Tiago Perretto
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Thinking about my next move.
So, if my only options are these, then I shall...

About Tinners' Trail:

1) What is it?
Tinners' Trail is a tight economic game, in which players bid for areas to mine copper and tin, develop them with adits, ports, trains and such, trying to lower the cost of mining (by removing water) while, at the same time, making the extraction better, allowing them to take more for less, thus being able to sell at a higher profit. All of this is done in order to invest in industries outside of Cornwall, as these is where the actual victory points come from.

Everything is neatly woven together with a time system: all actions take time to be done, but some more than others - which means a player behind on time is able to make two or more actions in a row, until her time meets that of the others.

Tinners' Trail is a perfect exemple of a mid-weight Martin Wallace ecomomic game: clean, smart, with a good pacing, tough choices and with a nice amount of player interaction.

2) How do you play?
After the set up is done, each player, in time order picks an action to do. All actions cost time, and acquiring a mining area and mining itself also cost money.

The game lasts for 4 rounds and in each round each player has 10 time to spend. Some actions are limited: only two ports can be build in each round; only one adit per round; only one drain action per round; and such. There are no limits of the amount of auctions for areas and mining the players can do, except for the limit of time each round has.

Mining costs, for each resource taken, $1 per water the area has. For instance, if you mine an area with 3 water cubes and take three resources - two coppers and one tin - you would need to pay $9.

Players mine copper and tin in order to sell then, at the end of the round, in order to gain money and use it to invest in industries outside of Cornwall - the sooner and the more money spent, the better it is.

When a player starts a bid for an area, all players can participate, regardless of what time they are at (but they must have at least two time to spend, as this is the cost in time to purchase one mining area).

If the player is out of options (because she is out of money and all the limited actions have already been done), she can sell pasties, and get $1, or pass, and likely be able to prospect a new mining area and start her actions sooner in the next round.

Once the 4 rounds are done, the player with the most points will be the winner!

3) Which are the decisions made during play?
There are several. During the round it will be: which action to do. This must take into consideration four things:
a) the state of the board - which mines the others and you have; what are the selling prices for tin and copper in the round; which areas for mining are still up for grab and what are their position in relation with the others you have and your opponents have; and so on;
b) which limited actions are still available, as these are likely to be done first, usually before auctions and mining, and it isn't smart to let the others do them and be left without;
c) how much money the others and you have;
d) how much time the others and you still have and need.

The actions, on themselves, are pretty easy to be done - but choosing them have several connections and lasting effects, that goes into the other rounds.

Once the actions are done, selling is mandatory. However, how to spend the money is up to the players. Investing outside Cornwall can be tricky: not only one must consider how much to spend (and how much to save for the next round, considering possible auctions and costs for mining), but also in which spots to put their money - as each spots can only have two cubes, therefore is possible, for players, to lock someone out of a place, which can mean that this person will either need to spend an amount that she didn't want (be either too much or too few) or, worst, be unable to invest further.

Though the decisions aren't complicated to understand, most of them carry a lot of weight and direct affect the others, be by taking the last of a limited action, by taking an mining area once no one else could enter in the dispute, and so on.

4) What are the good things in the game?
- Few rules with a good amount of depth;
- Nice level of interaction, most of it being good (sometimes is hard not to help someone else) instead of destructive;
- The economic system is simple and, yet, is provides a fine level of opportunity and risk-taking for the players;
- Downtime is usually small;
- Decisions matter a lot and several have lasting effects.

5) Which are the bad news?
- No catch up mechanism, and there is little chance to recover ground, except by mistake of others;
- The rounds start tense and intense, with great dispute of actions, but once they are gone, and they are gone rather quickly, the second half of the rounds tend to be dull, with almost no interaction, except an occasional auction, as most players will simply be mining and selling pasties;
- The overall look is rather unappealing.

6) How do you feel while playing?
Like the aliens from Signs: water is your worst enemy; or like the people on Waterworld, you will want to find Dry land. Most of your decisions will revolve around water: buy and mine where there is less of it; use ports, trains, adits and drains to reduce the amount of water; save money because of water. Is like you are mining Gizmos.

Anyway, Tinners' Trail is a game that also made me feel a bit like when playing Automobile: the same four rounds, few actions and a great need to prioritize, pretty tight, but with less competition and more control. Overall, the pacing for Automobile was better to me, as it was lively throughout the whole round, while in Tinners' Trail things started heated and dwindled as the round went on. Still, Tinners' Trail has the same vein of quality, and is a game that rewards foward thinking, some daring decisions and puts players in a good enviroment to strategize and outfox their opponents. Recommended.


Image credit: DavidNorman99

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United States
Rhode Island
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I love Tinners. Have since the first moment I played it. Will never leave my collection, though it plays best with 4p.
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Stephen Sanders
United States
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DNA results:Scottish, Dutch, English, Irish, German, French, Iberian Peninsula = 100% American!
tiagoVIP wrote:
The actions, on themselves, are pretty easy to be done - but choosing them have several connections and lasting effects, that goes into the other rounds.

Yeah, that's what got me in this game, my one play. Ok, I know, I need to play it again, but I'm just not inclined to. Good review!
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