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Subject: Introducing Sumeria by Dirk Liekens rss

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Jackson Pope
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Reiver Games will be releasing their third professionally-produced game at the UK Games Expo in Birmingham, UK from 5th-7th June 2009.

Why are Press Releases always written in the third person? Makes the writer sound like a pretentious idiot.

Right, that's enough talking about myself in the third-person plural

This post introduces the game, including the components and how to play. For more information you can read the rules, which are posted on my website: http://www.reivergames.co.uk/Sumeria/SumeriaRulesEN.pdf. Please note that the photos in this post are of my home-made prototype, and that my printer (an HP Deskjet 9800 - don't get one they're rubbish!) had some issues printing the board.

Enough disclaimers already, tell me about the game.

Introduction



In Sumeria, you control several traders trying to gain influence by wresting control of the most-important city-states each dynasty.

It's an area-control game for 3-4 players where you try to get control (or come second) in the three city-states that score during the six scoring rounds. Games last less than an hour, unless you're playing with Analysis Paralysis suffers in which case bring a sleeping bag or lots of caffeine tablets. The interesting bit is that almost every move you make affects which city-states are likely to score, and movement is severely restricted - so each move you make affects your (and the other players) ability to move in future - choose wisely!

It's a euro-game, so: pasted on theme (in the very best tradition of Dr. Knizia), very simple rules and surprisingly deep gameplay. The game is designed by Dirk Liekens (Wind River) and features gorgeous art by Harald Lieske (Piece o' Cake, Sutter's Mill).

So far, so good. What do I get?

Components

The game comes with:
A gameboard - depicting the eight city-states and the 7 settlements in each city-state
8 city-state tiles - for keeping track of the importance of each city-state
36 influence counters - for scoring
56 wooden octagonal prisms (or octagons for the less mathematically-anal of you) - representing your personal supply of trader minions.
2 wooden pawns - for keep track of the turn and who's the start player
A bag - for drawing the counters from
English and German rulebooks.

The board will be quad-folded to fit in the fairly small box (same size as Carpe Astra, and the box, tiles, counters and board will all be on 2mm thick board, linen-finished to both sides. It'll be the same high-quality of components as Carpe Astra - I'm using the same German manufacturer.

Ok. I've been sucked in by your beguiling silver-tongued bait, and pre-ordered a copy. Time has passed. I've opened it. It's got those bits as described above. WTF do I do with them all?

Setup

Put the board on a flat surface, I recommend a table, but the floor will do. Shuffle the eight city-state tiles and place them along the bottom of the board. All you need to know for the moment is the ones towards the left are important, the ones towards the right, not so much. Place the 36 counters in the bag. give it a good shake and draw six from the bag at random. Three go on the space on the board above the first city-state tile, two above the second and the last one above the third tile. Place the turn marker in the space marked '1' on the board and give the start player marker to someone. Who, you ask? I dunno. Pick someone. The most Iraqi (ancient Sumeria is in modern day Iraq), the most ancient or the player with the most-waxed beard. Each player takes trader markers in their favourite colour, all fourteen in a 3-player game, ten each in a four-player game. Each player takes it in turn to add traders to one of the settlements on the board until all players have 8 (in a 3-player game) or 5 (in a 4-player game) on the board. At this point it's probably worth pointing out that each settlement can only have a single trader in it, and that each city-state on the board has a city (biggest and most important), three towns (medium sized, and still slightly important) and 3 villages (smallest, and not very important at all). The settlements (cities, towns and villages collectively) are all connected by trade routes, which will become important in the next section. You can see a close up of one of the city-states on the board showing the city, three towns, three villages and trade routes connecting them below:



Enough already, I want to crush my enemies underfoot. Setup is boring.

Play
I told you the game is pretty simple, and here's why. Each round, each player performs an action and then the next player (clockwise from the start player) performs an action, until all players have performed three actions (use the turn marker to keep track of how many actions each player has had). Once that happens the round is scored and you play another. Play six rounds, add up your scores and crown the winner.

Each player has three choices for each of their actions: they can add one of their traders to the board, move one of their traders or remove a trader - that's it. Simple, huh?

