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Subject: Flying Under the Radar - Should Be On The Table! rss

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A.T. Selvaggio
United States
Webster
New York
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Asara is one of those games that is easy to forget about. Although, I believe, it was nominated for one of the SDJ awards, it seemed to get little fanfare when it was released and was quickly forgotten. That is unfortunate because this is one really solid game and a great family game.

Components
Asara's components are simply exquisite. I could quibble that the coins are bit thin and the cards a bit flimsy (I sleeved mine with FFG's mini Euro sleeves), but those are minor issues. When this game is set up it looks absolutely lovely. It creates an octagon shape (no sqaure board here) that fills the table. The colors of the board, the blues and greens, are vibrant and inviting. I mean this game looks like a piece of art. It is delight to play a game this attractive.
5 out of 5 here

Rules and Gameplay
The rules of this game are very easy to learn and are well written. The game has a basic and advanced play version. Most hardcore gamers should simply start at the advanced level, but our first couple of plays with the family used the basic system. The additional rules weight of the advanced version is trivial.

The game has mechanics that will be familiar to most Euro gamers. This is worker placement at heart, but it comes with a twist - you play cards instead of meeples and you, almost exclusively, have to follow suit to place a worker in a location where someone else has placed the first worker. This brings a freshness to this wonderful, but frequently used mechanic. It should also help set this apart from the sea of worker placement games.

The game also plays quickly. There are 4 rounds and they move swiftly. Turns are also quick. But there is a lot of think in this game. Each round you have to really think through what you want to accomplish and how you will manage your resources to get there. The final round of this game is always exciting because you are trying to maximize your last burst of scoring, but you might just get caught because you can't follow suit. I should mention here that there is a way to get around the following suit issue, you can play two cards of any type as a wild card. Of course, this drains your resources, but prevents you from being totally lost.

The scoring in this game is also fun. You score during the game, after each round and at the end of the game. It is always tight and the end game can hold surprises. It allows you to combine tactics and stategy.

Finally, the gameplay is so fun because you are building these beautiful towers (again the artwork is superb). There is something about actually physcially assembling a tower as opposed to getting a card to represent it. This game brings out theme through this mechanic. You can look around the board and instantly see the status of your opponents work.

So the game invovles you placing your workers to gain portions of towers of different colors (each having different costs and providing different point rewards). Then you have to build them and expand them. You can even add lighted windows to them to get even more points.

5 out of 5

Conclusion
This game really warrants a second look and more attention. Particularly if you have a family. This works great with 3 or 4. It is accessible to younger kids (there are no text on the cards or the board) and can appeal to the hardcore gamer. It is beautiful, quick and fun to play and has a good amount of think. As I mentioned, the last round always leaves you with a "Ahhhh" moment of joy or frustration. It builds that tension of wanting to do too many things, but not having enough resources. As a family game, I gives this a 10 out of 10. As a game straight up, this is a solid 8.
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Brian Gee
Canada
St Catharines
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Great review, sums up my thoughts on this game very well. Some people complain that the game is not deep enough, but considering it's play time and how easy it is to teach, this game is a perfect gateway or light euro for a family game night, while still being able to provide some thought provoking decisions for more skilled gamers. I enjoy this much more than Settlers of Catan for example. This game deserves more credit for hitting that sweet spot of accessibility and strategy.
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A.T. Selvaggio
United States
Webster
New York
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downstream wrote:
Great review, sums up my thoughts on this game very well. Some people complain that the game is not deep enough, but considering it's play time and how easy it is to teach, this game is a perfect gateway or light euro for a family game night, while still being able to provide some thought provoking decisions for more skilled gamers. I enjoy this much more than Settlers of Catan for example. This game deserves more credit for hitting that sweet spot of accessibility and strategy.


I agree with you on the gateway aspect of the game. It is in that class of games like Stone Age and Fresco. In fact, it reminds me alot of Fresco in the sense of having a basic and advanced version in the main game and having beautiful artwork.
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Marc Drebing
United States
Sandy
Utah
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I got this game at the beginning of the year, and my family loves it. Plays well with all ages and doesn't take a long time to play! It's simple but has enough meat and strategy!
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Tim Park
United States
San Rafael
California
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This is a gorgeous game I agree works both as a gateway game and as a great game for heavier gamers who want a shorter game.
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Michael Mortensen
Denmark
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I agree, it's one of thoose games that dosn't get enough recognition, and it's such a great family game. It's one of the few "Wife says: Let's play a game tonight"-games, the others being Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. But this often wins because of the short playtime. The actual physical tower building aspect of the game is of the things my kids really enjoy about this game, so as said, its fun for the whole family
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