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Benjamin Hoy
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Saskatoon
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This is the third review I have written in the Under-Reviewed Games series. The goal of this series is to provide written reviews for games that haven’t received a lot of critical attention. Specifically this means I will be looking at games with 5 or fewer reviews with a special focus on print and play games. Because let’s face it, does 7 Wonders need another review? The first two entries in this series were Poo: The Card Game and Golden City. This week I'll be looking at the PnP game Agora.


Agora




Players: 2-4
Playing Time: 15-25 min
Contents: 36 game cards and 4 player cards, 25 colored counters per player (not included), and money in denominations of $1 and $5 (not included)

In Agora, players take the role of a hard working merchant who buys shops, sell goods, and struggles to survive in an ever-changing ancient Greek marketplace. Players have to avoid fires, floods and take advantage of festivals in order to expand their holdings and defeat their opponents.


Assembly
Agora is a free ‘Print and Play’ (PnP) game produced by cheapass games. The game is quick and easy to assemble. Players will need to print out a rule book and five pages of tiles in order to play. The easiest way is to simply print the tiles on 110-pound cardstock. If you have time to mount the tiles on something thicker the results are quite a bit nicer. I made my copy with medium thickness illustration board, 110-pound cardstock, x-acto knife, metal ruler, and spray glue. The entire process took me about an hour to complete (much faster if I had used a fresh x-acto blades) and the materials cost about 3 dollars. I ended up using the houses and paper money from Golden City to fill in the remaining components. This worked very well even though Golden City contains only 18 cities of each color.

Game Mechanics

Each player starts the game with $10. They then compete to build up their empires until one player reaches 50$ and wins the game. Each turn is broken down into 4 phases.


Phase 1: Collecting Income

The player whose turn it is collects income based on the number of doors each of their shops have that connect to the outside world. Figuring out exactly how many doors score took me a few minutes to figure out but thankfully the rulebook is incredibly well written on this section.

Phase 2: Drawing a Card
The player whose turn it is then draw a card from the pile. Each card has one of three symbols on it (Fire, Flood, Festival) and a letter (A-D). If a player draws their own letter the special event occurs. For example, if player B draws a tile with Flood on it and the letter B then the flood event occurs. Alternatively if, Player A had drawn the flood tile with letter B nothing would have happened.

Fires destroy all the tiles and counters connected to the largest shop. The largest shop is the shop with the most counters on it.

Floods remove all the counters from the largest shop but do not effect other players counters that are located on the same tiles.

Festivals result in all players immediately taking their income from all of their shops. If multiple people break 50 dollars simultaneously the player with the most money wins.

Phase 3: Placing a Card
The drawn tile is then placed “at any angle and in nearly any position on the table.” The only rules are cards cannot overlap, shops of multiple players cannot be connected, and if you are placing shops against each other the pillars on the cards have to line up. Shops can be expanded for free by placing a new shops adjacent to one already owned by a player. This can be done to either expand your own income, to reduce an opponent’s income, or to increase the overall size of their shop to make it more prone to fires and floods.

Phase 4 (Optional): Buying a shop

Finally, the player can then buy a shop by paying the income the shop would currently generate in a single turn. So if a shop had 3 doors to the outside it would cost a player 3 dollars to purchase and would generate 3 dollars on the players next turn. This phase is optional but highly recommend until the last few turns of the game. After this phase is complete, play passes to the next player. The game continues until one player reaches 50 dollars.



Overall
Agora is a very good game that is absolute worth the time to print out and play. The rules are well written with exceptionally good examples. The game scales plays a bit differently depending on the number of players but remains fun.

Value:
Agora is a fantastic value. The new artwork is beautiful, the rules are careful written, and the final product is something I’m proud to break out even though I’m not good at making print and play games. Did I mention it is free? Not many games of this quality can boast that. Cheapass Games is predicated on a model where all of their games are available online in their complete forms for free. If you like their games they ask that you contribute some money to keep them going or at the very least help spread the word about their games. If you don’t like their games you lose nothing. Having bought my share of less than fantastic games, I really appreciate Cheapass Games’ business model.

Pros
Beautiful artwork
Fun game
Fantastic rulebook
Free!

Cons
Generating income phase takes a little while to get use to even with an excellent rulebook

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