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Subject: Review of COERCEO - 2-player abstract rss

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I had the recent, unexpected fortune of receiving a review copy of COERCEO from the publisher. A while back, I saw an image of the game on BGG and after looking into it I added it to my wishlist. The publisher noticed that it was on my list and contacted me about testing/reviewing the game.

I play all types of games, but end up playing a number of abstract games because they are usually easy to learn and the games are relatively short. I enjoy games like Chess, Hive, Blokus, Abalone, Quarto, and Arimaa. I’ve not yet played anything from the Gipf series yet, but I think I would enjoy those.

I’ve only played about 6 times so far, but I can already tell that this is a great game. COERCEO is very easy to learn and each game took less than 30 minutes.

From www.coerceo.com:
What does ‘COERCEO’ mean?
‘COERCEO’ means ‘to enclose’ in Latin.
How is the name ‘COERCEO’ pronounced?
COERCEO is pronounced as 'Ko-her-Kee-jo'
.

Rules summary
From http://www.coerceo.com/rules.html
COERCEO is a board game played between two players, who alternate moves. The objective of the game is to remove all of the opponent’s playing pieces from the board. You capture the opponent’s pieces by enclosing them with two (on the edge of the board) or three (in the middle of the board) of your own pieces. A player is free to either capture a piece or not.

In the starting position each player has 18 playing pieces. One player has the black pieces on the black fields, the other player has the white pieces on the white fields. In one turn a piece can move one field diagonally, only to a vacant field.

A board tile is taken from the board and collected by a player when the last playing piece is removed from that tile and the tile is positioned at the edge of the board. Tile collecting and the timing of exchanging it for an opponent's piece is an important part of a players strategy.
COERCEO has few basic game rules that can be learned in just a couple of minutes.


The sequence of the game is simple: on your turn you may either move a piece or exchange previously collected tiles for an opponent’s piece. If applicable, you remove and collect any empty tiles or remove any captured pieces. The rulebook is very easy to follow and gives illustrated examples for every possible situation. In the first few games I had to consult the rules for certain situations, but the mechanics are very intuitive. Essentially, all you have to remember is that you can’t harm yourself on your own turn. For example, if you move yourself into a position where you are surrounded, you are safe. You are only captured if the other player moves into a position to surround you. There are other situations with removing tiles where this same logic is used.

Even though the game is easy to learn, there are deeper strategies that develop the more you play.


Material
Board tiles: Very nice! They are solid and high quality. They look like they hold up well after several plays.

Playing pieces: Solid and elegant. They have a nice weight and feel. These tetrahedron pieces are easy to manipulate on the board and the contrast in colors makes them easy to tell apart from each other. One word of caution - make sure the pieces don’t end up on the floor. I’ve not experienced this, but can only imagine how painful it would be to step on one with bare feet. Anyone with kids and Lego blocks knows what I’m talking about.

Setup
The game is easy to setup and takes about the same effort as setting up a game of Chess. I’ve had to verify the configuration with the rulebook to make sure I’m doing it right the first few games, but it is very straight forward.

Replayability
For an abstract game, it has good replayability. The way the board disappears gradually is different every time.

Gameplay Assessment
The game is played on both a micro and macro level. You are trying to surround individual pieces, but at the same time you are working to surround entire armies of pieces with your armies. The game is abstract, but it almost has a battle like feel. Turning in the tiles to remove an opponent's piece feels like calling in an air strike. Saving up tiles to be used at just the right time adds quite a bit of strategy.

Coerceo is extremely easy to learn, but takes quite an effort to master. This is great because it is easier to teach new players, but it has lasting value. Even though the pieces all act in the same way, there is plenty of depth in the game.

The games are short so it is easy to play a few games back-to-back.

Comparing to other abstracts
Hive is more portable and durable, but Coerceo seems to have deeper strategy. The setup for Hive is pretty much nonexistent, while the setup for Coerceo takes a minute or two. Coerceo is more visually stunning than Hive and is easier to learn.

Chess/Arimaa and Coerceo take about the same amount of setup. Coerceo is more portable. Chess may be deeper than Coerceo because of the different movements of each piece, but Coerceo is much easier to learn.

Coerceo is similar to Abalone in that all the pieces move the same within each game. However, Coerceo adds depths with the tile removal and exchange mechanic. Coerceo looks classier in my opinion and is definitely more portable.

Compared to regular Blokus, Coerceo is more portable, but the travel edition of Blokus is more portable by design. Coerceo seems to have a bit more depth and the components and layout are much classier.

In summary, I’ve enjoyed Coerceo quite a bit and hope to play more. The components are solid and the game has a classic and timeless look to it. The game is quite easy to learn, but there is definitely some deeper strategy possible.

Final verdict: 9.5


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A informative review. I've been keeping my eye on this and Entrapment as they both look esthetically pleasing and seem to have the potential for excellent abstract gameplay (which I'm always on the hunt for).

Good job.
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lindelos wrote:
A informative review. I've been keeping my eye on this and Entrapment as they both look esthetically pleasing and seem to have the potential for excellent abstract gameplay (which I'm always on the hunt for).

Good job.


Thanks! I've not heard of Entrapment, but it looks cool (added to wishlist). COERCEO should be coming out later this year.

