Recommend
7 
 Thumb up
 Hide
6 Posts

Bootleggers» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A new player's review rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Doug Mazur

Pacifica
California
msg tools
I have had the chance to play this game a few times in the past and have always passed on the oppurtunity to play something I thought would be more engaging. Recently, the chance game up again, and I decided to join a 6 player game. Normally, I try to avoid games where no one knows the rules and everyone is trying to learn at the same time, but you know how it is, when you just want to play something. So with some hesitation I jumped in. As we were all new to the game, we might have gotten a few minor points wrong but overall things progressed smoother than I would have anticipated.
The game will support 2-6 players, I believe the better game is played with the higher end of that spectrum vs. fewer number of players. The game maintains a strong thematic element throughout (that of moonshining whiskey and the illegal distribution of such during a prohibition era) and so is more likely appropriate for mature teens and up rather than younger players. The mechanics are simple enough for some younger gamers, but thematic elements may need a more mature worldview before condoning hijacking, hits and other sordid activities.
That being said, adherance to the theme is what makes this game engaging, and all actions feel appropriate in the context of the theme. While interaction between players is somewhat open ended and left to the personalities of the players, those who have a knack for extortion, blackmail and larceny will make this game shine.
The rules were simple and clear enough that we could work through the examples as we went and rarely needed to refer to the rules again after the second or third turn. The mechanics are simple and there are enough strategic choices to allow different players to follow different paths to victory.
Basic rules: All players are dealt a hand of 12 muscle cards. One of these will be played in each of the game turns, and then discarded. Muscle determines priority in picking action cards and moving your whiskey to the speakeasy's. You pay to "employ" more muscle. But deciding when to send in a lot of muscle and when to hold back, can be critical to your game plan. Players also start the game with a little cash, a family still, a small truck and some influence tokens.
Each turn players will have to pay the drivers of their trucks some overhead to keep them loyal, plus whatever additional amount is needed for the muscle that turn. In muscle order players get to pick from a random selection of action cards or one available truck each turn. The actions allow a variety of actions which can influence your production, influence, demand for whiskey or just "mess with the other guy" type of cards. After everyone has picked action cards, your stills produce a random amount of whiskey determined by the number of dice you have on that still. Player (in muscle order) will place influence tokens on the various speakeasy's in the game in order to try and control how much and whose whiskey will be bought in that round. This is also where your various "diplomatic" gestures are made. "For a measly 3G, I'll make sure your truck does not get hijacked." Finally, players will try to sell the whiskey they produced at various clubs, preferably where they have some influence. While there are many things which will influence how successful you are at it, in the end, it is still about selling whiskey. If you sell more than anyone else, you win.
The game components are of good quality, the card and board artwork is period appropriate. The trucks that come with the game are a nice addition, but even though they come in different carrying capacities on the board, they are all the same size. There is a number on the top of the truck which indicates how much it can carry, but because the medium truck carries 6 crates and the large truck carries 9 crates, we were initially confused as to which way you should read the number. There are small dice used for still and speakeasy improvements, and small wooden cubes to represent the crates of whiskey which you will load on your trucks. In our game, near the end, we ran out whiskey crates and resorted to pips on the small dice as substitutes, but then ran out of dice to use on our stills. We also ran the bank out of money, which I understand has been an issue with other players and that the manufacturer will send you more money if you request it. We fixed the problem by having each player give a fixed amount back to the bank to keep it afloat. (since there is a monetary victory condition, this donated amount needs to be tracked.) While we ran out of whiskey crates to ship, we seemed to have an excess of trucks available for the job, so I am not sure if the ratio's of the game components have been well thought out. At worst these issues are mildly annoying and do not overly detract from the gaming experience. Still the influence tokens which could have been cardboard chits or simple blocks are instead plastic mobsters which are a nice and appreciated component upgrade.
While there is a luck element to the game, namely in rolling the dice to see how much your stills produce, and how much demand there is for your hooch when you go to sell it, there are steps to take to maximize your profits. Over several turns your dice will average out. On turns when you are producing little or nothing, don't let your trucks sit idle. Lease them to whomever you can, or buy excess whiskey directly from your competitors. If you produce more than you can ship by yourself, lease a truck if you can from another player, or sell your excess to them. Find a way to make a profit each turn. The more wheeling and dealing (and extorting) you do the more successful you will be.
Some strategic thoughts: There are few problems that can't be solved by making too much whiskey. There is always someplace for whiskey to go if you are smart, and hence profit.
While it will be tempting to use some of your thugs to get even with someone who screwed you over last turn, this is satisfying and also shortsighted. Holding the threat of a negative action over someone's head for several turns, in return for "protection" will net you long term cash.
Make deals. This is a dynamic game that requires you to be involved. It is harder to make a profit passively.
Initially, there is a feeling that spending cash on muscle may deplete your cash and there may be an attempt to conserve cash. By the end of the game (if it goes 12 turns) you will have spent exactly the same amount of cash, for muscle regardless of what order they were used in, so only let the importance of the action card or turn order influence how critical it is to play heavy or light muscle, and do not worry the cost. Even if the game ends prior to the 12th turn because someone reached the monetary victory condition, the extra few thousand you might have spent on muscle is unlikely to have changed the outcome one way or the other.
What I liked: The game was surprisingly a lot of fun. Thematic elements were strongly tied to the game mechanics. A variety of choices kept the game interesting and yet the basic rules were simple enough to grasp quickly and intuitively with a bunch of new players. It can have strategic depth and a great deal of player interaction if you try. I think it would appeal to broad range of gaming interests and tastes.
What I didn't like: Very little. the truck issues, money and whiskey crate numbers seem annoying but not overwhelming. Guardians may have to make their own judgements as to what an appropriate age to introduce younger players to this game are, and so might or might not be the best choice for your family game night.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised and only regretted that I had passed on the chance to play this earlier. I think whatever preconceptions I had about this game prior to playing it may be echoed by others here on the geek, because it does not seem to get much attention, for a very enjoyable and solid game on many fronts. I know I will be adding it to my wish list. Do yourself a favor, step back in time and give it a test drive, like myself, you may find yourself having a good time.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shawn Simas
Canada
Kitchener
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nothing against your review, but I would really recommend that you try to break it up more into paragraphs, reading that wall of text is really hard on the eyes.
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
flag msg tools
badge
Pitying fools as hard as I can...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Or rather put a double carriage return between the paragraphs you have.

Like this.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Doug Mazur

Pacifica
California
msg tools
points well made.

I will make future comments more reader friendly.

Thanks for taking the time to read through it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aaron Gelb
United States
Los Angeles
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think this may be the first "euro" style game I try. I love the bits and the theme. Thanks for the review!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dario bacchi
England
Coventry
West Midlands
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
There are few problems that can't be solved by making too much whiskey


how very true..how very very true
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.