Sunday, July 7, 2013

Western Town : Oddly named game but surprisingly fun

interesting game play. Would like to try it again...
I have never heard about this game when Roy brought it out and I was surprised to notice that it was released in 2012. Totally under my radar and I scour BGG quite regularly lol... Roy had played it a few times and a few in my group liked it so I was interested to give it a go.

Western Town (very uninspired name for a game btw) is a medium weight euro style game with a few known mechanisms in place but redone in a way that makes it all seem still quite refreshing and interesting to me.
Essentially you are playing cards which will give you actions which you can do during your turn. Each player will be able to play 3 cards during their turn. There is also a chance that players can exploit cards IF other players played cards which they themselves have or have previously played so this gives a player more actions per turn. Most of the time though you are trying to develop your own town by building special buildings or homesteads which gives resources and points. Players can then use these resources to fend off Indian attacks, turn them into secondary goods which essentially count for points at the end of the game. The game is not too long but because you are selecting cards at the start of a round to play during the round, that portion takes the longest and if there are AP prone players, it WILL take quite a bit of time to play. Otherwise, the game is over in 5 rounds and highest points wins the game.
There are 3 interesting elements to the game. First is the card selection. Some people on BGG mentioned this is very much like Citadels because you are trying to select cards which give you options during the game but at the same time you need to figure out WHEN is the opportune time to play these cards. Cards have a main benefit and even then they are flexible enough for you to do multiple things with them. This part reminds me of Edo when you are selecting tiles to perform action on them. Play them too early and you give opponents an option to use the exploit feature which prevents you from using that card to exploit and also from getting income at the end of a turn.
Next is the Exploit feature. So once every player has played 2 cards, in turn order, players have a chance to use Exploit or play a 3rd card. If you have played a 3rd card and can no longer Exploit, then your turn is over for that round. So you want to try to use exploit as much as possible so as to get more actions per round. If you choose to exploit too late, then other players may have used it and turned over a card before you can thus robbing you of a chance to exploit. I really like this feature because it makes you think when you are selecting cards so as to maximise your actions per round.
Finally, the choice of buildings and their special effects both make for an interesting game with replayabiity. That is because some cards are not used and these are determined randomly at the start of each turn. So you potentially may not have the same buildings as your opponents which will suck because that means you cannot use their exploit features but at the same time your opponents cannot benefit off you either.
The game is not without some flaws though for example there are only 3 resources which you are trying to concentrate on as they give a lot of end game points. There are other ways to score points but it seems these 3 resources (export, lure and people) seems to score the most points. Setup is horribly long because you need to setup the starting buildings, give each player a character and starting resources and setup the Lincoln cards (cards that determine each round who gets a free house and also end game scoring). As mentioned, this game can be quite prone to AP. Its gets worse nearer the end because of the number of cards you will probably have in your hand AND the number of cards you can hold to use later on.
I have read some reviews online and it seems to be mixed right now. I did enjoy my play of it and want to give it another go and try different methods to see how it is. I am not sure how it does with more player count but we played with 3 and it seems to run quite ok. I encourage you to give it a go and see for yourself if you like it but be aware that its a medium euro style game but has a lot of interaction. Try it before you buy it.

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