Carcassonne: Gold Rush (Z-Man Games, 2014)

Date played: May 3, 2020

Basic details: 2-4 players; 35 minutes

Gist of the game: As another of the Carcassonne standalone spinoffs, Gold Rush stays pretty close to the spirit of the original while adding a twist. Features in Gold Rush (and their original analogues) are prairies (grasslands), railroads (roads), cities (like monasteries, ish, but score differently), mountains (cities). Gold Rush also features the ability to place/move tents into unoccupied pieces of mountain to earn mining tokens that score at the end of the game. There are only 4 meeples plus the tent, so players need to be more strategic than in other versions of Carcassonne in placing their meeples.

Color commentary: Howdy, partners! Welcome to Old West month in the Hendriquist household. In addition to being a review of a game, this blog post kicks off our first attempt at a themed month, where we concentrate our attentions on games that fall within some category. A slight twist on randomization, it still narrows down the pool of potential games sufficiently that we’re saved from decision paralysis on any given day. And, lest you wonder, “are there really that many Old West-themed games out there?” let me assure you, there are a large number, and we have a healthy sample of them, to the extent that we might not be able to play them all this month, depending on how many we manage to play through each weekend.

I think this version of Carcassonne definitely required more strategy than the others, as I ran out of meeples quickly and only regained a few of them after fairly long stretches. The mining tokens added a neat dynamic that other versions don’t have, as they incentivized both finishing mines quickly before your opponents could come pilfer your tokens (you get any remaining tokens when the mine is closed off on all sides)  and moving your tent/taking tokens rather than placing meeples.

Thoughts from M: This game added a fun “gambling” twist, as you don’t know how much the mining tiles are worth until the end of the game. And even though there are fewer figures overall, the ability to easily move the tent makes for a nice change of pace.

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