You have to pick more than a pocket or two in this game. More like a hundred or two. A quick overview of the game as there doesn’t seem too much on here just yet about it.
Fagin’s Gang is a resource management game with a race to win Fagin’s favour. Obviously based on the famous Oliver Twist novel where there is an underworld of thievery headed by Fagin in London. This game focuses in on the gang as each player controls five urchins which need to dodge policeman, steal various goods from citizens and barter at the market to earn enough shillings to fill the pockets of Fagin. You need to get three of your urchins back to Fagin, each one needing to give Fagin 15 Shillings. Sounds easy eh Guv’nor.
This was our first try of this game which is due to be released very soon.
Players were Nick, Sue, Gordon, Mark and Dean.
The board was set up with the random assignment of the Boys in Blue (Policeman) to each of the six neighbourhoods. Each player starts with one of each of the commodities which are – Books, Pocket Watches, Silverware, Fruit, Hankerchiefs and Jewellry. Each neighbourhood needs a number of commodities of its own type to move up the board which is the only way to get to Fagin as you need to move off the top of the neighbourhood while having 15 shillings to get an urchin back to Fagin. However, you can move down the neighbourhood which may help you get the commodities you need.
Dean started and took a market turn which gave dean the bonus of buying 2 items while the rest of us could only buy one. Considering that the commodities have different prices through the game from 2-12. Dean bought 2 Hankerchiefs for 2 each while the rest of us tried to get enough to at least get some of our urchins on the board in the first turn. I decided to pay the higher prices to enable me to get three of my urchins on in the first turn so I could maximise my thieving in the following turn. I think most others got 2 on as they didn’t want to pay the higher market prices. Hopefully it wouldn’t cost me later. I think Dean ended up buying a lot from the market taking advantage of the privilege of buying 2 although that did leave Dean with very few shillings left in his pocket. The market starts full but you can also sell cubes you have to the market for there price which changes through the game. All the policeman moved along their beats but not one of them managed to lay their eyes on a pesky Urchin. The market moved to make the expensive stuff I bought now cheap but there weren’t any for others to buy so I felt like I had got a jump on the other players having an extra urchin in the neighbourhoods.
I think most people earned (thieved in neighbourhoods where that had urchins) You take commodities or shillings dependent on the space you are occupying in the neighbourhood with up to three of your urchins. I had gained a mass of books and silverware. The clever thing about this part of the game is that you cannot generally earn the commodities that allow you to move in a neighbourhood in that colour neighbourhood. For example you cannot steal silverware in the Black neighbourhood.
As you can only carry 15 commodities, (You are only a little urchin don’t forget. No trolleys found around in these times) you tend to have to spend or sell your cubes otherwise you have to discard any over the limit at the end of the turn. It made sense for me to spend some of my commodities in my next turn as they were slightly building up. As I had quite few a books I used them to move past the policeman who had the potential of knocking me back. I moved my urchin further up in the silverware market to change the commodities he could earn next turn if I didn’t get bullied out by someone else’s urchin. My last urchin move was to get my fourth urchin into the green neighbourhood for extra choices next turn when I earned commodities again.
The policeman managed to foil the plans of my urchin in the green neighbourhood who got moved down leaving all the other players there ahead of me.
I felt like I was ahead for most of the game and was the first player to get an urchin back to Fagin in the Blue district spending 4 books to run all the way back to Fagin.
My final urchin before this had gone into the purple district which is hard to move through needing four jewellry to move each step but is a very good earner of commodities. This left me out of the red neighbourhood which saw a lot of police activity and saw the policeman there promoted to Sergeant after a couple of excellent arrests of pesky thieving urchins. Namely one of Dean’s first after he had positioned himself at the top of the track ready to move the policeman nabbed him and bumped him off the board before he could take the last step to Fagin. Nick did the same trick later leaving a guy on the top step before getting to Fagin and was safe from the policeman when he did it but two big moves saw the policeman nab his second urchin of the day in the red neighbourhood. I did get one of my urchins arrested but he got bumped off the bottom of the highly earning purple track which was a kind of blessing at the time as it meant I could come back on higher up but had to pay to get my urchin back on the track again. Everybody got the urchin to Fagin in the blue district as it does have the cheapest cost to move up a step. Gordon took a slight lead moving two urchins to Fagin in the same turn but leaving him unable to earn the right commodities to move in the neighbourhoods he had urchins left in. Dean got two urchins to Fagin next but was in a tricky position to get further commodities with an urchin still off the board thanks to the Policeman’s great efforts. I had two urchins poised to run to Fagin at the top of two of the tracks but was always one commodity short of getting in. I decided to buy the commodities from the market at the top price of 12 shillings. Leaving me with the commodities I needed to get both urchins to Fagin which everyone though had given me the win. Even Me. Until I realised I had spent all my shillings and didn’t have the 30 shillings to give to Fagin. Ooooooppppss. This cost me as Gordon managed to use the extra couple of turns to acquire the right commodities – some fruit I think and had the money to pay Fagin and win the game.
We all enjoyed the game and even though I made two mistakes during the game I was still only a turn away from winning. Nick and Dean ended the game with one urchin off the board which really limited the commodities they could get to advance their urchins on the board in the late game. Sue seems to have been almost missed off this session report entirely. Sue admits it took a short while to pick up the game (I blame the wine). I think the next game will be much closer. And the policemen can really affect you as they may move you from resources you were hoping to gain.
Looking forward to my next game.
Stoke on Trent
Come on you Seagulls! Sami Hyppia's Blue & White army!
That's weird. This bit used to mention Shire Games, and tell you all how wonderful we are. But it seems to have got deleted. Let's see what happens this time ....
Yes .... I feel I made several mistakes (more miscalculations in what I should be prioritising, really) during the game, but the big one was leaving that urchin one step away from Fagin at Snow Hill.
He was allowed to steal 3 of any resource. So ... did he steal three handkerchiefs to get him home to Fagin? Nooooo ... I looked at my supply and thought "I'll grab two blacks and a yellow!", then watched in dismay as the constable walked 12 spaces in two moves and nabbed me.
I really enjoyed the game ....
It's odd, because while it is being explained, it feels like it's going to be a little dry, but playing it doesn't feel that way at all. It moves along at a good pace, with just enough time between turns to work out what you want to do next time, assuming the constable doesn't interfere with your plans!
All in all, a lot of fun. Easy to explain and pick up what's going on.
I look forward to seeing and playing the final printed version (with the market discs!).
A very good report, Mark. Thanks for that.
This session with Nick, Sue, Mark and Gordon at Shire Games in Stoke is a good example of why games should be tested and tested down to the wire. We thought this was ready to go to the printers, and it pretty much is, except for:
I look forward to seeing and playing the final printed version (with the market discs!).
Those discs - suggested in this session - will be useful to see who's playing what colour (ie. who to nab!) and who's still in at the Smithfield Market auction. Maybe not essential to the game, but invaluable to the gaming experience.
It's good to see also that players appreciated the balance designed into the game. The old 'what you gain on the swings, you lose on the roundabouts' adage. Ooooh, I just had an idea for another game - I'd better jot that down