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Introducing Carson City

Ever since Essen, there's been a lot of buzz about Carson City. Many would regard it as one of the best games from 2009. It was first released in Essen 2009, and has gone on to become one of the more popular worker placement games on the market, not least because of its unique take on the genre as a result of the Western theme. In the game, players find themselves back in the Wild West, where they hire cowboys to develop Carson City by buying parcels of land, constructing buildings, and generating money. It's designer Xavier George's second game (the first being Royal Palace, which I also enjoyed), and it's definitely worth a closer look.

I'm going to deviate from my usual style of review, because there's already a solid pictorial review by Graham Dean that explains all the rules, and I'm still learning the game. Instead, I'm going to specifically review the components of the newest printing of the game, which has just been released. More than one user has asked how this second printing differs from previous versions, and I'll answer all those questions and more. So if you're wondering what the latest printing is like, and how it differs from previous editions of the game, then this review is for you. In the process, I'll also give you an overview of all the components and goodness that you get with the game.





Which English editions of Carson City have been published?

Three different versions of Carson City have now been made available in English:
● Original Master Print Series edition by QWG (Essen 2009)
● First Printing (International Edition) by QWG & Eagle Games (2009)
● Second Printing (English Edition) by Eagle Games (2010)



What are the differences between these editions?

Original Master Print Series edition by QWG (Essen 2009)



This edition was number 5 in QWG's Master Print Series. It was also the very first printing of the game, published by QWG Games, and was manufactured in Germany so that it would be available on time for Essen 2009. If the information I have is correct, less than 500 copies of these were produced (although another 1500 were produced at the same time but with the cowboy artwork on the cover). However the English version of the rules had numerous errors as a result of misleading or unclear translation from the German, and considerable clarification was necessary to play correctly (see for example here and here).

First Printing (International Edition) by QWG & Eagle Games (2009)



The next edition was published by QWG in conjunction with Eagle Games, and was manufactured in China. It's also sometimes referred to as the "International Edition", or the "First Printing". These all had the cowboy artwork on the front cover. The front cover has the QWG logo on the bottom right, as well as logos of distributors like Huch & Friends and Eagle Games. Most of the issues with the English rules of the Master Print Series were corrected and clarified in this edition. However the quality of the components left something to be desired, for example the colours of the meeples and the property tiles didn't quite match, and were inferior to those of the original Master Print edition produced in Germany. The First Printing (International Edition) is the edition that most people have purchased up until now.

Second Printing (English Edition) by Eagle Games (2010)



Eagle Games has now produced this second printing at their preferred factory in China, with improved quality components. The rulebook has undergone a very minor edit, but no significant changes have been made - the important corrections were already implemented in the International edition. The biggest change is the quality of the components. The colour of the components and artwork is slightly more crisp, but most importantly, the colours of the meeples and property tiles are no longer mismatched. In the rest of this review, I will look at the components of this Second Printing. I am in the fortunate position that I can compare the components of both the First Printing and Second Printing, and you are in the fortunate position that you get to see and read the results of this comparison.



SECOND PRINTING COMPONENTS

Game box

The second printing features new artwork that is very similar to the artwork on the original Master Print edition.



The back of the box contains some basic information about the game.



How it compares with the first printing

The boxes are identical in size. I personally prefer the artwork of the second printing - I think it looks more classy. But this is just a matter of taste and of course it doesn't change what's inside the box!



Note, not all copies of the second printing have the new artwork. The publisher has informed me that the second printing is available in Europe as an International edition with the old cowboy artwork, and multi-lingual components.

Component list

This game comes with a large amount of components, so you'll be punching them out for quite a while! A complete inventory of the components results in the following list:
● 1 game board
● 30 building tiles
● 20 house tiles
● 9 mountain tiles
● 60 property tiles
● 25 roads
● 7 personality cards
● 51 cowboys
● 10 player markers
● 78 money tokens
● 30 duel tiles
● 25 revolver tiles
● 1 special "3 guns" tile
● 1 round counter
● 2 dice
● 1 rulebook

Wow, that's a lot of stuff! And it's nice looking too! The one thing lacking in both printings is a decent component tray.



Fortunately both editions include a generous supply of ziplock bags. Given the amount of meeples, tiles, money tokens, and other items that are part of the game, a slick component tray would have been the icing on the cake. But for now, we'll have to settle for ziplock bags!

