Review of Boomtown:
Playing time: 30 minutes
- 60 cards
- 2 dice
- 5 wooden mayor pawns
- 10 wooden tokens
- poker chips in different colours representing different values
Cards: The cards are slightly larger than ,let’s say, normal playing cards with rounded corners and they have a nice, velvety feel to it. The sexy, cartoonlike artwork made quite a lot of male players (I almost expected my glasses to fog up ) stare at some of the pictures and left us wondering how the whole picture would look like. But it didn’t disrupt our concentration – too –much. All the information you need from the cards is easily readable and the layout is very true to the theme.
Pawns and tokens: the wooden mayor pawns and tokens are colour coded to represent the five mining towns. The mayor pawns are nicely sculpted and remind me of chess pieces. The wooden tokens are okay, not too small and not too large. A minor complaint I have is that the mayor tokens tend to “rub off”, so some mayor tokens wear some coloured spots from another towns and some have “bald” spots.
Poker chips: solid plastic chips which look like a thinner version of an old MB game (4-in-a-row or something like that).
It’s pretty simple (although I managed to skip an essential rule which turned the game into an incredibly boring game session). A game round is divided into different phases
Card draw phase: Cards (one card for each player) are laid out in the middle of the table. Most of these cards are mining concessions located at different towns (indicated by the colour on the cards). These mines also have a gold value (the amount of gold they produce) and a production number (if this number is rolled with the dice, then it produces gold). Other cards are event cards which can mess up the other players’ resources (blowing up mines, stealing money,...) or give you an advantage in the card selection or gold production phase (explained below).
Bidding phase: The starting player chooses a card and starts bidding for it, the auction goes clockwise with other players bidding higher or passing.
Payment phase: When everyone else passes the highest bidder takes the card and pays the bid amount to the player on his RIGHT who then passes half of the amount (rounded down) to the player to his right, and so on.
Card selection phase: The remaining cards can now be chosen and the player on the LEFT of the auction winner has the first choice. These cards can be chosen without bidding for them (which was the error of my first game as we auctioned off EVERY single card which meant a very long and tedious game and, predictably, the winner was the one who bought as little and as low as possible ending up with a HUGE amount of poker chips).
Gold Production phase: The dice are rolled once and if the dice total corresponds with a production number, the player owning the mine earns its gold value.
“This town ain’t big enough for the both of us”:
You can become mayor of a town when you have the majority (starting with 2 mines) of mines located there. The advantage of the mayor status is that the other players have to pay you money each time they take hold of a mine located at your town (the price is the amount of mines you already own in that particular town).
Winning the game:
When there are no more cards to draw, the game ends and the players’ score is calculated (amount of gold + gold value of owned mines + 5 points per mayor pawn). The player with the highest score wins
The game components are very nicely done and I’d give them a solid 8 out of 10. Concerning gameplay I’d like to say that I am a gamer who likes thematic games which have a light or medium diffilty or complexity. I don’t like wargames (like a game of thrones) and games which have a lot of scarcity management and/or complex ingame score calculation systems ( Reiner Knizia’s Samurai and Ra). I like games where there is room for a fair amount of tactics AND luck ( games where the armchair strategist doesn’t always always win from the occasional gamer). Balancing these two things is a game author’s ultimate challenge in my opinion and I must say that mr. Cathala and Mr. Faidutti have done an excellent job here. A bit of luck with the dice combined with bidding tactics and some “take that” stuff of the event cards make a very nice game (8 out of 10) . Here’s an overview what I liked and I didn’t like about the game:
What I liked:
- the payment and card selection game mechanic: This provides for a lot of game balance. One player gets the money (well, most of it anyway) and the other gets second choice.
- The event cards: last game a player did her utmost best to obtain a mine in mine town hoping to break my “mayor monopoly”. She paid me some money, took the mine. I took the dynamite card and, grinning gleefully, blasted the mine she just took
- Card artwork
What I didn’t like:
- Some rules discussions concerning the mayor status (if other players have the same amount of mining concessions in your village , does this mean that no one gets to be mayor in that town or does the first mayor still retain his mayor status?) and playing event cards immediately (does “immediately” mean playing it as soon as you take it or wait until all of the remaining cards are taken and then play it?)
Regarding your mayor question: The way I read the rules, the mayor only changes hands when a player achieves a majority.
Regarding event cards: I believe the instant event cards (dynamite, card shark, etc.) are resolved as soon as they are taken.
Yes and yes !
Thank you very much for clearing that up. This will lessen some of the bloodshed during future gaming sessions
Then again, this is a game situated in the wild west, so a little bit of gunslinger behaviour is inevitable