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Subject: A short review from a gamer's wife rss

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Lisa Schensted
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So here we are. You're a roman (trying to impress the real Trajan, I spose) who's looking for power.
So let's get some!



As you can see, the board sets up nicely on our average kitchen table. Plenty of room for everything with space to spare. If we had to, we could squeeze 2 more peeps as well.

Basically, you have 5 different ways to score points and you use your own rondel to select the actions you want. You can chain actions by getting Trajan tiles which allow you to get extra actions or a bonus tile when you match the colors in your bowl to the colors on the tile. Believe me, it's a lot easier than it sounds because you're moving them mancala style! Woo!



As previously mentioned, I LOVE having my own player board. A LOT. Maybe I have ocd or something, or maybe I just like feeling in control of my pieces and it helps me focus. Regardless, I dig it.

The five ways to score points are also on the player board.
1. Commodity Cards (also known as the Ship Yard) marked as the little sailing ship on the rondel. This allows you to draw cards or ship goods using an action on the main game board. You draw cards to make matches to score points, or to score points with bonus tiles in the end.
2. Military. Move your Leader (the big meeple) to different territories to get tiles to do things. Later, you can move your legionairres (the little meeples) to score the points printed on the board. This is the method I went with for our first game.
3. Trajan tiles. You place the tile under your arch on the rondel. When you match your colored bits with the color in the rondel and end your turn on that rondel, you get whatever's printed on the tile. That may be extra military dudes, a shipping action, straight points homie, or several other bonuses you will be interested in. Regardless, you always score at least a couple points for completing these so they are worth your time.
4. Senate Track. These are always points, which ain't nothin' to scoff at. But as an extra bonus, whoever controls the senate at the end of the turn (aka whoever has the most senate points) decides who gets which bonus tile. You can really set yourself up for sweet bonus points in the end. Or thwart your opponent from such bonus opportunities.
5. Construction. Move your meeples to the construction area, then to the construction site. Your first tile grants you a bonus action, and after that you get points. These tiles chain up at the end for bonus point scoring too. This is the route Andrew went.



Here's a peek at the game about halfway through. You can see my legionnaire dudes up top, doing things. Andrew's guys are mostly in construction over to the right. Shipping is to the left. Senate track is on the bottom leading up to those two golden bonus scoring tiles. The artwork is kinda cool, no?

Anyway, in addition to scoring points and getting power, you do have to meet demands of the people to keep them happy or whatever. Three randomly drawn resource tiles get drawn, once per turn (which is denoted by how many pieces move on the rondels collectively) and after 3 are drawn and you finish the last turn, it's time to pay up. You want to fill the needs of the people otherwise you lose points. That mechanic always and forever stresses me OUT. But I didn't find it to be crippling in this game, as it can be in other games ::cough:: Agricola ::cough::.



Here's my player board about halfway through the game. You can see I've done shipping a few times and I've gotten two bonus tiles on the golden side, which means I was in control of the senate twice. I have a couple resources up top to fulfill needs as they come up. You can also see that my colored bits aren't evenly distributed, which means I've been moving them along the rondel to get stuff done. Again, you move the colored bits in a mancala style, which is SO COOL. Also, I'm woefully out of Trajan tiles, so you can't see any of those. I'm sorry.



So while you score throughout the game, there is some significant end game scoring as well. You get a point for any unused shipping cards in your hand, all of your legionnaires on the board (in the military region), incomplete Trajan tiles on your rondel, matching construction tiles, and any points from bonus tiles.



While I was able to meet the demands at the end of the game, I wasn't able to do a whole lot else. I really stalled out with my military method which hurt me. As you can see from the big board picture above, I did win the next time we played by balancing shipping with construction and Trajan tiles.

Things I liked:
- My own player board!
- Lots of ways to score! You don't feel locked into a certain strategy. Just be careful not to spread yourself too thin or you don't get a good score engine going. I speak from experience.
- Fits on our table! This is a big deal for us. I hate lugging out our big gaming table. I mean, I'll DO IT. I just don't like to.
- Turns are straight forward, despite lots of options. There's always potential for analysis paralysis in these types of games. However, I like having enough options that I never feel a turn is wasted. I'll take it.
- The mancala/rondel element is SO COOL and unlike any other game I've played. It's so tricky yet balanced and creative. Love it a lot.

This game errs on the medium side (versus a light game like Fleet), but it was so much fun and there's so much going on that I can guarantee this will be one that Andrew and I play lots and lots of times. I recommend it for the game player who's familiar with at least a couple worker placement games so you're not totally overwhelmed by all of the things.
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Adam Kazimierczak
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Another great review! Love the pictures!

I bought Trajan despite the naysaying voice whispering in my ear that the themelessness and crazy mancala minigame management would be a disaster.

So far, it looks like the ayes have it.
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Chris B
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Good review - thanks! I gotta try this.
 
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Carl Garber
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Awesome review! Keep them coming! I liked it so much I used it as a review on a "Top 100 Euro games" geeklist I am making, hope you don't mind!
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Scott Nelson
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Personally, I liked the Mancala mini-game more than the whole of it. Feld should use it again, but not so much extra stuff needs to be going on for the fun-factor to be there. I felt a dryness to the gameboard stuff, and mancala planning was where the fun was.
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Vivienne Raper
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We played it six times in quick succession, intending to do the 100-play challenge, and - once I got the mancala working consistently - the underlying game was dry as ash.

