Gold. Au. Transition Metal. No matter how you say it, most people wouldn’t mind having a few million tons of it lying around in their bank vault. Heck, I can think of a particular duck that enjoys taking regular trips to such a place so that he can dive headfirst into his stash and practice his backstroke (woo-hoo!).
In Gold Mine, players will be taking on the role of greedy miners who are attempting to be the first one to collect the required number of gold. They obviously don’t want their fellow miners to win, so they’ll be doing everything they can to slow them down. Before I get started, I’d like to quickly thank Dan Yarrington from Game Salute for sending me a free review copy.
Tiles – Tiles come in various forms and will be placed by players so that their miners can move about and gather gold nuggets.
Gold Nuggets – Players will be trying to collect a set number of these to win the game. They are placed on gold chamber tiles as they are revealed.
Dice – Dice are used for movement and during challenges.
Gold and Bat Challenge Tokens – Players will be given these at the start of the game and can use them during the game to initiate challenges. Challenges are designed to set someone back in some way while pushing the other player ahead.
Setup & Gameplay
The mine entrance is placed in the center of the table and the rest of the tiles are shuffled face down. Players will set aside twenty of those tiles for the first phase of the game, the rest are placed nearby for the second phase. Each player gets a miner, three of each challenge token, and rolls a die to see who goes first.
There are two phases of the game, the Development Mining phase and Productive Mining phase. The Development Mining phase starts the game off with players taking turns, placing the twenty tiles they set aside during game setup. Tile placement in this phase follows the same kind of rules as they do in the next phase. I won’t go into them in detail to save time, but in most cases, tunnels must lead to other tunnels in a logical manner. Gold nuggets are placed on gold chamber tiles as they are placed. Once the players have placed the initial twenty tiles, the Productive Mining phase begins.
At the start of the Productive Mining phase, players will place their miners on the mine entrance tile. On their turn, they can:
1. Move – A player can do a number of things when moving. They can draw a tile, place it, then move to an adjacent tile. They can also roll a die and move the number of tiles as shown on the die. Finally, if they are next to a secret passage (crevices with water), they can roll two dice to see if the water level is low enough to transverse it. Rolling doubles or a seven results in a successful check, with anything else failing in which case the miner must move their miner the distance of the lower dice’s value. Players can opt out of movement, if they wish to.
2. Take Actions – A player, after they have moved, can perform one or both of two possible actions. They can collect a gold nugget if one is present, and they can initiate a challenge assuming conditions have been met.
Gold Challenge: A player must be in the same space as another player and that other player must have a gold nugget in their possession. Both players roll three times with ties going to the challenger. Whoever wins the most rolls gets to take a gold nugget from the loser and places it on an empty gold chamber tile. The winner also gets to move once via a die roll.
Bat Challenge – Players can initiate this challenge from anywhere, no matter how far apart the target is from them. Both players roll three times with ties going to the challenger. Whoever wins the most rolls get to roll a die and move the loser that many spaces.
All players will continue taking turns until one of them has gathered the required number of gold nuggets and returned to the entrance tile. Whoever does this, wins!
The above overview doesn’t go over all of the rules, but should give you an idea on how the game is played. For more information, you can check out the manual and tutorial video here:
First, I want to commend Stratus Games on yet another awesome tutorial video. I can’t speak for anyone else, but videos like these go a long way into improving customer satisfaction. The video was clear and concise, complimenting the manual nicely. The components themselves are sturdy and pleasing to the eyes. Keep up the excellent work!
Learning the game didn’t take all that long, and teaching it to the kids took even less time. Our first game fell well within the box’s recommended play time, and I can safely say that Vinnie (11) had an overall positive experience. I think part of what appealed to him the most was drawing that new tile, just to see how the board’s current layout would change. He seemed to take perverse pleasure in initiating challenges to try and set me back. The challenger does have a slight advantage, however the dice can still turn against you and cause your plans to backfire. Despite my best efforts, Vinnie walloped me 10-4, drawing gold cavern tiles like no one’s business. I tried using bats to keep him away from the newly placed tile, but luck was on his side for the majority of the game.
On top of the standard game, there are plenty of variants out there to help keep the game fresh. Mud puddles, for example, are ignored in the normal game, but serve to slow down players when making use of the variant. The Stratus Games website has a good list of variants available…I linked the site later in this review for your convenience.
All in all, Gold Mine is a fun, casual game that I can see appealing to people of all ages. There is a little luck involved, what with drawing good tiles and rolling good numbers on the die, but there’s a good bit of thinking involved as well. The tile placement mechanic ensures that the game is a new experience each time you play. If you’re looking for a semi-light game to add to your collection, this would be a good one. My son enjoyed it, and there’s a good chance that your kids might too.
Final Verdict: 8/10
You can learn more about Gold Mine by visiting the following websites: