Recently I was given the opportunity to play test an upcoming new game that will be available on Kickstarter very soon. I received a prototype of the game with everything needed to play. These are my thoughts and opinions on the presented materials. Enjoy!
World’s Fair 1893 is a game by J. Alex Kevern, published by Foxtrot Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will take on the role of organizers for the fair. They will be trying to gain influence and collect exhibits to place on display, all in an attempt to gain reputation. In the end the player with the best reputation will be declared the winner.
To begin, the Ferris Wheel board should be placed on the table with a cube placed on the bottom spot of the wheel to represent the Ferris Wheel Car. The 5 area boards are randomly placed around the main board. The cards are shuffled and placed face down below the main board. 2 cards are drawn from the top of the deck and placed face up by each area. Scoring tokens are set aside for the time being. Each player chooses a color and takes the 22 supporter cubes of their color. Players place one of their supporter cubes on each area. The first player is chosen. Players are then given the overview/start bonus card that corresponds to their place in the turn order. Players will then perform the action on the back of their card. Once this is completed, play now begins.
The game is played over 3 scoring rounds. The rounds are marked by the movement of the Ferris Wheel Car. Once it reaches the start spot on the main board, the scoring phase occurs. If the scoring phase has not been reached, then play passes to the next player.
Each player’s turn consists of 4 steps: choose an area and place a supporter there, play influential figure cards, collect all the cards by the chosen area and move the Ferris Wheel car and place 3 new cards around the board. The first step is for the player to choose one of the 5 areas around the Ferris Wheel and then place one of their supporter cubes on that chosen area.
The next step is to play influential figure cards. These cards are collected on the player’s previous turn and must be played during this step in the order of the player’s choosing. The action on the card is performed and the card is then discarded. These cards can allow a player to add bonus supporters to an area or to move a supporter to a different area.
The third step is to collect all of the cards by the chosen area and move the Ferris Wheel Car. The cards that are by the area that the player placed their supporter on in the first step are the ones that the player takes. These cards are placed in front of the player. Each Midway ticket that a player collects, advances the Ferris Wheel Car one place clockwise around the board. As mentioned earlier, if the car reaches the start spot on the board, the scoring phase occurs at the end of the player’s turn.
The final phase is to place 3 new cards around the board. The player finishes their turn by drawing a card from the top of the deck and placing it by the area that they just removed cards from. The player then continues to draw and place a card on each of the next 2 areas clockwise to the area chosen. Each area has a maximum capacity of cards that they can hold. If the area is already full, it is skipped over and the card placed on the next available area. Once completed, the player’s turn is over. If the scoring phase has not been triggered, play passes to the next player.
The scoring phase occurs at the end of a player’s turn when the Ferris Wheel Car has reached the start spot on the main board. First the player with the most Midway tickets is given a 2 point Midway coin. Players then redeem their Midway tickets for 1 point each, discarding their tickets and taking the corresponding amount of Midway coins. Next the areas are individually scored. Players gain points for having the most supporters in an area and are then able to approve any exhibit cards that they have that match the area. The exhibit card is discarded and a matching approval token is collected by the player. The number of points awarded and the amount of exhibits that can be approved depends on the number of players. Players should check the appropriate reference card. Finally once all the areas have been scored, players reduce the number of supporters they have in each area dividing by 2 and rounding down. For instance, if the player has 5 in an area, they will remove 2 supporters. Once scoring is completed, play continues with the next player clockwise, unless it is the third scoring phase. In this case the game ends. Players total up their reputation points gained from Midway coins and Leader Medals. They also score points for having a variety of main exhibits. A full set of 5 different exhibit categories scores 15 points, while partial sets score less. The player with the most points after final scoring is the winner.
Since this is a prototype copy, I won’t go into great detail about the quality of the components. There are lots of cards that represent the main exhibits, influential figures and Midway tickets. These give an old worldly fair feel to the game. The artwork is quite nice even in prototype form, however the artwork will look much better on the finished version. The main board and areas all give that Ferris Wheel look and feel. All of the tokens look nice and compliment the game quite well. The supporters cubes, at this point are simply colored cubes. There’s nothing spectacular about them but they get the job done. I hope that these will be replaced with meeples or something like that in the finished product. There are also player aids and referece cards that I’m sure will be even better in the finished product. In any event, from what I’ve seen there seems to be a real attention to the time period depicted through the various pieces of the game. It appears to me that things are looking good for what should be a really nice looking game.
The rules, like the components for the game, are also a prototype. I was able to read through them fairly quickly and very easily. I didn’t see anything that was hard to understand. It was all very straight forward. There were quite a few pictures and examples throughout the rules. Everything is very thoroughly explained. With everything as clean and nice looking as it is in prototype form, I expect the finished rulebook to be even better.
This game is fairly simple and quite enjoyable. It’s a set collecting and area control game that highlights both mechanics really well. The random placement of locations at the beginning of the game, as well as the randomness of the card placement throughout the game makes for a very highly replayable game. I enjoy the different aspects of the game. However, I really feel like the theme isn’t as strongly connected to the game as I would have liked. I like the idea behind the round tracker being incorporated into the Ferris Wheel. It’s a fun idea that highlights my favorite ride at any carnival or fair, the Ferris Wheel. I really like that the cards you acquire on your turn, apart from the Midway tickets, can’t be used until your next turn. This makes future planning a big aspect of the game. It’s not high on strategy but this part of the game does give the players at least a small portion of strategy. The game has a very light feel and as stated before, is quite simple. It takes about 45 minutes to play, but can play a bit faster with only 2 players. It’ s an entertaining game with a good bit of promise.
8 out of 10
World’s Fair 1893 is a light game of set collection and area control. The artwork looks quite beautiful and shows a lot of promise. The game is quite simple and can be easily learned. It’s not very long and can be played in about 30-45 minutes depending on the number of players. The randomness of locations at setup and card placement through the game make it highly replayable. The theme isn’t as connected to the game as I’d have liked but still feels at least mildly a part of it. Fans of games like Carcassonne, Smash Up or Tokaido might enjoy this one. I look forward to seeing the finished product for this game. I really enjoyed it and think most players will enjoy it as well. I would definitely recommend backing this one on Kickstarter or picking up a retail copy when it becomes available.
8 out of 10
For more information about this and other games, please check out Foxtrot Games at their site.
You can also preview the game right now on Kickstarter, as well as back it once the campaign goes live.