Friday, January 31, 2014

Exercise your Strategy “Muscle” with Steam Park, a game review

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

Our family loves board games and we are always looking for something new and outside of the typical game box.  Games that challenge without exacerbating sibling strife are a bonus---you know what I’m talking about, don’t you?  I don’t need the type of cut-throat competition that comes from playing Monopoly every day!  Steam Park from iello fits that  bill, and we recently had the opportunity to review it.

Steam Park, a beautiful game of strategy and resource management---review @Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Steam Park by iello

iello games can be purchased at local retailers.

2-4 players

ages 10+ (I recommend it for ages 12 to adult)

typical game takes approx. 60 minutes

Game contents:

  • 24 dice (6 for each player)
  • 42 Visitors (7 for each of the 6 colours)
  • 4 Starting Ground tiles
  • 20 Additional Ground tiles
  • 18 Rides (3 for each colour and 6 in each size)
  • 24 Stands (4 for each of the 6 kinds)
  • 1 Turn Track
  • 4 Turn Order token
  • 1 Turn Counter
  • 4 Pig boards
  • Dirt tokens
  • 34 Bonus cards
  • 1 Cotton bag
  • 4 Reference cards
  • Banknotes
  • 1 Rule book

This is a beautiful game---we love the colorful, whimsical artwork by Marie Cardouat.

Steam Park, a beautiful game of strategy and resource management---review @Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

You’ll have a bit of prep work before you play your first game.  All of the stands, rides, money, and tokens need to be punched out of cards. 

Steam Park, a beautiful game of strategy and resource management---review @Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Stands and rides also need to be assembled.  Each ride is made up of 3 pieces and each stand is 2 pieces.Steam Park, a beautiful game of strategy and resource management---review @Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

It took some doing, but the great thing is that you only have to do the assembly once.  The game-makers really put thought into this---everything stores neatly away into the box.  They even included several heavy-duty zip-top bags for corralling all the bitty tokens, dice, and so on.

Steam Park, a beautiful game of strategy and resource management---review @Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

We have a lot of games that are a pain to put away because the box was not well thought out---iello gets extra points here.

Game Play

The object of the game is to finish with the most money.  You earn money by building an amusement park for the robot citizens of Roboburg who only like to go on rides that match their color.

Each player essentially builds his or her own “board” using ground tiles and erects rides and stands using the resources they get when they roll the custom dice.  Along the way, you’ll attract visitors and clean up the dirt they leave behind.  Stands function as a “power ups”, allowing you to do things like increase your resources, amplify your ability to attract visitor, and so on.

The game is limited to 6 rounds---that may not seem like much, but it can take awhile as there is a Roll Phase, Dirt Phase, Actions Phase, and Income Phase to each round.

I’m just going to give you a brief overview of a round, because the rules are a bit complicated.

Roll Phase- Players all roll their own dice.  If they don’t like what they roll, they can can keep rolling individual dice until they are happy with their available resources, putting the dice on their “pig mat” when they are done.  BUT, there is an advantage to finishing your roll first---rollers each pick up the next turn order token as they finish and the tokens have various pluses and minuses to them.  The roller in last place will end up with a lot of extra dirt to clean up, but the one in first place will get more dirt removed automatically.

Dirt Phase-You “earn” dirt tokens based on the number of visitors in your park, resources you rolled (some have dirt attached to them, which is indicated on the dice), and if you were unlucky enough to be the last roller to finish.  Those who got a favorable turn number will be able to discard x number of dirt as indicated by their turn token.

Actions Phase-You build rides and stands, expand your park, attract visitors, clean dirt, and play bonus cards.  These things are primarily dictated by your dice roll.  The rules for ride and stand placement are a little complicated and the stands have various perks, so there’s a lot of strategy and logic in this phase.

Income Phase-You collect money based upon your visitor count.  You also draw bonus cards if you have fewer than 3 in your hand.

Key strategic points and planning---keeping high visitor counts, while not letting dirt get out of hand (any dirt tokens you still have at the end of the game cost you money, and if you have more than 30 dirt, you lose all your money AND the game!

Steam Park is primarily a strategy game that requires planning and resource management. 

It’s different from most strategy games in the sense that, while you are competing with your fellow players to finish on top, you are not directly competing with them most of the time.  There are no hostile takeovers, battles, or rent collecting.  In fact, once you have money, you can only lose it if you forfeit some of it at the end of the game because you have dirt.

Key points for planning:

  • How will you expand your park, place your rides and stands, and decide which stands to get (they have different abilities)?
  • Find a balance---while it’s important to eliminate dirt as much as possible, it’s also important to get as many visitors as you can early in the game (visitors create dirt) to maximize your profits.

We like Steam Park! 

My husband and I played it first without the kids.  We thought we’d only play a few rounds.  But we stayed up past our bedtime and played the whole thing.

Steam Park, a beautiful game of strategy and resource management---review @Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

A 4-player game will be more challenging since more people will be angling for limited resources, but this really is a game that really can be played with only 2 players.

Honestly, we are still getting the hang of all the rules.  I’d recommend either not using the bonus cards at first or using the “Steam Park for Dummies” option at the back of the rule book.

When it came time to play it with our older kids (ages 10 and 13), our two younger kids wanted to play, too.  Warning:  the colorful little pieces are very attractive to little, sticky fingers.  Ahem.

Steam Park, a beautiful game of strategy and resource management---review @Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

As attractive as the game pieces are to little people, it really is a game for big kids and adults. 

I would recommend Steam Park for ages 12+. 

It’s about right for our 13-year-old son, but playing by the full rules would be unmanageable for our 10-year-old daughter.  I also recommend it for couples---it’s a great change of pace from watching the latest streaming movie on an evening with my honey.

Check out other innovative games from iello here.

You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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