To make it slightly more interesting, each time you add a trader to the board, you swap the city-state tile for the city-state in which you placed your trader with the one to it's left - moving it up in importance. If you move a trader and it ends up in a different city-state from the one it started in, the new city-state has it's tile moved up in importance like above. If you remove a trader from the board the tile for the city-state it was removed from is swapped with the one to its right - moving it down in importance. So you can affect which of the eight city-states are in the three scoring positions. Moving is also limited in that you can only move your traders along the trade routes from one settlement to the next. Traders may move any distance, in any direction, jumping over any number of traders belonging to any player, but must stop at the first empty settlement they reach. Choose which trader to move wisely, as moving a trader will leave an empty settlement which no-one can jump over in future until someone has moved into it. Careful selection of which trader to move can hamper your opponents' (or yours if you choose badly!) efforts to boost the city-states they favour.

Move? Add? Remove? If I can't crush my opponents under my sandalled foot, the least I can do is crush them through the medium of victory points. How do I win?

Scoring
Once each player has had their three actions, the round is scored. Whoever has the most traders in the city-state whose tile is first (counting from the left), gets to choose two of the influence counters above the tile for that city-state. Whoever has the second-most traders in that city-state gets the remaining counter. Counters score according to triangular numbers, so you want to get lots of the same type rather than a few of each. This process is repeated for the second city-state (winner chooses one of the two counters, second gets the remaining one) and the third city-state (winner gets the counter, second gets nothing). If there's a tie, whoever has a trader in the city of that city-state wins, if neither of the players do, then whoever has the most agents in the towns in that city-state wins, if it's still a tie then whoever played first wins.

The board is re-set (all traders remain in place) and a new start player is chosen (the player to the left of the player who had the least traders in the winning city-state). Six new influence counters are drawn from the bag and placed on the spaces above the three winning tiles. The three winning tiles are placed at the back in reverse order and the rest move up by three places. The turn marker is returned to the '1' space. Ding! Ding! Round Two! You play six rounds, and whoever has the most points at the end wins.

Sounds awesome! Where can I get a copy?

Sumeria is available from pre-order from my website: http://www.reivergames.co.uk/Sumeria/index.php with a 30% discount. After that, it'll be available at the UK Games Expo, and later in shops throughout Europe and North America. If you're from somewhere else, it's probably worth asking a local shop/online store to ask their distributor to stock it.

Cheers,

Jack

Edit: Clarified end of round board re-setting.
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Tim Harrison
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What a fantastic way to introduce a game. Press releases are often so mechanical.

This sounds great!
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Jackson Pope
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Thanks Tim,

I wanted to do a review, introducing the mechanics, components, etc. but thought that posting in the Reviews section might be construed as shilling. So I went for this instead. Of course, I was ably helped in this decision by the thoughts of several commenters on my blog. Glad you enjoyed the post!

Cheers,

Jack
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Steve K
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Quote:
It's a perfect-information area-control game
Here's a question (no ... really ... I don't know the answer)...

Is it a perfect information game when the influence counters for future rounds are in a bag and you only know which counters are to be awarded this round?

I thought perfect information games have all game info known at the outset.

If it's not a perfect information game, is there some other description that fits better?

{edit: typo}
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T C
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Mostly-perfect information....

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Jackson Pope
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Good point Steve,

I'll change that - it's perfect information for this round, but for the length of the game it's not.

Well spotted.

Cheers,

Jack

P.S. Isn't it about time you rated the game?
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Jackson Pope
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LilNewbie wrote:
Mostly-perfect information....

Imperfect?

Cheers,

Jack
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Jim Leesch
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Um. . .I mean, it looks really good.

Any estimate on American release?
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Jackson Pope
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JimPAX wrote:


Um. . .I mean, it looks really good.

Any estimate on American release?
Hiya Jim,

If past experience is anything to go by, Brown Box Inc in Texas and ACD will get it within a week of release, Alliance about 5-6 weeks after release (they ship it by sea - the others by air) I guess it'll be in shops around a week after the distributors get it.

