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Subject: 4 Player First Time rss

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J Castellucci
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Our group is recovering CCGers, and has sort of drifted apart some. Tim introduced us to a few "eurogames" and that sparked our interest. I made a huge online order and had 20lbs of games arrive via FedEx Saturday afternoon (based on reviews and ratings here on BGG), just in time to read the rules and familiarize myself with the games in time for the four of us -- Tim, Quyen, Denise and John (me) -- to have a huge slug out on Superbowl Sunday. We wound up playing Alhambra, Ra, Ticket to Ride: Europe, Tigris & Euphrates, Elasund, Runebound and Titan: The Arena (individual reports submitted for each game).

4. Tigris & Euphrates

We were all novices to T&E, and this was definitely the most difficult game of the day. We all knew it was an abstract game, but just how abstract was hard to grasp until we got to mid-game and conflicts arose. I think Tim came up with a great summary of how this game plays when he nicknamed it "Euro-Go." One thing that I was disappointed with is that, even though it was a brand new game, the board was not very flat, creating a cliff running down the center of half of the board.

Tim, Quyen and I all have aggressive tendencies in games, and it came out in Tigris & Euphrates. I think we each initiated a more-or-less pointless Internal Conflict early on just to annoy each other and get a feel for the game -- ah, I have 3 Temples in hand therefor I must attack! I think all of us were able to get an uncontested treasure. Denise stuck to her tried and true solitaire strategy and concentrated on building a massive kingdom in her corner of the board.

The next phase of the game had a bunch of External Conflicts, first between nearby temples, but eventually the battles focuses on the Treasures. Just like with the early Internal Conflicts, our first few External Conflicts were me, Tim and Quyen getting a feel for how it played more than to advance our own scores. In most of the conflicts so far, the attacker was the winner, but not overwhelmingly so. Of course, we quickly figured out some basic strategy, and the Trader wars started, ending with 1 more Treasure for everyone but Denise, and a lot of fragmented kingdoms.

The endgame started with me, Tim and Quyen rebuilding, all eyeing for the 7th treasure. I crucial play was Tim's very aggressive (but not necessarly strategic) play unifying two kingdoms that put me and Quyen in conflict with Denise, who pretty much crushed us because of her monolithic kingdom. Tim’s goal was to get that final treasure after both of us had been disrupted, but we ran out of tiles before he could link up.

The game ended when there were no tiles to draw with 3 Treasures still on the board. Quyen took home the bacon, eking out a win over Tim by a score a 4/5/x/x vs. 4/4/x/x. Denise had the most total VPs would have won if she had drawn 1 more green tile at almost any point during the game, with 3/7/x/x, and was nowhere near contention. I know we made a ton of tactical mistakes, and even though we knew about them, no one tried to set up a Monument (although it would have been the most benefit to Denise in her big kingdom). We each used one of our Catastrophe tiles, but it was unclear as to the best way to use them.

We will be trying this again, but it didn't rate as high on our fun scale as I would have liked, and was more prone to analysis-paralysis than the other games (especially when it came to trying to predict the fragmented kingdoms after an External Combat and whether or not to instigate).


 
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Tim Wong
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Yep. This game so damn abstract that I had a hard time figuring out what the heck was going on... You play your tile and get a block? Huh? What does this have to do with kingdoms and the Tigris and Euphrates? I mean... HuH?

Yep. This really does seem like a go like game. Abstact little squares forming patterns of relative strength and weakness, passive aggressive tendencies. I really had absolutely no clue what the heck was going on, so I kind of just went with the flow. I probably will try and pick this up early in the day, as to devote more available thought to actions, but playing this one late in the day just made it dense as concrete.
 
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Denise Castellucci
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San Rafael
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Denise here. I think I am going to like this game once I get a chance to know all the rules and play it more.

Since I did not get a chance to read the rules, I decided to stick to a corner, build an empire, and get strong enough to defeat anyone who tried to attack. The problem for me was that I simply got no green tiles. People would try to warn me to put a green out, but it was simply impossible. Initially, I did have green tile, but it got zapped early and there were no green tiles for me the rest of the game.

I wasn't very clear about the monuments either, and next time around I will try to build some. Overall, I think I had a sound strategy, just bad luck with the green tiles.



 
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Kris Wolff
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At a certain point in the game, though, you need to just realize you're not getting green tiles and use one of your actions (or both) to replace a bunch of the tiles in your hand (hoping to pull some green tiles). It's hard to know when to do this, but if your score is 25 black, 25 blue, 25 red, 3 green, and it's because you just haven't pulled any greens out of the sack, then it's time to start replacing since you're desperate.
 
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J Castellucci
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We talked about this some more, and the thing to do (along with pitching tiles) was to build either the Green/Red or Black/Green Monuments. Of course, that might just become a target for aggression...
 
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