Print & Play Madness
Recently I have found myself making lots and lots of print-and-plays for all kinds of games. For the past month I have been playtesting a game for Artana, so I’ve had to make several copies for it. A designer friend of mine sent me a PnP copy of one of his games months ago, so I am finally getting around to that. Plus there are two Kickstarter projects that I wanted to try as well. Let me tell you, it’s a lot of cutting and sleeving, but if you have the time, making PnPs can be a relaxing and rewarding thing. For Kickstarter backers, I absolutely suggest it. If you are on the fence about a game to back, give the PnP a try, and it might solidify your decision to back.
I’ve gotten extremely luckily with the the two Kickstarter PnPs that I have made. The first was Ahead in the Clouds, a great little two player by Button Shy Games. The second is the game I wanted to talk about today, Unreal Estate by Grand Gamers Guild.
City Building 101
In Unreal Estate, city building is all about timing and hand management. The town council has contacted you and your fellow players to build the best cityscape that you can. To do this, you must pick the buildings that will make the city the most beautiful. Choosing what buildings you’d like to use, is done in a drafting style, and any building designs not drafted will be sent to the Scrap Pile. However, demand can build up for these scrapped designs, so you will have a chance to cash in on them later, and be the one to bring back to the city what the people want to see. Wait too long, however, and one of your competitors may snatch up the payout before you can.
The Art Of The Draft
Setup/How to Play (4 player game)
The game is super simple to setup, teach, and learn.
Separate the blue banner cards from the deck (they will be shuffled in later), and shuffle the building deck. Deal each player two cards for their starting hands. Place 5 cards, face up, in the Scrap Pile; stack any like cards so that you can see how many there are of that kind. Shuffle the blue banner cards back into the deck, and place five cards, face up, in a row in the center of the table; this will make up the Proposal Board. The first player will be the person who is the most amazing– or the person with the most dwarf-like beard. Setup done. It’s that simple.
So how do you play?
The mechanics of the game are simple. On your turn you can perform one of three actions: Draft, Score, or Play.
For drafting, just choose a card from the proposal board and put it into your hand. For scoring, choose one type of building card (you can score using multiples of the same card), from your hand, that you’d like to score. There must be AT LEAST one of that type of building in the Scrap Pile to be able to score. Add up the points of the cards you want to score, then multiply that total by the amount of that type of building located in the Scrap Pile. If for example, you have two Magic Items Shops (worth 4 points each) in your hand and there are two also in the Scrap Pile, you would add the points from the cards in your hand together and multiply it by 2, giving you a total of 16 points. Once cards are scored, those from your hand and the Scrap Pile will be discarded. If you choose to play a card on your turn, there are only a few cards that can be played in the game– these are the blue banner cards. Some of them can be drafted from the Proposal Board and be played later. Some will say “immediately” on them, these are performed as soon as you draft them, then they are discarded.
Once everyone has performed one action, all of the cards from the Proposal Board are moved to the Scrap Pile (blue banner cards just get discarded if they are left over);. Five new cards will be drawn to fill the Proposal Board. First player then moves to the player on the left, and the rest of the game is pretty much rinse and repeat. If at the beginning of a round there are no cards left to place on the Proposal Board, then players get one more turn to try to score, then the game is over. The player with the most points will be the winner.
Drafting A Winner
I’ve had a few opportunities to play this game since making the PnP, and overall my experience with it has been pretty good. The game takes almost no time to teach or play, so it’s been a really great filler for my group, and we usually play a few games back to back for that same reason. The game’s simplicity also makes it super accessible to any type of player, which is a big sell for me, because I can easily play this with my less game savvy family members.
That being said, this is a light game. There are very few heavy weighted decisions to be made. The game does, however, require you to have some memory skills, as it is a good strategy to pay attention to what other players have drafted, AND if they have drafted more than one of the same card, how many. Understanding the timing in the game can also be a bit of a challenge, since the first player changes at the start of every round. It’s important to note if you or someone else has drafted the same thing, seeing that the Scrap Pile might be filling up with that type of building. Missing an opportunity to cash out, even if it is for a little less than what you wanted, is better than missing the opportunity altogether, just because the first player changed and your rival’s turn came before yours. So, there is a bit of a push your luck element that keeps the game competitive.
In a four player game, I’ve seen it work well both ways– cashing out early, or holding and collecting a specific type of card for most of the game, then securing a huge score opportunity. Just depends on what cards get drawn and when. Four player games tend to have lower overall scores, while in three player games people score pretty high. Since there is less competition in the three player game, getting those big payouts is a little easier to accomplish. Keeping track of the cards is a huge part of the game, so I like that they put, at the bottom of the cards, how many of each type of card there is. For example, in the PnP copy, there are only 4 Enchanted Castles (worth 8 points a piece), but 12 Halfling Houses (worth 1 point a piece). This makes the task of keeping track of everything a little less daunting.
Overall, this is a relatively solid game. I’ve enjoyed playing, and it has been really fun teaching it to my game group. I also really love the artwork, and I’m honestly surprised how well the colors came out on my printer. I’m sure the final product will look even better. I’m also excited to play with the new blue banner cards that have been unlocked through stretch goals. It will be nice to see some more options when drafting, and it will add a little bit more strategy to the game.
There are just 10 days left to go in the campaign, so if you are interested in it, there is still plenty of time to back. A pledge for the game isn’t too expensive either, so you won’t be breaking the bank if you throw down and back this one.
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