Cheers,

Jack
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Jackson Pope
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MWChapel wrote:
Look forward to playing it at BGG.CON
Hiya Chapel,

I hope someone there will have a copy, sadly I won't be able to make it, the cost of travelling to American cons is currently out of my budget - it's either that or eat

Cheers,

Jack
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Steve K
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CaptainJax wrote:
P.S. Isn't it about time you rated the game?
I thought I should wait to see the real components before rating. I have commented on the game, though.

For the record, I've played it 7 times and never won. I like it a lot, and hope to play it again soon.

In his description Jack says:

Quote:
each city-state on the board has a city (biggest and most important), three towns (medium sized, and still slightly important) and 3 villages (smallest, and not very important at all)
That's only half the story. Its true for determining area influence (its basically most traders wins, but cities>towns>villages for tiebreaks). Often, however, the reverse is true for positional & movement flexibility, but remember ... I speak as someone who has never actually won a game.
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Jackson Pope
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SteveK2 wrote:
CaptainJax wrote:
P.S. Isn't it about time you rated the game?
I thought I should wait to see the real components before rating. I have commented on the game, though.
Fair enough!

SteveK2 wrote:
For the record, I've played it 7 times and never won. I like it a lot, and hope to play it again soon.
I've played it a lot more and usually win, even against experienced opponents. I guess that makes me the better man

SteveK2 wrote:
In his description Jack says:

Quote:
each city-state on the board has a city (biggest and most important), three towns (medium sized, and still slightly important) and 3 villages (smallest, and not very important at all)
That's only half the story. Its true for determining area influence (its basically most traders wins, but cities>towns>villages for tiebreaks). Often, however, the reverse is true for positional & movement flexibility, but remember ... I speak as someone who has never actually won a game.
Very true, being in a village means you're right next to the border and can always move into a new city-state (and hence affect the scoring), a balance of both is required.

Cheers,

Jack
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Steve K
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CaptainJax wrote:
SteveK2 wrote:
For the record, I've played it 7 times and never won. I like it a lot, and hope to play it again soon.
I've played it a lot more and usually win, even against experienced opponents. I guess that makes me the better man
That's fighting talk, Jack. One of these days I'm gonna chop you into little pieces sneak a close win over you.
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Paul Willcox
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Great review Jack! Nice style - different, amusing and entertaining. And for the record I think I've beaten you at this a few times..... but only a few! It is a great game and deserves to be a success. Good luck! meeple
 
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Gláucio Reis
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CaptainJax wrote:
I wanted to do a review, introducing the mechanics, components, etc. but thought that posting in the Reviews section might be construed as shilling.
Indeed, but it would still be nice to have it in the game forum, so that it could be easily found in the future. Maybe you could put it in "news" or "general".
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Matthew Chellman
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Link to the game on BGG: Sumeria
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Mike Jones
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CaptainJax wrote:
LilNewbie wrote:
Mostly-perfect information....

Imperfect?

Cheers,

Jack
Past Perfect, Future Imperfect
 
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Byron Grimes
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Jack,
The game looks great, I hope I'll be able to get my hands on it. As far as information, it would qualify as perfect information with random elements. Backgammon also qualifies as perfect information in this way.
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Jackson Pope
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SteveK2 wrote:
CaptainJax wrote:
SteveK2 wrote:
For the record, I've played it 7 times and never won. I like it a lot, and hope to play it again soon.
I've played it a lot more and usually win, even against experienced opponents. I guess that makes me the better man
That's fighting talk, Jack. One of these days I'm gonna chop you into little pieces sneak a close win over you.
Anytime, anywhere!

Cheers,

Jack
 
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Jackson Pope
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Social Work Dad wrote:
Great review Jack! Nice style - different, amusing and entertaining. And for the record I think I've beaten you at this a few times..... but only a few! It is a great game and deserves to be a success. Good luck! meeple
Very true, the last couple of times I've played Paul he's beaten me. That brought me down a peg or two.

Cheers,

Jack
 
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Jackson Pope
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GSReis wrote:
CaptainJax wrote:
I wanted to do a review, introducing the mechanics, components, etc. but thought that posting in the Reviews section might be construed as shilling.
Indeed, but it would still be nice to have it in the game forum, so that it could be easily found in the future. Maybe you could put it in "news" or "general".
FezAz has posted a link to this introduction in the Sumeria News forum.

Thanks Todd!

Cheers,

Jack
 
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