Aaron Silverman
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Halfway between Castro and Mickey Mouse
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This, the densest game (weight:box size) I've ever owned, is basically an area-influence game where you plot all your moves secretly by moving pieces behind a screen. There are 6 map areas, each with 8 locations and personalities that you can acquire, plus there are 6 mercenary armies. Each area is worth a certain number of VP each turn for the players with the most and second-most influence, plus there are various other VP bonuses available (having the most bishops, having matching pairs of ports and ships, etc.). A random selection of 44 out of the 54 items will come into play (the deck is shuffled and a certain number are revealed for an open draft each turn), so the game will play out differently every time. The number of cards used is slightly different for 2- and 3-player games.

In a 4-player game, there are 2 Yorkist and 2 Lancastrian players, and at the end of each 10-year turn, Parliament votes on one side or the other to become King (based on control of areas recalculated as one side vs. the other). The players on the winning side get a VP bonus. At the end of the game, the side that won more elections (there are 5 turns) is a tiebreaker between players on opposing sides. So you are mainly playing for yourself, but you are also sorta kinda playing with a teammate -- creating some interesting decisions about whom to go after.

In addition, you can capture other players' personalities via bribery (as well as protect your own with cash incentives). This leads to some great moments when the planning screens are lifted and everyone looks to see who's bribing whom and which attempts were blocked.

I'm not usually a fan of guessing games (I hate Diplomacy), but this one works for me. There are lots of ways to score but actions are pretty limited, so it plays quickly for the amount of thinking involved. Once the secret planning is done, the turns are resolved in no time -- with maybe one learning game under one's belt, it's easily a sub-2-hour game. I also love that the gorgeously overdone components are designed to maximize playability (not always the case).

In my first game, I jumped out to an early lead, thanks to acquiring the highest income possessions on the first turn, but one opponent steadily caught up as the game progressed. On the last turn, he and I were vying for control of the two most valuable areas on the board. I decided to concede the highest VP area and focus on the second highest, since I was pretty sure I could still win with a second-place finish in the top area if I won the second one. He apparently had the same idea, since we both split our influence and I ended up winning both areas. It was awesome! There were many such fun surprises over the course of the game.
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Stefan Daniels
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DJ Kuul A wrote:

I'm not usually a fan of guessing games (I hate Diplomacy), but this one works for me.


While this is an excellent game I think you're probably playing Dip wrong if you think it's a "guessing game". I guess I can understand this if you think that poker is a 'guessing game'. Dip is a rhetoric game and a negotiation game, and above all, a game where astute observation of the board positions and player personalities and tendencies wins more often than not.

However, once again, I do agree with you that WotR:LvsY is an excellent game
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Aaron Silverman
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Halfway between Castro and Mickey Mouse
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OK, I admit that was a bad choice of terms and an oversimplification (actually, the simplicity of Diplomacy outside of the player's minds is a major problem for me -- FWIW, I don't care for poker either). Of course, I'm not playing Dip at all at this point. . .
 
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Jon W
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DJ Kuul A wrote:
OK, I admit that was a bad choice of terms and an oversimplification

Ah, come on, stand by your convictions! Dip is, mechanically, a guessing game. You can get all "astute" and negotiatery, and razor-hone your roshambo skilz to figure out that this time it's a 60-30-10 split, but you're still guessing. It's not a feature or a bug, it's just the way it is.
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Stefan Daniels
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waddball wrote:

Ah, come on, stand by your convictions! Dip is, mechanically, a guessing game. You can get all "astute" and negotiatery, and razor-hone your roshambo skilz to figure out that this time it's a 60-30-10 split, but you're still guessing. It's not a feature or a bug, it's just the way it is.


Totally disagree but such is life.
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Richard Young
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lindelos wrote:
waddball wrote:

Ah, come on, stand by your convictions! Dip is, mechanically, a guessing game. You can get all "astute" and negotiatery, and razor-hone your roshambo skilz to figure out that this time it's a 60-30-10 split, but you're still guessing. It's not a feature or a bug, it's just the way it is.


Totally disagree but such is life.


If you can predict with 100% certainty when the knife is to be inserted between your shoulder blades, or if the player you are about to stiff always knows when you are going to do it, then I think it's your group that is playing incorrectly.

Educated guesses (carefully thought out calculations) are still guesses...
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Richard Dewsbery
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You can often predict *when* you're going to be knifed. It's the *where* that is tricky. I've taken to making a guess at when and where, then instead of trying to counter it, I try to knife them back somewhere else in the same turn.
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Richard Dewsbery
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It's a mistake to think of the other player in your faction as an ally. Your fates are intertwined - if one faction wins the crown 3 times out of 5, the winner is usually from that faction; if one faction wins the crown 4 times, I'd be amazed if the winner isn't from that faction - but at the end of the day there can only be one winner, so anyone sharing the same faction as me is as much of a target as the opposition when the time is right.
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Aaron Silverman
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Halfway between Castro and Mickey Mouse
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RDewsbery wrote:
It's a mistake to think of the other player in your faction as an ally. Your fates are intertwined - if one faction wins the crown 3 times out of 5, the winner is usually from that faction; if one faction wins the crown 4 times, I'd be amazed if the winner isn't from that faction - but at the end of the day there can only be one winner, so anyone sharing the same faction as me is as much of a target as the opposition when the time is right.


If the time is right, sure, but don't forget: the players on the winning faction each turn get 5 bonus VP. It's not huge, but it can add up. So when you have a choice between going after your "ally" and going after someone else in a particular area, it's usually (but not always!) a better idea to go after the opposing side player.
 
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Richard Dewsbery
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Don't get me wrong - that 5VP bonus for the king is huge; I've seen maybe one game (in the nine that I've played) where just one turn's worth of crown points *wouldn't* have made a difference to who won. In every other game, the ten point swing away from the winner and to the lead player in the other faction would have changed the result - that's why timing is all. But if you consistently go after only the enemy, and rely on your ally, you'll often find yourself the junior partner (as well as being easier to predict).
 
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