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Coal Baron

| Published: 2013
40 2 3

Coal Baron – or Glück Auf in German, after a greeting German miners use when wishing one another luck – has players sending meeple miners underground to dig tunnels and acquire coal, which comes in four levels of quality and which is used to fulfill contracts.

The game lasts three rounds, and in each round players take turns placing their workers on action spaces; you can go on a space occupied by another player, but you need to place additional workers in order to do so. Each player has an individual elevator shaft, and he'll need to use workers to extract coal and bring it to the surface, while also competing for contracts and scrounging for cash in order to do everything else that needs to be done!

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19 of 21 gamers found this helpful
“Manage your own coal mine”

I bought this game without knowing nothing about it. The reason? Cause a live in a place with a long tradition of coal mining, so i feel it needed to be on my collection!
It was a good surprise, with a good and simple mechanic but enough to burn your brain for an hour. The game is quite quick, as it only last three turns, but on each turn every decision you made is so important.

The game play starts with each player taking an identical coal mine, with its elevator to access the 4 levels. Each level contains 1 type (color) of coal, and starts with one unit available to extract on it. The lower the level, the higher the value of the coal and the cost to improve your mine (note that not the harder to take the coal out) Then you will get a number of workers and starting money depending on the number of players, some initial contracts and you are ready to start.

OK, the target is to get victory points, so contracts need to be explained, but fulfilling them is only the first source of points. At the end of each round other victory points will be scored as i will explain later. Each contract requires you to take out your mine some quantity of 1 type of coal, or a combination of types, that you charge on a transport defined by the contract. When you have the right quantity and ship the package you get some victory point and the contract is done.

Lets start playing: this is a worker placement mechanic, having several areas where you can put you people at work, and in each area different levels or options. The most important is that you can place workers in an already occupied place allocating one worker more than the ones on it, and you can make this even in places occupied by you, so repeating the action. Workers already present would be moved to the pub (in order to take a rest of course), so the cost to make an action start on 1 worker, then 2, then 3, etc…

Which actions can be done?

1. Get some money: you have four options to acquire more money, different values each (yes, here start the brain burn: i use two workers to get 8 dollars cause it is already occupied, or only 1 and get 6 dollars)

2. Get new contracts: always there would be 4 contracts at sight, and you can send you workers to acquire a new one, that would be immediately replaced with another one (and yes, if this new one is interesting it would cost 2 workers). This is for free.

3. Improve your mine: there is always 8 improvement options at sight, which you buy to put on the appropriate level of your mine. They could come with one or two units more of coal in its wagons to extract. Whenever you extract you available coal, it is depleted, so you continuously need to improve your mine to get new coal units. And this cost you money.

Both 2 and 3 have an added option to place your worker, allowing you to take 5 contracts of 5 improvements from the deck and select none or one to purchase.

4. EXTRACT YOUR COAL: i really like this mechanic! You have 4 spaces that gives you a number of movements: 10, 8, 6 or 4 that you will use to mine. With each point you can:
– Move the elevator to any other level.
– Take one unit of coal from you mine and load in the elevator (5 unit’s maximum capacity)
– Take one unit of coal from your elevator and, if it is at surface level, load it into a contract or store it on your warehouse.
– Take one unit of coal from your warehouse and load it into a contract.

5. Ship your contracts: there are 4 spaces each for 1 kind of the 4 different transports. You place workers in one of them and all your fully loaded contracts which must use that kind of transport are delivered, and victory points earned.

In each turn each player takes round allocating his workers, until all the players spend all them. There is one last option, if you cannot make nothing useful with your last workers, you can send them to get 1 $ for each worker.
And now, at the end of each of the three turns, the players will get additional victory points, scoring different added objectives each turn, which ask for some numbers on your complete contracts and finally about your mine status. All work scoring some victory points for the player with the most asked items and a lower quantity of victory points to the second.
ROUND 1: delivered units of each kind of coal
ROUND 2: number of contracts completed for each kind of transport AND again same condition than in round 1
ROUND 3: number of wagons for each kind of coal in your main (depleted or not) AND again all the previous conditions of round 1 and 2.
Some last adjustments on your leftovers will be converted into positive or negative victory point also after round 3, and then the player with the most points win.

I love this game, because been a quick one to play; you will be constantly thinking and burning your brain. Even being short you need to have a long term strategy and you really need to be aware of your opponent actions and strategy.
I recommend the game for the guys who like resources managing and worker placement mechanics. You will not see an incredible innovation, but you will see a good working mechanic that even allows you into the mining theme.


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