Letters from Sag -- Aquädukt at the May Getaway

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Aquädukt board game

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There Will Be Games

May Getaway days don’t exactly leap out of the gate at 6am.  Part of our play space is one of the bedrooms this year (we’re rarely in the same house more than once or twice and this is a new venue this year), so more than a few players are up past midnight.  I turned off the light around 1am and was back in the gaming room with my packet of Pop-Tarts by 8.  The early people often kick off the day with lighter fare and this morning was no exception.  Aquädukt is a game from the time of dirt-cheap Euros, when small publishers created games before they sold them (how quaint!) and often put them on cheap stock for the first printing to see if they would catch fire.  My copy of Aquädukt cost me $1.99, plus shipping years back, and included the cheesiest d20 I’ve ever seen.  Given my Dungeons and Dragons pedigree (30 years at the time I purchased this), that’s saying something.  I played it a bit then gave the copy to a friend. He put it in his church’s collection and another buddy pulled it from there to bring to this event.  The good news is that someone between here and there replaced the d20 in it with a respectable one. One that might even return somewhat fair results.  There was only one way to find out, so we cracked it open.

Aquädukt is a tile-laying game where the tiles need to be reinforced with sticks placed between them.  That’s the mathematical description.  The thematic description is people opening farms in an arid landscape, supported by wells and canals that feed them water.  There are 20 regions on the map (hence the d20) and you need to roll the die to figure out where you’re allowed to place.

Fundamentally a game about resource management, tiles and sticks, Aquädukt has a solid dose of luck intermingled with tactical placement.  I like that kind of play.  Frankly, I got my money’s worth, such as it is, and have no complaints about the quality of the play.  Had a thousand games not followed the same path, Aquädukt would be remarkable, but it’s essentially in the center of the Euro scene: a good play that has plenty of alternatives to consider.

I won, so naturally I considered it the greatest game ever printed for about 90 seconds.  But after that, I again realized, 10-12 years after purchasing it, that this is a Euro-style game, well-suited for families with kids even as young as five.  With plenty of opportunities for coaching, Aquädukt is accessible for youth and provides an opportunity for parents to teach, to coach and, with that in the mix, permit all at the table to compete on an even footing, regardless of age.  (I’ll note that the game won a couple of awards in 2006 for just this sort of situation, so it appears my opinion has good company).

Aquädukt has been out of print for years, but is available in the aftermarket for $10-$20 in new or very good condition.  (Amazon has it for $98.)  The components can be fashioned from household items like buttons and matchsticks, so if you’re particularly adventurous you can make it an art project as well as a game, giving your kids a chance to succeed at a right-sized project, then a chance to succeed by beating you to the best water resources in their first game.

There Will Be Games Aquädukt board game
Aquädukt board game
John "Sagrilarus" Edwards (He/Him)
Associate Writer

John aka Sagrilarus is an old boardgame player. He has no qualifications to write on the subject, and will issue a stern denial of his articles' contents on short notice if pressed.

Articles by Sagrilarus

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ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #297955 03 Jun 2019 10:04
I have a vague memory of Aquädukt being popular, but have never played it myself. You description reminds me why I never did.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #297960 03 Jun 2019 12:46
That guy on the box cover is pointing at the prince that you must please.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #297962 03 Jun 2019 14:01
Credit where credit is due, this is designed to be a light euro. Teach it in a couple of minutes, play in 30. This would be a great game to leave in your AirBnB because it's so accessible. It's on the line of Carcassonne without the expansions, which frankly turn Carcassonne into a bit of a Frankenstein's monster.

This is a good game to play with the kids. They can teach it themselves after one play.
dysjunct's Avatar
dysjunct replied the topic: #297995 04 Jun 2019 17:34
I got this from Tanga and it sure is a Tanga game. I can see the comparison to Carcassonne -- light introductory family Euro -- but if I'm going to leave a game in my AirBnB, I'll just leave Carcassonne. Looks better on the table and has more cultural import then yet-another-okay-game.
san il defanso's Avatar
san il defanso replied the topic: #297996 04 Jun 2019 20:50
Now that I have young kids I find myself enamored by games like this. Whereas I would have been dismissive 10 years ago. While these kinds of games aren't an endangered species or anything, they definitely don't set the pace in the hobby anymore.

I don't THINK I've ever played this, but with mid-2000s German games they tend to run together, so who knows?

Also, dysjunct, I like your characterization of this as a true Tanga game. Those of us active in the hobby 10-15 years ago know exactly what kind of game that is.
Anjou Valentine's Avatar
Anjou Valentine replied the topic: #298020 06 Jun 2019 05:58
I guess I'm completely out of the loop, but when did AirBnB become a part of the boardgame conversation?

"Here's a game I would let total strangers play alone in my house. Not really for me, though."
RobertB's Avatar
RobertB replied the topic: #298026 06 Jun 2019 08:08

Anjou Valentine wrote: I guess I'm completely out of the loop, but when did AirBnB become a part of the boardgame conversation?

"Here's a game I would let total strangers play alone in my house. Not really for me, though."

At the last vacation house my wife and I rented, I saw:

- Monopoly
- A 30-year-old copy of Trivial Pursuit
- One of those $5 chess/checkers/backgammon sets
- A deck of cards
- A cribbage board
- 2 jigsaw puzzles

And I thought, "Man, they need some different games." I bet Sag saw the same thing I did.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #298028 06 Jun 2019 08:24
My experience with AirBnB is at the Delaware and Maryland shores -- houses that are exclusively rented as a moneymaker. These aren't people renting out their own house.

So yeah, you won't see anything too valuable in them and the game collection (which is almost invariably there and looks like what Robert mentioned above) needs to cater to someone with kids who has to cover a rainy day. Simple, straightforward games that can play in under an hour.