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Subject: Small Board, Big Fun rss

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ARTHUR REILLY
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Small Board, Big Fun

The first thing you'll notice about the "Siam" game, are the pieces... They look like they were plucked directly from some type of fancy Far Eastern Chess Set. You'll find five (5) sculpted looking Elephants in an ivory color and (5) sculpted looking Rhinos in a brown color, along with (3) equally attractive Mountain pieces that make up the game components. Each piece has felt on the bottom and feels good in the hand and are quite beautiful. In addition, the game comes with a nice thick wooden board made up of squares, in a 5x5 arrangement. The often heard comment, about leaving a game on display on your coffee table, really does apply to this one. Mine sits on a shelf with the pieces on the board, ready at any moment for a quick game. On the downside, these pieces are very delicate, so there's always the concern about dropping one and having it chip or break. It's almost makes me wish they were made out of wood instead of resin. Surprisingly, the publisher decided not to include any special insert for the box where the pieces might sit securely and safely, but instead opted to include just a few loose separate Styrofoam strips with small bubble bags taped to them for the pieces, which is another reason I leave my set out. With that said, it's truly the only flaw I could find with the game.

THE GOAL:

The goal of Siam is easy: Be the first player to push a Mountain piece off the board. However, when a Mountain is pushed off, two other criteria must be met:

1) You must have a piece in the same line, that's closest to the Mountain.
2) This piece must be facing in the same direction as the Mountain.

GAME PLAY

The board starts with the 3 mountain pieces aligned in the center with all the other pieces off the board.
The Mountains, are neutral pieces in the game and belong to no one. The only way they can be moved on the board, is when they're pushed by another piece or pieces. On your turn, you can choose between one of the following options:

1) Place a piece on any outer square of the board and have the piece face in any of four directions.

2) Remove a piece from any outer square of the board.

3) Move a piece already on the board 1 square vertically or horizontally. If you wish, you may also change the direction the piece faces.

4) Change the direction a piece faces that's already on the board..

5) Use a piece on the board to push one or more pieces 1 square.

PUSHING OVERVIEW:

Where Siam really shines, is in the possibilities of pushing one or more pieces on the board. This is far more then "2 pieces can push one" or "3 pieces can push 2", as seen in other pushing games. In Siam, both sides pieces, can help or hinder in the pushing process, depending on which direction each piece faces.

Even though one or more pieces may be pushed in an up, down, left or right direction, for the purposes of this description, you can assume the pushing is done from left to right, with the players piece who's on turn, at the very left and facing right, which is the only direction it could face to be able to push to the right.

You can also push with a piece that's just being brought into play, by pushing from the outer edge of the board. Thus as many as five other pieces/mountains, may be pushed at the same time, causing whatever piece is on the end to leave the board, including one of your own. The Mountain pieces don't face in any particular direction and exert no influence/force in the pushing process. Thus you can push a Mountain with just one single piece of your own or with two pieces facing right will push two Mountains, etc. The Rhinos and Elephants on the other hand, can each exert an influence/force of "1", provided they face either left or right. Pieces facing in the opposite direction of a pushing movement, are also pushing back, and that includes pieces of your own, so in order for a push to be legal, there must be more influence/force on the side doing the pushing. In addition, If your pushing from left to right, any pieces that face up or down, exert no influence/force at all, and thus it's as if they aren't even there. It gets a little more complicated, when you have both pieces and Mountains in the same line, but after a few games you'll get the hang of it.

THOUGHTS ON THE GAME:

While playing, I was very surprised at how much thought can go into choosing which option to take on your turn. In spite of the small number of pieces and the size of the board, I got the sense I was playing a game on a board twice the size. Like chess, it's a battle between two equal sides trying to be the first to accomplish the same thing. Unlike chess however, there's no capturing and so one must try and find the best spots for their pieces, at just the right time, to pull off a victory. This is certainly a game worthy of any collection. It's definitely clever, beautiful and big fun.

