$30.00
Recommend
40 
 Thumb up
 Hide
10 Posts

Arkwright» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Mina's Not-So-Mini Review - Tootsie Pops Engineering With Two rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Milena Guberinic
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
flag msg tools
Mina's Fresh Cardboard
mbmbmbmbmb
Mina's Not-So-Mini Review - Tootsie Pops Engineering With Two




The Overview


In Arkwright, you will take on the role of a 18th/19th-century industrialist (Pennypacker? ), establishing companies, hiring and firing workers, producing goods, selling to locals and/or colonies, and generally doing whatever it takes to create the most valuable portfolio. At the end of the game, your score will be equal to the number of your company's share you hold multiplied by their value.



The game is set up by populating the job market with workers and populating the time track with economy markers and events. The job market shows the cost you will have to pay for each worker when your factories produce goods and the demand for each product, which limits the amount of goods you are able to sell.


Job market


The time marker will move from left to right with each turn and from one row to the next from round to round. Each round of the game corresponds to 10 years of time and concludes with a random event.



The game board also features an appeal track for 4 different types of goods, including bread, clothes, cutlery, and lamps. Four neutral importers are placed on the 0 spaces of the appeal columns for each good and player markers are placed on those same spaces as well.



You begin the game with a factory board that shows 4 different factory slots - bread, clothes, cutlery, and lamps. You also begin the game with 15 shares in your company and a share value of 10. In the first round of the game, you will add 2 factories with 2 worker lines to your board and pay for them using the money you gain from selling any number of shares you hold at the start of the game. You will then have to set a price and appeal level for the goods produced by the factories you have opened. The sum of these two factors must always be equal to the value of the factory (with quality/distribution modifiers).

You also have 6 action markers, which you will use to take one action per turn, 4 marketing and 4 quality markers, which you will use to indicate improvements in the distribution or quality of the goods produced by your companies over the course of the game, and 16 factory tiles of levels 1 to 4 for each of the 4 different factories.



You will also receive 4 contract tokens, one for each good, and a harbor mat with spaces for storing goods and spaces for ships you may acquire over the course of the game.



In addition to the main board, there is also a special marker mat, which contains special action tiles that you can gain when you play certain actions, and there are 12 development tiles, which give you special abilities and which you can also gain when you play certain actions.



After the first round of the game, during which you will open two factories and select 1 special action marker or development marker, you will start each turn by moving the turn/round marker forward one space and revealing the economy marker for the turn. The economy marker will show how far the neutral importer will move up the appeal track for the good being produced in the current turn. The economy marker will also show how many workers will return to the job market from the fired worker pool.


After the first round


After this, you will take one action each before your factory will produce the good type being produced this turn. To take an action, you select one of your 6 action markers and place it on the action track, paying any associated costs.



The basic actions you have available to you are:
1) Build or upgrade factories, paying any associated costs. Set a price and appeal for the goods produced by newly built factories and change the price or appeal of upgraded factories to reflect their new value.


Factories


2) Take workers from the job market and add them to any factories you have open or your shipping board to allow you to store excess goods. As a bonus, you may also take a special action marker or development marker.

3) Fire workers and replace them with machines. As a bonus, you may take a special action marker or development marker.

4) Advertise your goods, increasing their appeal or price accordingly.

5) Increase the quality of your goods, increasing their appeal or price accordingly.

6) Buy stock. As a bonus, you may take a special action marker or development marker AND you may add a contract to your shipping board.


Action markers


At the end of each turn, the factory for the turn will produce and you will be able to sell up to the number of goods produced by your factory equal to the good's appeal at the price you have set on your player board. Demand for each good is determined by the number of empty slots on the job market for that good. You can't sell more goods than people want. Your share value will rise depending on a) the number of goods you have sold, your relative position on the appeal track, and c) whether you have sold the most goods.

You will also be able to ship any goods you are able to store in your warehouse and ship using your ships. Each good is worth the cost of the factory that produced it. You lose 1 appeal for each ship you have used.


