Game Buzz: Alan’s Adventureland

Time for another game in the growing genre of amusement park games:

image by BGG user Clockpunk
image by BGG user Clockpunk

Alan’s Adventureland is a game designed by Alan Ernstein and published by Rio Grande Games.  It’s for 3-4 players and takes 45-90 minutes.  In the game, you are designing an amusement park, and are specifically working in one of four themed neighborhoods (Animal Kingdom, Tour America, Sky World, or Foreign Lands).  Your goal is to have the best neighborhood and earn the most points at the end of the game.

The game comes with four two-sided player mats, 78 ride cards, 78 ride wooden tiles, 156 ride stickers (grumble), 5 theme cards, 16 bonus layout cards, 4 scoring tokens, a scoring track, a start marker, a first player marker, 5 100 chits, and 5 200 chits.  Each player begins the game with one player mat, representing one of the neighborhoods at Alan’s Adventureland.  There are two modes of play – the Layout Bonus Variant and Bonus Card Variant – and you’ll use a particular side of the mat for each.  Choose a dealer, who will give everyone six cards.  Each player will go ahead and play one Ride card next to their mat, taking the matching attraction and placing it anywhere on their mat.  Players put their score marker on space 10 of the scoreboard, and you’re ready to play.

image by BGG user punkin312
image by BGG user punkin312

Let’s look at the Layout Bonus Variant first.  At the start of each round, the dealer deals two cards per player to the center of the table.  You then have a snake draft – the first player chooses a card, then everyone does the same in clockwise order; then the players choose again in reverse order.  Then, beginning with the start player, each player puts a ride card in an empty space between two players.  This card indicates a type of ride those players may play without penalty.

Now it’s time to build an attraction.  Each player plays a ride card from his hand to his discard pile, and takes the matching attraction tile.  If it doesn’t match either of the cards beside you, you’ll have to pay a penalty – two points if it does not match another card on the table, or three points if it matches a card not next to you.  The attraction tile goes on your board.  If it is the same as another attraction, it goes on top as an improvement.  There is a limit to the number of times a tile may be improved.

Once all players have played and built, the cards between them are shuffled and placed on the bottom of the deck.  The first player marker is passed.  If it reaches the start marker, a Bonus Round occurs.  In the Bonus Round, each player plays a card from their hand and builds the tile, with no penalties.  You score a Layout Bonus for covering certain squares, as well as the Excitement level of each attraction.  After the third or fourth Bonus Round (depending on the number of players), it’s time for final scoring – score based on the parking lot view and main entrance view (rows and columns), as well as theme sets.  The player with the most points wins.

The Bonus Card variant plays out generally the same way, except the Bonus Round is changed.  In the Bonus Round, players will play a card and build an attraction as in the Layout Bonus variant.  However, they will then play a Bonus Card, which scores points if you match the layout on the card (not the board).  Final scoring is the same.

image by BGG user punkin312
image by BGG user punkin312

Now, I should mention at this point that Alan Ernstein is a member of my gaming group.  His most well known game is Inca Empire, but he’s also done games like Ars Mysteriorum, Palenque, and Dry Gulch Junction.  He often brings prototypes to the group for testing, so a number of our group got to play it when it was called City Planner.  I was not one of those, so I can’t tell you how it changed from that early version.  But I do know that those people in my group who DID play it really liked it.  For me, it looks like it has some very interesting spatial concepts to think about, particularly in where you place rides and trying to get them to fit into certain configurations.  It looks plenty abstracted, to be sure, but it’s an extremely colorful game.  The online rules are…odd.  The pages are out of order, and it’s kind of strange that the two modes of play each get the entire rules written out when it appears that the only difference between the two is the Bonus Round.  Still, it’s a game I’m looking forward to trying out when it officially gets released.

Thanks for reading!

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