Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Industrial Waste

[Also posted this to spielfrieks]

After reading several reviews and comments heavily
mixed between the positive and negative, I decided to
take the plunge and pick it up.

I played two games, both with 4 players. I didn't time
but I belive both came in under the 60 minutes claimed
the first
play may have been under 45 minutes. I'll skip the
description and instead refer you to
Akke's description

Overall, my opinion is very positive. I'd give it an A-
the letter
grade scale. With one exception, all the other players
total of 5
others, over two games) also had favorable opinions.

In the first game, my impressions were positive, as
were Mike and
David's. Jake didn't like it as much. While sharing
many aspects
with other German games, it has a substantially
different feel than
many. For one, as has been pointed out in reviews
before, it is
somewhat lighter on the interaction between
players. Jake's main
complaint was there was a lack of "tension" in the
game, which I'm
somewhat inclined to agree with but I don't think is
inherently a bad

The second game, played with Mike, Ronald and Brandon,
I enjoyed even
more, and all playing enjoyed it. This game went
somewhat longer and
we had more opportunity to try out various things, and
I think the
card distribution was "more interesting".

After thinking about the game a little, I realized it
has one very
unusual attribute: few tactics, but heavy
strategy. Most of these
games of ours are fairly tactics heavy or are a more
even mix of
strategy and tactics. While this game has some tactics,
it has
substantially more (and perhaps more obvious) strategic
choices than
many games.

Of the tactics there are, many of them are obvious
tactical decisions,
but not all of them. The more obvious tactics: what
sequence the
cards are played in, the resource auction bidding, and
timing of the
accidents. However, there are some other more subtle
available. Selection of the cardsets wasn't used
tactically at all in
our games, but I suspect it could. That is, everyone
tended to pick
the card set best for themselves rather than
considering how they
might make someone else's life difficult. Another
interesting tactic
would be to save some money by firing employees and
then promptly
rehiring them after payroll is due. To me, the most
aspect of the game tactically is the endgame
timing. Here's where
card selection, holding cards over and whatnot can
dramatically effect
when the game ends and therefore who's plans are
interrupted, who's
are finished, and who has a big pile of garbage left
over. There are
other interesting tactics as well, such as flooding the
market with
raw materials to get it cheaper one's self. Inventory
management also
appears to be quite important, especially in
conjunction with the
endgame timing.
As for the strategy, this is where the game really shines. Not only
does a player have a lot of choices in terms of how
they run their
company, they all have substantial impacts on the
gameplay. In both
of my playes, I tried a strategy of reducing resource
requirements to
avoid having to purchase much in the way of raw
materials. This meant
my waste production was too high and I spent too much
time managing
waste and not enough time producing goods. I ended the
game with a
substantial resource overstock and my waste situation
still not under
control. In the second game, I used a similar strategy,
but with more
early growth, and some waste reduction before launching
into full
blown production mode. I controlled enough of the
growth cards that I
could decide the end game, and managed to complete two
orders at size
20 in the final round. Other players effectively used
strategies and uniform technological improvement. I'm
eager to see
how much the strategies vary and how much successfull
strategies are
dictated by the available cards.

Because of this heavy strategic focus, there is less
"tension" which
is usually generated by balanced tactical situations,
but the waste
management aspect introduces a level of tension that
doesn't make this
feel too relaxed. Overall, I'm very pleased with it,
and recommend it
to anyone who understands that they aren't getting a
tactical game.

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