Alan’s Adventureland Review

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Alan’s Adventureland is a game by Alan D. Ernstein, published by Rio Grande Games. It is for 3-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of amusement park designers. They will be constructing attractions in order to meet the Review Board’s desires. The player that can more successfully finish their section of the park and earn the most points will be declared the winner.

Before I begin, let me note that this game has 2 different variations. There is a Bonus Card Variant and a Layout Bonus Variant. The Bonus Card variant uses the Bonus card deck while the Layout Bonus variant uses the themed side of the player boards. The rules are slightly different. I will do my best to explain each. I’ll begin with the Layout Bonus variant.

To begin, the attraction tiles are sorted into sets according to the name of the attraction and placed in the center of the table. Each set should have the higher number tiles on the bottom. Each player chooses a colored scoring marker. The scoring track is then placed in the middle of the play area with each player’s marker placed on the 10 space of the track. Players will then choose a themed player mat and place it front of themselves with the themed name face up. The dealer is chosen and they are given the start marker and first place marker. They then will shuffle the ride cards and deal each player 6 cards face down. The remaining cards are placed face down in the middle of the play area. Players will then look at their cards and, beginning with the first player, each player places 1 ride card face up next to their mat. They then take the matching attraction tile from the stacks and place it on any space of their mat with the initial excitement level value face up. If there are 4 players, this is repeated. Play now begins.

When playing with the Bonus Card variant, the players used the generic side of the player mats. That is the ones without any colored squares on them. During setup, the dealer shuffles the Bonus card deck prior to the Ride deck. Each player is dealt either 4 or 5 cards, depending on the number of players. The rest of the setup is the same as described above.

For the Layout Bonus Variant, the game is played in a series of phases followed by a Bonus Round after each turn. Those phases are deal ride cards, draw-round 1, draw-round 2, play approved ride cards, build an attraction and reset. The first phase is to deal ride cards. To do this the dealer deals out two cards face up to the center of the table for each player. Next there are 2 rounds of drawing cards. Beginning with the first player, players will take turns taking one of the face up cards from the center of the table and adding it to their hand. This step is then repeated starting with the last player and going in reverse order. From there, approved ride cards are played. Starting with the first player and continuing in turn order, players place one of their cards face up in an empty space between two players. This card indicates what type of rides a player is able to build without penalty. Players then build attractions. Starting with the first player, each player plays a ride card from their hand to their discard pile. If the card matches one of the two cards on either side of them, there are no penalties. If they are between two cards of the same type, there is also no penalty. However, if the card doesn’t match there is a penalty of either 3 points if the card matches a ride card some where else on the table, or a penalty of 2 points if there are no matches anywhere else. The player then takes the matching attraction tile and places it on their mat. If the named tile matches a previously built tile, then that tile is placed on top of the existing tile as an improvement. Finally the reset phase occurs with the ride cards that were placed between players being removed, shuffled and placed at the bottom of the deck. The first player marker is then passed to the next player. If it’s passed to the player with the Start marker, a Bonus Round happens instead of a new turn.

In the Bonus Round, players play a card from their hand and add the matching attraction tile to their mat without penalty. They will then score points for covering the correct set of colored squares on their mat through a Layout Bonus. They also gain points based on the excitement level of all of their attractions. After this has been done a new turn starts. After the 3rd or 4th Bonus Round, depending on the number of players, final scoring occurs. For final scoring, players will score points based on parking lot view, main entrance view and theme set. The views are based on the rows and columns of tiles on the mat. Players compare points and the person with the most points is the winner.

When playing the Bonus Card variant, the rules are exactly the same except for during the Bonus Round. After each player has played a card from their hand and added the attraction tile to their mat, they will then play a bonus card to their discard pile as well. The player scores points if they have arranged one type of attraction to match the card’s layout instead of gaining points based on the player mat. They will gain more points for matching more spaces. They also gain a color bonus if they match the attraction type. The rest of the rules remain the same. Again, the player with the most points wins.

