I received a copy of Columbia to try out and review so after reading the rules and getting a few games under my belt here is my take on this resource management game of fur trading.
Inside this little blue box you will find a deck of cards, a bunch of little cubes, and some plastic coins accompanied by a 4 pages of rules.
Those are all housed in a foam and cardboard insert that holds the components loosely but effectively.
So whats all the cards and cubes and such about? Well the game is designed to represent fur trading as players represent a company bent on being the most productive company in the region. Animals and furs are represented by the little cubes that come in three colors; Orange for Beavers, Black for Bears, and White for Wolves. The coins are in denominations of 1, 5, and 10 represented by Green, Purple, and Gold coins. These coins are from some Mardi Gras excess stock but do the job well enough.
The cards are the best looking thing in the box as the are the heart of the game and the crux of the real design. There are 5 cards in various colors that simply represent each players river or home as it were. There are a bunch of cards that are the trading posts which I will explain below as well as cards that represent the 4 main actions each player can take during the main phase of the game.
The game is played over 13 turns where each player can take 2 actions per turn. Each turn is broken into 3 phases. The expedition phase, the trading phase, and the winter phase.
Each player starts with 5 cards and 2 coins worth 5 each. He also has his river card. Each player placed his five cards face down streaming from his river card to the right. It is important to look at the order you are placing them in because as you get to each winter phase, the card closest to the river will be discarded along with anything on the card such as furs.
Because each player will have different cards initially and will also get more cards later the idea is to build yourself a working system where you can trap animals, transport their furs and barter and sell your way to the win.
After this initial card placing, each player then gets 4 more cards into his hand.
There are cards with canoes that can transport 1-3 bales of fur. There are traps which can trap 1 or 2 animals. Barter cards that let you trade furs and coins from canoes and traps to either turn lesser furs (i.e. Beaver is the lowest) into greater furs (i.e bears are the best furs). You can also reverse this and sell nice furs to get lesser furs and some coins. Lastly there are selling cards where you can sell furs from your canoes only for coins.
So when you take an action such as TRAP you can essentially use all your traps in your 5 card line to trap animals as long as there are open spaces on the card.
So in a turn if you have traps you can TRAP. You put cubes, from the general stock, of the color represented on the card (for example 1 bear, or maybe you have a trap that traps beaver and wolf).
You can TRANSPORT which means move animals into canoes. This means you have skinned them and they are now furs.
You can SELL furs that are in a canoe. By the way you can only ever carry the same furs in each canoe. All bear, all wolf, or all beaver. You can mix and match.
You could also BARTER as mentioned earlier. But you only get two actions per turn.
At the end of the trading phase, the first card to the right of your river gets discarded along with any cubes on it. So for example you could have beavers in a trap but all your canoes are filled with bear fur. You are better served to the let the beavers just die as they plunge over the water fall than to lose bear fur.
Now would be a good time to mention also that Bear furs are usually worth three coins each while wolf and beaver are 2 and 1 respectfully.
Also I should also point out that you can use all your cards of type by taking an action. So if you have four traps, you can fill all three by taking the TRAP action.
So once the first card is discarded, players draw a fifth card into their hands.
In the expedition phase which now takes place at the start of turn two (it is skipped in turn one) each player puts a fifth card down in their line of cards to replace the one that was discarded. All four remaining cards are shifted left and the new card takes its place to the right of those four.
There are a number of trading posts I mentioned earlier. These are lined up on the table dependent on the number of players. There are blue and red trading posts and each of the cards in your line of 5 cards have icons on the top of each. The player with the highest suit of icons (like poker with teepees, totem poles, and peace pipes) gets the card from this middle line. The card is added to the players 'machine' and can a trap, sell, barter, or canoe. The difference being that this card is permanent and never falls over the falls. Its always available each turn after you win it into your company.
This process continues over 13 turns. At the end of the thirteenth turn the player with the most coins wins. Trading posts and each two cubes not used in previous rounds are also scored.
I kinda like this game. It's fun and simple. The cards and the artwork on them are really perfectly suited to the game and make sense. The coins are kinda cheap and could have been more related to the genre. The cubes are completely effective. It doesn't really have much to take me into the genre though. I didn't ever really feel like I was sporting a coon skin cap and skinning bears. However I did kinda feel like I was trying to make my company work and to gather and sell resources.
The idea behind this game and the mechanics are well worked and the rules are very easy to follow. I would classify this game as a filler where 5 people could pretty easily play a game in around 30 minutes.
The one thing that happened during our 5 player game was an early victor. We are knew about turn 6 of 13 that my buddy Dave was gonna walk away with victory which he did to the tune of 74 to the nearest in second place being a measly 42. This was simply due to a great hand of icons on his cards. He started with 4 of a kind with the best suit and just added more over several turns so he won the trading posts for several turns straight. Kinda disheartening but likely a fluke.
So here is my grading on my made up scale.
Luck:8 / Strategy:7
Components:4 (would be much higher if it had decent coins and the card backs with a little more decorative. They are all solid blue.)
So would I play this game again? Yes without doubt. It will be a nice filler game.
Did I enjoy it? Yes. While I score it higher in luck than strategy, I do enjoy its fast game play and nice artwork. In higher number of player games, I think luck could very easily put someone out of the running by turn 4 or 5. Not a good thing me thinks.
Would I buy this as a gift for someone? Sure if the price was reasonable.
All in all I think this game is a winner and if presented properly to the market could easily rise in the ranks in certain categories.
- Last edited Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:20 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Wed Jan 30, 2013 4:46 am
""""The one thing that happened during our 5 player game was an early victor. We are knew about turn 6 of 13 that my buddy Dave was gonna walk away with victory which he did to the tune of 74 to the nearest in second place being a measly 42. This was simply due to a great hand of icons on his cards. He started with 4 of a kind with the best suit and just added more over several turns so he won the trading posts for several turns straight. Kinda disheartening but likely a fluke."""
WAS it a fluke? Frankly, our group has been disheartened by the luck of the cards with any number of players. It really seems to need some sort of card drafting at the start. I have won several times and got no satisfaction from my LUCKY victory. There is plenty to like in the mechanisms, but it is just not working out for us.
Phuong & Eric Le Boillaud
We took in consideration the reviews and opinions of the players who felt that the game involved too much luck.
We added a "Mulligan rule" in the second edition: Once per game, each player may take a mulligan - the player discards his cards, and draws the same number of cards as a new hand.
This adds more control to the game, as well as one more level of choice since the Mulligan can be played anytime.
The second-edition rule is compatible with the first-edition game material
- Last edited Fri Jan 3, 2014 5:50 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Fri Jan 3, 2014 5:49 pm