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Subject: Should I get Indonesia or Brass? rss

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Thaddeus Griebel
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I'm thinking of getting a heavy economic game, and while I'm sure Indonesia is as good as everyone says, I don't know how often it will actually get to the table, since my family probably isn't as interested in economic games.

I have Antiquity, and it's one of my favorite games, so I know that Splotter games are worth the $100+ price, but if Brass offers the same satisfaction as Indonesia, I'm wondering if it's better to go with that instead.

For me, the more complicated and in depth a game is, the better. I like that Indonesia has multiple paths to victory and the fact that there's tech developments that unlock abilities in the game. But from what I read, Brass lets you upgrade your production sites to produce more points and income, and that seems interesting too, since it seems similar to something you find in civ-building games.

For anyone who has played both, would you say that Brass is in the same league as Indonesia? Would it be a good substitute, or are they entirely different games?
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Jason Begy
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I think Indonesia is more ambitious and a bit wonky to get your head around. The production value is amazing, it's one of the most beautiful games I own. There is a lot more going on in it than Brass, I think.

That said it does take longer than Brass, and Brass feels like a tighter design. It's definitely easier to understand. The production element of Brass is simpler than in Indonesia, I think, though the supply-and-demand model feels more concrete and important. In Brass knowing what is needed is important; in Indonesia you always just need more of everything.

Both are excellent games. I am more impressed with Indonesia, but it's easier to get Brass to the table.
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Mycroft Stout
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I have both, play both.

Indonesia if you like Corporate aspects of Economy games, Brass if you prefer game engine design.

I prefer Indonesia. It feels much more like running a business.
Brass is like being a director at an investment bank.

Both good choices, just different.

-Mycroft
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Michael Logan
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Mycroft Stout wrote:
I have both, play both.

Indonesia if you like Corporate aspects of Economy games, Brass if you prefer game engine design.

I prefer Indonesia. It feels much more like running a business.
Brass is like being a director at an investment bank.

Both good choices, just different.

-Mycroft


I think Indonesia is a better game but I love brass as well. Do you prefer auctions? If so, do Indonesia.
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Thaddeus Griebel
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I don't think I've ever played an auction game. In fact, I haven't really played any true economic games (I think the closest thing I have would be Vinhos), which is why I want to just get one game to start with for now, the heavier the better.
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Daniel Corban
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griethad wrote:
For anyone who has played both, would you say that Brass is in the same league as Indonesia? Would it be a good substitute, or are they entirely different games?

Indonesia is an enjoyable, deep, and subtle game. However, it feels "clunky", particularly the end game. The strategic play around acquiring new companies and mergers can be rather opaque. My enjoyment of the game actually went down as I became more familiar, and more successful, with it. A game I once rated a "10" on BGG is now one that I will probably never again have a desire to play*.

Brass, while filled to the brim with interlocking strategic play, comes together more coherently. There is no "clunk". It is a well-oiled machine that allows players to quickly reach a plateau of competency. There are several further plateaus within reach if the players keep at it, similar to the evolution of the average Puerto Rico player.

Brass is the answer here.

If you want a strictly economic game, you should also look into Container.

*I've played Indonesia approximately 15 times with either four or five players. Brass is around the 40 mark, if you don't count online games.
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Humulus Lupulus
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As others have stated, both are great games. Since this is the Indonesia forum, you are likely to get more Indonesia votes. It's fine, just good to know that going into it.

That being said, I personally like Brass better. I think it's a cleaner design, and I sometimes get frustrated with Indonesia because it can become pretty fiddly on the board (although not quite to Antiquity standards) trying to figure out the most efficient shipping routes and distributing the shipping fees. There's also a lot more of what I consider "dull time" (not downtime, because it involves all players) during auctions where players spend 30 seconds (or more) of silence doing the math to decide whether to bid or not and how much.

Player count may be important to you. Brass is great with both 3 or 4. Indonesia is good with 4 and 5. I prefer it slightly with 4, and have never played it with 3, although in my gaming circles there isn't much interest in playing it with 3.

I hope that helps, but again, I like both games quite well.
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Kirk Bauer
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I have both and love both games, so I'm not biased between the two. Indonesia is in my top 5 favorite games, Brass is not. Indonesia feels much more free-form and is just a lot of fun (but is somewhat longer).
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Jason Carlough
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Indonesia ia a really great and very unique game but it takes a fairly long time to play and the end game bogs down a lot. Brass is a better game overall and is far more likely to get play time.

In any case they are not very similar games at all. Indonesia has a lot more in common with the 18xx series of games than it does with Brass. Brass is a lot more abstract and has a pretty big hand management aspect.

I'm not recommending against Indonesia by any means but since you asked for a comparison, I think Brass is better overall. I own both and I don't intend to let either one go anytime soon.
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Jim Temple
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Another way to look at it is that Indonesia might not be around for much longer, while my guess is you'd have no problem picking up Brass a year or two from now.
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Mark G.
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I'll cast my vote for Indonesia, but both are great games. The merger mechanic in Indonesia is quite unique, challenging, and mentally delicious. Indonesia can be a bit math heavy (basic math, just quite a bit of it), if that matters to you.

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Jason Carlough
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Basiliv wrote:
Another way to look at it is that Indonesia might not be around for much longer, while my guess is you'd have no problem picking up Brass a year or two from now.


This is a good point.
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Bruno Ciscato
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dcorban wrote:

If you want a strictly economic game, you should also look into Container.

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Clyde W
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Brass if you'll be playing with only two, Indonesia if you'll ever be playing with 5.

Indonesia is a weird game in that, as you add more players, the game length goes down. Brass's length is fixed, which means a 2p game lasts as long as a 4p game.

I like the "sandbox" feel both games but I prefer Indonesia a bit more, because it seems like you have more freedom. I do agree it is more fiddly though, especially near the end, but Brass doesn't escape some inelegant design choices either.
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If you don't like cards telling you what to do, stick with Indonesia.
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Martins Livens
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Jythier wrote:
If you don't like cards telling you what to do, stick with Indonesia.


That's true.
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Zé Mário
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Brass
+/- You'll probably get it at the same price years from now
+ more playable (2 hours). Most concepts are more familiar to an eurogamer.
- Rules-wise it's a pain in the ass, much harder than Indonesia.
+/- Yeah, you have to manage what to do with the cards you get. It's all about seizing opportunities at the right time. The best player will win 9 out of 10 games, no matter what cards he gets.

Indonesia
- less playable. Expect 3-4 hours of playtime.
- more expensive
- fiddly as hell
+ has a more unique feel.
+ looks beautiful


Both are brilliant game, in my opinion. But looking at my number of plays...
Indonesia: 9
Brass: 47
You get a good idea of which might be worth more for your dollars/yens.
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Darrell Hanning
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I love both games, having bought both at their first availability in the U.S. I'm a big Martin Wallace fan (I was a TreeFrog subscriber), and a big Splotter fan. I won't hesitate to play either game, when the opportunity arises.

Both games have compelling play. Both reward planning.

As far as Brass being easier to learn or assimilate, I think that's nonsense. The peculiarity of coal and iron being treated differently, the fact that you build canals for half of the game, only to lose them, the throwing away of production counters you can never use, just so you can get to the counters that you can use - Brass has a klunkiness all its own. It's part of its charm, for those who love the game, but there's no denying it has some quirks.

Indonesia is an economic game where you directly interact with other players. Formulating a successful merge/takeover option and executing it is one of the most gratifying moments in an economic game you'll ever experience, and one that Brass never comes close to. There's a lot of analysis that goes into the contemplation of a merger - not just involving the Return on Investment (which can be deliciously speculative on its own), but also in how capital-weak and therefore vulnerable such a merge can leave you to other players. It is a financial judo tournament that Brass - simply put - cannot possibly match (nor does it try to). They are different creatures - of that there is no doubt - Brass being a bit of a slower, low-keyed kind of critter, and Indonesia - for all of its fiddliness in getting goods to market through labyrinthine shipping routes - being a stomping, snorting sort of thing, when in the hands of a savvy group of gamers.

