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Subject: A game of Wolsung rss

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Daran The Great
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Zuid Holland
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Friday Essen 2008. Triggered by the beautiful artwork pictures on BBG we decided to locate this game for a playtest.

Game concept

The players represent inventors that are competing for resources in a giant steam punk factory. The goal is to build the most impressive array of machines for the upcoming World Fair.

Each player primes his workers, who rush into the factory every couple of rounds to secure goods (colored cubes representing wood, water, steel?, fire? and gold) before the inept workers of the competition can do the same.

The cubes are used to build machines. Initially rating 1 machines are available, but as the game progresses more advanced devices (rating 2-4) become available, which are also more expensive cube-wise. Machine types are walkers, cars, trains and flyers and each machine has a color, which is used in the endgame scoring.

After 25 or 29 turns (3/4 player game) it is time to ship the machines out to the World Fair and the final score is calculated.

Game Rules

Each player is dealt a workshop. The workshop holds up to four goods of each type and initially employs three workers. During the game you can pay one gold to upgrade your workshop with a transmogrifier (used to exchange two cubes for a different cube), a time machine for two gold(used as tie breaker) and for three gold an additional worker.
In addition each player gets a secret objective card showing how the player can earn additional points by getting a set of the same machines (walkers, trains,..) and/or same color.

Separate the machine deck into 4 stacks. Initially only machines of difficulty one are available and three of those are turned face up.

Finally the factory is stocked with goods. Each of the three resource areas clearly indicates how many cubes are placed on the board, with slightly different amounts for each area. A carton box / machine is placed in front of each resource area.

On each game turn, by turn order players take as many worker tokens as they have workers and secretly spread these between the three resource boxes. If the game turn marker on the board also shows the symbol of one or more of the resource areas (a pair of compasses, a set of hammers or a set of gears) the cubes in those resource areas are up for grabs.
Turn over the resource box and count the number of worker tokens of each player. The player with the most tokens gets first pick of one cube, next the player with second most tokens etc. (Taking care not to exceed the storage limit of their workshop.) Also available is a token that gives the player the right to start with building machines (usually left to the first player who does not have a resource cube to grab). If multiple resource areas are indicated by the game turn marker the process is repeated for the other areas as well. The resource areas are restocked and the boxes put back in place.
Now the players have the opportunity to build machines. Starting with the player who got the special token for it, pay the cost in cubes of one of the three available machines and turn over a new machine. Now is also the time to pay gold to upgrade your machine. Repeat until no player wants to build any more.

The next game turn starts, and at turn 12 and 22 the more advanced machine types are shuffled into the deck.

Game Play

Secretly placing worker tokens in the resource boxes does not work. Even in the noisy Essen hall it was quite easy to make out the other players actions, making it predictable who would win which box. Perhaps this works better with four players.

Keeping the secret objective in mind, you will prefer one or two of the available machines and adjust your cube selection to have a chance of building it, but this decision does not require much thought.

Building machines is a straightforward selection of whatever you can afford; hopefully something that matches your objective.

All in all there is little intellectual depth to the game turns or the building process. The first player to amass three gold for an additional worker has an advantage, but not overwhelming.

Conclusion

All of us were impressed by the quality of the steampunk artwork. Upon spotting the board and the cards we were really excited to be able to play this game. Afterwards we felt that such nice artwork should not be punished by such shallow rules. Perhaps someone can write combat rules?

As it is the game seems suitable for children, but lacks the fun (or viciousness) to serve as a beer and pretzels game.
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Bradley Reis
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Thanks for the review. Just a couple of questions.

First on the time machine. Do you use it, after the workers have been counted or before?

Second, I think the game set up is different from how you described.
You state:
Quote:
Separate the machine deck into 4 stacks. Initially only machines of difficulty one are available and three of those are turned face up.

But in the manual it states:
Quote:
10. Divide Machine Cards into two decks depending on the number of VP:
• The first deck is to contain cards of 1 and 2 VP value as well as the Strike Card. Shuffle
the deck and put it below the board. Next, reveal three cards from the top and put
them in appropriate spaces of the Design Office.
• The second deck is to contain cards of 3 and 4 VP value. Shuffle the deck and put it
aside.

So it would seem that you start with machines of level 1 and 2.

