Gold West Review

 Game: Gold West  Player: 2- 4
 Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games  Age: 13+
 Time: 45 minutes  Replayabilty: 9/10

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Gold West Review

I was a latchkey kid for the first few years of my elementary school career until my parents realized just how dangerous that walk from school to home was all by myself. In their defense, the neighborhood was fairly safe, but then my elementary school came out with an actual capital “L” Latchkey afterschool program, and my parents were all over it. I’ve always been the odd-ball out and Latchkey was no different, but it was in this Latchkey program that I found Mancala.  If you are unfamiliar with the game, it’s a board game that utilizes a count-and-capture  mechanic, where you pick up beads (or in my case, really awesome marbles from my special stash) and drop a bead into each slot until you run out. The object of the game is to secure the most beads in your designated pile.

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This past weekend I was introduced to Gold West by Tasty Minstrel Games, and I couldn’t get over the fact that a game had pretty much flawlessly incorporated the Mancala mechanic of count-and-capture with area control. It was the perfect union between Ticket to Ride and my childhood Latchkey favorite. I have been a huge fan of Tasty Minstrel Games for the duration of my vow to tabletop, but Gold West has got to be one of my most favorite TMG games to date.

In Gold West, you are a builder looking to build your mining empire while digging up some of the most prized metals of the land. You’re utilizing pretty straight forward mechanics of area control and resource management. Although the whole Mancala mechanic doesn’t come into play until you activate your supply track (I’ll talk about this in a bit).

Favorite points

Perhaps my favorite part about the game is the board and all the pieces the game comes with. The base of the board consists of four corners that are pieced together, and you have eight honeycomb shaped pieces that come together to form your terrain. The set up of the game is fairly straight forward after you’ve built the board with the water tile in the middle and terrain tiles surrounding it. Mining tokens are placed on the terrain tiles on the respective color, metal side faced down. Place 4 Boomtown Offices into the Boomtown area that will add influence (the way you use Boomtown is very reminiscent of punnet squares, s/o to my fellow science geeks!). You have a Stagecoach on the far left corner, and a set of investment cards that will all help you earn extra points.

How to Play

 

Turn sequence in Gold West is fairly simple: activate your supply track (Mancala), use metals (resource management), and build or loot (area control). To start the game, give each player a Player Order Token and place the starting resources on your Supply Track. Your ultimate goal in Gold West is to earn the most victory points utilizing a set of 5 different resources: copper, silver, gold, wood (green cube), and stone (black cube). You pick up more resources by either looting or building by activating your supply track using the Mancala mechanic. To activate your supply track, you’ll choose a bin and move upward, leaving exactly one resource in each bin until you reach your usage area. The resources in your usage area can be used towards your Stagecoach (shipping), Boomtown (influence), or investments if they are copper, silver, or gold; and the green or black (wood or stone) can be used to build. If you cannot build, then you must loot. When you loot you will take an immediate victory point loss, and must put a building into the looting area.  There are two types of things you can build: a camp (triangle) or a settlement (triangle on top of an influence token). You can build a building if you have either a green or a black cube, and a settlement can be built if you have both a green and a black. The cool part about building is that you reveal the resources surrounding that new camp or settlement so you and other players have the opportunity to strategize. The game ends when the last camp is placed on the board, and each player takes their final turn. The final scoring involves a number of bonuses such as: the longest continuous group of buildings (very similar to Ticket to Ride), Boomtown bonuses, Looting penalties, and Terrain bonuses.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the game remains true to all of what Tasty Minstrel Games has to offer as publisher: simple and clean mechanics with a lot of room for novice players to be able to understand and enjoy. If you are feeling the Mancala blues, and want something that is similar to Ticket to Ride, join the movement into the Gold West.

If you enjoyed this Gold West Review check out our other Tasty Minstrel Games reviews here

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Stephanie Am

Produces art in the form of food. Favorite mechanics include bluffing and deduction, set collection , point to point movement, and tile placement. Favorite video game genre is Puzzle games.

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