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Subject: Through the Desert OR Samurai .... rss

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Wot!
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... or maybe there are better ones?

I am canvassing a view as to my next game purchase. I really like RKnizia games (although my wife has struggled with E&T !).

We play mainly 2-player, although we do get some 3 or 4-player games in when other members of the family are about.

My wife likes Lost Cities, Havoc 100-years war and (almost inevitably) Ticket to Ride Europe. As a slight discontinuity she does like Louis XIV as well !!

Anyway, I did think of getting Through the Desert, but Samurai is calling me .... so what should I do ?
 
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Ed Sherman
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I like both, but if I had to choose just one I'd choose Through the Desert.
 
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Jorge Montero
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For 2 players, I'd probably play Through the Desert.

For 3-4, with all players having a similar amount of skill, I'd rather play Samurai. However, Samurai is easily spoiled by a distracted player: The game has the biggest 'left player syndrome' you can get outside of Medina.
 
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Sue Hemberger

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We all (me, husband, 8 y.o. kid) liked Samurai much better than Through the Desert. It's a more elegant/streamlined game. Scales well (different with 2 than with 3, but good each way) and has a variety of options for balancing luck vs. control. Scalability is probably true of TtD as well, though.
 
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Tim K.
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Consider Ingenious and Battle Line as well. meeple
 
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Michael Pennisi
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This is a really tough call but, assuming buying both is out of the question (they are different enough to justify having each), I would go with Samurai. The tactics and interaction is there without the need to constantly check on who is the curent caravan leader and tally points in your head.

I would second the suggestion for Ingenious which is a good gateway game, scales nicely, and has enough depth to keep you playing it. However the same can be said for the two you are considering.
 
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Justin
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between through the desert and samurai, i would go with through the desert and it's not a close decision. one of the two games i've rated a 10, primarily for the 2-player game. ingenious is lighter though, and is one of the best gateway games i've ever seen. i would give consideration to it, but going with that one first might blow any chances of having ttd (or samurai) get play vs a casual gaming opponent.
 
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jbrier
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I would choose through the desert because 4 player samurai is too chaotic and samurai doesn't even accomodate 5 players, so samurai is basically limited to a 2 or 3 player game (some will invariably disagree here but lets be honest - samurai is glorified "complete the square" and thus it is difficult to have control over anything with that many players)

That being said, I think Samurai is a great 2-3 player game, and it is different enough to justify getting.
 
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Thomas Eager
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ninja I'll go against the prevailing winds here and say Samurai over TtD. Both are great, but Samurai seems to garner more universal acclaim. The more abstract gameplay of TtD turns some people off, even WITH cute pastel camels! Also I think Samurai scales better, and it's TtD that actually suffers from increased chaos with more players, IMHO. ninja
 
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Mike Adams
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Of the two, I prefer Samurai. (Disclaimer: pick any game and I will prefer Samurai.) But I like TtD. My wife and kids all like them both as well. I think my wife prefers TtD slightly to Samurai, but she really likes to play them both.

I have frequently thought about why I prefer Samurai, what makes it work better for me. I think that it is because it has more limited options but retains a lot of strategy. TtD feels more open with so many possibilities, but in the end feels like a similar amount of strategy at more cost (cost being deep-painful-thought-per-game). The amount of strategy involved in both games feels similar to me. In the end, I just enjoy Samurai more.
 
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I like both a lot. My wife enjoys Samurari more. TtD feels chaotic with more than 3 to me. However, I've enjoyed Samurai with 4 many times.
 
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phil v
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Funny you ask since I've had the same question. Difference is that I already have a goban and am studying go. If TtD is like Go and plays best with 2, I begin to wonder if it's a bit redundant.
 
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T. Rosen
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They're both excellent games, but in my opinion Through the Desert is significantly better than Samurai. Both play very well with 2 players, and work alright when playing with more. The thing about Through the Desert is that it gives you a lot more options than Samurai because there are four very different ways to score points (connecting oasis, watering holes, color majority, enclosures). Both play pretty quickly, and are also easy to learn/teach, but I always find myself much more interested in games of Through the Desert and engaged, interested in what my opponents are doing, and trying to plan ahead. The random tile draw of Samurai makes it difficult to plan ahead, and the end game scoring rules confuse a lot of people. Anyway, there are much worse games out there, and you can't really go wrong with either, but Through the Desert is definitely the better of the two in my opinion.
 
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Seth Ben-Ezra
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Originally I was planning on commenting that your problem was in your subject header. You say "Through the Desert OR Samurai", when what you really mean in "Through the Desert AND Samurai". But, be that as it may....

I do like both games, but they are radically different. I'll just focus on two-player play here.

