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Subject: I have AP and I approve this game rss

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Chris Rush
United States
Virginia
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My wife and I learned to play this game yesterday. It was a balmy 80 degrees outside, so while the kids were playing in the backyard, it seemed like the right time to play a new game. Here's how new games usually work at our house: I spend time researching, learning how to play, teaching how to play, secretly figuring out the best ways to play, then my wife wins.

Based on the kinds of games we enjoy (Le Havre, Trajan, Shakespeare, Lewis and Clark, etc.), I suspected this would be something we would both enjoy, and indeed we did. My wife focused on getting cards and spreading her coats-of-arms empire, while I tried to focus on advancing my barge down the Danube and spreading my seals empire. This ended up working more in her favor, as she acquired the coats of arms for very popular locations in the middle of the board.

We seemed to get a rule wrong at the beginning, mostly because of my confusion about why the game would be structured in such a way. Considering the first area has a gold border, why would seals only get you points after you place your coat of arms in that region? That would take a high degree amount of luck to get that first region in the first turn or two in order for that region to be worthwhile. So we assumed you would get the points for that region at the end of the game, based on the seals that ended up in that region. Feel free to correct me on how we should or should not play this. We started off with "get points for that region regardless of when your coat of arms is placed there," but that gave her an insurmountable 20+ point lead basically right away. Then I suspected, mostly out of selfishness, we were playing it wrong. So we went back to "only get points for that region after your coat of arms is placed there for the seals that get placed there after your coat of arms is placed there," which may not be the technical term for it.

I tried to get my cathedral built, but it didn't happen. My wife got her set of artistic goods in, thanks to some judicious use of sparrows. Magically, my advancement of my barge ended up winning me the game by one point (assuming we played correctly with the coats-of-arms and seals), as I got the card that gave me 6 victory points for having the further barge down the river - and I won by one point.

I'm not the smartest thinker in the world, nor am I the best decision maker, and for games that require a fair degree of tactical adaptation, that AP (as you people seem to like to call it) can make for a frustrating gaming experience for others. I try not to allow myself to do that too much, so when we play games like Lewis and Clark and Trajan, I try to envision a strategy for how to play that game that time and stick with it, so my AP tendencies don't interfere with the experience for everyone. Ulm, though, despite its diversity of options and pathways to victory and potentially AP-inducing action selection, I don't think its variability easily lends itself to game-slowing AP. Once you have the tile from the bag, the moves other people have made, especially when the tiles start to get "frozen" before the checkerboard-tile action removes them, you don't really have a lot of options. Whatever you need for that turn, whether its money, a seal, or cards, the action grid will either show you the most ideal move or, likely, a second-tier-desire option. Even at the beginning of the game, all the available options seem to jump out as fairly obvious ideal actions. This rarely happens for me, especially playing a game the first time. Ulm's mechanisms here seem to be ideal for AP-tendency players: variety, options, but fairly easily recognizable ideal moves.

We both enjoyed it very much. It gives you a lot of choices but does not require a great deal of long-term commitment to a particular make-or-break strategy. At the same time, it does reward you for committing to one path to victory. I'm not saying that will necessarily result in a guaranteed win, but a game that offers so much in a simple way to play it is a very enjoyable combination. 10 turns sounds like a long game, but it is a very fast 10 turns. Thus, if one particular strategy doesn't quite work out, the game is so fun and fast it's not unreasonable to shuffle up and try something else right away. Ulm seems to me to have all the ingredients for a great game.
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Holger Schmid
Germany
Koblenz
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Uncas007 wrote:
I spend time researching, learning how to play, teaching how to play, secretly figuring out the best ways to play, then my wife wins.


Sounds so familiar to me

Great report, We really like the compact nature of Ulm: it somehow manages to offer strategic options but does not take forever or feels like a very difficult game.
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Brandon Pickett
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I understand, but if you were the 1st player and got to put your coat of arms in the first region, you'd get a lot of points. Plus, it's not THAT luck. I mean there's only 12 tiles from that draw pile, and you get to draw two at a time. Furthermore, remember that you put a disk in the action selection area that gets you a sparrow each time someone pushes it out that row/column. I could see it being silver, too.

I LOVE this game and can't wait to play it at 3 or 4. So far I"ve only played it at two. The advanced tiles ratchet up the fun greatly too.
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Holger Schmid
Germany
Koblenz
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With 3 and even more with 4 players, the game feels much different as the "labyrinth" is changing much more. It great because then it's more tactical considerations how to react to the new developments while you can follow a certain long term strategy rather straightly in a two player game.
In fact, it's hard to tell for me, which player count is best for me. I really enjoy all.
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Dirk Meijlof
Netherlands
Amersfoort
Utrecht
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Schmergel wrote:
Uncas007 wrote:
I spend time researching, learning how to play, teaching how to play, secretly figuring out the best ways to play, then my wife wins.


Sounds so familiar to me

Great report, We really like the compact nature of Ulm: it somehow manages to offer strategic options but does not take forever or feels like a very difficult game.


Good to read I'm not the only one having these experiences
Thanks for the nice review. We love Ulm.
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