goodies or Mayday Meeples


Your milage may vary. It's not a hit around our gaming society at all. Even among the people who like Uwe Rosenberg's games, it is his least favourite of the bunch.
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Vivienne Raper
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MalkoMann wrote:

Mister Sugar: Wouldn't Agricola and Le Havre be way too complex for this situation? I've seen a few reviews, and those games seem really deep compared to what we've been through so far.


I found Le Havre easier to learn than Stone Age! Stone Age seemed like a bunch of calculations with non-intuitive hidden scoring. In Le Havre, I just bought buildings that created better stuff - a fish smoking plant to, erm, smoke fish. Smoked fish is more valuable than raw fish (kinda obvious if you imagine running a port). I won my first game.

Agricola is easier than Le Havre. It's easier to see who's winning and how because you can see their farm growing. There are simple family rules, which you can use for teaching. Running the farm is intuitive. For example, you buy fences to keep in sheep. If you own two sheep, they produce extra sheep. During the harvest, you may slaughter a sheep.

Both games also look great, which helps.
 
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Malko Mann
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I see. Agricola really appeals to me, I think the game looks fantastic. Hm.. I'll keep it on the radar.

Also, bump! I edited the OP with a curveball: How does The Manhattan Project stack up as an alternative or supplement to Navegador?
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Laura Creighton
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I haven't played the Manhattan Project, and probably won't. I cannot see the people around here being interested in buying a game about bomb-making.
 
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Malko Mann
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I suppose the theme can be a bit off-putting.
 
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Moe45673
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The Manhattan Project is an excellent well-balanced Euro. The only issues I've seen with it are that, while scoring isn't hidden, most of it occurs near the endgame and it can come as a surprise to some people. This can be mitigated with experience (eg, who's producing the most plutonium/uranium)

I'd also recommend playing to 60 points from 3-5 players. 40 points (for 5) means someone can win with one bomb!

I've never played Navegador, unfortunately. I'd really like to, though!
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James Mathe
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I've seen Navegador played and wasn't overly impressed. I don't see where there is much of a comparison to The Manhattan Project play style/game either. Very different games. TMP does get compared to LoW and if you like heavier games with theme then TMP is your choise. If you want an more accessable game then LoW might be your choice.

I personally like Pillars of Earth as a good worker placement go to game.

James
 
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