Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 24 December 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Nevada City

Game: Nevada City

Publisher: Rio Grande Games

Designer:  Alan D. Ernstein

Year: 2020



Nevada City is a worker placement game for 2-4 players in which players each represent a family in the Old West, trying to earn a reputation through farming, wheeler dealing and constructing buildings around town.

Over the course of four years, from 1855-1858, your family members will work hard to adapt to the events that occur, including famine, bandits and fire at certain key buildings in the city.

Each players begins the game with 4 family members, who have a number of action tokens available - most have two action tokens, but some have one or three. You can also hire workers and/or marry them into your family to gain two more members over the course of the game. Each turn is used to activate one family member, taking actions on the board to convert money to resources, resources to money or to build buildings or complete tasks that gain you victory points. With your specialised workers, you might be particularly good at building certain buildings that need certain resources, or particularly god at mining, allowing you to mine two silver tiles on your personal player board rather than the standard one. Besides events on most turns, this is most of what happens in the basic game. The advanced game adds a shoot-out and the ability to gamble in a game of poker, as well as seeming to make the event deck a little meaner and more lucky.

Perhaps the most interesting concept in Nevada City is how each member of your family is specialised. Sure, I've seen games with specialised workers before, but here it's been done in a way that seems to offer far more variety - by storing your workers on a card that denotes their specialism (in this case a family member or hired worker) - a single, boring hexagon piece can take on many different specialties. It's about the only area of the game that I can cling onto in terms of seeing a clear direction on what to do next - if crop production is high, then I might build an extra farm to allow m family member who is great with crops to do more farming. Otherwise I do really struggle to define a clear strategy in the game. Perhaps that's for the best given the crazy swings that the events can bring about during the game though!

When the description of a game on Board Game Geek starts with "Each player in Nevada City starts the game with a nuclear family — mother, father, daughter, and son" I can understand why Amy got a little annoyed while reading the rulebook, which goes out of its way (in bold italics) to make sure it's super clear that the son in your family can only marry a woman and vice versa. I don't know whether it truly reflects that time (probably not!), but did it need to be such a big deal? And then mechanically, when only men are available to hire and my son hasn't been married off, I'm forever frustrated about this 'theming'!

Aside from the theme, that seems to focus on some of the more mundane sides of Old West life, and mundane is the main word that comes to me when I'm playing this game - I am just bored while playing. You really have rather a lot of workers to play each turn, and even with a 4 round game (or 5 rounds at two-players) it seems to last forever. There are also turns where I just don't feel like doing anything, which isn't the most exciting feeling in a game. Speaking of the special round five in particular, it just doesn't seem to make sense - there's no events left in the event deck by round five, and there's no interesting buildings to pick from - we've been tempted to end of round four every time because we really feel like the game is over. 2-player just feels like an afterthought in the game that might just be unnecessary. 

Nevada City has a few interesting ideas in terms of specialising workers in a worker placement game, but it's wasted on a game that is completely tedious. There's a lot to setup and so many frustrating turns of luck that really ruin a game of this length. Nevada City isn't a game that I can recommend, and it's only worth a 5/10 from the Yellow Meeple.

Nevada City was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk 

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