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Subject: Industria Review rss

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Bill Herbst
United States
Sayville
New York
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Many classic boardgames, from Monopoly to Acquire, put the players in the roles of capitalists developing their financial empires by manipulating the game's unique economic system. Michael Schacht's recent Industria offers players an opportunity to compete with their opponents to gain victory points through the development of factories and technologies throughout a five epoch time period that stretches from the pre-industrial age to an imagined time in the technologically advanced near future.

The heart of this game is the auction system that occurs at the beginning of each round. The game can be played with 3 or 4 players and will always consist of 15 auction phases. A number of tiles from the current epoch are drawn and the players then bid on them beginning with the player to the left of the auctioneer, who is the starting player of the round. The auctions proceed once around the table with each person bidding until it arrives at the auctioneer who has the final choice to take the tile for free and pass the auctioneering duties onto the next player in the sequence or to sell the tile to the highest bidder. The choice of which tile to auction is a mjor consideration for the auctioneer as money is very tight in this game and is most easily gained by accepting the bids of others for certain important tiles. It would obviously be ideal for the auctioneer to select the least useful items from his perspective and put them up for auction first because he could then collect money from the other players' bids and choose to take the last item for himself. The strategy is made more complicated by the fact that the rules state that the auctioneer must take an item that receives no bids from the other players and pass his auctioneering duties to the next player. Obviously, only selecting the most useful items can ensure that the auctioneer will receive bids on his item and be able to collect income but this poses the problem of whether he should refuse the income and take the item for himself. Of course, one's decision in this situation will depend upon a variety of factors and the weighing of such considerations yields a large part of the game's tactical depth.

After the auction phase, all players are allowed to construct any tiles they have purchased in the current or previous rounds. Each player may build up to three tiles provided that he only builds on of each type on a given game turn. The first type of tiles are factories, which generally cost money and resources, and often yield victory points and or provide other resources for later turns in the game. Another important set of tiles are the technologies which only cost resources to produce and generally yield relatively large victory point bonuses but are often risky to build as all the necessary resources might not be available for purchase in the current epoch (if the other players win them and the factories that produce them in the auctions) and they are worthless if not played in their current epoch. The third type of tile is the bonus tile which yields victory points at the end of the game for every factory that a player owns with a matching symbol; these each cost one taler. Each epoch also offers several resource tiles for bidding which can be used in the construction of factories or technologies during the building phase, although the resource tiles themselves are not built.

At the end of the game, one's score is calculated from the number of victory points gained from the construction of factories and technologies, along with any bonus points gained from factories that match the bonus symbols that a player has built and for any streets that connect related factories and technologies on the gameboard. Players always need to keep a close eye towards possible bonus tile and connection opportunities throughout the game in order to further their own progress toward victory and block the paths of their rivals.

The components for the game are very typical of a Eurogame of this type as it has painted wooden disks for money, thick cardboard tiles for the auctioned goods and a nicely illustrated game board. The game is currently only available in German, although its gameplay is completely language independent despite the text on the tiles and boards. Rio Grande is currently scheduled to release an English version in December 2005 and English paste-up stickers are available on this site. Although its theme might be somewhat clich├ęd and is not very well integrated into the gameplay, Industria offers an interesting intellectual challenge for those who enjoy auction games with unique bidding systems.
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Andrew Swan
Australia
Randwick
NSW
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latindog wrote:
The game can be played with 3 or 4 players and will always consist of 15 auction phases.

I've only played once, but given that:

there are 5 eras x 12 tiles/era = 60 tiles, and
each round, one tile is auctioned per player,

... then in a 3P game, there will be 60 / 3 = 20 rounds?
 
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