Today, I want to talk about a couple of games being brought to the US by Stronghold Games. We’ll start with
Great Western Trail is a game by Alexander Pfister that was originally published in Germany by eggertspiele. The game (for 2-4 players) is all about driving cattle and using buildings along the trail.
Great Western Trail comes with a game board, 54 worker tiles, 18 hazard tiles, 22 teepee tiles, 4 player boards, 4 player count tiles, 4 cattlemen, 4 engines, 56 player discs, 4 certificate markers, 92 cattle cards, 24 objective cards, 4 starting objective cards, 47 building tiles, 5 station master tiles, 55 coins, a job market token, and a score pad. The game starts with seven neutral buildings out on the board. The worker, hazard and teepee tiles are sorted into piles according to the number on their back (1-2-3). Some 1 and 2 tiles will be revealed and placed on the board. Some market cattle and objective cards are revealed, and each player gets a player board, 10 private building tiles, 14 player discs, an engine, a certificate marker, a cattleman, 14 player cattle cards, and a starting objective. Players then get $6-$9 based on player order.
On your turn, you will complete three phases: move your cattleman along the trail, use the action(s) of your reached location, and then draw back up to your hand limit.
MOVE YOUR CATTLEMAN: You will always be moving towards Kansas City, though there are different branches you may take. On the first turn of the game, you will place your cattleman on any of the seven neutral buildings on the trail (even where another player has started), so you could be essentially beginning from the middle of your journey. On subsequent turns, you’ll move your cattleman forward up to your step limit. Each location you pass (building, hazard, or teepee) is a step. Some locations will cost money if you cross them.
USE THE REACHED LOCATION’S ACTION: If you land on a neutral building or a tile of your color, you can either use the local action of that tile or an auxiliary action. Most buildings have two different actions, and you may choose to take each of them once in any order. Auxiliary actions you can take include getting money; drawing a card and discarding another; paying to move your engine; or moving your engine without paying, which causes you to lose a hand card forever. If you land on a building of another player’s color, you can only take an auxiliary action.
When you land on Kansas City, you must stop. In this phase, you’ll carry out five sub phases in succession. First, move tiles from Foresight 1, 2, and 3 to their appropriate locations. Next, receive income based on the cards you have in hand, then discard them. Finally, move a player disc onto a city crest and pay the appropriate cost.
DRAW UP TO YOUR HAND LIMIT: You start with a hand limit of 4, but could increase it up to six.
When the job market is filled up with the last worker (which will be placed with Foresight tiles), the game ends after everyone has a final turn. Players score for money remaining (1 per $5); points for private building tiles placed; city crest points; train station points; hazard tile point; cattle card points; points from objectives; points for placed workers; points for individual tasks; points for worker placement; and points for the job market marker. The most points wins.
Great Western Trail is a pretty expansive game with a lot of moving parts. I like that the trail grows as you go, with new locations popping up and therefore new actions being available. I find that a lot of Western themed games aren’t terribly appealing to me, but I think this one looks interesting in spite of the theme. It does at least go against the shoot-em-up style game that you usually see. It looks like one I’d love to try sometime.
Fabled Fruit is a game by Friedemann Friese that was originally published by 2F-Spiele in Germany. It’s a game for 2-5 players that plays in 20-30 minutes. The theme is that you’re searching the forest for Fabled Fruits, or specifically their juices. It’s billing itself as a Fable game, which they define as a game that evolves over several plays like a Legacy game, but there are no permanent changes and you can easily reset when you need to.
The game comes with 240 location cards, 60 fruit cards, 6 wooden animals, 6 animal tokens, 10 fruit mix cards, a wooden thief, 5 fruit tokens, 3 wild tokens, and 3 double turn tokens. To set up the game, take the locations deck and DON’T shuffle it. It is stacked with 59 different locations of 4 cards each (except #59, which has 8). You’ll draw the first six locations and set them up in four stacks. You’ll also shuffle the fruit cards and deal two to each player. Players also get an animal token and wooden animal.
On your turn, move your animal to a new location. You can’t just stay put. You can move to any location, but if there are any other animals present, you must give each one a fruit from your hand. Once in your new location, you take the action listed. Here is what you can do on the first six locations:
- Draw 2 fruits.
- Give one banana to another player, who must then give you two fruits.
- Draw one fruit, then exchange three fruits with another player.
- Display your hand on the table. Each other player may take one fruit. For each fruit taken, you draw two more from the stack.
- Discard any number of fruits, then draw back up to 3.
- Reveal fruits from the stack until you take them all into your hand or bust by revealing a second of one fruit type. If that happens, all fruits you revealed are discarded.
Instead of taking the action, you can turn in the combination of fruits listed on the bottom of the location card and claim it as one of the fabled juices. When you claim a juice, draw the top card of the location stack and place it in its appropriate stack. That means that, every four times someone claims a juice, you’ll get a new location. If you ever claim the fourth card from a stack, the location is gone and no one will ever be able to take that action again.
The endgame triggers when someone claims their 5th (2 player), 4th (3 player) or 3rd (4 and 5 players) juice. After everyone has had the same number of turns, the player with the most juices wins (with ties broken by fruits in hand).
Friedemann Friese is well-known for his willingness to experiment in game design. And while this game might not be as ambitious and revolutionary as, say, 504, it does look like it gives that Legacy feel of an evolving game without having to rip up cards or have any kind of finite replayability. It does seem fairly light, and I think it will go over pretty well with families. From what I hear, people tend to play several games in a row so they can find out about the new locations, and the ease of saving your place makes it so you can pick right up where you left off. So this is another one I’m looking forward to trying sometime.
Thanks for reading!