Music sucks now....
When I read reviews it is hard to gauge how valuable the information will be to me. I figure this short introduction will help you figure out whether my opinion will help you make an informed decision on whether or not to track down a copy! I love economic games with industry/manufacturing themes. Games replete with money, cubes, real life business simulations, and player interaction make me very happy. I tend to like complex games with a lot of math that do not take more than 2 hours or so with exceptions of course.
Image by henk.rolleman
Siberia is a game by Reiner Stockhausen where players take on the roles of businessmen and workers in order to procure raw goods and sell them to the stock exchange. The unique thing about Siberia is that players will not necessarily know what actions will be available to them, because before every round everyone will draw action chits randomly from a bag. The game will take players about 60 minutes to play, and takes about 5 minutes to teach. Siberia is for 2-4 players and is of light complexity.
Opening the box
Picture by Eric Martin
The components in Siberia are absolutely top notch. The illustrations remind me of Le Havre and are very nice. The tokens and game board are pretty thick and of great quality. The cubes are magnificently large. The only problem with the cubes are that the purple cubes representing gas do not match the bright pink gas tank illustrations. Also the gold resource cubes are orange while they are illustrated in yellow. These are minor complaints, because all of the colors are so varied. Thus, the color mismatches are easy to match anyways. The worker meeples are of very nice quality. My favorite thing about the game is the board, which is extremely easy to read, uncluttered, and unambiguous in every way.
Picture by Mill1
The rulebook is well written and clear. After one reading I had a good grasp on the rules and was ready to play. This has a lot to do with the fact that there is only a few pages of rules and the gameplay is pretty light. It's definitely nice to read a well written rulebook every once in awhile though!
The object of Siberia is to be the player with the most money when the game ends. The end condition is triggered when three resource pools are depleted, or when every exhaustion counter is put on the map due to resource depletion.
The map is seeded with resources at the beginning of the game and players start with workers on the edge of the map and on the Frankfurt stock exchange. Four investment chits depicting one action will be turned over and put on the investment spaces and the game is ready to be played.
Every turn players draw six counters from a black bag. Most counters depict a resource action along with a character action with the exception of the manager counters. After drawing their actions, players will then allocate the chits to the matching spaces on their player boards. Action chits have 3 uses (other than the grey manager tokens which have 2):
-They can be played as a resource gather/sale action
-They can be played as a character action
-They can be played underneath the research space of your player board to seed the board with a resource depicted on the chit
Picture by mill1
After allocating all of the action chits, the start player continuing clockwise will take actions one at a time until all players have passed. Actions besides the research facility action may only be used if there are two counters underneath its picture. When an action is used all circular action chits are returned to the bag.
The actions are as follows:
Research: Place one cube per resource depicted on each chit underneath the research facility on the map. This has to be the first action players take, unless they do not have any chits underneath their research facility.
Manager: This is a wild action that can be placed anywhere. It also counts as a cube of any color if used for research. This is the only action without a resource printed on it as well.
Worker: This action is used get more workers on the map.
Logistician: This action players allows players to move their workers around the map.
Salesman: This allows players to place a worker in a stock exchange at the bottom on the board.
Investor: If a player uses the investor action he places one of the investment tiles on the corresponding action space. Each space may only hold one investment tile, and will stay there the rest of the game. Investment tiles allow players to only have to place one action tile on a space to activate an action.
Resource Actions: All resource actions function the same way. Every area of the board where you have a worker present allows the player to collect the resource corresponding to the resource action being taken. Afterwards, the collected resources must immediately be sold to the stock exchange of any city where a player has a salesman present. All resources sold in this manner are removed from the game. When an area is depleted of its resources all workers present are sent back to players' supplies and an exhaustion counter is placed in the area.
Picture by henk.rolleman
Because players start with only one worker in Siberia and one salesman in the worst paying stock exchange on the board, it is integral to one's success to strategically place salesman on the right stock exchange places, and get as many workers on the board as possible. Most of the gameplay revolves around the timing of actions, and when to activate your actions as opposed to saving them.
Like I said above, I am generally drawn to economic themes that are fairly complex. This game feels like a filler game to me. It is extremely quick and easy to play. I think convincing people that this game is so easy to play and doesn't take long will be quite difficult due to its theme. I've only played it 2 player so far, so I can't comment on how it plays with 3-4 players. Even though I can see it being a bit zanier with more players, there isn't much direct interaction between players besides taking resources before other players can.
In my opinion, the action selection mechanism in this game is the games greatest strength and also its greatest weakness. It keeps the game light and tactical, but it also greatly increases the luck involved in the game. On one hand, I'm glad the game is as light as it is, because I have more than enough complex games to play. On the other hand, I like the theme so much I almost wish there was a deeper game here. That isn't to say it doesn't require any planning or clever play, but luck of the draw will definitely have a major influence on the gameplay.
My only qualm with this game is that the money isn't really money. You collect it like points, but never spend it. I would've loved to see something in the game you could use your money (points) to spend on. Instead, you just collect it and then count it at the end similar to Steel Driver or Stephenson's Rocket. Also, the stock exchange is interesting, but IMO isn't dynamic enough. I would've liked to see the sale prices higher with less resources printed on them. The reason I say this is that once you get one or two other salesman on the board, there really isn't a reason to ever take that action again. Maybe if the salesman were returned to players supplies after they are used it would make more sense.
All in all, I am very glad to have this in my collection. It feels a lot like Tinners' Trail (which is my favorite light economic game) if all of the actions were drawn from a bag as opposed to picked from a menu. They both have about the same complexity, but Siberia has much less math.
I give Siberia a 7/10, and look forward to playing it again. It is a very enjoyable game, and a good gateway game for players interested in exploring economic games.
Picture by duchamp
- Last edited Wed Feb 8, 2012 3:38 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Wed Feb 8, 2012 7:08 am
Nice review Tonny!
La Donn Wittenburg
Very nice review Tony. I didn't know you got a copy already. Maybe we can get a 4 player version going in the bear future.
Very nice review Tony. I didn't know you got a copy already. Maybe we can get a 4 player version going in the near future.
I have played Siberia with 4 players, and I suspect that that is the best number. Although there is some significant luck of the draw,that luck can be ameliorated by advance planning, as up to 10 action chits can be carried forward to your next turn.
Excellent review. Thank you
I played 3-player at Essen 2012 and I regret not buying the game. It played smooth. The statement "comparable with Tinner's trail but with less math" is spot on.