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Subject: Wow. I was wrong! rss

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Ron Olivier, Sr.
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North Smithfield
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I’d heard a lot of great things about Five Tribes when it first came out. Every sign was pointing to the fact that this game was a winner. So I viewed several review videos about the game, and was deeply disappointed. I immediately was able to recognize the elements of ‘Mancala’, an abstract strategy game that I had played a few times and enjoyed a bit. But the truth was that I just wasn’t in the market for a pricey update of a well-known game that I could buy anywhere for $15 or less. Nothing would ever change my mind on that!

Until I actually PLAYED Five Tribes.

I got a chance to play two games of this at a convention a couple of years ago, after which I made the comment ‘This is going to be the next game in my collection…period.’ Less than a month later, I made good on that promise. While the game is thinly veiled in a middle-eastern theme, its abstract nature definitely shows through. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is merely a Mancala rehash. This is a complex, thought provoking, point-producing cornucopia of mechanics ordered into a game that is fun, addictive, and (like most Days of Wonder games) quite inviting in its presentation.

The Good:

- The basic rules of play are easy to learn, and the rules concerning different colored meeples and other game intricacies are listed on the player reference mats.
- There are many different scoring opportunities, which produce many paths to victory.
- The game scales very nicely from 2 to 4 players with one caveat – see the note about Viziers in ‘The Bad’ section.
- The modular board (made up of 30 separate tiles) and the random distribution of meeples make each game unique.
- The production value of most components is fantastic, not only in quality but in appearance.
- The game harmonizes many different mechanisms (set collection, worker placement, bidding for first player, etc.) that help to balance long-term strategies with the tactical play of an ever-changing board.
- Players have the dual focus of maximizing points on their turn while trying not to limit what is available for the next player.
- Our play time has been about 60 to 90 minute, which seems perfect for this game. It doesn’t wear out its welcome.

The Bad:
- The weight of the ‘Viziers’ (yellow meeples) strategy is dependent on the number of players. In a 2P game, this strategy can be all but ignored, while it’s much more lucrative in a 4P game.
- Gameplay slows down towards the endgame as fewer moves are left on the board. Fortunately, this period of the game is mercifully brief.

The Ugly:
- While the 30 tiles that make up the board are double-sided, they are identical on front and back which seems like a bit of a waste.
- Extra pieces needed for a 2P game are only provided for the Blue and Pink colors. It’s easy enough to deal with, but I hate having to tell new players that they can’t play their favorite color.

Final Thoughts:
This game’s ranking of #8 in my personal top 10 (with a 9.0 rating) and its presence in the BGG Top 50 (at the time of this writing) says a lot about this game. I’d say that the complexity is about the same as The Castles of Burgundy (my #6 game), which may be a bit much for some newbies, but not so complex that casual gamers won’t catch on fairly quickly. Unlike CoB, this game screams ‘PLAY ME’ when on the table with its brightly colored bits and beautiful artwork. If, like me, you’re put off by thinking this is a ‘Modern Mancala’, find someone who has this in their collection and play it with them. You may be pleasantly surprised!
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Jay M
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I love this game. I don't understand when people don't like it -- every turn begins with a "candy store" excitement of "what will I choose?"
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Peter Strait
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As someone who doesn't care for it, for me it's because it feels like all I'm doing is hoping I spotted the best move, and have spotted what it closes and opens up for opponents. A bit like competitive Where's Waldo, if that makes sense. It's tense, but not in a way that I'd choose over other games.
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Andrew Riley
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Woodford Green
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rantinronrevue wrote:
- The game scales very nicely from 2 to 4 players
A solid review, but I find myself strongly disagreeing with this one small part. Mostly it's a matter of language. I enjoy Five Tribes with any player count, but the word scales suggests changes in size and not kind. To me, Five Tribes is almost an entirely different game with two players compared to 3 or 4. The ability to stack two turns together within a round (or 4 over two rounds!) allowing one to set up and one to score big, change the game so much. Indeed my wife will only play this as a two player, she finds the change to 4 player makes the game much less strategic, more random and less enjoyably puzzlely.
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Shoosh shoo
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Ive played this well over a dozen times (then i stopped counting) but i dont think its necessary to look for the BEST MOVE every turn. Whats more important is how many points you net each turn. If youre looking for 15 pt moves but youre spending 5 to get it, youre doing just as well as the player who sees a 10 pt move but bids 0.

When im playing i look at the board and see whats available. Usually ill spot a couple moves that give some points, then i look for others. You need to have a few moves in your head beforehand in case other people take your moves.

Its only about midway through the game where we run into periods where we take a little longer to make our move because as more meeples get removed it gets a little harder. But always having noted at least a couple of moves is good practise.

Again, you have to be more worried about how many points you net, and you need to manage this. Im not saying that if you see a move that can give you 40-50 pts, dont bid on it... Hell yeah, bid 5 or 8 if you need to! But if youre constantly bidding high to get moves and only netting a little bit of points then someone else is likely going to beat you.

I cant sing enougb praise for this game by the way! It was an honour to meet Bruno at gencon the year it came out, and i was sooooo looking forward to playing it with him but the tables were always so full and i was working. I love this game and it may even be my #1 of all time. I would suggest to everyone if you have even thought about playing it at some point, do it!
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nik holliday
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Race Bannon wrote:
I love this game. I don't understand when people don't like it -- every turn begins with a "candy store" excitement of "what will I choose?"

I don`t like it because it makes my head hurt soblue
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Chris Schenck
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Dayton
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rantinronrevue wrote:
The weight of the ‘Viziers’ (yellow meeples) strategy is dependent on the number of players. In a 2P game, this strategy can be all but ignored, while it’s much more lucrative in a 4P game.

I think the Viziers scale nicely. It's true that you can't score 30+ points with them in a 2 player game. But you also only have 1 player to outpace in the race. Don't overlook the importance of those 10 bonus points. Many of my 2-player games have been decided on fewer points than that.
 
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Jay M
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cbs42 wrote:
rantinronrevue wrote:
The weight of the ‘Viziers’ (yellow meeples) strategy is dependent on the number of players. In a 2P game, this strategy can be all but ignored, while it’s much more lucrative in a 4P game.

I think the Viziers scale nicely. It's true that you can't score 30+ points with them in a 2 player game. But you also only have 1 player to outpace in the race. Don't overlook the importance of those 10 bonus points. Many of my 2-player games have been decided on fewer points than that.


With one good Vizier move (perhaps scooping 3), you can build a demoralizing lead and pretty much assure the 10 points. Not bad for one turn, and especially if it's combined with something else good through the tile action or perhaps placing a camel.
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Ron Olivier, Sr.
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Race Bannon wrote:
cbs42 wrote:
rantinronrevue wrote:
The weight of the ‘Viziers’ (yellow meeples) strategy is dependent on the number of players. In a 2P game, this strategy can be all but ignored, while it’s much more lucrative in a 4P game.

I think the Viziers scale nicely. It's true that you can't score 30+ points with them in a 2 player game. But you also only have 1 player to outpace in the race. Don't overlook the importance of those 10 bonus points. Many of my 2-player games have been decided on fewer points than that.


With one good Vizier move (perhaps scooping 3), you can build a demoralizing lead and pretty much assure the 10 points. Not bad for one turn, and especially if it's combined with something else good through the tile action or perhaps placing a camel.


You are absolutely right. That's why I worded that it can be 'all but' ignored. You don't want to just automatically surrender that aspect of the game to your opponent in a 2P game. But with 4P, each player takes fewer turns and therefore has fewer scoring opportunities. So the 30 point bonus for gaining the most Viziers can have a much more dramatic impact.
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