Also, I plan to create a video session which will help give a better picture of the gameplay.
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Robert Wesley
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I too, have to concur with the 1st 'respondee' about this here, and also applaud you for taking the time on providing additional comparable 'Games', of which you denote with being somewhat akin in demeanor with it as well then.
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Martijn Althuizen
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Hi,

Today I received a review copy of Coerceo. So I will be doing a review of my own some time soon also.

I've just read the rules booklet and I have a feeling there's something missing from your review. I might be wrong, but I want to mention it in this thread anyway so that it will become clear whether I'm mistaken or not.

EDIT 2: I've watched the video again in full and noticed that at some point there is indeed a trade happening (2 board segments for an opponents playing piece). Also, in the review at the top of this thread, there actually is mention of such trades being possible. It's only very briefly touched upon, which is probably why I read over it... Anyway. This all means that the rest of this message has kind of lost it's original purpose... But maybe someone familiar with the game already is kind enough to tell us his/her take on the overall effectiveness/usefulness of the 'trade rule'. And the extent to which one is likely to use it to good effect during play?... Any thoughts on this? It's something I will probably be focusing on when I will be playing my first few games of Coerceo (which will hopefully be later this week)...

The rules booklet mentions that the player that clears a board segment is the one that collects the segment. And in case this leads to another board segment having to be removed (because of the 3-sides-or-less-connected rule), this same player collects such a board segment also. Next the rules booklet states that instead of moving a piece, a player can also decide to trade 2 collected board segments for any single opponent piece. So if a player discards two collected board segments, he/she is allowed to remove a single opponent piece from the board.

This seems like a very powerful thing to be able to do. For one it allows you regain balance should you be down in material. Also it helps you to control the size of the board to an even greater extent. Because if you choose to remove an opponent piece that is the only piece on the given board segment, this board segment is removed from the game. Which might in turn lead to even more board segments being removed from game. Even though you don't get to keep these segments for trading later on (they're taken out of the game entirely instead of going to a player), doing this also prevents your opponent from moving his piece off of the board segment and actually gaining ownership of the segment. So it's a 'double whammy' really. You can decrease the board size to your advantage AND take away the opportunity to collect a board segment from your opponent.

EDIT: It could even be a 'triple whammy'. If one or more board segments have to be removed from the game because of an opponents piece being removed from the board as a result of a trade, then the newly formed board might also mean that more opponent pieces have to be removed from the board. Pieces that were previously 'in the middle' of the board might now find themselves to be on the edge of the board. And it only takes 2 pieces instead of 3 to capture a piece that's on the edge of the board...

The rules booklet I have states that it's version v.020 of the rules. Does your review copy come with this same version of the rules booklet?

I think the 'trade 2 collected board segments for an opponents piece' is a really nice rule. I haven't actually played the game to the extent that I can really appreciate the rule for it's effectiveness. But I have the strong feeling that it can be really deadly if applied properly.

Thus far I knew the basic rules from having skimmed over your video review. I do admit that I haven't watched it in full. So maybe you do mention this rule in the video and I simply missed it.

I will definately get a few games of Coerceo in soon. Knowing that this specific rule is also part of the game makes me think that it gives you a lot more to work with. Which in this case adds to the depth of the gameplay and hence to the appeal of the game.

After having read your review some time ago, I was left thinking that this was a game in which you had to really prevent getting down in material, as it would surely be a very tough fight from there on. Knowing now that there is actually another way to possibly regain a balance in material, or even get ahead in material, really makes me want to play the game and try it out.

Cheers,
Martijn
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Hi Martijn,

I think you will enjoy COERCEO. The rules I have are version .020 as well. The trade 2 tiles rule is very powerful for the reasons you mentioned. Because of that you have to be very careful not to allow your opponent to get tiles easily (try not to leave them with the last piece on a tile). I don't explain the rules in the video, it is just a session of the game that is meant to give a brief idea of what the gameplay looks like.

Choosing which piece to remove and when is critical in the standard rules. There is a variant where you can trade in one tile to remove a piece. I haven't tried that yet, but it seems almost too powerful. However, because both players can use that, they can certainly adapt. Either way, the idea of removing tiles and using them to remove your opponent's pieces is great because it changes the dynamic of the board and adds a fair amount of depth to the game.

Cheers!
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Martijn Althuizen
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Hi Michael,

Thanks for sharing your insights on this! I have no idea how I managed to miss the trade rule being mentioned in your review.

I'm hoping to be able to play my first game of Coerceo next thursday... Can't wait to try it out!

Thanks,
Martijn

meskue wrote:
Hi Martijn,

I think you will enjoy COERCEO. The rules I have are version .020 as well. The trade 2 tiles rule is very powerful for the reasons you mentioned. Because of that you have to be very careful not to allow your opponent to get tiles easily (try not to leave them with the last piece on a tile). I don't explain the rules in the video, it is just a session of the game that is meant to give a brief idea of what the gameplay looks like.

Choosing which piece to remove and when is critical in the standard rules. There is a variant where you can trade in one tile to remove a piece. I haven't tried that yet, but it seems almost too powerful. However, because both players can use that, they can certainly adapt. Either way, the idea of removing tiles and using them to remove your opponent's pieces is great because it changes the dynamic of the board and adds a fair amount of depth to the game.

Cheers!
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Awesome! I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it after you try it out.

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