Rule book

The rule book consists of eight pages, and has fairly small print, but is accompanied with lots of illustrations, and is well organized with clear headings.



How it compares with the first printing

The first notable change is that the second printing has an English only rulebook, while the first printing was in four languages:



The text of the rules has been modified in several places, but in most instances the changes are relatively minor, such as the small additions seen here:



The bulk of the clarifications necessary to the English rules were already present in the first printing. Even so, the rules aren't perfect, and there are still some places where there's some ambiguity. The Dutch translation, for example, has several notes that clarify things, but these additional notes aren't always in the English. Overall the rules are solid, however, and any remaining ambiguities are no reason to avoid buying the game, and you'll usually find any further answers that you need in the BGG forums.

Note: I have the English version of the second printing, but I have been reliably informed by the publisher that half of the print-run with the new components was published as an International edition (with the multi-lingual rules) with the cowboy artwork on the front cover. This means that an International edition of the second printing is also available, I suspect only in Europe.

Game Board

The game board represents the territory of the future town of Carson City, divided into 64 parcels.



One of the most important part of the board is the section depicting the different actions in the game.



The reverse side of the board features a river, which you can use for playing the "Carson River" variant described at the end of the rulebook.



How it compares with the first printing

The first printing has a more obvious linen finish, but both boards are good quality. Careful comparison reveals that the colours and artwork on the board of the second printing is slightly more vibrant, clear and crisp - at least, the revolver pictured below on this second printing board was more distinct than the one on the first printing board that I compared it with. The differences here are not significant however.



Personality Tiles

The seven Personality Tiles are one of the main mechanisms of Carson City, because they determine the turn order and give special functions.



Notice the yellow borders - the other side of the Personality Tiles are red bordered, and give an alternative way to play.



Here's a close-up look at the Banker and the Grocer.



How it compares with the first printing

The thickness and quality of the card stock is essentially the same, and it's good quality. There are two slight differences from the first printing however, but you'll only notice them if you look very closely.

1. The colours of the second printing are more vibrant. See for example the Chinese Worker personality, comparing the first printing (left) with the second printing (right):



2. The texture on the second printing has a slightly rougher finish.



These changes are true of all the building tiles that follow in this review, as well as the money and revolver tiles. All have a slightly rougher finish, but slightly crisper and brighter colours.

Building Tiles

The artwork of these is unchanged, but the quality difference is the one noted already above for the Personality Tiles. I won’t explain what all the buildings do, but I’ll give you a quick run-down on what they look like:

6 Ranches



6 Mines



4 Drugstores



4 Banks



3 Saloons



3 Hotels



2 Churches



2 Prisons



Other Tiles

9 Mountain tiles

The mountain tiles are placed randomly on the board at the start of the game.



20 House tiles



Property Tiles

There are 60 Property tiles in five different colours, corresponding to the different players.



Each colour has 12 Property tiles.



How it compares with the first printing

The Property tiles of the first printing are on considerably thinner card-stock, and bend easily. The Property tiles of the second printing are thicker and more sturdy, and also have a rougher finish. There's no real noticeable difference in the colours between the printings.

Roads

There's 25 black roads, made out of wood.



How it compares with the first printing

No change.

Player Markers

There are two wooden markers in each colour, that are used on the turn order track and for scoring victory points.



Cowboy Meeples

This is the best part - cowboy meeples! There are five different colours, as well as a white cowboy representing the sheriff, and will be used by players to select actions.



There's ten of each cowboy:



How it compares with the first printing

The cowboy meeples is where you'll notice one of the more significant differences between the first and second printings.
1. The second printing has a rougher cut than the first printing. If you look closely at the green cowboys above, you'll notice a fairly rough look to the cut of the wood. It actually looks worse on camera than it does in real life, because it's magnified. But the first printing meeples have a much cleaner and neater cut, with a smoother finish.
2. The second printing corrects the colour mismatch of the first printing. The colours of the cowboys from the first printing did not match the colours of the property tiles from the first edition. Compare the colours of the cowboy meeples with the property tiles as seen here (1st printing on the left, 2nd printing on the right):



The colour differences between the printings are quite apparent:



The colour matching is a bigger issue than the cut of the wood, and I'm pleased to see that this has been fixed. In my opinion, the purple, brown, and orange (nearly red) of the first printing were also too close in colour, and could even get confused. The second printing makes these a more distinct blue, brown, and orange.



