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Subject: Review of Great Western Trail rss

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Paul Ferguson
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Great Western Trail is an engine building, tile laying, point salad euro, with some deck building elements, about getting your moo's moo's to the choo choo.

ARTWORK AND PRODUCTION -

The main game board looks good as do the cards, although the main board is busy and a little cluttered, it does function well. There is not much to say that is wrong with the production, my only gripe is that each player should have their own small player aid, that has all the icons displayed. This game is icon heavy and the couple of plays I have had, the rule book has been continuously passed around to find what does what. With more and more plays of the game this would be less of an issue, but for new players an aid is a must.


GAME PLAY & SIMILARITIES -

The goal of the game is to make you way to Kansas city, to sell off your hand of cards. The amount you sell dictates how far you can transport your cattle along the train line. This generates money instantly and also provides future effects that add to end game scoring. Once you complete your cattle drive to Kansas City, you start the cattle drive all over again and repeat the process, hopefully making your future cattle drives, more efficient and more profitable.

The money you make from each completed cattle drive, can be used to buy more cattle cards of a higher sale value, building tiles which are placed along the path to Kansas City, workers that assist you with building, buying better cattle and moving your train further towards San Francisco and beyond.

The game is basically a deck/engine builder, tied in with tile placement. Each player starts the game with a hand of low value cattle and you attempt to make you deck more diverse and valuable during the game. Like many games, you can't do everything you want to.

If you go heavy on buildings you may miss out on getting some big points from the train destination rewards, like wise if you go heavy into cattle, you many miss out on building tiles and if you go heavy in hiring helpers you may lack in other areas. So you need to either balance your engine or focus on 2 avenues.

I felt some similarities to Caylus while playing Great Western Trail. The train line felt a bit like the Castle and the building tiles a bit like the building tiles in Caylus, but less restrictive.



FINAL THOUGHTS -

The game is an enjoyable play, with the mix of deck building, engine building and tile placement done with a well rounded set of game mechanics. The game does have a point salad feel to it, which is not a bad thing as you get to gather points from numerous means, but it does detract from the theme a little bit.

The game play is a little on the long side with 4 player games sitting around 2.5 - 3 hours, but it doesn't drag, as you are always trying to find the most efficient move to perform with each turn. The double sided building tiles are a great inclusion, which adds variation to future plays.

There is not a huge amount of direct interaction between players, it is done in a more subtle manner. With other players buying a cattle card you have been eyeing off, or workers from the hire pool or players placing hazards in your path that cost you movement and money to pass through. I wouldn't have minded a bit of pew pew between players, maybe a saloon shootout, or a bit of stealing of ones cattle cards to add a bit more direct interaction.

I did find it odd that when you buy a cattle card you can't put it into you hand immediately, and use it on your current cattle drive. Which seemed a bit strange from a thematic sense, but it was obliviously done to mirror what most deck building games have done. On the other hand, you can sell a cattle card on specific building tiles and gain the money immediately. It's not a big issue, but just felt like a contradiction when selling a cattle card gives you immediate money, but buying one has a delayed outcome.

I also got a bit lost as to why you can remove a hazard or TeePee, from a location that your cowboy is nowhere near to. Hazards are placed around parts of the board that can be used as shortcuts to avoiding paying another player to pass over their building tile. As hazards are worth points, they are a good way of adding to your other point totals at the end of the game. It doesn't make a strong connection, from the point of view of game play mechanics, when I am in one location and can un-flood an area, remove rubble or stop a drought that I am not even close to.

Your first few plays are going to be a bit cumbersome as there are a lot of little rules that can be missed. It is a game that needs to be played 2-3 times before you get a really good understanding of how to be efficient with you turns.



SUMMARY -

4 Artwork
3 Theme
2 Ease of learning
4 Replay Value
3 Innovation
2 Length
3 Interaction
4 Value for money

Average Score = 3.1/5.0

Recommend it - Yes, if you like getting a sore head from thinking about all the options that you can do in a game.


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Jack
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Comparing it to Caylus is not a selling point for me. yuk
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Pasvik -
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Naming it a "point salad euro" is a selling point for me.
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マルコ
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Eine wunderbare Heiterkeit hat meine ganze Seele eingenommen, gleich den süßen Frühlingsmorgen, die ich mit ganzem Herzen genieße. Ich bin allein und freue mich meines Lebens in dieser Gegend, die für solche Seelen geschaffen ist wie die meine.
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Nice review, thanks!