Arthur Reilly


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John Owen
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MENAREUS2000 wrote:
On the downside, these pieces are very delicate, so there's always the concern about dropping one and having it chip or break. It's almost makes me wish they were made out of wood instead of resin. Surprisingly, the publisher decided not to include any special insert for the box where the pieces might sit securely and safely, but instead opted to include just a few loose separate Styrofoam strips with small bubble bags taped to them for the pieces, which is another reason I leave my set out. With that said, it's truly the only flaw I could find with the game.


Two things:

1) yes, the pieces are more fragile than they seemed to me to be. My friend dropped a rhino - that rhino is now missing an ear, which, as you can imagine, detracts from the beauty of the game.

2) my box came with an insert tray to secure the pieces in. The pieces fit snugly and the board lays on top. What size edition of the game did you get? I have the "regular" size. If I remember, I'll upload a picture of the insert and add a link to it here.
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ARTHUR REILLY
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From what I understand, there's actually 3 sizes this games comes in. I believe I have the middle size. Did a quick measure of one side of the board and it about 9 1/2".

I didn't include it in the review, but when my game arrived, 2 of the Rhino's had a small piece missing from an ear and the nose. In fairness to the online retailer, they send out replacement pieces, which I had in a few weeks.

It looks like it's the Rhino pieces from the design of the ears and noses, that look to be the most delicate.

Surprised to hear your game had a special insert, wish mine did.

Would love to see a photo of it.

Thanks

Arthur



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Kian Soheil
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Hi,

I recently got the game on a friends recommendation, but seem to be missing the point or doing something wrong, since the games end very quickly without much tactics involved. I would appreciate some help.

3 questions:

1. Can one change a piece's direction and push the opponents piece at the same time, or one can only change directions and move onto an empty square?

2. Must the pushing always be done from the back, or can one push from the middle of a line (and leave an empty square behind)?

3. Can one re-use a piece that has been pushed out.

Thanks
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ARTHUR REILLY
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Kkian wrote:
Hi,

I recently got the game on a friends recommendation, but seem to be missing the point or doing something wrong, since the games end very quickly without much tactics involved. I would appreciate some help.

3 questions:

1. Can one change a piece's direction and push the opponents piece at the same time, or one can only change directions and move onto an empty square?

2. Must the pushing always be done from the back, or can one push from the middle of a line (and leave an empty square behind)?

3. Can one re-use a piece that has been pushed out.

Thanks


Your Answers:

1) Either push an opponent's piece or change direction, not both.

2) Yes the pushing is always done from the back.

3) Yes one can re-use a piece that has been pushed out.

Hope that clears things up.
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Kian Soheil
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Many thanks for the quick reply. I'm still a bit confused because Markrollins in his list of rules has:

* Move one of his pieces already on the board to an orthoganally adjacent space (and in doing so he may, if he wishes, change the direction the piece is facing)
* Change the direction of one of his pieces without moving it


It's the parenthetical bit that confuses me: you say either push (or move) in the direction the piece is facing, or change direction without moving. MarkRollins' "and in doing so" implies that one can move and change direction at the same time. Hence my original question about moving and pushing at the same time.

Sorry for dragging this out.
 
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ARTHUR REILLY
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Kkian wrote:
Many thanks for the quick reply. * Move one of his pieces already on the board to an orthoganally adjacent space (and in doing so he may, if he wishes, change the direction the piece is facing)
* Change the direction of one of his pieces without moving it





the above statement wasn't one of your questions, but the statement is correct. Move to an ampty square and decide to keep or change the directon of the piece. Plus you can also change the direction of the piece without moving it.

 
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Kian Soheil
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Thanks.
 
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Kian Soheil
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Re: Small Board, Big Fun
More help, please:

1.If there is an empty square in the middle of a vertical line of pieces, can the piece with the empty square behind it, push? Or does one have to push from the very beginning of the vertical line in order to fill the empty square first? I hope this is clear. It's been driving me crazy.

