California Gold

I received my latest new game recently.  It is California Gold, a game about orange ranching in southern California.  I took it over to Rick’s Monday night, and we eventually got around to playing it.

I’m pretty high on the game, although we did not finish.  But.  We chatted for 30 minutes, and then I explained the game for about 30 minutes.  We were close to finishing after 2 hours, but probably 30 minutes were yet to go.  So we saved it.  And we will finish up this coming Monday night.

This is not a gentle game.  Players can adversely affect each other, if sometimes taking it on their own chin as they do it.  Competition is brutal.  And the game is a bit hard to master – I felt like I was struggling mainly against the game system the entire evening.  Add in the adversity from the other players, and a fellow starts to feel pressed.

So of course, I really liked it, and the boys all exclaimed how much they liked it too.  We like picking on each other, so direct “puss” games often work on Monday night.  California Gold is not like a 4X game where you can just reach out and mess with someone.  It is more like Brass or Age of Steam, where you can upset someone else’s plans with a swift act.

A real highlight of the production are the numerous cards featuring artwork that was originally used by the various orange growers of the time period depicted. A low light is the uneven production values.  The cards are great.  But the use of plastic chips to depict ownership was ill-advised.  I have an order in with a game parts company, and will be upgrading my components as soon as possible – hopefully in time for Fandango.

I need to finish our first play.  But I am already anticipating my second play.  I see a few things to try differently.  I like demanding games, and this one feels like it might be a good one.  Fingers crossed.


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