With the property tiles, so you can see the colour matching clearly. The second printing cowboys are on the right, and the colours of these match the property tiles perfectly:



While the first printing did have a cleaner cut, the meeples of the first printing also had another issue - is it mold, or is it just missing paint? You decide:



Overall, the second printing cowboys are an improvement. One final comparison picture:



Guns

What’s a Wild West themed game without conflict, and what are cowboys without guns?

25 Revolver tiles

The Revolver tiles are the main guns players will use.



Special "3 guns" tile



30 Duel tiles

These are only used in the Might is Right variant, which replaces dice with duel tiles, in order to have less randomly determined duels.



Each player starts the game with six duel tiles - these are numbered between 0 and 5 on the reverse side.



When performing duels with this variant, you play a duel tile and add its value to your fire power, instead of rolling dice.

How it compares with the first printing

As mentioned already, these tiles as well as the money ones pictured below, have slightly crisper colours, and a rougher finish.

Money

Money comes in four denominations, $20, $10, $5, and $1, and is made of the same thick card stock as all the other tiles.



There's a lot of money altogether, distributed as follows: 6 x $20, 22 x $10, 20 x $5, 30 x $1.



Round Counter

The Round Counter starts the game on the start position of the board, and is moved one square forward (left) at the end of each round.



Bag

The game also comes with a drawstring cloth bag.



How it compares with the first printing

Both bags are of decent quality, but the bag from the second printing is made of slightly thicker material, and has a more well constructed opening, with a drawstring on both sides.

Dice

There's two big chunky dice, made out of what appears to be a synthetic plastic.



So they're like regular dice, you think? Think again! They're super-sized! Here's how they compare with regular sized dice:



How it compares with the first printing

The dice are much larger than the ones that came with the first printing, which were just regular size dice.



Whether or not this is an improvement is going to be a matter of personal preference. I personally find larger dice more unwieldy, and there's always a concern that they won't be rolled properly, or that they'll take out a bunch of cowboys in a landslide fashion if they become wayward. But maybe tough cowboys need bigger dice.

Reference Cards

There are two player aids, which summarize the basic flow of the game.



These are double sided, and the other side covers the building tiles.



How it compares with the first printing

The player aids are virtually the only language dependent game components. Being an international edition, the first printing had two player aids in each of the four languages, including Dutch, French, and German.



In the second printing you only get two player aids (Edit: the multi-lingual version of the second printing available in Europe does have the extra player aids), but they are of thicker quality, whereas the quality of the first printing player aids is similar to the thinner card stock of the property tiles in the first printing.

CONCLUSIONS

Summary of differences between the first and second printing

● English language only instead of English, Dutch, French, and German (applies to rulebook and player aids of the American version only, the European version of the second printing is still multilingual).
● Minor edits and revisions to the rulebook
● Inferior wood cut on cowboy meeples
● Corrected colour mismatch between meeples and property tiles, and more distinct player colours
● Minor improvement on printing quality of some tiles (slightly more sturdy card stock, and crisper colours)
● Larger dice

Overall, the second printing is a slight improvement over the first printing. There were a few complaints about the components of the first printing, but I think that these won't be an issue with the better quality of the second printing. Is it worth buying the second printing if you have the first printing? Absolutely not, unless you're excessively OCD and the colours of the first printing are driving you stir crazy. If you own the original Master Print version of the game, you'll probably want to get yourself a better copy of the rules that includes the clarifications absent from that edition. For most people, the first printing will serve just fine, but the improved components of the second printing will be welcome news to people buying the game for the first time. The only downside is that it no longer includes Dutch, French, or German player aids or rules (edit: doesn't apply to the International edition of this printing available in Europe), but for English speaking folks, that won't be an issue.

Recommendation

Don't have Carson City yet? Get the new second printing. You'll get the latest version of the rules, a slight upgrade in component quality, and be spared of the colour mismatching issue that plagued users of the first printing. Carson City comes with a large amount of quality components, and is regarded as an excellent game to boot - you can't lose!



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
mb The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596

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Mark Gerrits
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Looks like the sheriff put on some weight!
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Jeff Mitchell
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Excellent review!
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Kevin Garnica
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I've always wondered - are the character cards made of cardboard, a la Puerto Rico, or are they like playing cards?
 
