You have just received your Kickstarter copy of Saloon Tycoon (hand delivered by the photogenic Jonathan), you are in a pub, what could be more thematic than playing the game in said pub?
Boy does this game take up a surprising amount of space. The table was just about big enough. If there had been another player we would have been screwed. Basically we’d have had to have put it away and play something else.
We have some beautiful looking games these days. You just have to look at Ashes or Hit Z Road as examples of the heights companies are reaching. However there is just something about a game that has a 3D element to it. Colt Express, Camel Up! and Imhotep (to a lesser extent) for example just have this visual impact that draws people to them. Saloon Tycoon joins that list of games that have that pleasing 3D visual impact when you build floors on parts of your saloon. I think it’s one of the things that attracted me to the game in the first place. For me this 3D element of the game, with each player board area being different, really works, both visually and game wise.
The rule books could be better. Probably with a reference book explaining the cards. Or more clarifying how they work.
The player aid cards included I like. They provided a nice concise summary of a players turn, and scoring during play and game end.
Jonathan had an issue with the graphic design of the player score board. He thought it was a mess and hard to use. It was less of an issue for me. Although I think it could have been bigger! Score spaces are only big enough for a single cowboy meeple. At a minimum they should be big enough to have two meeples on a space.
A game turn is simple enough, I like the card driven play, but also being able to do something that doesn’t require a card, like draw more cards or take gold.
With the cards controlling actions, you are able to get combos and have a little interaction with your opponents. Mostly in the form of taking cards from their hand or taking gold. There is also a bribe action that allows you to steal characters from other players.
It grates that when counting floors we are forced to use the Americian numbering. It’s just wrong, like the way they write dates and spell colour.
It’s also cool that each room type has some sort of one time bonus you get to perform when you complete building that floor/room. Before you can buy some of them they have prerequisites like you will need a specific room built already or have a first floor for instance. So you are not only deciding what to build on cost, but bonus and if it allows you to build a more expensive powerful room also.
I like the secret objectives players have, along with public ones anyone can go for. This goes a long way to adding to the games replayability.
It was the secret objectives and completing his that made the difference and allowed Jonathan to come from behind and win.
As you may have guessed we liked playing the game. It continues a run of kickstarters that we backed that lived upto or exceeded what we thought they would be.
After building our Saloons it was time to hit the road and cross the zombie infested badlands of Route 66 in Hit Z Road.
This time Jonathan made it to the end of the journey but fell short on the points front. Jonathan definitely faught more zombies than me, whilst I avoided them as much as possible. Yes I was more care free with my survivors and ended up with one making it to the west coast and safety.
I’d also managed to amass more resources than Jonathan and was in a better shape for the last leg of the game. Plus it meant I was able to claim three of the four bonus cards at the end. Which was more or less the difference between our scores.
Yep this was just another Friday night of great games, friendship, finished off with dodgy meat covered in token salad and a liberal dash of chilli sauce.