Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Life Aquatic (Entdecker, Race for the Galaxy)

Five months ago, I went to a local math trade and played an oldie called Entdecker by Klaus Teuber. I liked it, but thought it was too long. Still, the mechanics stuck with me and so I figured I'd try to trade for it. And now, here it is...


Many comparisons to Carcassonne were made by the group throughout the explanation. I had the same feeling myself before I played the first time, but unlike the WAGSters, I didn't feel that way by the end.


There is a physical disconnect in Carcassonne. You draw a tile, and place it anywhere. Carcassonne is essentially an abstract, after all. In Entdecker, tile laying represents the exploration of the sea. You pick a spot to start, invest in your voyage and set sail. The tiles are placed as a representation of bringing your boat into uncharted waters. The tile matching mechanic may be the same as Carc, but being able to place it is not guaranteed. It's meant to complement the question mark tiles as a way to simulate the uncertainties of sea exploration. For me, the risks and rewards of exploration are well represented and it provides a distinctly different experience despite the tile laying similarities.

Also, it looks pretty cool as the board fills up.

The whole "discovery of the native tribes" aspect to the game helps to give the game another dimension which once again separates it from the lighter Carcassonne. (Don't get me wrong, I really like Carcassonne. In fact, I'd pick it over Entdecker given if I had to pick only one. I'm just saying that they are fairly different games)

In the first half of the game, we discovered a gigantic island which Bharmer dominated, launching him into the lead. As is often
the case in this type of game, his lead was attacked by the rest of us. His scouts exploring the native tribes were quickly outnumbered, stripping him of the endgame points. I won the game, mostly because my scouts gave me points.

I AM still concerned that those endgame points make the rest of the game unimportant. Otherwise, it's a good game and I'm glad I got it!

Also, with our group the game played in a very reasonable 1.5 hours. That made me happy.

Race for the Galaxy

We finished with another game of Race for the Galaxy. Not much to say except I had a hard time getting things going again. Kozure, on the other hand, seemed to be far more in control. Luch was just learning, but seemed to be doing well. It appeared that Kozure was way ahead, and Bharmer was firmly in second. That's how it ended, too, but I at least managed to come in third by playing a couple of 6 cards just as the game ended. Despite the fact I suck at it, I'm really enjoying this one.

Over the course of the game, it did occur to me that I do still miss some of the interaction of Puerto Rico. While I still feel that Race is much better in this regard than San Juan, I still miss the jockeying for limited real estate on the ships and trading house. Maybe an expansion will feature cards played to the centre of the table which multiple players can play to? I think that would be very interesting.


  1. I'm getting cranky in my gaming veteran-ess. For whatever reason, I decided mentally that I wasn't going to like Entdecker. It actually wasn't as bad as I thought. I was also cranky about my bad luck and bad play.

    I've actually found frequently games lately I'll go in thinking I won't like it but I almost always end up enjoying playing, regardless of the title. I'm not sure why I've developed this antagonistic approach. Maybe it's six months of child care starting to get to me.

    I dunno. Anyhow... Entdecker... uh... nice art. Pretty random, some odd choices, relatively better strategy. I still maintain that it's effectively a re-themed and improved version of Carcassonne, but that's not a bad thing, really.

    Anyhow, I'm going to try to be more open-minded. Life's all about attitude, right?

  2. Hmm. "Nice art" sounds a lot like "she has a great personality". Too bad.

    I wanted to add for posterity that we played a couple of rules quite wrong:

    1) If you pay for several tiles, you get to draw all of them unless you hit a dead end. If a tile you draw doesn't fit, you can discard it and draw the next one. (We played that drawing an unplaceable tile meant your turn was over)

    2) If you draw a tile and can't place it, you can still place a marker (scout, etc) on the last placed tile... unless it's 100% water, of course.

    Both of those rules errors are pretty significant. Certainly it will change the impact of luck on the game. It's kind of too bad, though. I thought the risks worked well with the theme.