World’s Fair 1893
Designed by J. Alex Kevern
Published by Foxtrot Games
Coming to Kickstarter September 29th, 2015
The preview for this game is being done using a review copy provided to us by Foxtrot Games. Please note all game photos are using a prototype or renderings, final product may be different.
On May 1st, 1893 the fair grounds were first opened to the public for the start of the Chicago World’s Fair. Forty six nations participated in the fair, constructing exhibits and pavilions over 630 acres in Chicago. This is the fair that first gave us Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, Quaker Oats and Juicy Fruit gum and demonstrated many breakthroughs in science, technology, entertainment and culture. Most may also know that this was the fair that gave us the first Ferris wheel, a creation 264 feet tall brought to the world by George Washington Gale Ferris, in its original form, it could hold 2160 people and took approximately 20 minutes to make a complete rotation. The 1893 Chicago World’s Fair provided us many fantastic firsts and fun stories, it continues to do so today with the game World’s Fair 1893.
World’s Fair 1893 is a set collection, area control game that is played over three rounds with two to four players. Players will be sending their supporters to the different areas of the fair to collect cards that will be turned into exhibit cards in that area, given that you have enough influence there.
To set up the game, you place the Ferris Wheel board on the table and place the Ferris Wheel Car at the bottom of the wheel track, this is the start spot. This Ferris Wheel Car will move around the track clockwise when certain actions happen, when it reaches back to the start spot, this signifies the end of a round and a scoring round takes place. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. After placing the board on the table, randomly place out the five areas of the fair around the board. These areas are Transportation, Fine Arts, Manufacturing, Electricity and Agriculture. (Setup will vary differently in a two player game, but we’re just going to cover the 3-4 player game setup here). Shuffle the deck of cards and then place two cards in each area around the board and put the rest of the cards next to the board as a draw pile. Set the scoring tokens aside, give each player 22 supporters of their color and determine who is going to start the game by whatever means you would like to use. Depending on starting position you’ll get a starting bonus card, perform the action specified on the card and you’re ready to go.
On each player’s turn they are going to perform 4 actions, first and foremost is your primary action which is to get your supporters in areas that you want them in, you do this by simply placing one of your supporters in one of the five areas of your choosing. Next, if you start your turn with any Influential Figure cards in your hand, you play them now, in any order that you choose however they best serve your needs. These Influential Figures cannot be held onto for multiple turns, they must be used the turn after they were collected. After any cards have been played that need to be played, the player collects all the cards in their chosen area. You place all of your cards face up in front of you in your personal card supply. Some of those cards may be Influential Figures, some may be Exhibit cards and others will be Midway Ticket cards. The Midway ticket cards are what moves the Ferris Wheel Car around the Ferris Wheel track, acting as the game’s timer. For each Midway Ticket card you collect, you move the Ferris Wheel Car forward one space. If the Ferris Wheel Car reaches the starting spot, it stops there and immediately you will have a scoring phase. The fourth and final action on a player’s turn is to put new cards around the board. Draw a card from the top of the draw pile and place the first card in the area that the player has just emptied. Continuing clockwise place one card on each of the next two available areas if there is space for them. Each area has a maximum amount of cards allowed on them either three or four as indicated by arrows on the outside edge of the area. If the area is full, skip it and place a card in the next available area. Once the player has placed three new cards out, the next player clockwise gets to take their actions, continuing this way in a clockwise manner.
There are three card types in World’s Fair 1893, we’ve already explained what the Midway Tickets do during the game, they advance the Ferris Wheel Car, but they also are scored at the end of each round. The player who has collected the most tickets receives a two point Midway coin. All players, including the majority holder, redeem their collected Midway Tickets for one point each.
The Influential Figure cards represent the favors that you can ask the influential people of the time period for. These are the cards that you have to play the round after you acquire them. They allow the player to perform different actions such as adding a bonus supporter to the area that you chose to send your first supporter to or adding a bonus supporter to one of the areas you sent your supporter to, or even moving one supporter, yours or an opponents from any one area to any other area. There are also Influential Figure cards that let you add a bonus supporter to the area specified on the card.