Shipping bread


After this, you will have to pay for each worker and each machine that was operated in that turn.

At the end of each round, an event will occur. Events can affect the following round or cause an immediate, one-time effect.



In certain rounds, you will also have to add workers to any level 1 and 2 factories you have not upgraded in order to modernize them. These workers will increase the costs you will incur each time those factories produce, so upgrading those factories in advance is generally advisable.

The game ends after 4 rounds at which time your score will be equal to the number of shares you hold multiplied by the value of your shares. Of course, you can buy any shares at their final value with any money you hold at the end of the game.


All the possible development markers in the game


The Review


This review will focus on the Waterframe version of the game. We played Spinning Jenny once and that was enough.


Played prior to review (Waterframe): 10x






1. Engrossing
The first word that comes to mind when I think of Arkwright is "engrossing." This game is so brain consumingly demanding that you have to be fully engaged in the game whether it is your turn or not. When it isn't your turn you have to pay careful attention to whether and how other players adjust the appeal and prices of their goods in order to ensure that you are able to sell as many goods of that type as you plan to sell and to ensure your stock value moves up when you want it to do so. You also have to plan your own turn, calculating the costs and benefits associated with each action you take. Arkwright will demand your full attention whether it is your turn or not, which makes the time you spend with the game speed by. I am always amazed when I realize that Arkwright has vaporized two hours.

2. So much to think about
Arkwright doesn't fool around. It hits you with the heavy decisions right from the start. The first round of the game may be considered a "preparatory" round that deviates from the rest of the game, but it is where you will make many vital decisions that will set your course for the rest of the game. Which factories do you open? Do you open the low-cost factories and try to produce lots of goods that you will start to ship off when supply begins to overwhelm demand or do you open the high-cost factories and try to produce a smaller number of high-valued goods from the get-go? How much of your stock do you turn to cash? Your stock price will inevitably rise over the course of the game, so overselling can be dangerous, but underselling can be just as dangerous because it can cause you to go into bankruptcy early in the game, effectively reducing your share price and number of shares you hold.

And as the game progresses, the decision points continue to mount. Do you upgrade your factories early or do you wait for the last moment? Do you open more factories or do you make do with the two you have, upgrading them, opening new lines to increase production, improving the quality of the goods they produce to increase their value and appeal and marketing the crap out of them? When do you start buying back your stock? Do you buy little by little round by round as it increases it value or do you economize on that action, buying stock in clumps when you can.

You can go in many different directions in this game and each can end in success. The development tiles available to you may guide your strategy by making certain paths easier or more attractive than others, but you are ultimately the architect of your own industrial highway.

There are development tiles that allow you to store goods for free and there are development tiles that increase the amount of money you get from shipping those goods. If you are able to procure this combination of tiles, you may want to focus on some strategic shipping, while trying to stay ahead on the appeal tracks as much as possible in order to ensure your stock doesn't plummet as a result of all that shipping. There are development tiles that allow you to sell extra goods of certain types, increasing the desirability of those factories. There are development tiles that increase the efficiency by which you can enhance the quality of goods produced by your factories and others that increase the efficiency by which you can advertise your goods. Which of these you are able to acquire will affect which you choose to focus on in controlling the appeal and value of your goods.

If nothing else, Arkwright is not lacking in the decision point department. If you want a game that will pull you in a dizzying number of directions, look no further.

3. So much to balance
My second keyword for Arkwright is "balance" because multiple aspects of the game are interdependent or otherwise demand that you make tradeoffs to prioritize one at the expense of another.

First, you have your share value and the number of shares you are able to buy. As the game goes on, your share value will increase with each goods sale. This will make your shares less accessible to buy, but it will make the shares you hold more valuable. To strike the perfect balance, you have to ensure you buy as many shares as you can at the lowest prices possible, while retaining enough cash flow to keep your factories going. Timing is the key to balance here.

