A majority of the original reviews were submitted by Charles Bahl and Robert Waters...Thanks!!!
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Game: Kontor (Goldsieber Spiele)
Submitted By: Charles Bahl
Date: 5/10/2003 2:04:00 AM
?Kontor? by Michael Schacht appeared in 1999 under the Goldsieber label. Although it was picked by Games magazine to be in its ?Games 100?, it initially garnered rather dismal reviews. Since then, however, it seems to have gained in popularity among a small, but growing base of loyal fans. In my opinion it is one of the best tile-laying games around, especially for two. I personally think it is a better game than ?Carcassonne?, the current popular favorite for tile games, if for no other reason than ?Kontor? is intrinsically more balanced and the luck of the draw has been cleverly neutralized to a large extent. It may not have as much thematic charm as ?Carcassonne? and its spawns, but it is a deeper, and, I believe, ultimately more satisfying game in the long run. ?Kontor? is essentially a two-player game (although four-player team rules are also provided) and it is usually a pretty intense brain burn for 30 to 60 minutes.
There are two type of cards in ?Kontor??water and docks. Players attempt to create areas of dock cards that are completely surrounded by water cards. Dock cards typically contain warehouses, and the player who holds a warehouse majority in a dock area scores one point for it at the end of the game. Each card in the game is numbered and on any given turn the player who plays the highest numbered card goes first. Some cards permit the moving of the harbor ship which can force an opponent to remove a key dock card. Other cards force an opponent to pay taxes. Failure to pay causes the offender to lose a turn, often a devastating blow. (By the way, each player has his own deck of dock cards which is essentially a duplicate of his opponent?s. This helps keep the game fairly even and minimizes the luck of the draw. In addition the cards themselves are balanced. High numbered cards, although allowing you to play first, are usually weaker in warehouse placement.) ?Kontor? develops as a delicate balancing act, trying to weigh the above factors while considering some fairly complex positional strategies as well. You can try to compete head-to-head in an area, ignore opponent?s areas and concentrate on your own, deplete his coins through taxation, or hack away at his areas buy using the ship. One particular devious ploy is to wrest control of an opponent?s area by annexing it to your own. All this makes for the application of some fairly deep tactical ploys. And that?s one of the things I like most about ?Kontor??it definitely rewards good play.