2. If a piece has only a rock behind it, can it move or push ahead (and leave the rock behind), or does one have to put a piece behind the rock, and push both together?

Thanks again.
Kkian
 
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ARTHUR REILLY
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1. It's my understanding that you could push using the piece just past the empty square. That's not to say you also can't push from the begining of the vertical line, thus filling the empty square.

2. This question was a bit more difficult for me to follow. But I'll answer what I think your asking. Mountains don't move by themselves, but are pushed by other pieces. Whether in a Horz. or Vert. line of consecutive pieces, one must push from the front of the line and not somewhere in the middle of it. But this doesn't mean you can't push a piece Vert. that's located in a horiz. line, if your still in keeping with the rest of the rules.
 
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Kian Soheil
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Many thanks.

Let me try to clarify no.2: I'm not concerned with moving the rock, but with whether I can move my piece if it has a rock behind it.

What I mean is let's say there are three pieces on the board in a vertical line--a rock followed by two rhinos facing forward. My question is can the first rhino (which has the rock behind it) push the second rhino?

I hope this is more clear. Thanks.
Kkian
 
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ARTHUR REILLY
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The simple answer is "NO"

when pushing, the pushing should start with the first piece in the line.
 
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Kian Soheil
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Thank you.
 
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ARTHUR REILLY
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You must really love playing Siam - do you play it a lot.
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Kian Soheil
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Yes. I bought the game in Paris last summer as something to share with my elderly father. He used to be a very strong chess player, but he is now in his late eighties and gets tired very quickly. Siam has been ideal. We're still trying to understand the tactical possibilities of the game--like flanking attacks and traps. Our games take much longer than 15 minutes! How long have you had the game?
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ARTHUR REILLY
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I bought the game online and shortly wrote the review you'll find here.
 
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Quinn Swanger
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With respect, I believe Arthur is giving the wrong answer to this. Diagram 3b in the rules *clearly* shows an animal pushing that is not "the first piece in the line".
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Dennis Reilly
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Arthur, are you still there? Were Clara & Laddy your parents?
Dennis
 
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sunday silence
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This part of the passage is really confusing me:

MENAREUS2000 wrote:
.... for the purposes of this description, you can assume the pushing is done from left to right, with the players piece who's on turn, at the very left and facing right, which is the only direction it could face to be able to push to the right...


The Rhinos and Elephants on the other hand, can each exert an influence/force of "1", provided they face either left or right.
Pieces facing in the opposite direction of a pushing movement, are also pushing back,..




The second section above, seems to be ambiguous, the starting assumption for purpose of the explanation is that your piece is pushing left to right. The first sentence, second section seems to say that the pieces influence the push as long as they are parallel with the push, i.e. either going against or going in the direction of it.

The next sentence directly contradicts that.

So then it seems that the original starting assumption (your piece is pushing left to right) no longer is operable. Or is something else going on here?
 
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Peter CSM
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This is why I haven't bought the game: even people who really enjoy it aren't sure what all the rules are. It's too bad the rulebook leaves so much to be desired.
 
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ARTHUR REILLY
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Read the rule book several times and use a little common sense and it will all come together.
 
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Peter CSM
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Alright, good to know. I'll go search this out (hopefully for less than $60 somewhere).
 
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Jeff Binning
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PeterCSM wrote:
Alright, good to know. I'll go search this out (hopefully for less than $60 somewhere).


Timewellspent has this available:

http://www.timewellspentgames.com/html/gamepage.php?id=2322
 
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Chris Talmadge
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PeterCSM wrote:
Alright, good to know. I'll go search this out (hopefully for less than $60 somewhere).


Eagle Games has this on the last page of their Bargain Bin right now (1-6-2012) for $39.99

http://www.eaglegames.net/
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Peter CSM
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I didn't see this reply until today but they still have it for $40. Thanks Chris!
 
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