Game Buzz: 504

There’s still time to enter my 5 year/500 post contest!  See the details here – you could win a copy of the Stonemaier Games Treasure Chest, Evolution from North Star Games, War of Indines from Level 99 Games, or Wrong Chemistry from MAGE Company.  The contest closes on October 18, so hurry hurry hurry!

The contest is now closed.  Winners will be announced on October 20.

For the contest I’m running right now (linked above), one of the survey questions is asking what game people are most looking forward to.  One of the most popular answers has been

image by BGG user Henning
image by BGG user Henning

504 is a game by Friedemann Friese being published by his company 2F-Spiele (Stronghold is distributing it in the US).  It’s actually nine different modules that can be combined in different ways to produce 504 different games.  It’s an incredibly intriguing concept, and I wanted to take an in-depth look at it today, which seemed appropriate since this is my 504th post.

First, the stuff: this game comes with 61 map tiles, 48 good tiles, 30 covering tokens, 10 city cards, 1 price token, a starting player card, paper money, 66 privileges, 5 headquarter tokens, 5 transport trolleys, 5 cargo hold cards, 10 movement point tokens, 135 settlements, 135 residents, 1 share value board, 100 VP tokens, 1 majority board, 30 marking tokens, 30 factories, 3 turn order cards, 3 dice, 8 militia, 8 barracks, 6 explorer tiles, 30 income tokens, 90 roads, 4 starting cards, 17 scoring cards, 40 plants, 5 stock company boards, 5 share value tokens, 45 shares, 2 overview tiles, 9 module cards, and The Book of Worlds.  Of course, you won’t be using all of the components in all of the games – only the map tiles, money, settlements, and The Book of Worlds are needed for all 504 games.

At the start of the game, you deal out the nine module cards into three piles.  You then choose one pile, and that’s what your module combination will be.  Say you deal out 9-3-4, 2-6-1, and 8-7-5.  You choose 2-6-1.  So you’ll choose the scoring and end conditions from Module 2 (race).  You then also get the economy of the game from Module 6 (route building) and some extra challenges and flavor from Module 1 (pick-up-and-deliver).

image by BGG user unittype
image by BGG user unittype

The first thing you’ll do is set up the map.  There are 5 possible map layouts, and each module will indicate one.  You choose the one with the highest priority (lowest number).  You’ll also determine player order and starting money based on priority between the three modules.  Other setup rules are found on the modules themselves.

After this, each game round has five phases.  These phases may or may not be used, depending on the modules used.  First, determine round-based player order.  Next, auction privileges.  Next, take actions.  Next, pay dividends.  Next, score.  The specifics will change every time – that’s kind of the point.

So, what are the nine modules?

  1. Pick-Up-and-Deliver: Players have transport trolleys that are used to deliver goods and residents across the map.
  2. Race: Players are trying to get to a certain place first, or are trying to be the first to own something.
  3. Privileges: This module is all about upgrading your stuff.
  4. Military: Here, you are fighting.  This may not be the ultimate goal if this module is in play, but it is an element.
  5. Exploration: Players are trying to find different parts of the world.
  6. Roads: You are building connections between the various cities of the map.
  7. Majorities: You are just trying to have more stuff than your opponents.
  8. Production: You are constructing buildings to exploit the various resources of the world.
  9. Shares: You are investing in companies.

So you can see that there’s quite a varied range of games to mash together.  The cool thing is that you can focus on some modules, or can try to do them all.  It’s highly replayable.  I’m not sure yet how fun it will be.  It’s certainly VERY ambitious, and a pretty innovative concept, but it might be difficult to parse through all the rules.  Without The Book of Worlds in front of me, I can’t really figure out exactly how everything will work together.  But this is certainly a game that should be tried, if just to see whether it’s a masterpiece or a colossal train wreck.  Thanks for reading!


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