2-4 players, Competitive, Economy Building
Designer: Gavan Brown, Matt Tolman, Martin Wallace
Artwork: Lina Cossette
Note: This a review of the Deluxe version. This game is all about properly managing your economy. You will be building up various factories, breweries etc. and trading those goods to specific border cities on the game board to try to achieve the most victory points possible. It’s all about finding the best and most efficient way to do this to maximize your points.
Win Condition /Length
To win this one you just need to have the most VP’s (Victory Points) at the end of the game. To achieve this you will need to be very strategic and efficient during your actions, which I’ll explain more later. This game can be played with 2 players which took us a little over an hour and a half but as you start adding more players up to the maximum of 4 the game will take longer as each player has his/her own player board to contend with. There can be a bit of analysis paralysis for those that like to really think about their move; however your hand of cards does limit that to some degree.
Excellent quality components here. The cards all feel nice and the tokens are of a good quality with some wooden squares for the iron and coal tokens and some wooden beer barrels that are shaped like little barrels. The cardboard stock they use for the player board tokens are thick and feel very sturdy.
The setup takes quite a while for this one. The card setup is rather fast as you just lay down the wild cards in their respective parts, shuffle the main deck and deal cards to each player and place the rest face down in its spot. The MEAT of the time it takes to set up are the individual player boards. Each player gets a board and on these boards you have to place all the industry tokens that you will use throughout the game. There are 29 different spots for these tokes and 4 or so of each specific token goes per spot, in a specific numbered order. So you can imagine that dumping out a bag full of these tokens will take you a bit to find and sort them out to put them in the correct place. Once you are finished with that you are pretty much ready to go!
The takedown of the game is much quicker depending on how you have the game sorted. You can go the route of individual bags for each player’s tokens (there are 4) or you can opt to try and sort out each individual industry token by type (there are 6). The latter will make the setup quicker but at the same time will increase the time of takedown. As an aside there are 3d printed storage trays people have created that hold all these tokens perfectly and I wouldn’t be surprised if something like this hit mass market eventually. But as far as the game comes, you will have to deal with baggies.
The box is on the small size and honestly nothing really stands out about it. Also since you will more than likely be storing most tokens in plastic bags you don’t really have to worry about stuff getting mixed up.
Visual Appeal /Theme
I REALLY love the visual aspect of this game. The board looks amazing with the style and artwork. Not only that but the main game board and all the player boards are double sided. One side has the darker artwork of nighttime complete with painted on lit lanterns and the other has the day time look and feel to it. This doesn’t change the gameplay at all but it’s these little things like this that really stand out to me with games. The theme is really great as well, taking place during the industrial age of England with various city names adorned on the game board and the surrounding landscape painted in-between with the railroad and canals painted to connect the cities. The outer edges of the board have very elaborate drawings for the VP track and everything just looks….fancy. This is a very beautiful game indeed.
This game is deep, no doubt about that. Luckily the rulebook does a great job of explaining it! It is fleshed out with pictures and good easy to read descriptions. As with most games you will more than likely need to grab it and search for specific rules of things as you play the first couple times but everything is easy to find with areas bolded for ease. Also included are directions for an introductory game for your first time playing to make it a little easier on you and a section of “Beginner Tips” which is awesome.
Table Presence/Game Board
I talked about the game board a bit above and how great it looks and it just looks even cooler once you start playing and getting your industries set up along with your networks. As you build out the game you will remove those tokens from your player board and place them on various spots on the main game board. This will create your network for your economy. The board is a pretty good size and when combined with the players’ boards it does take up a decent amount of space on a table and that’s not including the space you need for the money tokens and other iron and coal chits.
Table Talk/Fun Factor
I loved playing this and found it to be extremely deep. This might turn off some players who prefer a more simple straightforward game but the turns were easy and fun and honestly this game is only as complex as you make it. That may sound kinda weird but you can go in and just have a ball of a time building up your industries however you want based on what city cards you have in your hand OR you can really get down into it and plot out strategies to REALLY maximize those cards to their fullest potential and monitor what the other players are doing as well. I played with my wife who is a freaking master of strategy games (who also figured out a clever strategy about halfway in) and at the end of it she only ended up winning by 8 VP’s which is a very narrow margin as we both lapped the full VP track once already.
And even though you are playing your own player board you do end up having much discussion around the events happening on the board between other players. I went into this game thinking I wouldn’t be doing much table talk but as it turns out this one creates all kinds of interesting discussions based around other players’ actions.
Optimal Player Count
This is one of those rare games that I think any player count is optimal and here’s why. At 2 players the game is scaled back a bit as you cannot use the full game board or the full amount of cards. This is done to create that sense of interaction/competition with the other player. When you go to 3 players another section of the main board opens up as well as more cards added to the deck to draw from. And finally at 4 players the full board is open as well as all the cards to draw from. Personally I think you will get the same experience from the game no matter which player count you go with, with the only big difference being the game length. The more players, the longer the game.
I’ve said it before that I’m not the biggest fan of VP’s and those styles of victories in games. But this one really stands out, and honestly it actually quite a bit of fun just playing the game and not having to worry about VP’s until the end. And then the excitement when you tally up everything and see who came out on top. I really love that tension it creates. The artwork is just amazing and the theme and feel of the game is great. Thus far this is my favorite strategic economy board game I have played.