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Subject: Yakfest 2006 rss

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John Farrell
Australia
Rozelle
New South Wales
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Himalaya (Tilsit Edition) has been loaned to me for only a short time, so I read the rules 4 times - once in French and thrice in English (French was nicer), and prepared myself to teach it at Critical Mass. I think I am beginning to learn where there will be ambiguities in rules, or at least to find the holes in what I know, so I did a reasonable job. Luckily, one of the players had played before and was able to keep me honest (and mention the glaringly obvious things I left out).

Players: John, Bertie Beetle, Kevin, Werner

We loaded up the towns with orders and goods, and all set off with our yaks to seek fame and fortune. Our first discovery was that it was difficult to pick up the better goods - the best laid plans of yaks and men gang oft right over the edge of that snowy precipice as the other players do completely random things. Our second discovery was that even if you do get some goods worth having, you're inevitably nowhere near an order you can fulfil. And that other player who's closer to the order will go there and fulfil it ONLY IF YOU DO. If you leave it for him, he will go somewhere else. I found it all somewhat frustrating.

In fact, in the first 4 rounds, I fulfilled no orders, putting me firmly in last place. However when we did the stocktake, I won four batches of yaks for having the most unsold goods. Great, a catch-up mechanism working in my favour. At this point, with 12 yaks, I thought I would only need one or two more yakpacks to be competitive economically, so I decided to focus on religion and politics.

In the second trimester of the game, I headed over to the east of the board, and was able to fulfil a couple of orders. With all the goods I had, it was hard to miss after all. Kevin was fulfilling orders in the same area, and our little political dudes were fighting it out in several areas. I tried pushing him over the precipice, but apparently the precipice is a valid part of the region. Hmm, the board's a bit confusing. I also placed some pretty hefty stupas, and thought I was doing well religiously. I couldn't be bothered adding the numbers up, because if I was doing well I didn't want anyone to know. In the second stocktake, I received nothing, but I think everyone else got one each.

Towards the end, I slowed down. I couldn't get a gold to save myself, and for my last turn I trekked most of the way across the board to pick up a jade, in the desperate hope that I could get a jade majority and win a yakpack.

For the scoring, we had no idea what to expect. Werner was first eliminated, with only 5 religion. For political influence, Eric and I were tied for fewest regions (2 each), but as I had 11 envoys and he had 6, he was eliminated. The arms race with Kevin had at least not cost me the game. So it came down to yaks. I had 22 and Kevin had 23! He wins! That was a bit of a bummer, but he had played well and just got a bit lucky in the end. Maybe if I had passed up one stupa for some yaks, I could have won. Oh well.

Overall, a good game, and one which I would gladly play again. Probably won't ever be a favourite due to the frustrating chaos of fulfilling orders, but a perfectly respectable game with a unique and engaging theme.
 
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Brian Alvarado
United States
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I find at least two people have about 30 yaks in most of our games. One the winner and the other eliminatend in one of the rounds.
 
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