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Master Print #5, limited edition of 500
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Carson City is another take on the worker-placement game, crossed with the reserves management of El Grande, the action selection of Steam and the money-conversion-to-victory-points of any number of titles. Okay, that description cuts a few corners in the details, so here's a longer take on the game:
Carson City lasts four rounds, with four phases in each round. Your goal is to end with the most victory points (VPs), which is typically done by earning gobs of money. Each player starts with a trio of cowboys, a batch of property tiles, a road, a gun and some money, and the 8x8 gameboard is seeded with a few mountains, the center-of-town tile, and two property tiles from each player.
Each round starts with players choosing a character, each of whom has a special power, a money limit, and a turn order value. After reshuffling to match the new turn order, players take turns placing cowboys on action spaces, on parcels of land, or on buildings. A player can pass at any time to step out of the round and preserve cowboys for the future. After everyone passes, the action spaces are resolved; if two or more players share a space, then in most cases they duel for the right to take the action, with the duel involving a die roll and the number of guns and cowboys in the players' reserves.
The various actions are naturally at the heart of the game because that's the only way you can advance your cause! You can acquire more guns or roads, take money from the bank, buy buildings or parcels of unowned land, earn money or VPs based on the parcels or cowboys you own, or flat out buy VPs. Most buildings must touch a road in town, so players need to have roads on hand in order to build or else store buildings for placement in a later turn. One action that takes place automatically gives players money for each building they own, and if you've clustered your building purchases, then you'll earn more as communally owned buildings score for everyone while your buildings score only for you. As in Oregon, the buildings have various restrictions on where they can be placed and how valuable they'll be when scoring; the ranch wants to be surrounded by open land, for example, while the bank wants to be near houses and mines.
After all actions and duels have been resolved, players receive new cowboys from the general reserve, then spend down to fall under the monetary limit shown on the character they chose to start the round. Every $10 you turn in is worth 1 VP. After four rounds, players cash out everything they hold, with their buildings, houses and mountains -- yes, you can buy the mountains -- earning 2 VPs apiece and each $6 earning 1 VP. The player with the most VPs wins.
Carson City includes a number of variants, such as a double-sided gameboard with a river running through it; the river affects building placement as well as income from ranches and mines. For players who dislike duels determined by dice, you can adopt the "Might Is Right" variant. What's more, all of the characters are double-sided, so you can choose which sides to use at the start of the game or play a quick game of Tiddlycards to see who's in. In an interview with Paolo Santos that was later posted on BGG, designer Xavier Georges mentions that Carson City was in development for nine years. Whoa.
QWG has said that Carson City will be title #5 in its Master Print Series; artwork this time is by Alexandre Roche, following on Mike Doyle's work on the first four titles in the series.
Languages: English, German, French & Dutch
Description written by W. Eric Martin and used with permission of BoardgameNews.com