I am still thinking that I might try and pick up a copy, and use this game as sort of a "gateway" game for some of my friends.

Once again, thank you for the review.
 
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Peter Clinch
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SummerRider wrote:
Thanks for the review. Just a couple of questions.

First on the time machine. Do you use it, after the workers have been counted or before?


After, and then you get one less Worker in the next phase, so he's come from the future- back in time, hence "Time Machine"

You are right about the decks. I liked the art and the workshop mechanic, you'd need a good memory in a 4 player game to know who was going to go first

cheers
Pete
 
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Daran The Great
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SummerRider wrote:
Second, I think the game set up is different from how you described.

...snip...

So it would seem that you start with machines of level 1 and 2.

I am still thinking that I might try and pick up a copy, and use this game as sort of a "gateway" game for some of my friends.

Once again, thank you for the review.


We played the game at Essen and did not buy it, so likely my recollection is wrong.
 
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Piotr Konieczny
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My opinion exactly. Great components, but the rules suck. I've played the game twice and it is not something I'd chose again unless I see some nicely redone house rules.
 
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Bradley Reis
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I've since bought the game, mainly to see if it WAS indeed broken.

The House rule thought has merit. I know that for myself I'm not sure if I have time to devote to figuring that out. Maybe if I redid the game as a computer game...tempting, but still no time.
 
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Jonathan Franklin
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I'll admit that I preordered it and hence own it, but what is so bad about it? Is it purely the putting chips into closed boxes and having to track them? If that is a problem and you are OK with a slower game, you could make them open.

If someone wanted to play it, I would, just suggesting we stop a point on the track that is more than halfway, but fair to all three colors. The board is balanced that way, so you can easily shorten the game.
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Bradley Reis
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grandslam wrote:
I'll admit that I preordered it and hence own it, but what is so bad about it? Is it purely the putting chips into closed boxes and having to track them? If that is a problem and you are OK with a slower game, you could make them open.

If someone wanted to play it, I would, just suggesting we stop a point on the track that is more than halfway, but fair to all three colors. The board is balanced that way, so you can easily shorten the game.


I wrote a review of the game http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/368412(actually it's the only review besides this one, unless you count the one posted under "Rules" and in Portuguese http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/396066).

My biggest issue, and I'll admit you might not encounter it, is that in a three player game, it's possible to run out of cards, before you add in 3rd and 4th series. I only noticed that due to the fact that 2 out of the 3 times I've played this game I ran out of cards, or would have had I not decided to ignore the discard rule.

The other issue that one of the people playing with me had was that the game does seem "fiddly". By that he meant there seems to be a lot of activities that happen that just "set up the board". I think he didn't like the restocking of resources. In my mind I'm comparing it to the restocking in a game like Power Grid. In PG the resources are located at an easy to view area on the board, and you can quickly see how many there are and where to add them. In this game they are in the center of the board, the icon's look like the real cubes, so it's slightly difficult to glance and see if it's a real cube or just a picture of the real cube.

I don't know that any of the people I played with had issues with the putting tokens into the boxes and not knowing how many there were. I think we disliked the amount of time spent counting: "Ok we open the box and now let's see who has the most. Now we need to make sure and give the tokens back to the correct player". The fact that you do that activity at least 21 times does drag.

The actual buying and building of machines I think everyone liked.

If someone asked me to play the game I probably would. I just would never suggest it.
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fabrice vandenbogaerde
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Played Wolsung several times. I thing it deserves more credit than it gets. We play the full game in about 40 minutes putting the miners in the combines one by one. I think wolsung is a good combination between memory and recource management. Not the best game in the world, but good as a original variation.
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Doug Bass
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fabricefab wrote:
Played Wolsung several times. I thing it deserves more credit than it gets. We play the full game in about 40 minutes putting the miners in the combines one by one. I think wolsung is a good combination between memory and recource management. Not the best game in the world, but good as a original variation.

I have only played Wolsung once, but I agree. I really am not sure what is so awful about the game. True, it is not the most intellectually stimulating game I have ever played, but I found it to be fun and somewhat of a challenge. And there is a little bit of a screwage factor. The overt placement of workers into the combines did not bother me in the least, and I did not think the outcome was entirely predictable. We played with four players; this review was based on a 3p game. Maybe it makes a difference.

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