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Subject: One of the BEST Economic Games You'll Ever Play rss

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Gerald Gan
Philippines
Quezon City
NCR
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Indonesia is an economic game designed by Jeroen Doumen & Joris Wiersinga which was released in 2005 by Splotter Spellen. It is a game for two to five players, and a game lasts about one hundred eighty to two hundred forty minutes.

Indonesia is about building up an economy in the early industry of Indonesia. The players acquire money by producing and selling good, by transporting goods, and by completing timely mergers.

As with all my other reviews, this review will not strive to cover all the rules. If you prefer a more in-depth intensive rule walkthrough, I suggest you take the time to watch this video review.

COMPONENTS:
The game comes with a game board, a bilingual rulebook, a bunch of counters representing the various products in the game, a handful of wooden boats/ships and wooden tokens, five individual player boards, paper money in various denominations, cardboard tiles representing various cities/locations, some transparent colored glass beads, cardboard coins and a few flimsy cardboard location placement indicators (some of the components are pictured below.


Picture Submitted By: Walt Mulder || Taken From the BGG Database


The components are mostly standard Splotter Spellen fare... meaning they're not gonna give you "wowsers in your trousers". The wooden boats/ships and tokens are of typical wooden meeple-like quality. The cardboard counters (big or small) are a little thin, more akin to components usually found in most wargames (I say most wargames, but truth is, a lot of wargames nowadays have amped up their production values). The rulebook is clear and concise, able to answer most of your questions after only one read-thru. The glass beads are pretty much the same as life counters used for most TCG/CCG's. Paper money is always a no-no for me... thankfully I have a set of poker chips that I use a substitute for currency for most games I play. The player boards are think card stock, which you'll likely have to laminate if you're very protective of your games.

The one saving grace is the artwork of the board itself, which for me, is breathtaking. Its simple yet elegant. Efficient yet artsy. The only downside being the font used for the locations, as it is very hard to read... pretty but almost illegible.

Overall, slightly sub par component quality... but, as with most Splotter Spellen games, you are shelling out your hard earned cash for the exquisite gameplay rather than the components.

On a side note, it wouldn't hurt for you to shove a cheap calculator into the box, as you're likely going to need it one way or the other. If you're a math whiz who doesn't mind doing the computations for your fellow players as well, ignore said advice.

GAMEPLAY:
A game of Indonesia consists of several rounds, ending only when the end game trigger has been met. A round consists of seven steps that the players follow one after the other.

Setup is a relative breeze. Lay the board out, and divide the location tiles (or company tiles) into their respective letters (A to C). Then give each player their player board and one hundred rupee (I think it's called rupee... I generally just call everything money so I could be wrong). You then place the player tokens (depending on the number of players) on the research track, seed the initial locations, and you're ready to go.

The first step is always to check if a new era begins. A new era begins if there are no companies (or just one TYPE of company) left on the board. Then players bid for turn order. Each player sets aside a certain amount of money (can be zero) which they reveal simultaneously and whoever bid the most gets to go first.

Then players can declare mergers. Generally, mergers happen by combining two companies of the same type (i.e. spice + spice). The size of the companies involved in the merger depends on how far along you are in the research track. After all mergers, player can now acquire companies that're still on the board for free, as long as they have the slots to do so.

Step five is just research. You get to advance your player token on the research track by one space. There're five abilities that you can research. Hull capacity (which dictates how much goods a ship can carry), mergers (which dictates the size of the companies you can merge), slots (which determines the number of companies you can hold), expansion (which dictates how fast/slow your company grows) and turn order bid (which provides a multiplier for your bids when bidding for turn order). The research track is pictured below.


Picture Submitted By: Bruno Valerio || Taken From the BGG Database


Step six is operations, which is where you sell and transport your goods all over the map. If you are able to sell all your goods from one company, then that company expands (you can also choose to force an expansion by paying a certain amount, depending on the type of good). Shipping companies simply expand (as they cannot deliver themselves). This is the step where you earn most of your money. For each good you sell, you make a certain amount of money. For each good you transport, you earn some cash as well. After everyone is done shipping/transporting/expanding, the operations phase is done.

The final step is city growth. A city expands or "levels up" if you are able to deliver each type of good on the map to it. So if there're rice and spice on the board, and I'm able to deliver both to a city, it "grows" and can accommodate a larger number of goods in future turns. That's it, rinse and repeat.

It goes without saying that I skipped over some rules, but that's more or less how the game goes, and I hope I've given you an idea on how the game roughly plays.

Q & A W/ MY WIFE:
Q: So how'd you like the game?
A: I love it.  On a scale of one to ten, I'd give it a solid nine.  There's tremendous depth despite it's simplicity, and the game provides a lot of tension all throughout.  

Q: What did you think of the components?
A: The components are average.  I agree that the map is very nice, but I don't really have a problem with the font as I don't find it all that hard to read.

Q: Did you find it hard to understand how to play the game?
A: No.  The rules were pretty straightforward and you pretty much know what to do after the first couple of turns. The merger rules were a little confusing at first... but after the first merger, it became quite simple to figure out. 

Q: The million dollar question... will you play it again?
A: Yes... very much so. In fact, want to play it now? I can call your brother to ask if he wants to join us!

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Indonesia is one of the finest economic board game I have ever had the privilege to play. It's very easy to teach, yet provides great depth which results in giving the players a tremendous plethora of strategies to try and employ, most (if not all) of which are very viable. For me, this is the best game ever released by Splotter Spellen, topping the likes of Roads & Boats and Antiquity.

If you like economic games, do yourself a favor and try this game. If you're not a fan of economic games, still give this game a spin as it might be the game that ends up changing your mind. Two thumbs up!
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Edwin Nealley
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Excellent review!

I just played this for the first time earlier this year, and I also found it to be a strong and interesting game, with different mechanics than most other economic growth games due to the mergers and the varying paths to money.
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Mikko Ämmälä
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Indonesia is in my all-time top5 (has been since I got it 2007) and only components (and related fiddling) prevents full '10' rating (I rate this '9').

.mikko
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Tom Hudson
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Great review of a great game. Indonesia is imho the best Splotter Spellen game and one of the all-time classics. The only blemish is the board, which, while a thing of beauty in itself, takes time to get used to and is off-putting to new players.
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Bruno Valerio
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It truly is a great game, one of my favorites.

Great review, and great picture
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You can't handle the truth?
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I love this game too.

One small correction:

The bid for turn order isn't simultaneous, it is done in turn order.

From the Rules wrote:
During this phase, use the order of play determined in the previous year and indicated on the order of play track. Each player, starting with the first one in order of play, bids an amount of cash once.

(emphasis mine)
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Gerald Gan
Philippines
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crambaza wrote:
I love this game too.

One small correction:

The bid for turn order isn't simultaneous, it is done in turn order.

From the Rules wrote:
During this phase, use the order of play determined in the previous year and indicated on the order of play track. Each player, starting with the first one in order of play, bids an amount of cash once.

(emphasis mine)


Thanks for the heads up!
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dan williams
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This is certainly a great one.

I thought I would point out a difference between this and many economic games. In contrast with Planet Steam, for example, this game is won and lost while bidding. There is no market or commodity track that is sensitive to supply and demand. When I teach this game I say, "This game is won by bidding, lost by bidding, and the winners and losers will be determined by bidding."
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