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Mining engineers, geological surveyors & venture capitalists react to the volatile precious metals market by searching for new ore reserves, reducing their working costs and efficiently taking the Mother Lode.
Despite just 2 pages of rules and simple components, Mine! is a serious business game. On each turn, expect for turn 1, players have to make important money management decisions. Some decisions you must make are:
1. Which mines will produce ore and if a mine produces, how much?
2. How much do you want to bid on a new mine?
At the start, you don't have much money. Here is the dilemma you face. On turn 1, each player is required to buy one mine from a choice 2 mines selected randomly. However this mine has only so much ore which will run out before the end of the game. Therefore you must buy additional mines which come up for auction at the end of each turn after turn 1. If you spend too much for a mine, you won't have enough money for maintenance and production costs on the next turn. If your mines don't produce, you don't generate income. A key thing about the turn sequence is that maintenance and production costs must be paid before you generate income.
As an example, say you own the Acme mine which starts with 32 tons of ore . This mine has overhead costs of $6 per turn, working costs of $7 per ton, and a capacity of 5 tons per turn. Therefore, assuming you want to produce 4 units of ore (5 is the maximum production per turn), it's going to cost you $6 on the 'Pay Overheads' phase (2nd phase), and then 4 times $7 or $28 during the 'Produce Ore & Pay Working Costs' phase (3rd phase). This money has to be spent 1st before the ore is sold. Ore is sold during the 'Receive Payment for Ore' phase (5th phase).
Now when you sell the ore, you don't know how much you will get per ton until the 'Calculate Ore Price' phase (4th phase). The ore price is the price all players will receive for their ore per ton. The price per ton depends on the total production on a turn and whether or not this total is more or less than the total for the previous turn. For example, in our last game, the price per ton ranged from a low of $9 to a high of $21. So if your total production from all your mines is 10 tons, you could get anywhere from $90 to $210 income on a turn.
An important phase in the game is the 'Auction Mine Deed' phase (7th phase). You bid on a mine chosen at random. As mentioned earlier, you have to buy mines or else you will run out of ore to sell. Say you buy the Acme mine. You get 32 tons of ore total, and each turn you can sell a maximum of 5 tons. Now you would like to bid on this mine if it comes up for auction, but the question is how much to spend. If you spend too much, you won't have enough money next turn to do much production. In the beginning of the game, players don't have much money, and the Acme mine might sell for $35 or even less. However, near the end of the game, it might sell for $150. This is because players have more money at the end of the game, and you get credit for unsold ore at game's end.
I enjoyed playing the game. The game is easy to set up, once the components are cut out; and once you understand the rules, the game will proceed very smoothly. We did have one problem with the rules. We were not sure what happens when a mine shuts down. On our 1st play, we would shut down a mine and then reopen it the next turn. We did this to save overhead cost when a mine was not going to produce on a turn. I sent an email to Winsome Games and got a clarification on this rules problem. When a mine is shut down, it is shut down permanently, and any ore that's left is lost. Here is the rationale from Winsome games:
The fixed overheads are the costs to keep the pumps working or the mine will flood, destroying all the timbers that keep the roof from collapsing on the miners. You can not shut down a Mine and then try to re-open it. Reality is harsh.
There is one more thing to note about this game. The money, the 3 decks of cards, and the ore markers have to be cut out. I cut out the money but then bought colorful 3x5 cards to make up the 3 decks of cards. For ore markers, I just used pennies, nickels, and dimes. I also typed up a chart which keeps track of ore production, ore price, and modifiers for each turn. The chart is based on an example given in the rules. Now the game looks pretty impressive with this nice chart and pastel cards.