First off you gotta like a game where before you even open the box you can have a debate about the game start up! “How do you pronounce that?” There’s several options:
Fir** Ee’s. Which is my preferred pronunciation and being as I usually play with my copy of the game the “Official” pronunciation when I’m playing.
** Why’s. Like you are saying the name of the letter in multiples. Then again this just make is sound like you live in a trailer park, drink beer for breakfast, live through the week to watch NASCAR have a truck up on cinder blocks in the yard and like both types of music. Country and Western.
** Iss. Sounds like Hiss or Kiss. No witty retort here on this but it’s still just wrong.
So now we have how that out of the way let’s move to the game itself. I first discovered this type of game in Aladdin’s Dragons and I loved that game quite a bit. The basic mechanic is picked up in Ys but some things are just handled better in Ys than they were in Aladdin’s.
What exactly am I talking about here? Boil it down it’s bidding. I like bidding games and this is a neat combination of open and blind bidding all in one package. The thing is, it’s bidding on so many things all at once while other players want the same things. On a very glossing view of it all consider that there are a total of 24 places on the board to bid for and you get to place a total of 8 bids each round. Not to mention that of 12 of them the three city sections will then have 3 sections in each of the 4 neighborhoods combine for an overall bid as well. WOW! Now that’s some keen thinking there.
Next throw in the “optional” (as the rules call it but I teach it as a firm part of the game) King’s Favor element and now you have to trade out one of your bidding brokers for a simple “2” value for the shot at some end game points.
Anyone who knows me knows that I enjoy action cards. I talk about them a lot and have even developed an action card deck for Crokinole. Despite my constant talk of action cards I do like them to be balanced. I have deck that overpowers a game but I don’t like a deck that doesn’t shake the game up a bit was added to give the game more perceived value by adding another component to the game. While I’m at it I’ll say that I loath a deck that was added to the game to “Fix” problems found in play testing and I’ve seen on several occasions that the action card deck is used for this. However the cards in Ys fit the bill (for me) to an exacting precision of enjoyment. There are very few cards in this deck to begin with and give that round 4 cards are all “white gems” you only have 12 cards ever to be possibly played! I’ve found a reason to use every card at least once in a positive manner. Some are very situational and well those just get passed over if the situation doesn’t arise but others become favorites of different players and are fought over with zeal. This is an excellent deck of action cards.
Hidden resources (gems) makes for a fun little twist on the game as you can never really be sure who is winning the game. Those end game points add up BIG TIME and if you come in 1st or 2nd in a couple of gems makes a huge difference. Sure you do see every gem every player takes and if you have a perfect memory can figure it all out but for the rest of us who consider ourselves normal humans we can’t keep track of that crap and find a thrill in waiting to see who has what for gems.
So I like Ys basically for all it’s mechanics put together. It’s a great game from start to finish and once everyone knows how to play the game it flows quickly and smoothly. If you haven’t played it yet check it out.