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Subject: An old print and play finally hits the table. rss

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Garry Bowlin
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Wisconsin
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A year and a half ago, I downloaded the files and printed a copy of the game on a whim. I love old style city planning maps, and the board looked beautiful. The components of the game (which is really just artwork) are great. I mounted the board on chipboard and cut it into a four fold board which fits nicely inside an old Settlers of Catan expansion box.

Setup: Everyone gets 25 cubes of the same color, and 2 coins. After that the game is divided into rounds each consisting of some number of turns.

It should be noted that cards that require coins to play tend to cost 3 coins, so from the start of the game you cannot use any of these extra abilities. I'm not sure if this is good or not, because if you don't choose a role that grants money (or cannot if you are late in turn order) then you will not be able to use these abilities in the first round.

Rounds: Each round is started by a different player (there is a mayor card similar to Puerto Rico). Each player chooses a role in sequence and is deal 3 card from a shuffled deck of actions. The important part of this phase is the you can only select a rule once during the entire game. This means that money granting roles are more useful in the beginning (to build up coins) and card manipulation roles are more useful in the late game (where you can spend coins more readily). Each role has a Special Action that can be used once per round and and an Ability that is used whenever it is relevant.

After roles are selected, the round breaks into turns, during which players do one of the following four actions: Draw a card (if they have less than 3 in hand), Discard a card, Play a Card, or Use their Guild's Special Ability. The round ends when there are no cards in the draw pile and each player has either one or zero cards remaining. The important aspect of card play is that there are two discard piles, one for unplayed cards and another for played cards. One clarity problem is that the played cards pile is called the trash, while the other is the discard pile. The rules would be clearer if the two discard piles has the more descriptive names of Discard Pile and Played Cards Pile.

The card playing is where the meat of the game is supposed to take place, but it generally left me feeling flat. The first reason for this is that if your hand has cards that you cannot use (more common in later rounds, but less common at the start of the game) then you need to spend an action to discard them. There is no other benefit to discarding a card than emptying a place in your hand (unless you have the merchant guild, where you get a gold). This slows the game down as you typically discard one turn and then draw the next. The second reason this round feels flat is the only way to get money in the first round is to play the merchant or the thief. No other guilds produce money in the first round (the banker requires that you own a building in order to make money, and to build a building requires money that you do not have at the start of the game). The final reason is that there are too many cards in the deck, so each round of what seems like a fast game takes too long. Many decisions you make at the beginning of a round are undone by the end of the round. If you cut down the number of cards, then each round would be quicker, and each decision more meaningful.

At the end of each round, players score money based on the number of regions in which they have majority control. If you have a strict majority, then you gain two coins, or in case of a tie, 1 coin each. This is the only other way for players to earn money. Since the merchant and the thief are the only two who can gain money in the first round, they are also the only ones who can use special abilities, and this leads to a rich get richer scenario.

The game continues for four rounds, after which the player with the most majorities wins the game (in case of a tie, its the player with the most influence [cubes] in the city).

I gave the game a 6, because I really liked the concept of the game. That being said, if the rules were better written and the game more balanced, I could see this being a great light-weight area control game.
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Andrew Oakey
United Kingdom
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Thanks for the review and also the rating. It was the 30th rating, so the game now has enough ratings to get an official BGG ranking

I think the review is pretty fair. Reading through the rules now I can see there is a lack of ways to gain gold. The simplest solution I can think of that wouldn't unbalance the game too much would be to have the option to skip your turn, discarding your hand and taking 2 gold. Next turn you'd then draw back up to 3. You then have a new way of gaining gold, but at the expense of losing a turn and losing cards (not always a bad thing if you have a hand that isn't of much use). It also provides a way of improving your hand should you have 3 cards you can't use

Thanks
Andy
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Jesse Olejnicak
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gsbowlin wrote:
The final reason is that there are too many cards in the deck, so each round of what seems like a fast game takes too long.


In the rules, the draw deck is actually very small.

Rules wrote:
Deal:
Deal 3 action cards to each player (unless they have kept a card from a previous round, in which case deal them 2 cards to take their hand back up to 3). Then the draw pile is dealt, face down next to the board. This consists of 8 cards in 2 player games, 10 in 3 player games and 12 in a four player game. The draw pile is made up solely of action cards.


In a three player game, each person gets dealt three cards, then ten cards get dealt as a smaller draw deck. You don't play with the whole deck. There are a total of nineteen cards in play for the round, not all 34.

Try it again with the more limited cards and you may have a different experience.

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Garry Bowlin
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Thanks, I must have missed that in reading through the rules.
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