Then, you have the appeal and price of your goods, which translate into your ability to sell your goods and their price. Even though you will want to have a high price and the ability to sell lots of goods, you will have to prioritize one over the other because their additive value will always be equal to the cost of the factory with any quality/marketing modifiers. So whenever you upgrade a factory, increasing its cost or increase the quality of goods produced by that factory, you will have to decide whether to increase your ability to sell goods made by that factory or to increase the value of those goods.

Then, you have the worker pool and your factory lines. Managing your workers takes a delicate balance because they cost money. And the more workers that come off the job market, the more costly they become. Adding workers can allow you to produce more goods, but you have to be able to sell those goods, which also increases in likelihood as more workers come off the job market. You can manipulate multiple aspects of the game using the job market, but you have to take care to ensure that the balance falls in your favor rather than in somebody else's.

More balancing can be found in shipping to foreign markets. This process generally gives you more cash with less effort than selling to local markets, but it can take much maneuvering to time correctly. You have to ensure that you produce more goods than you can sell (i.e. that there is either insufficient demand for all the goods that will be sold or that you have sufficiently suppressed your appeal to ensure you area able to store and ship excess goods) and you have to ensure that you have set up the contracts and ships correctly to be able to ship excess goods when the right goods are produced. While you can use ships as you would action markers to perform shipping actions, you only have ships that can ship 2 goods at your disposal in a 2-player game, making this process rather inefficient.

Shipping demands balance for another reason - it causes your share value to fall. Each ship you use causes your share value to go down by 1, meaning that you have to ensure you are selling enough goods to counteract this fall if you want to maintain your share price.

Arkwright is definitely game of delicate balance and trying to strike a balance in the many aspects of the game that demand making difficult tradeoffs is challenging and fun!

4. A great sense of development over the course of the game
Great games take you on a journey; they make you feel like you have gone from one point to another and grown in power and influence over the course of your travels. Arkwright does this beautifully, illustrating the history of the industrial revolution through its rich economic systems and forcing you to grow and develop your factories and diversify your relations with a variety of markets. You begin the game with two low-level factories manned by schlubby grey dudes, capable of producing a couple of goods and selling them to local markets for what seems like pennies and grow into a mega corporation, producing a multitude of high-valued goods you can sell not only to local markets but also to foreign interests. With careful planning, you can even find yourself at the helm of 4 factories that rake in buckets of cash by the end! Moving from a sense of impotence to omnipotence just feels good! And due to the complexity of the game, it feels extra good in Arkwright!

5. Simple in its complexity
Arkwright is a complex game. There is no doubt about that. And yet, there is an underlying simplicity in the system. At its core, this is a game of buying low and selling high. You don't even have to worry about other players buying your stock or messing with your company's value. It should be easy. It should be simple. But it is not. Once you begin to play the game and gain an understanding of how everything works, the game runs smoothly; the movement of the action disc across the economy marker spaces reminds you of all the bookkeeping you have to do each round and you really only have about 6 actions to choose from. If you can past the initial learning experience, the game will quickly become intuitive and you will be able to easily break it down in your head.

6. Works surprisingly well with only two players and doesn't take an unduly long time to play at that player count
I think that one of the main reasons Arkwright works so well with two players is the presence of neutral buyers. As their movement is revealed each turn, these little suckers are unpredictable and add to the number of forces capable of foiling your plans to sell a certain number of good on a particular turn or increase your stock value. Even if you decide not to compete with your opponent on an appeal track, the neutral importer will be there, doing the job for you. They create enough competition to ensure that one player cannot simply run away by remaining uncontested for a particular good.

7. High replay value
Arkwright is a deep ocean of replayability. It takes a game or two to familiarize yourself with the system and once you are familiar, it can take many more to begin to truly play with it. Arkwright isn't an impenetrable fortress, but it is a deep and complex game and thus rewards multiple returns. The more you play the game, the better able you will be to effectively manage and coordinate your production and overseas shipping/local sales and balance your stock price and income.