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Kevin Taylor
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Thank you for your beautiful review/comparison.

It's certainly opened my eyes to the game and more than likely my wallet in the future!!
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Graham Dean
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pacman88k wrote:
I've always wondered - are the character cards made of cardboard, a la Puerto Rico, or are they like playing cards?

I got a name check in an EndersReview! Very chuffed about that.

The character cards are made of exceptionally thick cardboard - definitely not playing cards. They're closer in feel to the tiles.
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Kenneth Chan
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Almost picked up the 1st edition a few weeks ago, and glad i waited! Placed an order yesterday for the 2nd ed. and it will be here tomorrow just in time for the weekend
 
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Brian Forsythe
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Thanks for the component review and the heads up. I was wondering about the differences.

If the cowbeeples are a little rough around the edges, a light sanding might make them smoother as well as looking thematic.
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Patrick Calahan
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thanks very much for doing this.
 
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Graham Dean
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Quick question: Is the Indian included in this new edition?
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Fred CS
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Hi Graham,

No the Indian is not included in the second printing.

Keith
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Doug Adams
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Uncle G wrote:
Quick question: Is the Indian included in this new edition?

I suspect not ... there were only 7 personality cards listed above in the components section. I just whipped up (edit) constructed one over lunch.
 
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Peter Marchlewitz
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Well done!! I have had this game on my radar for a couple of months. Glad I held out for the 2nd printing!
 
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Tim Fiscus
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I have the first printing, Master Print Edition (QWG, purchased at Essen 2009), and it is truly a beautiful game.

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Andre Lucato
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I love these eye candy reviews. The game art looks absolutely beautiful indeed!
 
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Ender Wiggins
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I was recently informed by the publisher that the components of the Second Printing will also be available (in Europe only, and scheduled to arrive next week) in a multilingual International edition that's identical to the English only edition, but with the old cowboy artwork on the cover. I have edited my review above to reflect this.

This means that there are in fact three separate printings that feature the cowboy artwork on the cover:
● Original printing in Germany (International edition). This was concurrent with the limited edition featuring the Master Print Series artwork on the cover.
● First printing in China (International edition)
● Second printing in China with improved components (International edition). This is concurrent with the English only edition featuring the new artwork on the cover.

Since they all feature the cowboy artwork on the cover, perhaps Arno Quispel of QWG Games will clarify how you can tell the difference between these three different printings from the box. The Master Print Series edition and English only edition of the Second Printing on the other hand are all easily distinguishable by the cover artwork.

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Morgan Dontanville
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My original has purple meeples and blue property tiles.

Last night I played the new Eagle version where the meeples were purple and the tiles were purple.
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Fredericus Rex
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I´ve got my copy at Essen with the limited Cover, and the coponents were all of very good quality...exept one! "Flat Hat Joe"!

A little but funny misproduction^^


By the way...I was the lucky bastard who got the last non reserved copy of the limited edition
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Adam
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sisteray wrote:
My original has purple meeples and blue property tiles.

Last night I played the new Eagle version where the meeples were purple and the tiles were purple.


I also just bought the Eagle version, and received purple tiles and meeples.

If anyone has the Eagle version with the matching blue tiles and meeples, I would be interested in trading!
 
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Mark G.
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Gosh, I used to like my first printing!

I actually like the purple cowboys, but I usually play with purple when it's available.

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Nic Chilton
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MidLifeDelta wrote:
Gosh, I used to like my first printing!

I actually like the purple cowboys, but I usually play with purple when it's available.

I read about the mismatch and TBH hadn't been a problem. The 5 player colours are different enough so not to be mixed up.
 
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Bob Thayne
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Carson City » Forums » Reviews
Re: So you are wondering about the 2nd printing components of one of 2009's best games: A Pictorial Overview
Wow, impressive review! Now I can go shopping!
 
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boardgamemuse
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Absolutely outstanding post!
I plan to add the 2nd edition to my game arsenal ASAP.


Thumbs up and Peace. thumbsup
 
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Adrian Sperling
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pratchettfan777 wrote:
Absolutely outstanding post!
I plan to add the 2nd edition to my game arsenal ASAP.


Thumbs up and Peace. thumbsup


My sentiments exactly - this review was a large factor in my recent purchase of Carson City (2nd edition).
 
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Jeffrey L.
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I've been wondering which version to order, thanks for clarifying everything. Great review, thanks!
 
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