This was my first play test of this card driven euro hybrid strategy game with aspects of Wilderness War, Big City, Capitol, and El Grande, and a bit of something different. It’s my favorite game design yet, even if it’s a little complex and filled with numerous ideas. Players take the role of a prominent family and attempt to negotiate the turbulent events of the 1900-1940 periods in an Industrial, Western American City.
Players : Wade (designer) as the Thatcher’s
The game has a simple mechanic but a lot of strategy and options to consider. Players draw 8 cards, discard one, and ‘bank’ one for later use during the 4th and final Era (turn). You play all 6 cards and teh round ends. Each card has historical black and white photos representing a technological, social, or political theme or event in Western American History. Each card can be played as the event or as Action points/Clout/Sway that allows them to build, buy, or seize houses, factories, or mines. The more structres you own at the end of the turn the more points you earn. The more factories and mine that are built, the more immigrants arrive at turns end and each family tries to sway them to their cause. If too many immigrants arrive it touches off a riot, which can sweep through the city eliminating ownerships.
Headline: Curious Election Theme: City Beautiful Movement
The map of Pueblo, Colorado has five neighborhoods and the while houses score at Eras end they also count as area control toward the election of a mayor who scores VP. You own the most houses in a neighborhood, you get its vote for mayor. The game started slowly with us playing our cards face up to explain the game and mechanic. We spread out in the starting Northside neighborhood building and buying homes left and right, with few special events to mention. Each Era a Headline or Theme card can be played that changes VP awards or conditions of the game. The Headline is locked by the first player using a card as a Headline, the Theme is bumped out if other players add a card as a Theme. I played a “Curious Election” Headline giving me 2 votes in one neighborhood and eliminating another vote in a different neighborhood, essentially locking the Mayor position for me.
Beth meanwhile played Mineral Palace Park and added a large stretch of parks in the Northside and continued to build and buy home surrounding the parks (+1VP per house at rounds end plus her City Beautiful Movement) Dan started to build a presence in ranching with a Boomtown card. I built some streetcars and extended play into two new neighborhoods, the tiny Goat Hill and larger Eastside. I was able to get ownership of numerous structres in theses areas and when we finished the Era I had 3 votes to Beth’s one vote, thus becoming mayor and earning 8VP. The immigration phase was small, seeing how no factories or mines were built yet. Therefore there was little chance of a riot, but that would change.
The Mayor then has to elect the other players to three Offices. I appointed Tim to National Guard Office (protects against riots), Beth to Depot Official (takes a cut of mine ore shipped) and Dan to immigration official (received extra immigrants to buy homes). The City Beautiful Movement allowed Beth to really cash in on her Park presence as well.
Scores: Wade and Dan-20, Beth 14, Tim 18…wow almost a euro!
Headline: Range War, Theme: None
We played with cards hidden this round and it was much more exciting. Dan caught onto the rail rules, buying all 5 segments, and then dropping an Age of Steam card, scoring a whopping 20PTS since it was still Era two (card needs tweaking obviously). I built into the last two neighborhoods Bessemer and Mesa Junction, and tried to get control. I also had numerous industrial cards that allowed me to move the industry track up 2 spaces and take some more factories. Tim had tons of wronkage cards and used a spell of Dysentery to wipe Beth and me out of a neighborhood. The first civic building (the neighborhood gets one more vote for mayor) was erected in the Northside, as well as two police stations-our city was now looking quite metropolitan! I also played the first mafia card on Beth, hoping it would spread at turns end.
Dan moved into mining, with me right behind via a nice mining card. Then came the labor riots! Tim had the Riot card and started a riot on my house in Goat Hill. Since he controlled the Guard he only sent 1 instead of two guard units, the Rioters pushed past the Guard easily and whipped out my presence in Goat Hill and the Northside- it was ugly! THEN a few turns later Beth starts a small riot and runs over my remaining presence in the Eastside. It was looking grim, except I now had important mining and factory interests. Beth had total control of the Northside and almost all houses adjacent to Parks. The round ended and the immigration phase was now pretty involved as we had 6-7 factories and 5 mines. Dan benefited the most, but still could not compare to Beth. My mines and factories scored well since the prosperity track (a simple modifier) was moved up a couple spaces making factories with 4pts each instead of 1pt.
Final score Dan 65 (20 from a broken card), Beth 53, Wade 49, Tim 32
We decided to end the game since another game was ending and Tim had enough. The consensus was that there was a little too much going on. I suppose it’s actually a card driven strategy game for wargamers, since its kind of complex for a regular euro. Most of the brilliant simple euros are already invented so I was going for something deeper and more complex. People liked the theme, cards, riot mechanic, immigration mechanic, and city contention, but thought the mining and agriculture was a little too much. Of course we didn’t finish the game. I really wanted to see how the last turned panned out, with everyone’s ‘banked’ cards available and one card less for round 4. It wasn’t quite the game for Tim but Beth and Dan had positive feedback if I removed some of the elements and focused more on the City buildings and incorporated mining and ranching via cards or new offices perhaps. All really good suggestions. Overall I was pleased that the cards and mechanic seemed to fit the theme and there are a lot of strategic options and tension not knowing what other players have. I was really happy to find a way to mix the card driven delicious decision mechanic with the interesting spatial idea from Capitol and Big City while incorporating into a theme and period rich with history and change. The most important thing was the game seemed Fun to me, as well as immensely replayable with an ever-changing board, and tons of cards and shifting Headlines and Themes. It needs tweaking but I’m keen to play test it again soon. If anyone in Denver is interested in a deepish card driven euro with a rich historical Colorado theme I could come up for another play test.
(This is a picture of a frozen waterfall, from behind the waterfall)