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Subject: Session Report: First two games of Manila rss

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Stephen Scholtz
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Played my first two games of Manila last night with three board game "likers". They love playing board games, but they're not hard core strategic thinkers when it comes to taking apart a games mechanics and figuring out how to best play the game, they really just want to have fun.

After only one demo round, they were able to pick up the game well enough, but the finer points and details didn't rise to the surface until the second game.

One of the major mistakes we all made was the power of the Harbour Master. We were letting the position go from anywhere between 2 and 15 pesos (or whatever the currency unit is), which was way too cheap for something that would allow a player so much influence on the outcome of the betting, and therefore influence their own winnings. I dominated both games because the other players were more interested in the betting (the fun part) and didn't realize until later what a mistake that was.

The other thing we realized a little too late was just how much the boats can pay out if they make it to the harbour. We thought the safe money was in the harbour or dock, but riding the boats is where you make your money.

And the last thing we discovered is how much fun it is to become a pirate. (We played with the extra rule tweak for the Pirates) Cries of anguish and glee were heard many times through out the game.

All in all, everybody had a good time. I think it's light enough for casual gamers (a good intro game to get them to stop thinking that board games are just Monopoly and Chess), but it can equally be as fun when you've got some people together who actually know what they're doing and have a strategy (at least that's what I gather from the way Manila plays out). Looking forward to having my group get up on the rules a little bit more.

PS - the game components really are excellent; they did a fantastic job on them and the over all graphic design and visual language of the game. Everything's so colourful and vibrant, it practically makes the game even more fun based on the visuals alone.
 
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