Gold Mine board game
by The Beast!
(Boardgame Beast HQ)
Gold Mine board game
Board game manufacturer:
Number of players:
8yrs+ (though my 6yr old plays it)
Gold Mine is a family tile-laying game that relies a lot on luck, with dice as well as the luck of the tile draw. It's simple, fun for mixed age groups, but doesn't offer much strategy.
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The game and gameplay
There's gold in them there hills! Or in fact, UNDER them. It's the job of the players to explore and excavate an old mine and be the first out with the target number of comedy-sized gold nuggets.
The game begins with a 20-tile building session. Players take turns to lay tiles off of the start square. There are fairly simple rules. All tunnels must connect to other tunnels in "fair" ways. The tiles must line up squarely, you can't make a dead end directly from the start tile, and black "empty" sides of tiles can align with other black sides. This will remind you of the Carcassonne board game if you've played that.
Every time a gold chamber tile is laid, you place a nugget on it from the bank.
Now, all miners are placed on the start tile. On your turn, you can choose to either throw one die and move up to that number of spaces; or take one tile, lay it, and then move one space.
Stepping into a muddy patch in the gold mine means your movement turn ends there.
Players may stop their turn on a gold nugget square and pick it up, placing the gold in front of them on the table. The number of nuggets you need to win varies according to how many people are playing.
There are two ways to mess up your enemy if they're running away with the game: a bat challenge or a gold challenge (each player is allowed three of each, represented by tokens).
"Sending" bats to disorient the player means both attacker and defender roll a die; attacker wins on a tie. Best of three wins the challenge. If the attacker wins, he may send the loser out of his way by throwing a die and moving the loser along any path he likes. The bat challenge can be done from any location.
A gold challenge is more tricky to pull off, because the attacker must move onto the same square as the defender. It's handled in the same way, though if the defender loses, a gold nugget is taken from them and the attacker may place it on any gold chamber he chooses on the board. The attacker then gets to move up to the number of pips on the highest die.
There's one more mechanic to mention: secret passages, linked by "water" marks on tiles. Standing on one of these at the end of your movement phase means you can try to move through. Throw both dice. If you score a seven or a double, you can sneak through to any other water mark in the mine.
Pros and cons
The Gold Mine board game is beautifully presented, made from high-quality components and is nicely tactile, with chunky gold nuggets and excellent tiles that should last a long time.
It's fun to play in mixed age groups. We've had successful sessions with adults and elementary school students together with no problem (the 6yr olds didn't understand the challenges, so we played it 'straight' without them).
The game is far too reliant upon luck -- the luck of the dice and the tile draw -- to be a serious strategy game. It's also very hard to mess people up with tiles the way you can do with Carcassonne. If one player gets a good start on the others, it's almost impossible to stop them. The gold challenges are too feeble to make much difference.
You have to be a purist not to enjoy the Gold Mine board game. It's a nice, easy game to teach to kids, is robust enough to stand up to abuse, colorful and fun. Too much luck to be taken too seriously, but there's enough serious games out there if you prefer.
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