GOLD RUSH ON KLONDIKE RIVER …
… or rather turn ALDERMAN instead?
Klondike 1896 is a new game by Vladimír Suchý, who has acquired a certain degree of fame for his games published by Czech Games Edition, for instance Sechsstädtebund / League of Six, Die Werft / Shipyard or, the latest one, Der Letzte Wille / Last Will. Klondike 1896, however, is not published by the afore-mentioned rather well-known Czech publisher, but by a publisher so far unknown in the world of board games, Stragoo Games from the Czech Republic, too. (From the editor: Stragoo Games was founded in 2011 as a subsidiary of Bonaparte, an established Czech publisher for puzzles and standard board games.)
The statement “a new game” needs to be revised immediately, because you get two games in one with Klondike 1896. The rules list them as Introductory Game and Advanced game. I am not too happy with those names, because as an experienced reader of many game rules I would suppose the Advanced Game to be an extension or expansion of the Introductory Game. But in this case the Advanced Game is an entirely different game that does not have a lot in common with the Introductory Game. While the Introductory Game is an auction game, with a mechanism that reminds me of a simplified version of Ra or League of Six, the Advanced Game is something for fast thinkers and even faster “placers” and can be compared to games like Mondo, Galaxy Trucker or Ubongo.
Therefore I will split this review into two parts in order to describe both games and adhere to the albeit hapless denomination of the publisher.
Gold Rush in Dawson City, players try to acquire the highest-yield claims along the river.
The Introductory Game is played in rounds. Each round a number of tiles, the claims, is displayed in relation to the number of players. In turn players can bid for one of those claims, following the rule that they can either place a marker in their color on an empty tile or chase away another player from such a tile by placing the marker on an already occupied tile together with any number of rubies. You must take care to place more rubies than already placed by the previous owner. The chased-away player takes back rubies that he might have placed and must immediately place his marker again and can now in his turn chase off another player. This goes on until all tiles in the display are taken by players. The rubies now on the tiles are put back into general stock and all players take their tiles and place them on their individual boards.
Each player has such a board, which is made up from small square grids. Each grid holds 6 x 6 square spots, on which are depicted rubies, gold nuggets or simply green meadows. How you combine the four grids is up to you and allows for some variations, you just need to agree at the start of the game how to do it.
The tiles that you can bid for have different shapes, similar to Tetris pieces and cover different numbers of squares on your board. You want to place those tiles on your board in a way that allows you to form a connection from the left to the right edge of the board as soon as possible while covering as many gold nuggets and rubies as possible. The rubies can be used in the next auction, and gold nuggets are victory points and marked on the track for victory points. You need to take into account a few simple rules while placing those tiles, for instance that each tile that you place must touch at least one tile that is already on the board. Furthermore, a small additional tile is auctioned off in each round, but that was it for the entire rules!
As soon as a player reaches the right edge of his board the game ends and you score the game. For each column that you did not cover between your last tile and the edge of the board you score penalty points. You win with the highest total score from gold nuggets minus penalty points.
What shall we do with all that wonderful gold? How about a career in politics in Dawson City?
The Advanced game is also played in rounds and in the Advanced Game, too, you place tiles on the grids according to similar rules, but that all that the two games have in common.
At the start of the game each player receives a complete set of different tiles. In each round you lay out a number of favor cards in relation to the number of players and a target card. On the target cards you find different numbers for gold nuggets and rubies. Players try simultaneously to cover on their board gold nuggets and rubies, as depicted on the card, with tiles from their stock. If you believe that you are done you take one of the favor cards in the display. Those cards show different numbers of symbols for one of the most influential citizens in town - Sheriff, Lord Mayer, Horse Coper and, of course, whorehouse madam. As as the last player but one has taken a favor card the last player is allowed to place a bet on one of the other players. Then you check for all players if they have reached the numbers stated on the target card. If a player has covered exactly the necessary numbers he can advance the marker on the score track for the number character symbols; if you miscounted you must move back on the corresponding character score. The slowest player wins or loses with the player on whom he placed his bet, but only with the numbers on the last remaining favor card.
After a pre-set number of rounds the game is scored. There is a majority scoring for each track as well as the total of all symbols. If you then have achieved the highest score you win the game.
Both games are rather simple family games and well suitable for an in-between game of 20 to 30 minutes playing-time. The graphic design is simple, but functional. Other publishers might have done it prettier. The colors for the citizens are somewhat funny; especially the pink for the madam is very, very pink! The rules come in several languages, but unfortunately the German rules have some mistakes, so that I did switch very soon to the vastly better English rules.
But the biggest shortfall, in my opinion, is the number of players. I do believe that both games would work well for more than the number of players stated in the rules, that is, two to four players, but unfortunately there are only enough components for four players. I think that this is a missed chance, because within the last few years there were very few games for more than four players.
So we are left with two games in a box of one, which both have a certain allure, but turn out to be average in the end and do not really stick out from the mass of other games; yet, I can absolutely recommend them for a short occasional game!
Designer: Vladimír Suchý
Artist: not named
Price: ca. 25 Euro
Publisher: Stragoo Games 2011
Genre: Bid and placement game
Users: For families
Rules: br cz de en es ru sk
In-game text: no
2 very different games in one box
League of Six, The Speicherstadt and other bidding games (Introductory Game)
Mondo, Galaxy Trucker, Ubongo (Advanced Game)
My rating: 3
Klondike gives you 2 short, simple family games for an occasional game, unfortunately there are only enough components for four players.
Chance (pink): 0
Tactic (turquoise): 1
Strategy (blue): 2
Creativity (dark blue): 0
Knowledge (yellow): 0
Memory (orange): 0
Communication (red): 0
Interaction (brown): 3
Dexterity (green): 0
Action (dark green): 0