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Subject: Sexy like Richard Dean Anderson rss

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(ron lee)
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baton rouge
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"A lasers-and-mirrors Chess game???" I took out my wallet almost immediately. "Sure," thought I, "it might be a gimmick, but all my Star Trek shows have been cancelled, and how else am I to impress girls with my Science Skills?"

Waiting for my order, I regretted my impulsiveness--a game with lasers and mirrors--there are so many ways that could be done wrong! Well, after finally playing the game a couple times (and by a couple, I mean 2), I feel much happier with my purchase. Many of my fears are now alleviated. Specifically:

1. "It won't be as cool as it sounds." Thankfully, playing with lasers and mirrors is exactly as cool as it sounds! I feel like MacGyver and Indiana Jones at the same time, rescuing Calista Flockhart from a nasty laser booby-trap using only my clever mind and then giving her a hoagie to eat. (For you ladies, I also feel like Marie Curie, zapping cancer rays at male chauvinists.)

2. "It will be an incredibly fiddly game." The ruleset is tiny--as advertised, it's about the same complexity as the rules to checkers. Move any piece one space in any direction or rotate a piece 90 degrees, then fire your laser. If your laser beam hits a non-mirrored side, the piece dies. You win by killing your opponent's pharoh. You now know 80% of the rules.

3. "It won't actually be a laser-and-mirrors game." In order to use the laser properly, you must manipulate the mirrors so that you get a tricky bounce that your opponent doesn't see. This means lots and lots of mirror action.

4. "It will be boring and difficult to mobilize your army." If the opening setup of pieces were like Chess, I would agree wholeheartedly. Thankfully, the designers took some time to develop an opening setup in which pieces are carefully intermingled all over the board, so that interesting issues pop up from the very first move.

5. "The game will stalemate because you'll just mirror all over the place, or because it will be impossible to kill the Pharoh due to mirror attrition." After 2 games, this does not appear to be the case. Killing pieces at the beginning of the game seems very easy because the board is so crowded, and easy in the midgame because there's more maneuverability for your laser beam. The existence of indestructible 2-sided mirror pieces (Djeds) seems to guarantee that your offensive capability will always be greater than your defensive capability. All that being said, I still have my concerns regarding this point. I'll revise my review as I get more experience with the game.

6. "Since the two players have their own lasers, it will be like playing two separate games on the two halves of the board--one offensive and one defensive. How inelegant." This concern is partly true. For a good portion of the game, it does feel like two separate games; like you're deciding each turn whether to play the offensive half or the defensive half. But for most of the game, there are a reasonable number of moves that will have both offensive and defensive implications. Moreover, due to wild laser-bouncing, the moves that have these implications are not immediately obvious, and you remain a little paranoid about both sides of the problem in considering almost all your moves.

7. "The wildness of laser-bounces will mean that there's no strategy--only tactics." With the caveat that I have only played 2 games, I think the strategic/tactical ratio is pretty similar to Chess. Tactics are indeed the majority of the game, but there appear to be a few strategic concepts that can guide you. I'll write up a little strategy guide for the game after I get a few more plays under my belt.

8. "Reading ahead will be impossible for such a wild game." The look-ahead depth is pretty shallow, but the fact that pieces are limited in how quickly they can move and rotate allows you some ability to look into the future. I personally find this a feature and not a bug; the game is full of, "woah, I didn't see that coming!"

In conclusion, there appears to be an actual game here. The type of thinking required is, in many ways, very similar to Chess; as you might expect, there are a lot of discovered attacks, skewers, and pins. In addition, there is some thinking that is different from anything in other chess-like games--orientation of pieces, laser-beam visualization, the very distinct choice between playing in the offensive or defensive sections of the board. It's a game that is (at my novice level) less ponderous and quicker than Chess, since the look-ahead is shallower. But this is all as it should be. The game matches the gimmick--slightly clever, very bouncy, space operatic.
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Li'l Ronnie Post
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ronlee wrote:
I feel like MacGyver and Indiana Jones at the same time, rescuing Calista Flockhart from a nasty laser booby-trap
Too late, man.

Uh, sorry. I meant to say "nice review". Yeah, that's it - Nice review!
Did you ever see the earlier version? Any differences beyond the name?
 
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(ron lee)
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baton rouge
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Actually, I have the old version. There is a difference, as described in some other postings--the role of the Obelisk piece has been changed significantly--whereas in the old version, it doesn't really do much (the equivalent of a guard in Chinese Chess almost, except less effective), in the new version the Obelisk becomes like a Tough Bodyguard, better than Harrison Ford in that movie with Whitney Houston. Or, if we want to keep Indiana Jones in our metaphors, it's like two Harrison Fords. Or actually, in the game, it's like you have four Harrison Fords, with two Harrison Fords piggy backing on top of the other two. I'm serious.

It sounds like a good fix, actually. If you have the old version, you will need to order two more obelisks from the company. It makes a weak, useless piece potentially useful. In any case, I don't think the rules-change will affect the opinions of my review at all.
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Rob
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ronlee wrote:
Harrison Ford in that movie with Whitney Houston.

You're mixing your movie metaphors. I believe you're thinking of Kevin Costner.

BTW: good review. It re-inforced my decision to get this game.
 
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Roland Wood
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Quote:
...rescuing Calista Flockhart from a nasty laser booby-trap

Probably the only context in which "Calista Flockhart" and "booby" could come together in the same sentence in any meaningful way.
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ronlee wrote:
in the new version the Obelisk becomes like a Tough Bodyguard, better than Harrison Ford in that movie with Whitney Houston. Or, if we want to keep Indiana Jones in our metaphors, it's like two Harrison Fords. Or actually, in the game, it's like you have four Harrison Fords, with two Harrison Fords piggy backing on top of the other two. I'm serious.

How did I miss this comment before? Especially, the "I'm serious" part.laugh

And who knows? Maybe Spielberg will actually use your pair of piggybacked Harrison Fords in the next Indiana Jones flick. Be sure to demand a screen credit.
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