And if this weren't enough, Arkwright presents you with a mountain of variety through its
*variable and unpredictable economy markers, which change the composition of the job market, the cost of workers, and the demand for goods of various types,
*events, which can change the way each round plays out,
*layout of special action markers, which can change how easy it is to perform certain actions over others, and
*distribution of development markers, which provide special powers that can drastically change your strategy.

And if you ever do get bored of playing the same way, the game comes with a number of variants, from the Spinning Mule to a competitive, open-market variant that allows players to buy each other's stocks.



soblue


soblue 1. The rulebooks are overly verbose, difficult to reference, and missing information
The rulebooks (yes TWO) are full of words. Lots of words. In fact, they are full of too many words. Obvious points are endlessly repeated and important points end up buried in pointless verbiage. This makes it difficult to reference information you want and it makes it difficult to figure out how to play the game upon reading the rules.

Our first game of Arkwright (Spinning Jenny) took much less time to play than it did to decipher the rules and the second (Waterframe) took just as much time to learn again. Arkwright is a far less difficult game than the rulebooks would have you believe.

Another problem we have run into with the rulebooks is that some information appears to be missing. Like not there at all. Either that or it is so well hidden that whoever can find it should get the "Where's Waldo" award. We have been unable to locate information about how certain development tiles work, both in the rulebook and on the internet in general...

soblue 2. The workers are super fiddly to set up and play with and they ROLL! ALL OVER THE PLACE!
I think the board gaming world has come a long way since the advent of the meeple shape. Pawns were cool when they were the only option, but the meeple revolutionized the way we play games. No longer do we need to fiddle with rolly polly rounded pawns that spin in circles and roll off tables. And yet, we do in Arkwright. The GAZILLION meeples that have to be set up and handled each turn and each round due to their coming and going from the job market and each time they have to be handled presents an opportunity for disaster. See, if you knock one of these suckers off, you could end up incite a domino effect and end up with pawns rolling everywhere. Peter has big hands. He does this one a regular basis. I think the workers would have been better represented as meeples or tracks to reduce the time required to set them up and increase the ease of handling. As is, they are threatening little beasts...you never know when they will rebel.

soblue 3. Art is subjective, but the game looks quite unattractive to me
A brown board with some industrial grey pawns and hints of color from the player pieces and factory tiles do not a pretty game make. I fully understand that the art and coloring is evocative of the industrial revolution and the grim and grimy factory circumstances, but it just doesn't appeal to me. I won't call for MORE art or more intricate art because that would simply mitigate the elegance of the clear and effective graphic design, but COLOR! This game makes me crave color!

soblue 4. You are constantly adding and subtracting and making minuscule calculations to determine minuscule cost savings/benefits
To those who dislike games that feature a constant stream of arithmetic, stay away. Arkwright demands that you constantly calculate your income and expenditures and constantly adjust prices and demand and evaluate cost savings of each and every action you take. This game is about 2 hours of arithmetic, so if you're not into that, be aware that Arkwright just might not work for you.



Final Word


Some games are rainbow explosions of joy and love and happiness and color. Arkwright is not one of those games. Arkwright is an explosion of brown and grey accounting. There is little joy and little happiness I feel when playing this game. And yet, I love it. It may not shoot rainbows out of its butt, but it is made utterly engrossing by its mountains of options and tradeoffs on each turn.

I must confess that I hate money. I have never had any interest in finance, accounting, and related matters. And I only really have one reason for working - to support my hobby. Sure, I need food, but I can go without. Board games I cannot go without. Yes, money itself bores me. And yet, the money balancing exercise of Arkwright utterly enthralls. Despite the fact that the theme of the game works against my nature, I love the challenge of trying to balance my factories' production with good quality, I love perfectly timing my contracts, and I trying to buy stock at the best times while retaining enough cash flow to keep my factories running. There is a lot to think about in this game and fans of complex economic games are sure to enjoy it. Despite its brown-grey exterior, Arkwright has a sweet and delicious center if you can stick around long enough to find it. Think of it as the Tootsie Pop of board games.

