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Thursday, September 15, 2005

My Take on Opaque

Shannon, I'm almost certain the reason that we don't feel we have a good grasp of the bidding strategy is due to inexperience with the game. I mean, it just isn't that complex. I'm sure there are New England fans out there who can quote you letter and verse about how to bid, just as there are experts in other games of skill.

One of the reasons I feel this way is the very similar bidding system in Santiago. I feel the choices there are, if anything, more involved, because of the possibility of becoming the Overseer, as well as considerations about irrigation. I've played that game more often then New England, though, and probably because of that, I usually have a pretty good idea what a "proper" bid is. (BTW, this isn't because of any cost/benefit analysis I do; the uncertainty of how the board will develop, as well as which tiles will come out, make that difficult. It's just based on an intuitive feel of the value of the different tiles.) This is developed to the point that I'll look at what's available and think, "I'd bid $3 here" and, sure enough, the opening player will say, "$3." I just don't see where the issues in New England are any more complex than those in Santiago. I'm certain that with sufficient game time, I could have a grasp of the bidding in NE similar to the one I feel I have in Santiago.

By the way, I feel the same way about Fifth Avenue. I've only played it twice and am no closer to divining a coherent strategy than when I first played. But the game isn't rocket science, it's just a bit non-intuitive. I'm sure that with a few more plays I could have a pretty good idea of what good and bad moves are. Whether I'll have the chance to do that is up to the desires of other players. I think Fifth Avenue has been unfairly maligned, mostly by players who didn't grasp some elementary truths about good play when they initially tried it out. But as a result, it can be pretty hard to get to the table.