Matt Smith
United States
Troy
Michigan
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I took my shiny new copy of Saloon Tycoon to an annual reunion/convention of college friends that we call Reunicon. Four of us sat down to play the game. I included all of the Boomtown expansions because we were all experienced gamers. I played yellow.

After dealing the Open Claims and explaining the game, I dealt out the Secret Claims. I immediately noticed two things:
1. All of my secret claims would be hard to complete
2. Some of them were in direct conflict with most of the Open Claims

All but two of the Open Claims dealt with getting characters. But my Secret Claim that was most likely to be completed involved having no citizens. I decided to keep that Secret Claim (and one other), and focus on getting the two building-related Open Claims.

One of my Secret Claims involved getting three buildings on the first floor: a small basic building (which I can't remember), Whiskey Still, and one of the cellars. I knew that would be tough, so I collected a lot of gold early on to buy the cellar that allowed me to build the Whiskey Still for free.

I then focused on getting the Open Claims for buildings. One of them required the Outhouse and a Kitchen (let's just say the cookin' wasn't very good). I got that done, then wanted to build a large building over two small buildings (architecture OC card). It was at about this time that we realized we had forgotten the rule about scoring 7/5 VP for fully supplying a large/small building. That really changed our approach for the second half of the game. We hadn't bought many supply cubes to that point, so we suddenly started snapping up cubes like crazy.

The red player built a lot of small cheap buildings early on, driving up his income. He built vertical because of his Secret Claims, which helped with having more VP from fully supplied buildings. He seemed to be way out front, but after the final tally, I was only 4-5 VP behind him in second place. The other two players lagged further behind.

I think remembering from the start of the game to score VP from fully supplied buildings would have really changed our approach. Regardless, I felt under pressure all game to get the buildings and Open Claims that I wanted.

There were a few occasions where some stealing of gold or movement of characters really hosed up a player's plans for a turn or two. There is a fairly high level of direct player interaction, which may be a turn off for fans of multi-player solitaire euro games. For the theme, I think the higher interaction is appropriate.

The Boomtown expansion came into play quite a bit. We built the Outhouse, Garden and a couple of cellars, and built the first small and large roof (6 VP) tiles. We also had some Open Claim cards from the expansion. I thought they added some nice options without overwhelming the players.

I say the game felt deeper than I thought it would be, but it's not a heavy euro. It just has that nice tension of limited resources leading to tough decisions. The Open Claims require you to pay attention to what the other players are doing, as they could snatch an OC that you're aiming for if you're not paying attention. The secret claims really drive your overall strategy, without necessarily putting the game on rails. And the Tycoon cards add in a good dose of unpredictability, requiring constant reassessing and re-planning.

I really enjoyed my first play, and look forward to playing again.

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Robert Couch
United States
Kalamazoo
Michigan
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That's a great re-cap! Thanks for sharing. I'm glad you enjoyed it. And I love seeing pictures of finished boards. Super cool!
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Ryan Feathers
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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Great recap!

I have gotten to play twice with my boyfriend who kickstarted the game. I was originally wary that this game would be a bit too light and luck based for my liking, but much like you I've discovered there is a bit more depth and strategy here. Not that it is very deep by any means, but the strategy is relevant and the claims, both open and secret, do a good job of driving players to explore different paths.

I can't wait to try it with 3-4 players and get some more competition among the building tiles and see more. Pretty impressed thus far. Though I do wonder how much this game benefits by having the boomtown expansion pack--a lot of those tiles really seem to offer up quite a few different options and expand the gameplay.

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