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COMPONENTS
The game comes with lots of great looking and colorful pieces. There are 4 double sided player mats. One side is for the Bonus Card variant and the other side has some colored squares on it for the Layout Bonus variant. The mats are a bit thin but are still pretty good. I like the backgrounds on these especially for the themed sides. There are a lot of really nice looking ride cards that showcase the different rides. These are great and add to the theme nicely. There are also cards for the themes and Bonus layouts. These are also nice and the quality is quite good. The rides themselves are a composite of a whole bunch of wooden tiles that have to have stickers placed on both sides. Trust me, there are a ton of stickers to apply. 156 to be exact. You better pack a lunch cause it’s gonna take awhile to finish. Bleh! I will say that they look quite nice when they’re finished though. Each player has a colorful wooden scoring token that looks like a roller coaster car. I really like these and think these add a good bit of flavor to the feel of the game. There is a wooden first player marker and a wooden start marker as well. These are nice additions too. There are also a ton of point tokens and a scoring track that are all made of thick cardboard. The tokens are a bit dull but the scoring track is really colorful and interesting looking. All in all the different pieces and parts are quite interesting and fairly thematic. The only thing I’d complain about would be the tons of stickers that have to be applied. Still, it’s better than having an image that would fade off or tokens made of thin cardboard. The wooden pieces add more depth to the overall look of the game, so I’m good with them.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is pretty good. It’s got quite a lot of great looking pictures and examples. Everything is well written and easy to read. The two variations of game play are completely laid out in great detail from set up to final scoring. I’m afraid though that I didn’t understand the need to do this. With only a few minor changes in how the game plays, it seemed that a lot of this was fairly redundant. No need for all this in my opinion. Still, I guess it’s better to have both that way there is no confusion when playing a different variation. Other than that, the rules are covered really well and there should be nothing confusing or difficult to understand. I guess the main thing is that once you understand one version of the game, you pretty much know the other version too. Overall, the rules are good and get the job done.
7 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a fun and interesting game. For all intents and purposes, it’s a tile laying game with each ride block earning points for either matching a set configuration or a specific placement on the player’s mat along with earning points from each block. I’m not big on tile laying games but this one isn’t bad, plus I like that you can build on top of each previously laid tile to earn more points. When using the layout bonus variant, each mat will provide a different pattern that will earn you points for covering up each square of a particular color. For example, you earn a set amount of points for covering all the blue squares. If you can cover both the blue and yellow squares, you earn even more points. I will say that this isn’t a game that you’re gonna spend a lot of time thinking about which tile you want to play. That’s another good thing about the game. It doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. It can be played in a fair amount of time. Most game sessions average around 45 minutes. There is a mild bit of strategy on knowing what card to play between which opponent and knowing which card to keep for yourself. It’s not overly strategic though so it’s definitely a game that you could play with the kids. I would say that fans of games like Carcassone or other tile laying games of that nature would enjoy this one as well. For most families, this will be a good game. I can see how the fairly simplistic nature of the game would appeal to kids and adults alike. For me, the game is pretty decent but just doesn’t scratch the theme park building itch that I wanted it to. I think that might be my biggest disappointment with the game. Don’t get me wrong, the game isn’t bad, it’s just not what I expected it to be. I’m sure if you go into it with the right mind set, you’ll probably love it. Unfortunately, it’s just not for me.
7 out of 10

OVERALL
Alan’s Adventureland is a tile laying experience with a theme park theme. The game has an average play time but doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. Most game sessions last around 45 minutes. The look of the game is very bright and colorful and full of thematic beauty. I really like the scoring markers and track, how that the markers look like roller coaster cars and the scoring track is the coaster track. Very cool looking. I really enjoy the artwork on the cards and the stickers. Speaking of stickers, there are a TON of them that have to be applied so be prepared. The game itself is a tile laying fans paradise. If you like games like Carcasonne, you’ll enjoy this one too. For most families, this game will be enjoyable. It’s definitely a game that can be played with both the kids and adults alike. There’s nothing overly strategic that should cause any problems. Unfortunately for me, the game didn’t scratch the theme park building itch that I hoped it would. For me, the game was ok. I’m sure that others will probably like it more so than I do. Still it’s not a bad game and is one that should be tried first. With the right group of players, it could be right up your alley. Who knows? This just might be a game that you’ll love.
7 out of 10

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For more information and this and other great games, please check out Rio Grande Games at their site.

http://riograndegames.com/

 

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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