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Homesteaders

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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As previously mentioned last month, if I have geekgold I pretty much blow it in the geekgold lotteries. Homesteaders is the first game I won from one of these lotteries. I won this game in the summer of 2010. So did we win big with this game or waste geek gold?

Game Overview
In this game players will be building buildings and then using workers on these buildings to collect resources, money, and points. The resources will be used to build more buildings, points are used to win, and money is used for auctions. In this game each turn will follow the same order. First, players will assign their workers to their buildings. Then players will collect their income (resources, money, or points) from their buildings. There are some buildings that give free resources with out the need for a worker. After income is collected, players have to pay their workers. Each worker requires $1.

Next comes the auction. This auction uses what I have often heard called an Amun-Re style auction. In this auction, there are set amount of bids. When a player is outbid, they must immediately resolve their bid and make a new one or pass and bow out. The set bets start out at one at a time, but in this game once the bid reaches $7 it jumps to $9. It jumps higher and maxes out at $21. One player each auction will have to pass because there can only be one winner of each auction and there is one less auction than player. If a player backs out they move up on the "Railroad track" which gives a small bonus. Winning an auction gives the player a right to build a building. The auction tiles specify what kind of buildings can be built (there are commercial, industrial, residential, and special). Once the auctions are over, the winner of auction one builds and so forth. After the building, the round is over and a new round begins.

The game only last 10 rounds. Rounds 1-4 our settlement rounds. During these rounds only settlement buildings can built. Round 5-8 are town rounds, and round 9 and 10 are city rounds. The old buildings are cleared during a transition, so building on turns 4 and 8 are important because it can be the last chance to get certain buildings.

There is a whole market setting that I am not going to get into, and it is possible for players to take debt. Unpaid debt becomes negative points. After round 10 the game is over and whoever has the most points wins. Points can be found printed on buildings, in point tokens, and in bonus points. The most points wins.

The Game We Played
We played a three player game. I usually try to always win auctions, but I bowed out more often than I normally do to try playing a bit differently. This allowed me to build a building that gave me a free iron every turn. My wife stayed in most of the auctions and she found herself struggling with money and building up a big debt. She did build the bank, which canceled one debt a turn. My brother, almost by accident, acquired a lot of workers. Paying his worker drained his money but gave him lots of resources. The big moment in the game was turn 8. This was the last chance to build town buildings, and we all wanted to build that turn. The auctions went out of control, and my wife and I both paid $21 (the max) for the two auctions. I had to take a lot of debt to do this and in building I used up all of my resources. However, I got to build the church. This building is worth 10 points, and it produces two points a turn. My goal was to focus on points until the end of the game and win that way. Since my wife and I were spent on turn eight, my brother had an easy auction in turn nine. He was able to build a building that allowed an additional building. This got him a special building that gave him bonus points for each worker he had. He actually already had another building that did this. Doubling this bonus up with his workers gave him a lot of bonus points. My wife and I were unable to get over the debt we took on turn eight, and that gave my brother an easy win. He won with 43, I finished second with 33 and my wife had 28 points.

Game Overview
My Rating: 4.5 (Like it)
My Thoughts: I tend not to like auctions, but I really, really like the auction system used in this game. I like that this game has resource management, worker placement, and other mechanics that all work well together with a great theme. I have not mined the full depth of this game, but I think there are multiple strategies that can lead to victory.

Her Rating: 4 (Like it)
Her Thoughts: I like that there are multiple ways to win. I like resource management games and I like worker placement, so I like how this game has both.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 8.5
This turned out to be a great game for us to win, as we both like it. This is one of favorite games even though we do not play it all the time. The base (first edition) rules require there to be at least three players, which is why it is a bit of a rarity for us to get to play the game. However, I know there is a two player variant. Once we get through all of our games we will need to come back to Homesteaders and play the two player game.
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