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Subject: First play with the family leads to mixed results rss

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Scott Kovatch
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Pleasanton
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So, I just picked up a copy of Fresco from eBay a few weeks ago and finally got around to playing with my wife and daughter (10). As tends to be the case for us, I explained the rules but they didn't really sink in until we played. We stayed with the base game; no expansions at all. After a round or two we got into the swing of things.

Now, I play more games than these two combined because I'm in a Meetup group, and over the years, I'm usually the one who wants to play a new game. My daughter is more of a Scotland Yard/Clue person, but we all enjoyed Marrakech quite a bit. I have a bit more experience with this kind of game, so I know that you want to put together multiple plays to score big points, which I quickly discovered is the key to the game. Actually, I think this is the best strategy for most eurogames I've played so far -- namely Castles of Burgundy -- but it took me a while to figure that out. But having said that, both my wife and daughter scored the big 11 point tiles, with my wife getting the bishop bonus when she collected hers.

Because of that, I wound up enjoying the game a bit more than I expected. I found myself with orphaned cubes more often than I would have liked, and I was left taking some useless actions, but I wound up winning by 8 points in the end. My daughter almost made an amazing comeback at the end of the game by scoring 21 points by hoarding coins, but in the end my coin stash of 28 was enough to give me the win. I'm not sure how I feel about winning that way, since coin collecting is only tangential to the game. It also led to the usual 'Daddy ALWAYS wins!' complaint from both my daughter and wife, but that's the way it goes.

The verdict:

This was easily the heaviest-weight game we've played as a family, and overall it went well, but I think we'll stick with lighter fare for a while.

-- Daughter: "Next time I want to play Scotland Yard."
-- Wife: "It takes a long time. And for a game that supposedly has a painting theme, I didn't feel like I was painting. There's lots of token pushing."

I'm definitely going to keep it, because I enjoyed it and I know some people in our gaming group like it too. Maybe we'll come back to it in a few weeks.

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Those seem like unusually large numbers of coins to have left at the end of the game. In the games I play, money is always in short supply (or at very least up to the last round or two). I guess you could've both decided to visit the portrait gallery a lot, but that doesn't seem like a very good strategy. Were you paying 1/2/3/4 (depending on wake-up time) coins for _each_ market stall from which you decided to get the cubes of paint? Also note that for each tile you paint, you can bribe the bishop to move closer for one coin, which, points-wise, is almost always worth it.

Anyway, glad you at least enjoyed it. This is one of our most enduringly favorite games, and the different modules make for quite a bit of variety, as playing with one or two can shift the focus quite a bit. (We tend to feel that all three spreads it all a bit thin, but two works very well.)
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Scott Kovatch
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a_traveler wrote:
Those seem like unusually large numbers of coins to have left at the end of the game. In the games I play, money is always in short supply (or at very least up to the last round or two). I guess you could've both decided to visit the portrait gallery a lot, but that doesn't seem like a very good strategy. Were you paying 1/2/3/4 (depending on wake-up time) coins for _each_ market stall from which you decided to get the cubes of paint? Also note that for each tile you paint, you can bribe the bishop to move closer for one coin, which, points-wise, is almost always worth it.


Yep, we were paying N coins per tile bought. In some rounds everyone realized "wow, I have a lot of money -- I should wake up early and get exactly what I want!" and then they assigned 3 apprentices to buying paints. And there were some rounds where my daughter just wasn't sure what she should be doing and put two in the gallery so she could at least get something done that turn.

It seemed like we were all working too hard to keep that extra apprentice, which I realized now was probably unnecessary. There's a lot of rounds where it's hard to figure out what to do with that extra action.

No one ever took the 'bribe the bishop' action, even though I explained the rule. The idea of trading one coin for two points instead of a half point at the end of the game didn't sink in. That's the kind of thinking that only comes with experience or having it explained to you.

a_traveler wrote:
Anyway, glad you at least enjoyed it. This is one of our most enduringly favorite games, and the different modules make for quite a bit of variety, as playing with one or two can shift the focus quite a bit. (We tend to feel that all three spreads it all a bit thin, but two works very well.)


I think next time we play I'll add in the portrait cards. I'm going to hold off buying the expansion set for now, though they look interesting to me.

One of the root problems when we play together is that I'm always seen as "trying too hard to win", where I look at it as "but that's the point!" You figure out the rules and a strategy and do what you can to win. I find that building the long-term thinking skills are the toughest but most important part of playing games.
 
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Jeffrey Nolin
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skovatch wrote:
I find that building the long-term thinking skills are the toughest but most important part of playing games.


Life lesson...
 
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Black Meeple
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I love the theme to this game and have played it with my girlfriend and also at my game night a few times. It's a lot better with the included expansions. The portraits can give you more money, paints, and ways to influence the bishop. The bishop's request tiles are great to always get victory points and a paint cube on payday at the end of the turn especially if you are playing with the brown and pink paints. The last turn is good for sandbagging for thalers but don't neglect restoring the alter with your extra paint cubes for victory points.
 
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David B
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I also decided to hold off on the 4-6 and beyond expansions. To me, part of Fresco's charm is its simplicity of gameplay yet depth of planning. To me, the game doesn't need anymore clutter to be enjoyable.
 
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Scott Kovatch
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skovatch wrote:

I'm definitely going to keep it, because I enjoyed it and I know some people in our gaming group like it too. Maybe we'll come back to it in a few weeks.


I brought it to our Tuesday night gaming group and it was a hit! We used the portrait cards -- they are the perfect first addition since they are so easy to mix into the flow of things, even for new players. I love the game, but got pummeled mainly because I didn't buy a wide variety of primary cubes early on and instead kept trying to buy for specific tiles. That doesn't work.
 
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