Today’s game of choice was Martin Wallace’s Tinners’ Trail, a game of tin and copper mining in Cornwall. It’s a delightful little economy game. I didn’t have expectations for it, I’d had just heard good things about the game.
It’s a fairly simple deal. There are areas that are auctioned to players. Once you have a mine in the area, you can mine the tin and copper there. Mining costs money, depending on how much water there is in the mine. Tin and copper are worth money, the value fluctuates pretty wildly from turn to turn, but is known before you go mining. When you mine, more water is added to the mine.
There are ways of removing the water: ports, steam pumps, railroads and adits (sort of water pipes) help remove the water and give other benefits. Miners can be hired to increase production.
Some areas begin the game with known amount of ore, other can be either prospected and then bought, or bought blind and then prospected. That’s a big of a gamble, as in our game Tuomo bought an area which turned out to have nothing but water.
The game lasts only four rounds, which is a pretty good length, actually — in our game, I had something like three tin cubes left in my mines on the last round.
The victory point system is fairly clever. It’s not about money! Once in a turn there’s a chance to buy victory points (“external investments”). They cost quite a bit, ranging from £5 to £50. Each packet buys certain amount of victory points. On the first turn, you get 1.2 points per £, then 1, then 0.8, then 0.6. Early purchases are rewarded, but of course you need the money to buy land and mine it.
I found the game good fun. The die-rolling brings quite a bit of randomness in the affairs, but in a good way. The way the water works is rather clever. All in all, this is a game I’d really like to play again. Our game took just 65 minutes, with maybe a third of it spent on the first round. If the game stays that short — or gets even shorter — this is a real gem.
After Tinners’ Trail, we managed to play one round of Die Dolmengötter. It’s one of my absolute favourite games, particularly in the 20-minute niche. It didn’t fail this time either, even though we had two newbies to school. I played my dolmens correct, getting maximum multipliers for both 4 and 3, scoring wee bit over 70 points. Exploiting newbies is the way to go. Meanwhile my archnemesis Hannu was stranded on the outside looking in and barely managed to reach second place. What a sorry lad.