KLONDIKE RUSH BOARD GAME REVIEW

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Right, do yourself a favour. Avoid typing into Google ‘Klondike Rush’. This history is a merge of horror, capitalism and glinting rocks. In them, the drive of digging into the ground, pulling out small shiny nuggets and then taking them to an intermediary, to sell for profit is one ready for any wannabe fortune hunter. This sounded like an amazing adventure. An amazing cash adventure. To those who actually went on the journey, it was a cut throat nightmare of small margins, smaller plots and avoidance of those out to get your share. The gold rush. An American nightmare and an American success story. Success is often the focused on portion of this history. With those who became millionaires, the ones who are the celebrated. The real stories, are the ones that left behind little and lost fortunes. So many broken souls… Now gladly I can escape this narrative and instead play a game which give me a taste of it instead. Thankfully KLONDIKE RUSH allows me and you to experience the ups of gold, without the despair of the cold! Also add in an abominable snow man.

THE CONTENTS

The box is a slender thing. Rather mid ranged illustrated and little emphasis on what is inside. On opening the box, we found a board, nice sized and structured. Plastic mines in four colours. Cards in two sizes. One smaller for cash ($1,$10,$20 and $50), order cards and a last bid card for an additional variant. Larger cards are profit cards, Mining Company cards and a reward card for the snow beast. You get hunt tokens to lay down on the board, a larger town token and a gloriously menacing plastic creature that is the first player token and the aforementioned snow beast!  This is the best thing in the box for both quality and clarity. Although bar the box, it is all very nice indeed.

SETUP AND GAMEPLAY

KLONDIKE RUSH sees players bidding on the mine companies trying to exploit the area for gain. So firstly you need to get the board set up. Lay it in the middle and put that town token on any space on the board. That means any circle. Now shuffle the hunt tokens in a pile, draw them and randomly place one token face up on each open space on the board. Shuffle the order cards and deal 2 to each player. Players may look at these cards, but must keep them hidden. Place the remaining order cards face down by the board. Place the money cards next to the board. Give each player $30 from the supply. Keep your total money secret, this is a bidding game. Shuffle the mining company card deck. If playing with 4 or 5 players, use all the cards. If 2 or 3 players, remove the cards with “4+” in the top right corner. Shuffle the deck of cards and place it face down. This is the bid pile. Give each player a profit card. Now have the reward card for the snow beast card by the board. Place the mine pieces next to the board. Place one piece of each around the town and one on the company value track at the top of the board. Then the first player gets the snow beast figure. Time to get your gold rush on! The round goes from player to player. Each player does the following in their turn. Draw a mining card. Everyone bids (do this in a clockwise order as it can be a bit confusing). Check the cards top, as this notes how you benefit from it. Sometimes its double ups on profiting (see later) and others an order card comes back to you. Then after this you can build mines along different routes on the board. You pay for this by counting the numbers on the board along a line to the nearest same coloured mine. Do not forget though, you can reduce costs if other mines are on the route to the nearest colour mine. You also take the hunt token on that space you build the mine. These help with the order cards (that can be completed for cash reward at any time!) You can draw a profit by using a profit card after that but I suggest you plot this move as you only can do this once! Play then passes to the next player. Your objective is riches. Watch the tracker at the top. This is the market and money is made here, quickly but so is the money drained from your pocket! Players also get a chance to score $25, if they hunt down (have enough hunt tokens) a wild monster that’s been scaring the miners… Add to the board $15 for the person with the most orders completed (if 3 or more add another $10 below that for second highest).

WHAT WE LIKED

I think as a group, we really rather enjoyed the bidding process for mine cards. It is clean and clever. It builds rounds and binds play together. It also makes for a balancing act for players of course. You play for that hunt token / order completion process though mostly. This is what makes the game more than just an average place and pull type thing. You are sipping at the money well, sipping the tiny drips of cash, to win a bid, to win more mines and make more money. The game reflects the notes of compulsion to profit in the era. As a group game, it really benefits a 4+ experience. These games are about extraction and enhancement of values. You find that the more players in the thing, the more it becomes a battle to the death, almost.

WHAT WE HATED

The sad missed opportunity or non use of the abominable beast. Its piece is amazing but it is so underused that you wonder why they just didn’t remove it. It should have had an effect on the game by causing something. Maybe cave ins, costly delays and the like. The 2 player game is non specific. It is weak and washes along to one major player and another less profitable person. We also were less than impressed by the ‘last Bid’ variant. So average and adding little.

OVERALL

KLONDIKE RUSH will benefit group players. That is to say, a group of people who play together regularly or within a group of seasoned players. Game Clubs especially will be transfixed by its fluid play, good time rate and that it encourages the skills that make group games joyous. What it lacks however is an ability to translate some of its clever ideas into anything.

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