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Store:  Strategy Games
Edition:  Arkwright
Series:  The Year-End Blowout
Format:  Board Games


Capstone Games Edition

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Ages Play Time Players
12+ 120-240 minutes 2-4

Designer(s): Stefan Risthaus

Publisher(s): Capstone Games

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Product Description

In Arkwright players run up to four factories in England during the late 18th Century. Your goal is to have the most valuable block of own shares. Thus, you must increase your share value and buy shares from the bank.

To run the factories, you need workers. When hiring Workers, demand is automatically created. But of course you want to replace your expensive workers (wage 2-5) by machines (1). To have more output from your factories you may employ new Workers or improve your factory to the next technical level.

You fix the price for your goods during an action round. To enhance your chances of selling goods, you improve your factories to higher levels, increase the quality and make some sales promotion. The higher these factors, the better are your chances of success - the higher the price, the lower.

Each player has an own set of "action tokens" like "build and modernize factories", "employ new workers", "improve quality" etc. On your turn you place one of those tokens on one of the free spaces in your line of the "Administration board" and pay the according administration costs, ranging from 2 to 10 (odd numbers). Some actions depend on how much you paid, i.e. you may buy more machines with one single action, when you pay more (= use a higher space, which is then blocked for the rest of the round). During the game your actions become more and more effective by new tokens, i.e. allow you to buy 3 machines in a single turn instead of 2, increase quality 2 levels instead of only 1...).

After each round of actions one kind of factories is active and you have to pay for all your workers and machines there, then sell the manufactured products. The value of your shares increases for sold products and best quality.

Goods may also be traded to the colonies by ship - provided you have a contract with the monopoly of the East Indian Company.

After four turns each of the factories has produced and the round ends. Players remove the action tokens from the administration board and reveal an event token. After 5 rounds the player with the most valuable block of shares wins. Neither being to be the one with the most shares nor being the one with the highest share value guarantees victory.

Arkwright allows you to act in different ways. Run all four factories with most possible output, set the focus on only two factories and improve them more than the others can; use shipping to colony or focus on the home market. In any way you have to react to the opponents and their strategy. Enter markets with deficit in supply or give up business where the other players start to push you out. Buy shares when they are cheap and increase the value, or first make money and buy shares later.

To get familiar with the market mechanics you may start with a 120 minutes version "Spinning Jenny", but for those who like full strategy in economic themed games, the 240 minute "Waterframe"-Rules come with more options to improve your factory and use ships.

Product Information

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.5 in 1 review

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Quick Review and Thoughts of Arkwright (Waterframe Version)
December 19, 2014

This is a quick review and thoughts of the Waterframe version of Arkwright.

Arkwright is not a title for everyone. It is long, somewhat fiddly, prone to AP, has a higher learning curve than most games and the setup is lengthy. That said, it is my top game of 2014! The rules are mostly straightforward, but getting through the rulebook can be somewhat daunting at first. Once you pass the hurdle which is the rulebook, it is somewhat akin to the old board game adage: "Simple rules, but hard to master." At least IMHO! I found the game very interactive and extremely engaging.

It takes a couple of games under your belt to fully understand what is going on. It definitely shines with experienced and competent players. Your first game will probably be more of a rules absorption and interpretation. Your subsequent games will probably be more interactive as you are trying to implement your strategies while dealing with your opponents.

The goal of the game is to have the most valuable stock portfolio. The value is determined by the amount of stocks in your possession multiplied by the current share value. That means that during the game you will be trying to buy more stocks (limited to 30) while attempting to increase their share value. A task easier said than done! You start the game with 15 shares, but must sell some of them to pay for your initial factories and also to have money left over to pay for administration charges; also known as paying for your actions.

So where do you get the money to buy the shares? Well, this is the crux of the game. You are trying to run factories efficiently to produce goods so that you may sell them to England or to the foreign market. Now with that said, you are also competing with the other players for the ability to sell these goods. You can be undermined by another player(s)'s goods being more appealing to the market and essentially they sell their goods before you can if the demand is in short supply. This could leave you in a dire situation because you need to sell the goods to pay for the workers and machines in your factory and hopefully have some money left over for administration charges (paying for your actions) and to buy more shares of your stock.

So how do you increase your share price? Well, by selling goods and/or by having the most appealing goods and/or by selling the most goods. This is where the interaction with the other players shine in this game because by manipulating the quality, marketing and prices of their goods, a player can dictate where they stand in the market share table. In other words, players are competing to sell their goods on the market and by not being competitive they may sell fewer or no goods which translates into your stock share value not increasing.

There is also an external foreign market that you can sell goods to via shipping, but at the negative impact of your share values decreasing or not increasing via the process stated above.

One of the interesting and enjoyable aspects of the game is trying to decide which road to take for your strategy. Initial factories that are bought by other players and yourself and the prices of their goods can be a guideline to determine which type of plan you are pursuing. There are multiple strategies available and the Player's Book has some listed and explained. It seems that you want to do what your opponent is not doing, but with options being limited and tight interaction will ensue.

For example, I recently tried a shipping strategy that made a lot of money which led me to purchase all 30 of my stocks, but in the process it left my shares with little value. Another player with fewer stocks but higher share value won the game. I did not correctly time my decision from making money and buying stocks to being competitive in the market and thus raising my share value. I took too long to switch strategies and lost, but I had a great time while pursuing it.

I've also tried the strategy of just concentrating on two factories. The specialist strategy! By the end of the game, my two factories were maxed out in quality and distribution and I was selling goods and increasing my share value rapidly. Unfortunately, I was too inefficient and I spent too much money in upgrading my factories which left me little money to buy more shares in the end. My share values were high, but my stock shares were few... The highlight of that plan was watching one of my opponents closing one of his factories that was directly competing with me because it was losing money.

So all of this said, what is it that I like about Arkwright?

1. What I find the most engaging and interesting about the game is implementing your plan while interacting with your opponents. It is not easy to follow your plan and at the same time trying to hinder your opponents. What development tile (tiles that give you advantages or break the rules) am I going to choose that plays to my plan while hindering my opponent? Should I play a Charisma tile to change turn order so that I can be the last to manipulate the price of my goods and therefore hamper my opponents plans?

2. Interesting choices. I love the angst of the choices that need to be made. From choosing the right development tiles to what price am I adjusting my goods. Should I open up a new factory and compete there or should I concentrate on the ones that I have built and make them more competitive? When do I switch from a shipping strategy to being more competitive in the market to raise my share prices? Should I buy stocks in the beginning of the game when they are cheaper and money is tighter or should I wait towards the end when they are the most expensive?

3. Innovative design. I love the design choices and how everything makes sense and works together.

4. Art style. I know this is subjective, but I love how the graphic style enhances the theme. I don't know what it is about Spielworxx's games, but I love their art style.

Arkwright is presently my top game for 2014. It is not easy to get to the table because you need the right group, but when you do and the players are experienced, it is an enjoyable and charming experience. Dare I say that it is fun too? It is, in my humble opinion!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.

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