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Game: Muscat (Sternspieler)
Submitted By: Charles Bahl
Date: 6/15/2003 3:12:00 AM
I feel about ?Muscat? as I feel about ?Elfenroads.? Both are great designs, but neither are much fun. Both have a certain puzzle-like quality that just does not appeal to me. That being said, ?Muscat? certainly has a significant tactical and strategic depth that, I think, could be very rewarding to the person who has the patience and ability to delve it.
I suppose ?Muscat? is a race game, but it is also a positional one. You advance your pieces by levels up the board, sometimes taking your opponents along with you. Or your pieces can be ?set back? into a sort of no-man?s-land where their powers are actually enhanced. The game ends when enough pieces reach the top level. The further a piece is advanced by game?s end the more it scores. Pieces in ?no-man?s-land? score negatively.
Pieces in ?Muscat? interact in complex ways, creating a sort of chain reaction that is very difficult to analyze. If you are the kind of person that is good at analyzing complex Chess positions, you will probably also do well with this game. Unfortunately, I am not that kind of person, so ?Muscat? leaves me a little cold, but with a burned brain as well.
Rio Grande has recently released a variant of ?Muscat? under the title ?Message to the Czar.? This game is significantly reduced in complexity and has a larger luck component, so it probably has at least the potential of appealing to a broader audience. I, however, don?t find it any more fun than ?Muscat? and certainly it is not as rich of a game. In conclusion, with some reluctance, I can give both games only average scores. Muscat: 6/10. Message to the Czar 5/10. As noted above, however, for the right sort of gamer these ratings, I?m sure, would be much higher.