If it hadn't fallen down our attic stairs and got dinged, I'd try to sell it.

I'm sure there are 100 plays in the game, if you like point optimisation, but I don't. I also prefer my games to be more interactive - I invented a solo variant and didn't really notice the difference...
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Mark M
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Love the review format, pics with commentary and mainly your tone. You just tell it like it is and why you like it without getting bogged down by gamerly vocabulary. Stuff like, I hate lugging out the big gaming table and "spoiler alert" is great. I also like the game a lot, but am not sure the wife will want to dig into something that takes this much explaining. She's not too keen on the lengthy rules explanations.

Just curious if you always play red and the husband plays green. Those are our respective colors as well. Keep it up and you should consider a geeklist or something to alert the masses to when your next review comes out.
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Andrew Schensted
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manymoodys wrote:

Just curious if you always play red and the husband plays green.


That is our normal setup. Unless a game does not include red and green and then I shake my fist in anger.
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micah qs
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heylisarenee wrote:
If we had to, we could squeeze 2 more peeps as well

Pick me, pick me!
 
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Lance
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Very nice review - and congratulations by the way!
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Lisa Schensted
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kaziam wrote:
Another great review! Love the pictures!

I bought Trajan despite the naysaying voice whispering in my ear that the themelessness and crazy mancala minigame management would be a disaster.

So far, it looks like the ayes have it.


I thought the mancala minigame was super fun. Be warned it does add a little bit of analysis paralysis!
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Lisa Schensted
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CarlG wrote:
Awesome review! Keep them coming! I liked it so much I used it as a review on a "Top 100 Euro games" geeklist I am making, hope you don't mind!


That's really kind of you! Thank you!
 
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Lisa Schensted
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ropearoni4 wrote:
Personally, I liked the Mancala mini-game more than the whole of it. Feld should use it again, but not so much extra stuff needs to be going on for the fun-factor to be there. I felt a dryness to the gameboard stuff, and mancala planning was where the fun was.


I have heard other reviewers say the mechanics were so bland to them that the theme didn't even matter. It could have been anything and it would have been the same game...which I can see. Regardless, I like playing games that are unique and use different mechanics and have lots of ways to win - so this was a good one for me!
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Lisa Schensted
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veemonroe wrote:
We played it six times in quick succession, intending to do the 100-play challenge, and - once I got the mancala working consistently - the underlying game was dry as ash.

If it hadn't fallen down our attic stairs and got dinged, I'd try to sell it.

I'm sure there are 100 plays in the game, if you like point optimisation, but I don't. I also prefer my games to be more interactive - I invented a solo variant and didn't really notice the difference...


I could totally see that being the case. We'll have to keep that in mind with our replays. Maybe trying different strategies and being more aggressive would make a difference?
 
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Lisa Schensted
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manymoodys wrote:
Love the review format, pics with commentary and mainly your tone. You just tell it like it is and why you like it without getting bogged down by gamerly vocabulary. Stuff like, I hate lugging out the big gaming table and "spoiler alert" is great. I also like the game a lot, but am not sure the wife will want to dig into something that takes this much explaining. She's not too keen on the lengthy rules explanations.

Just curious if you always play red and the husband plays green. Those are our respective colors as well. Keep it up and you should consider a geeklist or something to alert the masses to when your next review comes out.


Thank you! Yes - I frequently play red and he almost always plays green! Although I can be persuaded to play purple or the natural wood color sometimes...he must ALWAYS be green.
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Lisa Schensted
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quietstorm wrote:
heylisarenee wrote:
If we had to, we could squeeze 2 more peeps as well

Pick me, pick me!


DONE.
 
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Lisa Schensted
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UndeadViking wrote:
Very nice review - and congratulations by the way!


Thank you!
 
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Matt Riddle
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Lisa, great review. Love your style!

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Lisa Schensted
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Horrid Beast wrote:
Just a thought you can take or leave: Could you score the game so that I can gauge where you think it scales overall.

I enjoy your reviews indeed but I do take more out of an overall ranking or a series of scales


I've thought about that. I also review books so I try to present the product As Is and share some highlights without giving too much of my own opinion on it. I think there are games that I really enjoy that are light and silly and games I really enjoy that are heavy and intense...so I'm not sure how to scale that for rankings. Something to think about, for sure!
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Lisa Schensted
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riddlen wrote:
Lisa, great review. Love your style!



Thanks so much!
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Joshua Lobkowicz
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Thanks for this review - the pictures with the arrows and the cute font were fantastic. Really made me smile. Nicely done.
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Brendan Slade
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Really nice review. Can't wait to play it myself now.
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Bang Lover
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Nice review, I've got this game coming and am very pumped! Love some of Feld's others primarily Castles of Burgundy.
 
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Jérôme
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heylisarenee wrote:




As you can see (...)


No I can't. Please post your pictures at BGG.
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mortego
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I'll be playing Trajan this Saturday (Dec. 16, 2017), I am so STOKED about it!!!!!!!!!
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