Samurai is a mean, mean game. Thematically, it jibes well with my understanding of certain forms of Japanese swordsmanship, where the point is to get your opponent to commit to an attack and then arrange to be just a hair out of reach. Victory by the smallest margin is the key to this game. "Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat" is how I usually put it. As a result, this creates a fairly dynamic game environment, with each player trying to entice his opponent to commit valuable tiles to an area and then overpower him. As a result, it's highly confrontational. This can be good or bad. My sister refuses to play it, because it makes her want to leap across the table and throttle me. However, it was quite popular with the guys at work.

Through the Desert is a calmer experience. This game is perhaps the purest expression of Knizia's life philosophy "So many choices, so few moves". Every single game holds at least one turn where I am pleading with the other players to let me have just one more camel. Game play revolves around evaluating all the options that are presenting by the board and determining which should be accomplished this turn and which can wait. Player interaction is "softer" and is accomplished through stealing opportunities from the opponent. I don't want to imply that there is less player interaction than Samurai. By no means! However, it's more "Go-like", in that confrontation is less "all-or-nothing" and more "marginal gains". Plus it has smiling pastel camels and happy palm trees.

I like both games a great deal, and both have a place. I'd say that a lot depends on your wife. Personally, my wife and I love playing in-your-face games against each other, but that's going to have to be your call.
 
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Chris Shaffer
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Thommy8 wrote:
The random tile draw of Samurai makes it difficult to plan ahead


Note that, with experienced players, the initial hand of tiles is not random. Selecting your first tiles is an important part of the game. With five tiles in hand, I can plan my next 3-5 turns, and adjust that plan for the replacement tiles I draw on my turn.
 
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Justin
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i think 2-player ttd is seriously confrontational. points prevented are as good as points earned, and much of the game is based on blocking your opponent's paths (preventing oasis lines, invading territory as they're attempting to rope it off, etc). i consider it to be much more cutthroat than samurai. my gf doesn't like it because of how direct it is, and she enjoys other 'real' stuff like caylus.
 
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Robert Jones
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Both are EXCELLENT games. If forced to pick, I would take Samurai due to the theme, the cool bits, and the (slightly) more varied gameplay.
 
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Scholle
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What you should do is get both. Why don't you? You know you'll buy both in the end anyway. Get them both now and save on postage.
 
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Ed
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Let me know what you decide. TtD and Samurai are at the top of my want list also. There's a free download of Samurai available.
 
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Mark Reist
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Between the two, I'd have to go with Samurai, but it depends on the person. They're both about equally good games in my opinion. However, despite the general concensus, I have to say that Through The Desert feels like a much more confrontational game in the 2-player version than Samurai does. On the other hand, Samurai can drag on a bit more as it is somewhat of a heavier game. Generally speaking though, I'd probably recommend it as your first choice.

In the end, you'll want to get both.
 
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Daniel Szukalow
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oh, that's easy...Samurai, of course, I already own Through the Desert...
 
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Seth Ben-Ezra
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pvgames wrote:
Funny you ask since I've had the same question. Difference is that I already have a goban and am studying go. If TtD is like Go and plays best with 2, I begin to wonder if it's a bit redundant.


I agree with ultranon; the similarities are minimal. Besides, the game experience of playing Go is very different than playing Through the Desert. Plus Go is only two-player, whereas Through the Desert scales nicely to four. (I've not played with five.)
 
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Mark Watson
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This is a good question!

Given that your wife seems to like games with hidden information and hands of cards, I'd suggest Samurai -- it has hidden tiles, scales nicely, and is a satisfying (although slightly complex and unintuitive) game. That said, I recently got TtD, and it just keeps growing on me. TtD is much more head to head and is really just a luckless, abstract strategy game with some nice bits, and as such, it may be too intense for domestic tranquility.

Are you aware that TtD is playable online and that there is a computer version of Samurai? This might help you make up your mind.
 
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Seth Howard

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I'm not familiar with TtD, but if you like a dry game with little theme that can be played in 15-20 minutes go with Samurai. My wife and I love strategy but this game was just so... boring snore
 
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Wot!
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Scholle wrote:
What you should do is get both. Why don't you? You know you'll buy both in the end anyway. Get them both now and save on postage.


Thanks everyone for your inputs kiss
Adding up the 'votes' I have 8 for Samurai and 7 for TtD (not including in the count views that I should buy both).

I have played the downloaded Samurai ... and this led me to struggling with the question of which to buy (because originally I was going to get TtD). I downloaded a computer version of TtD to see how I felt about it (Ice River Software) ... but I cannot get it to work (no clicking on the map or camels does anything) Any suggestions on getting this to work would be gratefully received!!!

Anyway the count is close and it looks like I really neeeeeed to buy both (and this is not considering Ingenious - as I had not thought of that one at all).
 
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