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Carson City is likely my favorite game ever. I am a huge fan of worker placement games, the western theme, and there is just enough player interaction. For my taste, Carson City is one of the greatest games every created. I don't normally play games 100 times and I don't study strategy. Instead, I play it a few times, enjoy it, and go with the flow.
Carson City has quite a few different ways to win. If you stick with one strategy, it is likely someone will counter act what you are doing and you will lose. Your strategy may change depending on what other actions people are choosing. Or do you duel them for the spot at the risk of wasting an action? Risky move.
Carson City has fantastic components and a smooth game play. I wouldn't call it a gateway game, but I have played it with new players and with a turn or two they were able to pick it up. I've yet to have a bad experience with this game. It is possible to come back and beat someone with a big lead.
What separates Carson City from a lot of games is the duel mechanic. The fact that you can fight someone for a spot opens up a big decision and how much you are willing to risk for that position. You can also fight over the income of buildings that others already own. Honestly, most things can be fought over in a duel.
You have a worker placement side of the game, but also an area control where you get VP for owning spots on the board at the end of the game. You need to generate income to purchase other buildings. So spend a little to get a little. Or a lot.
The theme is very strong in this game. The game is dripping with theme. If you want to do something, do it. Or start a gun fight to do it. Choice is yours.
Everything in this box is dripping with theme. The board is double sided and super thick. The art and color scheme was selected to showcase the theme. My copy has the small dice; I wish I had those big wooden dice in the other version. There are a lot of chits in the game, but they are all thick and the art work is fantastic.
My only big complaint is the blue player has purple squares that do not match. Not sure if this is just my version or all versions. The meeples are shaped like cowboys which is very cute.
The rule book is really good. I had zero issues playing the game. While not a gateway game, if you have played other worker placement games you won't have a huge issue. The main mechanic to understand is the duels and the placement of tiles on the board. It will take you a while to understand all the buildings, but a nice player aid is provided. The more you play the game, the more you will become comfortable with all the different buildings and how they interact. A rule we often forget is to build the roads.
Flow of the Game:
I am only going to explain the flow of the game and not the complete rule set.
1. Players, in turn order, select a character. Each character will provide three different points of interest:
A. initiative order
B. A special power
C. the amount of money you can have on hand when the turn ends
*each character has two sides, you will select one side before the game starts
2. Place your workers:
A. you can place on the track to do an action
B. place on the board to signify where you want to build your buildings
*you can select a place another has picked, but there will be a duel
3. Perform actions in order on the track:
A. the track will be performed in a designated order
B. possible selected actions include: get money, get roads, buy buildings, trade money for VP, get VP for X (number of plots, buildings, guns, etc); there are a lot of possible actions as you get more workers things get tighter and tighter
4. Clean up phase: move the turn marker, reduce your money to your max, take cowboys back, etc
The main focus of the game is to build buildings. You need to own a plot of land and then buy a building and place it on a plot that you own. You normally need access to a road. These buildings will generate money normally based on the surrounding buildings. You will want things built around your plans, which may not be what others want. They may build things to "block" what you want.
On a turn, you will get a character, place workers on the board, do the selected actions and collect money and hopefully score VP.
The game last 4 short rounds, so you cannot really waste any actions.
Should I buy this game?:
Yes! If you like Euro games, then buy/play this game. It has a lot of variety with all the different possible characters and strategies. The components are fantastic and the game is dripping with theme.
For my taste, Carson City supplies everything I want in a game. I want a nice Euro, with a great theme, and some player interaction. I don't want everything I've been working on to be ruined, but I do want to know I am playing with others.
Keeper and I highly recommend this game.
Great review! I also enjoy this game greatly! Has everything I'm looking for in a perfect 10 game. Yes, keeping forever!
Fernando Robert Yu
This is a great game indeed, made even better with the Carson City: Gold & Guns expansion! I am so lucky I managed to snag the base game plus the expansion when I was in Europe last year! Thanks Quined White Goblin Games games!
This is a truly fantastic game! I love the Western theme, too. I've been curious about the expansions for a long time (although I probably won't be able to find any for an affordable price), so I really appreciate your reviews of this and the expansions!
If you like the idea of workers bumping workers off of spaces, you should also take a look at Lancaster.
And when, exactly, are we playing Churchill again?
If you like the idea of workers bumping workers off of spaces, you should also take a look at Lancaster
Carson City is one of my favourite games as well; but recently, I have re-discovered Lancaster. I doubt it will ever top my love for Carson City....but you can never tell!