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Rules seemed complex at first read, but once you see how they all mesh together, it was actually really easy. Plays really well with 5 players, low amounts of downtime. Replayability through different tribes that are picked, some of which add additional scoring methods.
1/14/18: Very fun area control game, have only played it with 2 players. Can't wait to play this game with 4 player rules/setup 1/31/19: This game has finally gotten to the point where it is considered when we have family game nights. In the rotation of Splendor/Azul/Reef/CSR.
I am completely on board with the derision of the components of the game and map but would add to it the unnecessarily dark box art that would prevent people from playing it given the target audience I would use this game for. Give me a reprint with Smallworld-esque artwork and this would be my Ticket to Ride next step game of choice.
Very simple rummy-style, set-collection, area majority game. Different factions allow you to break or augment the rules. Game plays very quickly, making it a fillery alternative when looking for an area majority game.
I was wowed by low player count playthroughs. The issue is that the deck does not scale with player count. With more players, each player simply gets fewer turns. At high player counts, area control is more important than the set collection. The drafting and set collection looked like the more interesting mechanics. This may be a good game at low player counts, but a miss at higher. I may try this game again with fewer players, but probably not.
Ticket to Ride as an area control game, except that it's not really area control. Yes, you get points for area majorities, but your decisions are so constrained by the cards, it's impossible to position yourself with any strategic purpose like you would in a game like El Grande. The different decks that come into play can change the focus of the game from set collection to board play from game to game depending on the races in play. But for a game that presents itself out as an area control game, it's surprisingly high on the MPS scale. A few races put you in competition (and one allows you to steal other people's bands), but mostly you're just drawing cards and placing them down and picking them up Rummy style. This is bordering on those "there is no there, there" games. But in spite of all this, it's kind of fun to play, the rules are dead simple and the game plays out reasonably quickly. I'd play it periodically.
(10/17) 8. A fantastic game of set collection and area control that plays SO quickly even with high player counts. Only played it once but really eager to get it again, maybe mixing in more of the unique races.