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GAMEPLAY Players build up their wee Scottish town by selecting tiles from an ever-changing “tile rondel”. Every time they add anew tile to their village, they can activate the tiles that are adjacent to the tile just placed, which potentially allows them to move Clansmen or promote Clansmen to Chieftains, generate resources, and/or make use of resource-to-VP conversion tiles. Games are played over 3 rounds represented by three stacks of tiles, and at the end of each round a scoring takes place for chieftains plus tams (funny Scottish hats), special location tiles (i.e., castles, lochs, and even an abbey), and sweet, sweet whiskey. THOUGHTS Tiny box, giant game. I am constantly struck by just how many decisions and possibilities are available. Tile selection, tile placement and tableau arrangement, and point generating strategies all conspire to make a deceptively simple game. A dinna ken why this game hasn't had a reprint yet! PROS -Nice artwork. -The market can bedevil you but also allow for strategic flexibility. It’s a simple system that is incredibly smooth. -The “tile rondel” makes for very tough decisions and tense moments. Do you jump ahead to get that really sweet tile? You may have to wait while your opponent collects all the tiles you left behind. Or you could hang back but then watch as your opponent grabs the tile you were hoping to get on a following turn. Agonizing! -The end of round scoring is extremely clever. It’s not a straight up count of VP but, instead, only one player scores off the difference in amounts. -The end of game scoring is equally smart: it makes players think twice about just building up a bloated town as the player with the most tiles loses 3 VP for every tile that he has more than his opponent. -One of the best quick-playing, resource-management games out there! NEUTRAL -Little player interaction beyond blocking. -Variability is slight because the tiles are separated into three stacks. The only variability is the order the tiles for each stack come out, and, if you have a lower player count, the tiles the dummy player removes from the game. -Some of the tile activation rules are a bit hard to grok. CONS -The components are flimsy, cheap, and small. For such a fantastic game, it is a shame the way Alea produced it. -Similarly, I would have liked a score track. I hate sorting through a pile of VP tokens. -While the two player game is really chess-like, it feels like a bigger city strategy always trumps any negative points you might take for having more tiles than your opponents. -This game is crying out for an expansion but I doubt one will ever come.
Two plays in. I think it grabbed me. I now can see more of what I need to do (although I still tied for second, which is also tying for last). A lot of great choices to make, and a variety of paths to take to victory. I enjoyed it a lot more this time! Only one play in. It didn't "grab" me, but I think with more plays and a better understanding of what the different tiles/cards do, the rating will go up.