- "L'état, c'est moi."(leroy43)Canada
BCCaution: May contain wargame like substance
Get Off My Land!
A game for 2-4 players by Gordon Oscar, Liam Smith, and Stephanie Kwok
"Marge, let's end this feudin' and a fussin' and get down to some lovin'."
Get Off My Land! is a 2-4 player game featuring feuding farmers fighting for farmland.
For full disclosure, I was provided with a pre-production copy of this game as it's going to be up on Kickstarter in the relatively near future. As far as I know, the version I was provided is the final one that will go into production.
The game comes in a Carcassonne sized box, which is somewhat appropriate given that the game includes land tiles. The game also comes with four meeples, fences, cards, and market cards that will be overlaid onto the land tiles.
The components are well done and I have to give a huge kudos to the artwork in this game. From the very first time you see the box, to all the artwork on the cards, market tiles, and other components, the graphic design is very clear and unambiguous, while at the same time giving a knowing wink and a smile that the theme is intentionally tongue in cheek. It's a very difficult balance to maintain in any game, and it's a winner here.
Rules & Game Play
The game begins with a fixed setup depending on the number of players, although there are a few types of tiles that are extra good whose position will be unknown until they are developed. Each player begins with their farm, a maple representing their farmer on that tile, and one developed land space, all of which is nicely fenced in. The rest of the land tiles have forest on them as they are undeveloped.
In addition to this, everyone gets a couple of Fence cards, which allow certain kinds of actions to take place, and there's a market where you can acquire improvements for your farm, and everyone starts off with a little bit of money to get them started.
The game runs for the duration of one farming year, starting in May and ending in April. This means that there are exactly 12 turns, so plan accordingly. There are also four seasonal interphases where you have an opportunity to grow your livestock or your crops, harvest same, and repair your equipment. The start player is also rotated here.
Each turn players receive income, and then in player order each player can take two actions. You can log a tile, which means you flip a tile from its forested side to its cleared side. You need to clear land tiles in order to improve them. Clearing a tile also earns you two fence cards.
You can play a fence card for the actions listed on it, or to build fences. To control land, you need to fence it in and have it connect back to your farmhouse. You can only play one fence card as an action on your turn, but fence cards are useful defensively as well.
You can go to the market to buy a market tile, which you can then place on a fenced area that you control. There's a subtle but important difference between a tile being fenced and being controlled, and it's nicely explained in the rule book. I'm not going to rehash it here.
To get a market tile you pay the price, collect the card, and play it on a developed land tile you control. You can also pay $3 to the lumber yard to get two fence cards, place or remove one fence piece, and discard the $2 market card.
That's the basics of the game play, and at the end of the game you count up the money you've earned as income, plus equipment you own, plus the bonus for your farmhouse, and finally any potential bonuses for your land if you happen to have oilfield icons on them (hence the Beverly Hillbillies quip earlier). Highest total wins!
That said, you just know there's a little more to it, and there is. First off, this is no multiplayer solitaire tableau building Euro game. This is a full on Family Feud style hootenanny.
For starters, the farmhouse you being with will have one of eight different end game bonuses on it, anything from $5 per unused fence card in your hand at the end of the game (hand limit is 6, so plan accordingly), or $5/10 for immature/mature livestock, or $5/10, or a bonus for having lots of the same kind of market tile, or similarly a bonus for having a diverse set of market tiles. And so on. So the initial farmhouse you get will to some extent suggest how you may wish to pursue your strategy.
The market tiles will have a variety of options available. There's equipment, which can be used for various farming purposes, including a still for moonshine. There are various kinds of livestock, which you need to mature to earn income from, or to harvest for cash sale. There are several kinds of crops which interact will with different kinds of bonus tiles (potatoes or grain and a still work well together for instance).
Your opponents might use fence cards, such as the Implements of Destruction above, to break the fence between your livestock and your crops, because there's nothing livestock like better than to trample a field full of ripe grain and eat it all up.
Then there's your farmer meeple. Your farmer meeple will protect the tile it is on from the predations of your ornery opponents, because those rascally villains will be trying to muscle in on your hard won territory. Before you can blink they've stolen your still and put their fences around your land! Land that you legitimately stole from someone else!
There is a lot of interaction in this game. You can and will put fences around land you want to claim. You will also put fences around land someone else thoughtlessly put up around what should rightfully be yours. in fact, you may want to put your farmer meeple on someone else's tile, because if you do, you'll collect the income from that tile. Just as you should. And if you get chased off, it was all a misunderstandin'.
You can prevent other players from inadvertently making the error of fencing in what's yours by playing fence cards from your hand totalling at least three bullet holes. Saying "Get off my land!" in a fake country twang earns you style points.
The game is billed as being for 2-4 players, and it works as a two player game, but where it really shines is with 3-4. With more players, and the hand limit constraint on fence cards, the timing of taking over your neighbour's nicely tended pasture is more likely. At two players it's easier to prevent those kinds of interactions simply because you only need to save cards to protect you from the other person.
Every Friday after work, I meet my wife for a standing date over a glass of wine and some board games while our daughter is at her two hour art class. We play a variety of favourites, and given we're on a small pub table, the options are limited as much by time as by table space, including any appetizer we might buy to tide us over until dinner. We mostly play light to mid weight Euros.
Get Off My Land! is a perfect fit for all those tick boxes. It has a small table footprint, it plays in about an hour or so, there's a lot of lively interaction, and there's a lot of tactical options each turn. You need to have a strategy going in based on your starting farm, but the game is not one that demands analysis paralysis. If you're not having fun playing Get Off My Land!, you're doing it wrong.
Thank you for reading this latest installment of Roger's Reviews. I've been an avid board gamer all my life and a wargamer for over thirty years. I have a strong preference for well designed games that allow players to focus on trying to make good decisions.
Among my favourites I include Twilight Struggle, the Combat Commander Series, the Musket & Pike Battle Series, Julius Caesar, Maria, EastFront, Here I Stand, Napoleon's Triumph, Unhappy King Charles!
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