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The year is 1921. What a great time to get into business.
Gozer Games is stepping up their product line with their most ambitious release “Titans of Industry,” a rich worker placement/resource management Euro-style game.
I was lucky enough to get a chance to preview this game just ahead of it’s Kickstarter campaign. Now you get to hear my opinion before you invest in this business proposal.
The short answer is that you should invest. While familiar on many levels, Titans of Industry groups things together in a way that feels fresh and interesting.
At it’s heart, Titans of Industry is a worker placement game. Upon reading the rules I immediately drew comparison to Agricola. After playing it, I still think that’s a fair comparison. The board (and buildings) create the spaces for the workers to do their stuff.
Spaces can provide goods, money, Corporate Strategy cards (that provide you goals to work towards improving your score,) extra workers, and other bonuses and special abilities. There are a limited number of spaces for each benefit, so you have to play and counter-play to get what you want and to keep your opponent from getting what they want. So, it has the passive interaction that I adore.
Another option (perhaps the main option) is buildings. Each player will build and eventually upgrade buildings. There are two types of buildings and they have different, but complimentary abilities.
Factories provide goods. When you place a worker in a Factory you will get the goods that factory produces. The trick with factories is that only one person can use a Factory each round. Did I mention that although each player may have Factories, you can put your workers on any Factory? Yes, that’s right. Sneak right in and use that Factory your opponent has positioned to do themselves the most good. They do get a benefit and score victory points, but the points they’ll score could be peanuts to what you have planned!
The second building type is Businesses. They work in a very similar fashion except instead of giving you goods, they allow you to sell the goods you have for victory points or money. Multiple workers can be in a business at the same time because you can only sell one set of goods per worker you have there. This is unique and an important aspect to keeping control of what could be runaway situations. It makes the limited number of workers you have very apparent and forces careful planning.
The way the buildings worked is one of my favorite aspects of the game. It’s also something I don’t think I really figured out until too late. Since multiple workers can be on a Business, it’s really a good idea to see what’s out there and maybe not spend the money on a Business when it’s time to buy buildings. Factories, on the other hand are harder to come by during the placement phase, so you may want to invest in them…but try to get ones for goods that aren’t being produced that much.
Why? Well, every time someone else puts a worker in your Factory you will gain victory points. When you put a worker in your Factory, you don’t. You want to other people to use your buildings so you can score points. On the other hand, you may want to use your own business to do your own thing and not give points away. That’s up to you. There are several ways to go and each adds an interesting layer to the game play.
Speaking of layers, buildings can layer up. You can add levels to your buildings, improving them and changing what is produced or sold there. Buildings can grow up to three levels.
Another thing you can do to your buildings is increase their output (goods or sales) through Research and Development chits, which place on the buildings. They give you an extra good on Factories or an extra dollar or victory point on Businesses. They also increase your take if someone else use that building.
I haven’t told you how you get the buildings. At the beginning of each round, a number of each building equal to the number of players is revealed. In turn order players will decide to buy and build the buildings they want or pass. This feels like bidding, but it’s not. It’s a straight buy and your choice is determined by what is available combined with your place in the turn order. The first player will get to choose from all the available Buildings, each subsequent player has no such guarantee.
Each building comes with an upkeep cost (even if that cost is zero,) which must be paid after rounds 3,5, and 7. The game only lasts 7 rounds, so it has a finite end (another concept I love.) Keep sight of your stockpiles, bank account and your Corporate Strategy cards to ensure that you have earned all that you can by the end of the game.
Let’s talk a little about Corporate Strategy cards. These are really important when it comes to the end of the game. These cards give you bonuses for different achievements and activities you will make throughout the game. Let’s say your Corporate Strategy is to have buildings with Tar. At the end of the for each building you have with have Tar as a production good or a sale good will net you 3 more bonus points. You’re going to want to invest in Tar buildings. Diversifying is very good, you’ll need to score points along the way, but if you can end up with a bunch of buildings with Tar at the end of the game, you’ll be in better shape. The Corporate Strategy cards give you something to work towards so you’re not completely aimless (and not all going for the same thing.) They provide balance and variety.
Variety is the spice of life and Titans of Industry is different. You’ve heard me talk about it being like Agricola, but this game is very different from that. For one, it’s a lot less stressful! One other player made some comparison’s to Steam (which is a group favorite,) and another mentioned seeing aspects of Puerto Rico. I suppose the truth is that can be said of many great Euro games. The trick isn’t that every concept is brand new, but the way it all works together is where the game is new. Titans of Industry provided many interesting choices and a very welcome level of interaction.
I really liked the flow of the game, and I see how as we get to know the game better it will speed up. I’m looking forward to that. Our first game hit at around 2 hours, but there were a lot of factors. I think 60-75 minutes will be standard, though I can see a world where it’s even shorter than that without sacrificing any of the depth or mechanics.
My group is already looking forward to playing it again. Your group should be looking forward to playing it. Give Titans of Industry a chance to build some factories in your game collection. You won’t regret it.
Titans of Industry was designed by Brian Lewis and is set to be published by Gozer Games. Titans of Industry will be on Kickstarter at any moment! In the meantime, head over to their BGG Page to Like and Thumb this game!
For more reviews, insights and session reports visit Cartrunk.net
what, if anything, gives it a "1921" feel?
It's got a really nice Art Deco style to it all.
The concept in the game of good production/sale and building construction is meant to be reminiscent of the surge in production of goods and services in the roaring twenties!