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Subject: Palatinus - Session Report rss

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Greg Schloesser
United States
Jefferson City
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The daVinci / Mayfair partnership continues to flourish, as a steady stream of games with a wide variety of themes are being offered for consideration. One of the latest offerings is Palatinus from Italian designer Alassandro Zucchini, whose previous design was the card game Lucca Citta.

Palatinus is set in central Italy in the days prior to the rise of Rome. Players represent various tribes vying to control the land and the emerging city. Seven tiles form the board, the center of each representing one of the seven hills of the area. Surrounding each hill are six smaller hexes upon which players will place members of their tribe: merchants, farmers and soldiers. The idea is to position these tokens so that opposing tribe members are captured by soldiers, and your tribe controls the hills, which are worth from 3 – 6 points to the dominating player.

I had heard some positive things about the game, but I just don’t know. I’m not normally a fan of the hidden placement mechanism, although in some games it seems to work well (Ys, for example). The mechanism is quite prevalent here, and it just doesn’t seem to work as well. There is just too much hidden information, but I do believe this is necessary for the game to work. To be sure, there are some strategies a player can pursue. Concentrating one’s tokens around just a few hills as opposed to spreading them amongst too many is important. Try to position farmers on or near springs, as this is where their strength is derived. Delay placing your solider just long enough so you can position him at a location wherein he has a decent chance of capturing opposing tribe members.

Still, in spite of the presence of some definite strategies, so much is unknown that the game seems to be based largely on luck. I won my first game, and I was placing the vast majority of my tokens without much concrete information; I was simply guessing. Unless a game is a quick filler, I generally don’t derive much satisfaction from a game that I’ve won wherein my victory was primarily determined by luck.

In spite of this, the game is worth another look. Now that I fully understand the capturing and scoring mechanisms, perhaps there is more here than just a predominance of luck. I sure hope so. Otherwise the future of the game won’t be as bright as that of Rome’s.

Kevin, Rhonda, Charles and I made our initial foray into the pre-Roman world. The sense of not knowing what to do was quite prevalent, and it appeared that we really didn’t appreciate how the game would be scored until it was over. My solider was successful in capturing three enemy tribe members, and my control of two valuable hills was just enough to edge Charles for the victory.

Finals: Greg 14, Charles 13, Kevin 5, Rhonda 3

Ratings: Charles 7, Rhonda 6, Kevin 6, Greg 5.5

 
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Rob Lawrence
United States
Wisconsin
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Hi Greg,

I also tried the game with my 6 year old daughter using the standard rules. For the first and only game using the rules, the placement seemed random and lacked any sort of tension. Just drop your token and get it over with. The scoring took longer than the game and it seemed more work than what it was worth to play the game. All in all a very unsatisfying game for me and my daughter.

So, we made up a set of replacement rules. With these rules we played two 2-player games. Those games went great, my daughter was able to player well and she had a good enough time to request anther game.

I have also played one 3-player with my regular gaming group. The replacement rules add strategy and tension to placement and reduce the scoring frustration.

Have a look here:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/4112903#4112903
 
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Greg Schloesser
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rlawrence66 wrote:
Hi Greg,

I also tried the game with my 6 year old daughter using the standard rules. For the first and only game using the rules, the placement seemed random and lacked any sort of tension. Just drop your token and get it over with. The scoring took longer than the game and it seemed more work than what it was worth to play the game. All in all a very unsatisfying game for me and my daughter.

So, we made up a set of replacement rules. With these rules we played two 2-player games. Those games went great, my daughter was able to player well and she had a good enough time to request anther game.



Great job, Rob! I'm happy you've been able to salvage the game ... and congrats on rearing your daughter to appreciate games!
 
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