Your Main Exhibit cards represent your proposals for the main section of the fair. When you first get them they are considered “proposed”. During the scoring phase you can have them approved if you are one of the leaders of the corresponding area. You only earn points for these cards by having them approved and the more variety of approvals you have, the more points you will score.
So, how does the scoring work? Well it works a little something like this. When the Ferris Wheel Car hits the starting spot, you have a scoring round. There will be three of these in the game. First you score the Midway Tickets, everyone gets 1 point per Midway Ticket in their hand and the player with the most gets 2 bonus points, if there is a tie for most tickets, all players tied receive 2 bonus points.
All right, now the fun part, scoring the five areas. Starting with the area at the base of the board and proceeding clockwise the player with the most supporters in an area gains ribbons worth either 4 or two points, and matching exhibit cards they have collected for the area being scored may be approved. The number of players determines the number of points gained and how many matching exhibits that can be approved. After every area has been scored and the players have had their exhibit cards approved each player reduces the supporters they have in each area. For every two supporters you have, you remove one of them, always round in your favor though. After the first two scoring phases, play will continue clockwise as normal, after the third the game ends.
End of game scoring each player will score their midway coins, their leader medals and their approved exhibits. The approved exhibits are scored in sets of different non-matching categories with a full set of 5 getting you 15 points, 4 gets you 10, 3 gets you 6, 2 gets 3 points and 1 is just 1 point. The player with the most points wins!
If you just read or listened to that rules overview, I am pretty confident that you can now sit down and know how to play the game. It plays as smoothly and easy as it sounds. Yet within those 45 minutes or so you are playing, there are lots of little strategies and tactical moves that can come into play based on what is going on around the board. Sure it sounds easy enough, play one cube, pick up some cards, replenish, move on but if you play it like that, you probably won’t win.
The theme in this one shines through in the wonderful artwork by Beth Sobel and Adam McIver really help implant you in the 1893 World’s Fair. Even in a prototype form with some cards still missing pieces of information, the cards not having finished back design and such we couldn’t keep ourselves from noticing and admiring all the little details.
Weight wise, this one is going to be your go to game if you want to teach others about Area Control, I’m telling you this one has a place on your shelves right next to that tattered well-loved copy of Ticket to Ride that you break out every once in awhile for yourselves, but more often to try to show a friend that there is more to board games than dice and random luck. There is strategy even in the simplest of rule sets and fun to be found in finding out how to sneak into that last spot you need to get that last exhibit approved to complete that full set of exhibit tokens.
If there is one negative to the game, it’s that it can sometimes seem to end just a little too soon. You may find yourself just wishing for one or two more rounds, but you know what, maybe we shouldn’t think of that as a negative. Maybe that’s just the game pulling you back in, making you want to set it up and play it back to back to back, which we have done.
I’ve previewed a handful of games since I first started blogging and podcasting about our gaming experiences here, and my family has enjoyed each and every game we’ve previewed to varying degrees, but there hasn’t been a single one that seemed to grab my game group as soon as we sat down and started playing. Sure, they’ve enjoyed games that I’ve brought in the past, but I don’t remember them asking to play one more than once or twice. World’s Fair 1893 broke that, as soon as we sat down and started playing it, the wheels started turning and the chatter started and didn’t stop for a half hour or so after that first game was over.
World’s Fair 1893 launches on Kickstarter on September 29th. For $29 including shipping in the United States you can pick this one up. Shipping goes up for our Canadian friends and friends all over the world. I really can’t wait to see what Randy Hoyt over at Foxtrot Games has in store for this one during the campaign, I haven’t seen any stretch goals yet, but I trust that they will make the game even nicer to look at and to play.
I did it, I previewed a game about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair without one mention of H.H. Holmes!!