Friday, June 19, 2009

Take one for the team....

Played and won a couple of games this past week, Taj Mahal and Oasis, and I seem to have won for the same reason. Now bear in mind, these are two very great but very different games. However, each game has a surefire winning strategy if no one steps up to stop you. It is also fairly obvious in both games when someone has taken the lead.

In Taj Mahal, the elephant/province tile strategy seems a sure thing as does holding on to the +2 card as long as possible. I actually try to mention both of these approaches to beginners upon their first play. In my game this week, one player took the lead quickly with province tile after province tile until finally the players caught on and messed them up. Unfortunately for them, I was holding the +2 card for most of the game and ended up winning by a fair amount. As the scoring is open for the game, it is fairly easy to see who is winning. But to stop someone, one must make a concerted effort to ignore their own strategy for a turn to take away from their opponent.

In Oasis, same thing happened. Every turn you take an offer of certain items and I kept taking the camels. No one else was collecting them and so they didn't really want to take the camel offers. So I got most of them and had a clear win. Again, fairly obvious what I was trying to do and that it was winning but noone stepped up to waste a turn to stop me.

The 'take down the leader' problem is common in most competitive games but is more pronounced in these two because you really have to forego your own strategy to stop the player in the lead. And that means it's up to someone to actually step up and waste their turn. And usually everyone waits for another player to do it and, well, they all lose. It can be a little frustrating but I don't think it makes these games broken. It's just something that needs to be mentioned very early on.

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