Though there are tiles being layed, I don't think it qualfies as a tile laying game. It's a rondel game, and that's a big selling point for me.
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Paul Ferguson
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senorcoo wrote:
Comparing it to Caylus is not a selling point for me. yuk


It was just a personal feeling, it is not as dry and restrictive as Caylus can be. It is also far more organic than Caylus.
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John Bradshaw
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The neutral buildings are reminiscent of Caylus, the train line looks not unlike the Trans-Siberian in Russian Railroads, the deck building is like - erm - well, lots of deck-builders, and the fact that you pay rent on an opponent's building is reminiscent of Monopoly!

That is not to say that GWT is like Caylus, or Russian Railroads, or any deck-builder, and it certainly doesn't resemble Monopoly. GWT is it's own thing, and it's a thing of beauty at that. Great game with lots of interesting decisions. I've seen a player go big on train movement and lose, I've seen a player go big on herd building and lose, and I've seen a player go big on buildings and lose - and friends, this story's true - I was that player!

The game is a genuine '10' for me. Played it several times in the first week of ownership and can't wait for my next play.

Great game. As they used to say in "Rawhide" - head 'em up, move 'em out!
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Alexandre Santos
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itmo wrote:
Great Western Trail is [...] about getting your moo's moo's to the choo choo.


Priceless , you really know how to pitch a game to eurogamers meeple
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Pawel Bulacz
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itmo wrote:

...
The goal of the game is to make you way to Kansas city, to sell off your hand of cards...


Nice review.
A small correction.
The goal of the game is to make most victory points.
You can make that in several ways. Points are everywhere.
Game is great.
Every heavy gamer should try it.
Caylus is completely different. (but also great! )
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Fabrice Dubois
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La Garenne Colombes
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Nice review.

I have read the rules and watched some videos and i am eager to play it next thursday.

I would say that i am afraid by 2 aspects :

1) the hazards and teepe that seems somehow "disconnected" from the rest of the game.

2) is the play procedural/repetitive ?

The deckbuilding seems very fun though (yeah i am looking at you Dominion yuk).
 
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fdubois wrote:

I would say that i am afraid by 2 aspects :

1) the hazards and teepee that seems somehow "disconnected" from the rest of the game.

2) is the play procedural/repetitive ?


1. removing hazards/teepees changes the topography of the board, reducing the movement and dollar cost to pass through certain parts of the trail. Since there is often a choice between two paths, placing or removing hazards/teepees can be a way of manipulating other player's incentives, for example steering them to pass over one of your buildings where they must pay you money (which they will do, if it is significantly more expensive to go the other way because of hazards.) They also serve other functions but in sum don't worry- they are an interesting and interwoven part of the game, not an afterthought.

2. my first game took almost 4 hours, but every play since has been 2 hours or less. All my plays have been with 4. The complaints that the game is too long are by people that only played once or that suffer inordinate AP- Great Western Trail is a fast paced game of micro-turns and doesn't overstay its welcome. Also, there is definitely a narrative arc as you develop your strategy- forward planning is very important in this game and the early game feels very different from the end.

It's a great game; I'm sure you'll be impressed!

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Michael Frost

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Good review. Spot on regarding the new cattle cards, hazards and TeePees.

Of course, to each their own. Being a deck builder kills it for me. Hate that mechanism. And having ALL the VPs be end game also kills it for me. With so many individual ways to score, completely unknowable until you take the minutes to count them all up at the end. Hate that style of play.

Others love it. And I can see why. Glad I watched a game last night at my local gaming group. Not for me. Too long, too repetitive. Get on trail to KC, get to KC, go back to start of trail. Rinse and repeat. Game is about twice as long as it needs to be. Like Orleans. Round, after round, after round of the (mostly) exact same stuff. Over and over and over, again and again and again. And a boring theme: cattle and RRs. But many will love it. To each their own.
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ozgur ozubek
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Quote:
I felt some similarities to Caylus while playing Great Western Trail.


it's indeed misleading.

