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Subject: An Absurd Review rss

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John Cabral
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Bristol
Rhode Island
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Homesteaders



I have only played the two player variant. I cannot comment on the 3 or 4 player game. I can only assume it plays just as well or better than the 2 player variant.

Homesteaders is a 3-4 player(with a two player variant) auction resource management game.

Brief Overview

Players are settlers who are trying to claim land to build up a town. There are 10 turns in all. There are three stages. Settlement stage(rounds 1-4), town stage(rounds 5-8) and city stage(rounds 9-10). Only certain building can be built during each stage. Each round there is an auction. Auctions are mostly used to auction off the rights to build and sometimes give players other extras. If any players pass they advance on the railroad development track which can give them certain things. The player with the most points at the end of 10 rounds wins.

Two Players? The Box States 3-4 Players!



There is a two player variant made by the designer. The rules are changed just a bit to offer a great two player experience.

The differences

1. Only 2 farm, 2 market and 2 foundry buildings are used in the game. There are only 1 of every other building.

2. Only tiles 1 and 2 are used for auctioning.

3. There is a neutral bid in every auction. This bid starts at 5. When the start player bids on a tile, the other tile gets the neutral bid token. The first round always starts at 5.

Example: If the start player bids 3 on the first tile in auction 1, the neutral bid token goes on 5 for the second tile. The next player may bid over the first tile(which is at 3), over the second tile(which is at 5) or pass.

If one player passes, the neutral bid token goes down one space for the next auction. If both players win an auction, the neutral bid token goes up a space. The neutral bid token never goes above 9.



Another Resource Management Game?

Yup! Another game where players build buildings that give them resources and in turn can get them more buildings and points. The catch is, this game gives a lot of choices in a shorter amount of time. The two player game can be played in about 45 minutes and the choices are spectacular. There are a decent amount of paths to victory in this game. Of course adding an auction adds a bit of conflict in getting what you need. The amount of options and paths is what highlights all the other good things about this game.

What else is there to like?

1 Besides the amount of time it takes to play a game, the amount of options the game gives and the multiple paths to vistory?

2 There's a sort of tech tree that let's players develop. There is a sense of evolving as the game goes on. One building can lead to a certain resource that can lead to another building and so on.

3 There are very few rounds in the game. On top of that there are only so many rounds per stage. This leads to making important decisions and having to stick with them. I think it's great.

4 The game is very tight. Because of the few rounds, many options and paths to victory, the game feels tight.

5 The replayability seems great. I say "seems great" because I have not played the game enough to conclude it will stand the test of many, many plays. I always want to play again to try another path.

6 This game gives me the " I wonder what would happen if I had done that differently" feeling. That's the sign of a good design.

What's not to like?

1 The auctions are not tense when it comes to two players. There are times when a player really wants something, but passing is always an option(a free one at that!) that gives players certain things.

The variant does help with the auction issue.

2 The quality of components is not that great. It will not ruin the game experience at all. It's just "below par" enough to mention.

I actually understand that this is a brand new game with a brand new publisher. This should in no way make or break a decision to purchase this game.

Hmm...

I know lots of people will let the idea of sub-par components get in the way of this game. First off, there will be more printed if this is such an issue. Second, it will have no impact on this game. It is a great game. There is also a GeekList with a list of games that influenced Homesteaders. Please check it out. I feel as though with this being a new designer and publisher I should push this great game!

What to do now...

Play it! thumbsup



All images are from the Homesteaders gallery.
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Ben
United States
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John,

I just wanted to jump in to say that I really enjoy your review style. I think this one might be a little thinner on the description of the game than some of your others (your Reef Encounter review was fantastic!), but I think you've done a good job of capturing the strengths of the game concisely.

I, too, play it primarily two-player, but I've had trouble getting my wife excited by it.

First, component quality is a big selling point for her. It is what it is.

Second, I think the options may be a little too open for her. She and I both are more tactical players who rely on the game mechanics to cabin our decisions and move the game forward. I've made strides on the strategy front in this game, but she hasn't yet.

Third, in a genre dominated by resource management/conversion games, I think Homesteaders doesn't feel special enough to her as a non-gamer (that is, as someone who cares less about the underlying mechanisms and who cares more about the objective she's charged with accomplishing). As she said after the first play: "It's like Le Havre. You need things to get things to build things or buy things, and that's how you win."

Thanks for the reviews. thumbsup
 
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John Cabral
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chally wrote:
John,

I just wanted to jump in to say that I really enjoy your review style. I think this one might be a little thinner on the description of the game than some of your others (your Reef Encounter review was fantastic!), but I think you've done a good job of capturing the strengths of the game concisely.

I, too, play it primarily two-player, but I've had trouble getting my wife excited by it.

First, component quality is a big selling point for her. It is what it is.

Second, I think the options may be a little too open for her. She and I both are more tactical players who rely on the game mechanics to cabin our decisions and move the game forward. I've made strides on the strategy front in this game, but she hasn't yet.

Third, in a genre dominated by resource management/conversion games, I think Homesteaders doesn't feel special enough to her as a non-gamer (that is, as someone who cares less about the underlying mechanisms and who cares more about the objective she's charged with accomplishing). As she said after the first play: "It's like Le Havre. You need things to get things to build things or buy things, and that's how you win."

Thanks for the reviews. thumbsup


Thanks for the kind words. Unfortunately I have not played Le Havre yet. It was on my radar for awhile. The problem was the price(am I going to pay that price not to get it to the table?) and the length of the game. But I really like the way it looks and it seemed like a great game. Then when I came across Homesteaders I was blown away. A quicker version of Le Havre for way less! At least that's the way I looked at it. So it should have that going for it.

As far as my reviews go. There is some absurdity in my reviews. I kind of just write what I feel like writing. I end up missing a lot of the detail for how the game plays but I'm just trying to get across a quick point of view. It's actually a "lazy" review. A couple of sentences and a picture or two in between. Then I follow it up with a bunch of numbered dice explaining the things I like about the game. I find that short, easy to read reviews are what I'm looking for. So why not write them?

Thanks again.
 
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Alex Rockwell
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Thanks Johnny!

absurdjohnny wrote:

1 The auctions are not tense when it comes to two players. There are times when a player really wants something, but passing is always an option(a free one at that!) that gives players certain things.


Yes I agree. Its hard to make 2 player auctions work well in general.

I think the auctions are very tense in 3-4 player, especially because not every player can win an item.
 
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Manuel Pasi
Switzerland
Zürich
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After being a nervous wreck for two weeks.....
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Thanks! Now you just made me want that game even more:(

And there is no way I can get hold of it right now without financial ruin...

Ah yes, great review BTW
 
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John Cabral
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Alexfrog wrote:

Yes I agree. Its hard to make 2 player auctions work well in general.

I think the auctions are very tense in 3-4 player, especially because not every player can win an item.


The two player auction does work though. I usually just play games with my girlfriend and with more plays I'm sure there will be certain auctions we won't want to lose out on, making them more tense. The beauty is, I don't see the auction part as the main mechanic in the game. It's nice that it's there to create some conflict, but the resource management is the best part of the game for me. And by no means does the auction feel like it's thrown in either. It's a great game.
 
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