New South Wales
Buster Keaton from 'Go West'
This game was loaned to me by my mate who'd rather sell games than play them, so it was my duty to play it and form an opinion. As he also loaned me Reef Encounter, Himalaya, and some others at the same time, my game group couldn't handle them all and the lot of playing this one fell to my family. From the rules it seemed that there was nothing particularly deep or strategic about it, so my card-playing wife and my 9yo son should be fine.
First thing I noticed is that the rules are somewhat brief. For example, from the trading post, where are the corners you can move to? I guessed that there were 4 possible destinations on the start tile. And some of the character cards are in French, some in English, and some in German. My wife played the game in English, my son in French, and I in German. Some games are alingual, this game is trilingual. It works OK, it's just a bit weird.
So, this being my first game, I missed a couple of rules. In particular, the one about requiring water to a tile to mine river gold, and a mine to mine mountain gold. We got away with about 1 free gold each before I found that rule and we started using it. I think it would have been harder to start without that little donation.
It then took us a while to get the hang of the economic system. You can get free food, you can get free wood, from those you can get tools, then you can get mines, then you can get gold, then you can get everything else. Once we got the hang of it, my wife and I started working the system to get gold as fast as we could, while my son explored the nether reaches of the river. Eventually we had it down pat, trying to find a spot where we could get a decent supply of food, wood, and gold. We bought the odd crate of dynamite, fishing rod, horse, boat, but nothing seemed to be overpowered. A bigger backpack would have been handy!
Toward the end of the game, my wife and I both had a lot of mountain gold, and my son had a lot of river gold. That meant he wasn't a threat - his exploitation of the system hadn't been as efficient as ours, and he was obviously well behind. So it was a race between my wife and I to get 10 mountain gold as fast as we could.
In the end, she got 10 mountain gold first. I could see I was in trouble, so had grabbed a river gold. We tallied, and both of us had 34 nuggets, compared to our son's 19 or so. What are the rules for a tie? Well, there weren't any. I guess we just tied. So we played for 2 hours and there wasn't a winner? Meh.
My son said he liked that game "a bit". My wife said life's too short to play those sorts of games. I think I might be up for a couple more plays, if I could find an interested opponent. It's just not very... anything. It's not offensive, it's just not great. I'm not sure what's wrong with it.
Anyway, the lucky thing is I can give it back to my mate, and it hasn't cost me a cent.