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Matt Thrower
United Kingdom
Bath
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Mine-a-million is an interesting game with some unusual mechanics. It's good fun, but it's let down by those two old chestnuts: over-reliance on random events and over-long play time.

The goal of the game is to make one million dollars by selling ore from your mine in the sea ports of the country across the board. However, in order to finance the transportation of the ore you need pounds which you can get by selling the ore locally. You get ore, plus a random "event" card (which can be good or bad) on the roll of a one or a six on a dice.

To begin with, each player must pay a small sum of pounds to hire trucks in order to drive the ore from their mine to the local depot. Later in the game they can hire barges, which cost more but carry more. Barges can also carry ore from the local depot to the ports where it can be sold for dollars. Ships can also be hired for this purpose: they cost a bomb but can carry lots of ore and are allowed the use of a special "fast track" board space to get them to their destination faster.

It's from the various modes of travel that most of the strategy in the game arises. There are a limited number of all the transports available, so you can hire more than you need to prevent your opponent from moving ore. With ships and barges you can also take some of your opponents pieces to the destination whether they like it or not, and they must pay you for the journey. This lands players in all sorts of trouble over how much ore to sell for pounds, and how much for dollars. If you don't have plenty of pounds to finance your ships and barges trying to sell ore for dollars, you're liable to find another player will charge you to transport your ore to the local depot, forcing you to sell the ore you'd earmarked for dollars to finance the trip. There are an awful lot of similar ways you can cunningly stich up an opponent in this game. This aspect of the game does a good job of forcing players to make difficult resource management decisions: there's never enough ore or pounds to do everything you'd like.

Sadly, this aspect of the game is let down a little by the random event cards. You can have a ship full of ore on the way to sell for dollars sunk due to an unlucky draw. The game tries to compensate for this a little by allowing every other pass through the event deck to be face up, so everyone knows what's coming next. You can alter your strategy accordingly but you still have to roll the dice, and take the card on a 1 or 6.

These random disaster events, plus the myriad ways you can scupper your opponents plans can make for very long games, although a good player will minimize his opponents chances at sabotage, which helps. This is perhaps the greatest flaw in the game: there's enough strategy to keep it interesting but too much luck to make a long game interesting.
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John Mitchell
United Kingdom
Enfield
Middlesex
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Re:User Review
I have a (the?) version dated 1969 with the Business Game title, and it seems the rules have changed a little. The event deck is to be placed face up and it's stated that it is 'vital that these cards are watched carefully'.

The rules go on to say 'Players may, if they wish, use these cards stacked face downwards, thereby increasing the element of chance'. No thanks.
 
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BFL's going down (under)
Australia
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Hit the nail on the head with that review, Matt. We used to cut down the number of $ needed for victory to get a shorter play time. It did change the balance a bit, because for a million at least two deliveries are required, but we got so bored waiting for a million that it was worth the trade-off.

The problem with the random events are that they are too frequent. Even face up, a 1 in 3 chance of one each turn is too high. Some affect every player, so it's quite possible in a 4+ player game to have several events occur between turns, and if they affect you, there's nothing you can do about it. Your ship sinking because of a crappy draw was also an enormous frustration factor.
 
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barrenelly
United Kingdom
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Great review by Matt, even though I don't agree with him on all points. I love this game, which is my very favourite board game, and have played it a great deal, but always get the impression that the authors of it didn't actually play it much before releasing it! So many situations crop up that aren't covered in the rules, and many of the cards are ambiguous.

For instance, the rule-book suggests that, instead of playing with just one mine each, two players can play with two mines each - but doesn't give any details of how this is meant to work. It doesn't say whether your mines take your dice-rolls in turn, or whether you can apply your throw to whichever you choose.

My friends and I have agreed clarifications amongst ourselves and written them on the cards or added them to the rule-book. We have thus ended up with an unbeatably good game, and never want to play any other board game now!

For two players, we like to play with three mines each, so each player has two on one side of the board and one on the other, and for the turns to go round the board, so that your turn applies only to whichever mine is next, although your money is pooled between them. This makes for a very good game, which nearly always ends with a close and exciting finish. The playing time is shorter, too, since three mines are earning more for you than one would.

We found that the 'first round' as detailed in the rule-book, whereby each player rolls the dice for initial production units, tends to give too much advantage to one player over another, and spoils the game, so now we give each mine three units, and start the game from there.

We prefer to play with the cards face-down, as that's more like real life. But we made this less disruptive to the game by adding a LOT more cards, most of which are fairly 'mild' ones and quite a few beneficial. We have about four times the number there were originally, though many are duplicated. But we think the risk of a ship sinking mid-ocean adds a lot of excitement to the game! "Earthquake at Newport" can be a pretty disastrous one, too, if you've just gathered all your ore there ready for export ...

The best aspect of this game is the ever-changing strategy, and although it may seem that there is a lot of luck in rolling the dice and in the cards, the skill is to seek out those niches where there is room to manoeuvre and where risk of disaster is minimized and to be prepared to change plans in a blink to take advantage of all opportunities.
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Thorskegga Thorn
England
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A game with great potential. I personally love the initial road haulage phase which has an authenitic feel of industry.

Older players do have problems with the tiny playing peices and the map is a little hard the read (I have the early Business Game edition).

It does need speeding up. We agreed to finish our first attempt when someone managed to cross the sea in a barge - with five players that took about an hour and a half. I would agree that adding more less damaging event cards would help.
 
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Bill Dashfield
New Zealand
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Mine a Million
This was one of my cousins' & our favourite family games when it came out - we were keen games players, especially over the UK Christmas. All the equipment & the several transport phases add interest, and we got very good at blocking roads, hogging transport etc.

Yes, it was a long game, and we sometimes went to e.g half a million pound/ $400.000/first $ etc. And we got a lot faster with practice.

We always played with production cards face up, and with 2-3 people playing, one could usually sellout in a hurry. Also we got good at reading the cards carefully and working out the odds - e.g. 'Warehouse stocks' as in earthquake/fire at Newport didn't include stocks in barge or ship, so leave that barge loaded up, or hire that ship now... Sometimes you got a big knock-back that you could plan for/around, and you just had to pick yourself up again.

Looking through the production cards again, yes there are an awful lot of negative ones; but because you always get your 3 new production units, this compensated for a lot of them - e.g. the 'lose half your pithead stocks' cards (especially when you lost you competitors ones from your barges!).

It was an acquired taste, but we enjoyed it and I think we learnt a lot from playing it.

My children enjoyed it too.



 
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Vaughn Pitzel
Canada
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Card changes/rule changes
Hello Barrenelly,

I have recently bought a copy of the business game online after playing my grandfather's years ago and becoming entranced with the game. I remember that the rules and cards were modified by him in the game, and I can sadly not view those modifications anymore. In the forums years ago, you had posted that you and friends of yours had also modified the game and playtested it plenty.

You mentioned that you changed rules and added more cards and new cards to the game, clearing up most confusion in the game and making it more enjoyable. I was wondering if you would possibly make me a copy of the deck you have and send it (I would pay for it, just name your price) as well as listing off the modifications you made to the rulebook so I can copy it into mine (a scan of the book would probably work best.)

Hopefully, this is an acceptable arrangement. If you do not think so, maybe we could work out some other sort of deal. I just want to make my game as much fun as I remember with my grandfathers, and I figured that you have done a bunch of work to achieve the same goal.

Regards,
Vaughn
 
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