In Caylus, you build structures for also others to benefit

while in GWT you build your own structures
a) to deny that sweet spot to others
b) with some building you collect tolls from other players as they pass
c) hamper others movement by increasing the length of the path they need to travel

Quote:
There is not a huge amount of direct interaction between players

there is a huge amount of hidden interaction between players as the game is race for crucial resources and time. you have to track and anticipate others movements and strategies. it's not your your average solitaire Agricola.

Quote:
why you can remove a hazard or TeePee,

hazards increases the cost of risky locations which gives "extra" action to mostly the get discard lev1 cow cards from your hand.
thus you might want to remove hazards in front of your own building or you might want to create an alternative route to bypass others buildings.


Quote:
This game is icon heavy

try playing Kanban! this board is easy to read.


Quote:
Average Score = 3.1/5.0

GWT is by far the best Essen16 released Eurogame for me, taking over Terraforming mars and others.


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Paul Ferguson
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wintermute wrote:
Quote:
I felt some similarities to Caylus while playing Great Western Trail.


it's indeed misleading.

In Caylus, you build structures for also others to benefit

while in GWT you build your own structures
a) to deny that sweet spot to others
b) with some building you collect tolls from other players as they pass
c) hamper others movement by increasing the length of the path they need to travel

Quote:
There is not a huge amount of direct interaction between players

there is a huge amount of hidden interaction between players as the game is race for crucial resources and time. you have to track and anticipate others movements and strategies. it's not your your average solitaire Agricola.

Quote:
why you can remove a hazard or TeePee,

hazards increases the cost of risky locations which gives "extra" action to mostly the get discard lev1 cow cards from your hand.
thus you might want to remove hazards in front of your own building or you might want to create an alternative route to bypass others buildings.


Quote:
This game is icon heavy

try playing Kanban! this board is easy to read.


Quote:
Average Score = 3.1/5.0

GWT is by far the best Essen16 released Eurogame for me, taking over Terraforming mars and others.




How is it Misleading, if I personally found the game similar to Caylus? That is not misleading, that is what I found when playing the game. Misleading would be me stating that GWT plays exactly like Caylus in every way.

As for interaction, watching other people take their turns, tracking, anticipating, is not interaction, hidden or otherwise. Maybe you are confusing interaction with strategy.

As for the teepees & hazards, you took what I wrote out of context and removed the pre and post part of the sentence. Maybe look at what I wrote surrounding this statement, not just pick the middle of the sentence. My issue was it makes no thematic sense. My issue wasn't that is was another avenue to score from, and or hinder a players movement speed. Read properly.

As for Kanban, I have played it, and making a comparison to Kanban is silly. It's like saying compare the Icons in Ticket to Ride to that of Race to the Galaxy. The game should have had a player aid with icons instead of having to flip through the book many many times.

3.1/5 = 62% if that helps. It might be the best euro at Essen 2016, still doesn't mean it deserves a higher score.
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Robert
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itmo wrote:
As for interaction, watching other people take their turns, tracking, anticipating, is not interaction, hidden or otherwise. Maybe you are confusing interaction with strategy.
It's not the tracking and anticipating, but rather the prioritization of your own actions which makes the interaction:
- Joe has tons of money and three cowboys - he'll purchase cattle next round. I better race to the market now to get that Texas Longhorn worth 7 points.
- If I advance my engine now, then Anne can jump over it and reach the station next turn. I better do something else.
- Ben has exactly the 15 dollars he needs to buy two workers. But if I build my black-handed building there, he'll be two dollars short. devil
- etc.
 
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Paul Ferguson
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DocCool wrote:
itmo wrote:
As for interaction, watching other people take their turns, tracking, anticipating, is not interaction, hidden or otherwise. Maybe you are confusing interaction with strategy.
It's not the tracking and anticipating, but rather the prioritization of your own actions which makes the interaction:
- Joe has tons of money and three cowboys - he'll purchase cattle next round. I better race to the market now to get that Texas Longhorn worth 7 points.
- If I advance my engine now, then Anne can jump over it and reach the station next turn. I better do something else.
- Ben has exactly the 15 dollars he needs to buy two workers. But if I build my black-handed building there, he'll be two dollars short. devil
- etc.


Yeah, what you have noted is strategy. A player weighing up the options and deciding what is the best option for them that turn.
 
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