Today's review is a new offering from Tasty Minstrel Games and designer J. Alex Kevern. It's an area-control, resource-management game for 2-4 players, set in the Old West. Is it the best in the West, or a cow flop? Let's find out!
The setup is somewhat involved, so I'll talk about the components as I talk about setup. The game board is actually a frame where the Terrain tiles will fit. You take the 8 Terrain tiles and fit them into the frame in random order--with the water piece in the middle of the board. Then you take Mining tokens and place them facedown on a matching space on the Terrain tiles. Flip over the 12 Mining tokens touching the water in the middle of the board.
There are five types of resources: Copper, Silver, and Gold are metals, and Wood and Stone are building materials. They're each certain to be found on the matching Terrain tile--with Wood and Stone being found on Forest hexes.
Give each player a player board, a Miner score token, three Stagecoaches, 12 Camps, and Influence tokens based on the number of players.
On the game board, there's a 3x3 area called Boomtown. The game comes with 12 Boomtown Offices, and you'll randomly play with three each game. There are numerous configurations you can use to fit these Offices into the grid, and when you have them set there will be one small space left, where you'll place a piece a 4VP piece.
The game comes with 20 Investment cards, and you'll choose eight of them at random and place them faceup next to the board. Then you'll place the set of VP tiles, numbered 1-5, next to the cards.
Firestone--The Boomtown Offices and Investment cards add a ton of replayability to Gold West. Every game will have different goals, and they're varied enough that two games are unlikely to feel the same.
Jeremiah--Yes! Boomtown pulled out a win for me the first time we played; it's a great little wrinkle in the gameplay that adds depth without bogging down the game.
There are 12 Shipping Bonus tiles, four for each of the Resources. You'll place these tiles onto the correct spaces on the Resource track. Each player places a Stagecoach on each of the three Resource tracks.
Randomly pick a start player, and then distribute Player Order tokens around the table. Each token has a different set of starting Resources. The player takes those Resources and places them in the spot on his or her player board shown on the Player Order token.
The player boards each have an Influence track for each of the four Terrain types: Forest, Silver, Gold, and Copper. There's also a space for Camp and Influence tokens.
Finally, there's a Supply track on each board, and this is a key part of the game. There are four bins, running from the bottom to the top, and each has a VP associated with it--3, 2, 1, and 0 from bottom to top.
That sounds like a lot, but it's not bad at all.
Jeremiah--The board is designed and laid out so well that most everything makes complete sense during setup, it was super easy to setup the first time. It's very well done!
Turns consists of three steps:
1) Active your Supply Track.
2) Use Metals.
3) Build or Loot.
To start your turn you'll pick all the resources in one bin of your Supply Track and move them up as many spaces as possible, leaving one resource in each space as you pass it. Any resources left over after you've moved are available to use this turn. You use them this turn or lose them. You must choose a bin with at least one resource in it.
You use Metals in one of three ways.
Buy Investments: Investments are public goals that everyone can go for. Each Investment card has some combination of four Metals, and some sort of reward--including VPs, Influence, and Shipping Bonuses. When a player completes an Investment card, he takes the card and places it next to his player board, scores any VPs and bonuses, and then takes the largest remaining bonus VP tile. You can only fulfill one Investment card per turn.
Influence Boomtown: Boomtown offices are laid out on a grid, and in order to influence them, you have to pay the resource on the top row and the one on the column. You'll place an Influence marker down and then you'll get the end-game bonus associated with that office. They include bonuses such as:
- Saloon: Two points per Investment fulfilled.
- Frontier Office: One point per building on the edge of the map.
- Shipping Office: Two points per Shipping Bonus token you've collected.
Again, these will be different every game. You can only influence Boomtown once per turn.
Ship: To perform the shipping action you can use any number of any type of metals. You'll simply place them back into the supply and then move your stagecoaches (of matching metal types) the number of resources you played. As you cross certain spaces you'll earn VPs. There are some VPs that everyone can earn, while others are tiles that the first and second players can earn, so there is an incentive to being the first to move along those tracks.
The third part of a turn is when you Build or Loot. You must either build a Camp, build a Settlement, or Loot.
If you have either a wood or a stone, you can pay one and place a Camp on the board--on an unrevealed Mining token. You take the Mining token and place it on the Influence track on your player board. You take all of the resources on the Mining token and place them in one bin of your Supply track. The further down you place them, the more VPs you score immediately, but the longer it will be before you can use them.
If you have a wood and a stone, you can pay both and place a Settlement. This is identical to placing a Camp except that you place an Influence token under your Camp piece, and when you place the Mining token on your Influence track you skip a space to show a Settlement counts as two Influence in that resource.
If you don't have a wood or a stone, you're forced to Loot. You place a Camp onto the Wanted section of the board and immediately lose one VP. Then you choose and discard a Mining token, still taking and placing the resources, but not gaining any Influence.
Play continues until all players have placed their Camps. Everyone gets a final turn where you just activate your Supply Track and then use any Metals you might have. No building or Looting.
Then final scoring, which consists of:
- 2 points per building (Camps and/or Settlements) in your largest contiguous group of buildings.
- Any bonuses from Offices you Influenced in Boomtown (and they stack).
- Players lose points based on whoever has the most Camps in the Wanted area.
- Finally, apply Terrain bonuses.
Firestone--I'm a big fan of Gold West. I had no expectation going in--other than liking the aesthetic and art direction, and hoping there was a good game to go along with it. It surprised and hooked me right away.
Jeremiah--Yeah, we loved this game from turn one! It looks great, has some really nice super-thick components (with the exception of the player boards), and the game play is really engaging!
Firestone--The "mancala" type of resource management here makes for interesting decisions throughout the game. It's easy to poorly plan yourself into a situation where you're forced to Loot. That really makes this a gamer's game--or maybe a family game, depending on the family. I could see a newbie spending a while in a Loot-spiral before figuring things out. Pick something else for newbies, but definitely grab this for your gamers.
Jeremiah--Hey! Wait a second! I totally got caught in a Loot-spiral my first game. What are you saying?! Here's what makes this a great game, though. I did get myself into a Loot-spiral early on, but because there are so many avenues to score points, using metals, and especially with Boomtown, I still pulled out the win, even though I was around 6-7 deep in the Wanted area.
Firestone--The only complaint I have is that it's just not as good with only two players. It's fine, but if I had only two players, there are a ton of games I'd choose over this.
Jeremiah--Yes, the more players the better with this one, for sure! It still works with 2 players for sure, it just shines with more.
My one small complaint is the player boards: They're laid out and designed well, they're just uber flimsy! Especially in contrast to the overly thick board and tile pieces. I did, however, love the miner and stagecoach meeples! The stagecoaches are painted and look REALLY slick!
Firestone--Yeah, those stagecoaches and miners are great. Totally unnecessary, but the fact that they still chose to include them is wonderful!
The Final Verdict
Firestone's Final Verdict--Gold West is a very good game that combines a clever resource-management system with area-control and variable goal-fulfillment. The fact that there are so many different goals and objectives each game is just icing on the cake. Gold West has gone straight into my permanent collection.
Jeremiah's Final Verdict--If you're looking for a light/medium-weight euro that focuses on area control and resource management, look no further than Gold West! I loved this game from the first turn, and it keeps getting better. High replayability, and streamlined mechanics make this one a keeper!
Theology of Games would like to thank Tasty Minstrel Games for providing review copies of Gone West. This in no way affected our opinions of the game.
Thanks for reading!