As much as I love Antiquity, Indonesia is my all-time favorite Splotter game.
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RB
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Strong vote for Indonesia. As far as a heavy, economic game goes - this is on the top of the list for me. Mergers forced by your opponents, expansions, transportation concerns, extremely critical turn order, and company valuations make the decisions in Indonesia so interesting. Truly a unique game.

For Brass, I am probably baised simply because I usually do not enjoy games where my choices are limited by my hand of cards. This limitation is something I feel in Brass every time I play. This is extremely frustrating, personally.

Hands down, Indonesia for me.
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Nate S
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Both are great games, but man, Brass is solidly in my all-time top 3. The only downside is that the rules are extensive and kludgy, with lots of opportunities to forget tiny little points that turn out to be critical to game balance. Getting any of the little nitpicky-seeming rules wrong tends to make it a crappy game, but once you do get the rules under your belt it is maybe the most perfectly balanced economic game I've ever played. Just a beautiful dance between cooperation and cutthroat competition. I highly recommend it!

Yes, your choices at any given time are slightly limited by your hand of cards - though note that only the "Build Industry" action (out of several other options for actions) cares about what cards you have. All other actions can use any card, and meanwhile you draw more cards to perhaps try to get the ones you need. If you must build a particular industry right now but lack the necessary card, you can use both your actions on your turn (discarding any 2 cards) to build any industry anywhere. Adapting your strategy to the cards you draw is one of the key skills of good Brass play. It is almost never the case that superior play will lose in the face of "bad cards". Lemons are delicious, so make some lemonade!

I haven't had the privilege of playing Container with a consistent group who has put in the playcounts to learn good strategy, but it is one of those games where the poor players (if there are any at the table) determine the outcome. Instead of good play winning out, bad play will gift the game to whomever was the greatest beneficiary of that bad play. I find both Indonesia and Brass to be greatly superior to Container.
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Jason Carlough
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ghorsche wrote:
I haven't had the privilege of playing Container with a consistent group who has put in the playcounts to learn good strategy, but it is one of those games where the poor players (if there are any at the table) determine the outcome. Instead of good play winning out, bad play will gift the game to whomever was the greatest beneficiary of that bad play. I find both Indonesia and Brass to be greatly superior to Container.


This times a thousand.
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Mycroft Stout
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About the third time we played Container with an experienced group, the first player who made a shipment decided to keep it. All his money went to the bank. The rest of us had insufficient funds to keep the finance wheels turning.

He in effect bankrupted the GAME with one decision.
Container is an interesting game. Not one I would recommend.

-Mycroft
 
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J C Lawrence
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I find it hard to blame a game for weak players: the game isn't at fault, the players are. Play with stronger players and become a stronger player yourself, then all your games will be better.
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Humulus Lupulus
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Mycroft Stout wrote:
About the third time we played Container with an experienced group, the first player who made a shipment decided to keep it. All his money went to the bank. The rest of us had insufficient funds to keep the finance wheels turning.

-Mycroft

That's not necessarily a bad play on his part. Perhaps the rest of you should have bid more.
 
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Nate S
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clearclaw wrote:
I find it hard to blame a game for weak players: the game isn't at fault, the players are. Play with stronger players and become a stronger player yourself, then all your games will be better.

There's only so much time to play games, and when deciding how much of it to dedicate to games that can be ruined by weak play, I'd much sooner spend time on Tigris & Euphrates or Puerto Rico than on Container.

It's never struck me as a game that has a high chance of turning into something great once all the players at the table learn good strategy. But it's been obvious that the proximal reason my sessions have been unsatisfying is that poor play (rather than good play) determined the outcome. So when I say I'm not impressed I'm always sure to make it clear that hey, maybe there's a great game in there that I just haven't had the privilege of playing yet. I'm not saying that great game is definitely there; I just don't have the credentials to draw a definitive line from "bad sessions" to "bad game".
 
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