If you don't know about 'Splotter' games then you're missing something.
Splotter Spellen actually has a full range of games, but the games that get the most attention tend to be the longer, more involved games such as Bus, Indonesia, Roads & Boats, Duck Dealer and Greed, Inc, of which I have played the latter 3 at least once each. Roads & Boats is my ultimate favorite and I'm regretting not having purchased a copy of it when it was 'cheap' and available...if you call a game cheap at $80. It's at least twice as expensive now. Antiquity is at least another factor more expensive.
Why are they so expensive? First, they are quality games. Second, they are produced in limited runs. Third, they have a ton of components in them (some have 100's, even 1000's of components). Fourth, they are terrific games to play. Well, at least, if you like long, deep games. Fifth, they make the games themselves! By hand (well, with some machinery of course)! At least from what I understand from their website.
So, I decided to talk about this game a bit more because, if you are given an opportunity to play it, don't hesitate to say 'yes'. It's an experience and you may not have much opportunity to play it again.
My friend Robert brought over his copy the other night when I suggested he bring over anything he wanted to play. Woo-hoo!
Ok, so tell me about how to play the game!
The best way to talk about this game is to walk you through some of the things you need to do. One thing I will say for this game - even though it is complex, the rules are fairly straight forward and refreshingly logical because they are fairly well grounded in reality. Most of the Splotter games are like this and is one of the things I really enjoy about their games.
To start with, your city planners (well it's just you) have to make some decisions. First, where are you going to put your initial city? Should you build closer to water to be able to fish and produce luxury items like pearls and dye? How much wooded areas do you need nearby to be able to produce wood to build more buildings and keep things going? And, do you also have good access to some mountains where you can get some stone to build other important buildings.
Then, after your city has a site, you must decide what you are going to build in your city. You probably want to start with 1 or 2 Cart shops that let you get out beyond the city and establish wood cutters (critical) and either fishermen or miners. You also need to build some houses to attract workers that you can hire and then send out to man the buildings and do harvesting and such. Here is a picture of most of the buildings you can build:
|The primary buildings you can build.
Some other common ones are not shown.
In addition to WHICH buildings are built, you have to decide WHERE in the city they will be placed. This action is reminiscent of Princes of Florence where, once the building is placed in the city grid, it must stay there the rest of the game (there is an exception to this, but generally is the case). I really like this aspect as you have a nice puzzly part of the game and you have full control over it.
|Player sheet showing initial city grid (lower left) and various
costs for buildings (middle) and houses (lower right).
A critical building to get going is the Cart shop which will let you send a worker out to fish, cut wood, mine stone (or even gold), build a farm (to help produce certain goods) and eventually an Inn which helps you expand your domain.
Now, after building out your city you decide where your newly hired workers will best be put to work in those buildings. Most of the special buildings, when manned, give you different capabilities. For instance, the Explorer will be able to reach certain special locations on the map to 'discover' different types of goods, perhaps even something you can plant on a farm and grow more of!
|The starting land that was randomly selected
for this 2-player game.
|New land to exploit!
|Initial cities and some fishing
and wood-cutting action.
|Another city, many workers and
a growing pollution problem!
|5 cities and tons of waste to clean up! Tsk, tsk!