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Easy to learn/teach
Quick set up
Just enough player-screw to keep things interesting, but not so much that you'll want to harm your friends
Reference Cards are included (which is very nice/handy), but they list terms unique to the game like "Monthly Routine", which should be defined. For example, as part of the Monthly Routine a player gets to choose two of three possible actions: Mine, Sell Resources, or Buy New Workers. These available actions should be listed on the Reference Card.
There aren’t enough games with mining as the theme, but if you lend your support to the Mining Maniac Kickstarter campaign, there’ll be one more game in that category. Mining Maniac, from X-Axis Production, is an economic game with a slight mining theme. Fairly straight forward and easy to learn, Mining Maniac is a light weight card game where players mine different resources in order to turn those resources into coins/money. At the end of twelve rounds, the player with the most money wins.
The basics of the game are easy enough, but there are a few twists that add to the fun and might shape or destroy your strategy. The Market might fluctuate unexpected, the ability of a player’s chosen Character might have some type of adverse affect (such as removing some of your workers/resources), or there might be some type of catastrophe brought about by an Incident card. These chance encounters help keep the game alive and fun.
In Mining Maniac there is a central Market that is visible to all players. Prices are listed for each of the resource types (Gems, Gold, Coal, and Copper) and will rotate each turn. There is also space for the Future, which will rotate with the rest of the resource cards. The price for each resource can also be adjusted by +1/-1 at the start of a round, so forecasting isn’t always a sure thing.
In addition to the Market there is a resource location map, made up of a grid of nine resource cards, that is another central focus of the game. Which locations can be mined is determined on each player’s turn by a single dice roll. Resource cards in the row/column that was rolled are all flipped. Any face up cards may be mined, provided you have enough workers to commit to the job. After each job is complete, your workers go back to the shared worker pool.
Each player chooses a Character at the beginning of each round. Some Character cards are randomly left out of the choosing process each round so exactly which Characters are in play is a slight mystery from round to round. Each Character activates in a specific turn order, which will also correspond to the player’s turn order. And each Character has a unique special ability. The abilities are either beneficial to the player possessing the Character or they screw over other players.
Mining Maniac also contains Incident cards, which serve as a type of round marker. A typical game is played with twelve Incident cards, with one being drawn each round. The last Incident card being drawn signifies the last round of the game. Incident cards are exactly what they sound like: disaster waiting to happen. The game I received came with 24 Incident cards so each game can potentially have different incidents than the previous game.
The Character and Incident cards add a lot to Mining Maniac and keep things fresh and exciting round after round. Thwarting other players is fun, and the fact that your strategy can be turned on its head keeps you on your toes. It is really nice when everything lines up and you sell 4 (or more) resources at $3 (or on the best days, $4) each. That’s nice. It feels good. You held off selling them for $1 each or even $2 and you were rewarded for your efforts. However, at some point it is going to work like this: You hold on to your gold because the next round the price is going to go up to $3 each. But, as the round starts, the price for gold actually drops down to $2, which is what it was last round, which means you aren’t gaining anything so you hold on to your gold. The market will pick back up right? Well, next turn there is some market catastrophe and you can’t sell anything. Finally, some rounds later, the market becomes favorable again and you plan on selling. You can taste the cash now. This time when the round starts a Corporate Spy is revealed and they cause you to discard your gold. Now your spirits are crushed and you are out what was going to be a very lucrative resource. All is not lost though, the Corporate Spy came in contact with your Contagious Worker, which forced your opponent to get rid of half their work force. Ha, eat that! Have fun at the mines today with your weak labor force.
That is essentially how it goes. There is a lot of back and forth and it is both enjoyable and ire-invoking, which is exactly how this game should feel. While I enjoyed Mining Maniac decently enough, the wife enjoyed it a little more than I did and she’s eager to play the game with a higher player count. And I will admit I am curious how differently it plays with 4 or 5 players as opposed to 2 players.
Due to the nature of Kickstarter projects, I am not entirely sure what the final components, storage, etc will be like when the game is printed for fulfillment. However, the review copy I received arrived in a nice game box that was definitely fit for local gaming store shelves. The components and rule book all seem to be final version, ready for mass production quality. And as is often the nature of Kickstarter, if the components do change, it will only be for the better, which what I received is already of a nice quality.
Overall, Mining Maniac is definitely worth checking out on Kickstarter. Head over to their campaign page now and lend them your support. If you like light games, economic games, or games with just enough player-screw to keep things interesting then you should click over to the Kickstarter page right now.