MINA'S LOVE METER heart heart heart heart LOTS OF LOVE




***


Mina's Love Meter


angry Burn it! - I dislike this game so much that it makes me angry. (I rate these 4 or less on the BGG scale)
Dislike - I don't like this game, but I can see why others like it.
(5 on BGG scale)
heart Some like - I find this game somewhat appealing, but it doesn't really grab me. I am glad to have had the opportunity to try this game, but it is unlikely to stay in my collection for very long.
(5.5 to 6.5) on BGG scale)
heart heart Like - I like this game and appreciate the design. I am happy to play this game occasionally when the mood strikes and enjoy doing so.
(7 to 7.5 on BGG scale)
heart heart heart Some love - I love this game. It's not perfect, but it really appeals to me and I will play it frequently.
(7.5 to 8 on BGG scale)
heart heart heart heart Lots of love - I really love this game. The design really speaks to me. I want to play it most of the time.
(8 to 9 on BGG scale)
heart heart heart heart heart All love all the time - I ADORE this game and can see myself playing it many times and for many years. I would go to sleep clutching it in my arms and want to play it all day every day...only not literally because that would be insane.
(9 to 10 on BGG scale)



To see my other reviews, visit this geeklist.



34 
 Thumb up
2.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Feld Fan
United States
flag msg tools
Oooh! Love me some Arkwright! Great review!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Gilbertson
United States
Duluth
Minnesota
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
... wonderful review I completely agree with, especially your rating. I love what this game does TO me, and that cannot be communicated, only experienced for yourself.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jack
United States
Cumberland
Rhode Island
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
First thing that came to mind when I thought of set-up - fiddle-fest.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Chapman
United Kingdom
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Oh, alright - except for Codenames
badge
No, this is NOT my bloody "fursona"
mbmbmbmbmb
milenaguberinic wrote:
Another problem we have run into with the rulebooks is that some information appears to be missing. Like not there at all. Either that or it is so well hidden that whoever can find it should get the "Where's Waldo" award. We have been unable to locate information about how certain development tiles work, both in the rulebook and on the internet in general...


The development tiles are all itemised in detail in the Player's Book. The main 40 are listed in section 1.8. The other eleven (Manager, Investor, Harbourmaster, Loadmaster, Supervisory Board and Wealth of Nations) are only used in the Self Actor variant, and are listed separately in the section for that variant.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Henshaw
United States
East Bridgewater
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
After two solo games to learn the rules, I replaced the bowling pin workers with plain old grey cubes. Much better now!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I think mine will be grey cubes as well.
Good review, I think you hit the main dislike I have with the game out of the park, the rule books have a lot of information either buried in some corner, or missing entirely.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nikolas Co
United States
New York
New York
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Jedit wrote:
The development tiles are all itemised in detail in the Player's Book.
I like to call that book "Overview and Waterframe Rules Part 2"
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Derek Long
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Late to the party, but I have just fallen in love with Arkwright.

Can I just propose that you use the following trick for the worker market: just put one worker at the head of each queue and move him down as workers are removed, up as they are added. Then throw the actual pool into a pile (appropriately fenced) somewhere. Set up time magically reduces. It doesn't look quite so pretty, but it works just as well because the queue is *always* full behind the head, so the only information in the queue itself is the position of the head.
6 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Colm McCarthy
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Derek Long wrote:
Late to the party, but I have just fallen in love with Arkwright.

Can I just propose that you use the following trick for the worker market: just put one worker at the head of each queue and move him down as workers are removed, up as they are added. Then throw the actual pool into a pile (appropriately fenced) somewhere. Set up time magically reduces. It doesn't look quite so pretty, but it works just as well because the queue is *always* full behind the head, so the only information in the queue itself is the position of the head.


You, sir, are a genius. Great idea.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.