Moe's Game Table: World's Fair 1893 Preview
Publisher: Foxtrot Games
Game Designer: J. Alex Kevern
Artwork: Adam P. McIver, Beth Sobel
Ages: 10 and up
Playing Time: 45 minutes
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
As you walk the midway soaking up the grandeur of the massive global event known as the World’s Fair, your mind is awash with the dizzying array of opportunities available. This is where you can do it, finally make your mark and build a name as fine and respected as those of Westinghouse, Bunn and Schwab!
Do you think you can you plan, cajole and gain enough influence to become the top exhibit organizer with the greatest reputation? Then step right up and try your hand at World’s Fair 1893 to find out.
Recently I was able to sit down and play a prototype of World’s Fair 1893 with Foxtrot Games co-founder Randy Hoyt demoing the game for a group of us. After just one play it was apparent that Foxtrot has another winner on their hands here and I was fortunate enough to snag a prototype for further play and review.
The prototype I received was an older one and was a static cut, which means the exhibit tiles are not interchangeable as they will be in the production copy to allow for random placement in each game. As always, I will discuss but will not grade the components of a prototype but I will say the art on the major pieces and those that I’ve seen for the production copy are nothing short of beautiful and fitting for the period.
Of the components, only the cards were near production type in both art and quality but from what Randy shared with me of the plans for the final product, I know this will be a top notch finished game.
World’s Fair 1893 is a smooth playing, elegant and lite euro game for 2-4 players that clocks in at around 30-45 minutes and has an interesting bit of everything going on. Blending area control, worker placement, card drafting and set collection together with a simple rules set, World’s Fair is a really fun game for everyone and a wonderful gateway for players new to these mechanics.
The goal of World’s Fair 1893 is to be the greatest exhibit organizer, gaining the most reputation by spreading your influence and winning approval to build the most exhibits in the five general exhibit areas of the fair; electricity, agriculture, fine arts, transportation and manufacturing. Influence in the game is represented by the twenty cubes or as I like to view them, assistants, out doing your bidding.
Even in prototype form the game’s board is quite attractive, with the five main exhibit area tiles connected together and anchored by the fair’s greatest attraction, the 264-foot-tall Ferris wheel which casts its magnificent likeness upon the water at the center of the board. This device made its historic debut at the fair and one could ride it for the kingly sum of 50 cents, twice the cost of a ticket to the entire fair!
During setup, everyone puts one influence cube on each exhibit tile and then all players place additional cubes as directed by their player card. Players 2-4 will place two extra cubes on different tiles to the start player’s one, balancing things out.
Each turn, players place influence cubes on any of the desired exhibit tiles in order to gain area control while drafting all of the cards on that spot for later set collection, scoring or for use on the next turn.
Three new cards are then placed on the board, one at a time in clockwise fashion starting with the tile you just took from. So each tile will have from one to four cards on it at any time during the game, giving you plenty of options and some tough decisions as the game wears on.
The exhibits each hold either three or four cards as marked on the tile but at the start, each area is seeded with two. The cards come in three types; Exhibits, Influential Figures and Midway tickets. Exhibit cards can translate to approved exhibits if you win control of the corresponding tile at the end of each of the games three scoring rounds.
Influential Figures are historical people who offer you distinct advantages in different locations such as placing extra cubes or moving cubes from other tiles and must be played first on your next turn. I like how these cards represent, in an abstract way, you earning favors from these highly influential people and they in turn help you build your own presence throughout the fairgrounds. Smart use of these cards can allow you to overtake your opponents when you’re battling for key exhibit tiles.
Midway tickets score points while also advancing the Ferris wheel car one space for each Midway ticket taken, this acts as a player controlled clock for each round. Each complete revolution around the Ferris wheel results in end round scoring phase until the third and final spin of the wheel where final tallies are taken and a victor emerges.
Scoring exhibits nets you blue or red ribbons while Midway scoring is represented by coins, each translate to points but both keep with the games theme which is a really nice touch.
Having area control nets you bonuses for first and second place at 3+ players, with 1st place allowed to build three exhibits to just one for second place while 3rd and 4thplace cannot approve and build. The player with the most Midway tickets gains extra bonuses as well.
This is where the set collection comes in; every five different exhibits you get approval to build scores on an increasing scale of 1-15 points so diversifying exhibits drafted throughout the game is huge but won’t always be easy.
Having the right cards won’t matter if you don’t have area majority on the matching exhibit tile, so striking the right balance of drafting and gaining control of the matching tiles makes for some tough but very fun decisions each turn.
In all of my plays, I’ve never seen a runaway game. Each was within a few points which speaks highly of the balance because everyone is scoring on something, keeping the game fairly equitable throughout.
The theme is unique and made more interesting by the historical tidbits on each of the cards, you’ll find yourself reading every one of them and coming away with a few nuggets of trivia and history you didn’t know of before.
While the mechanics work well and in an abstract way do fit the theme, they don’t carry it. What carries it are the cards, art and little touches like scoring tokens which are perfectly synchronous to the era and quite lovely, framing those interesting morsels of historical information in a way that keeps you engaged as much as the gameplay does.
While there is no direct confrontation in the game, you can block an opponent from taking cards you know they need by getting to that tile first. Of course, in doing so you may end up sacrificing critical cards or spaces you need to score in the process. Such is the decisions in this game, light but meaningful and usually hard but not difficult.
World’s Fair 1893 is a very fun game that plays fast like a filler but has enough meaty decisions to make it feel more like an entrée than an appetizer and is sure to be a hit with any level of gamer. I can tell you that it’s secured a permanent spot on my shelf.
Combining several different mechanics into a solid, lightweight euro, Foxtrot Games and designer J. Alex Kevern have a sure fire winner in World’s Fair 1893. It will have broad appeal thanks to its unique theme, charming artwork and balanced gameplay leading to tight scoring games.
The randomness of the card deals to the different exhibit tiles and exclusive player starting positions keeps the game fresh with each play, giving great re-playability and at 30-45 minutes makes for a very engaging and enjoyable quick game.
Fans of lite games with meaningful decisions will be delighted with the fun, strategy and re-playability and can use it as a gateway to other games that share these same mechanics. With the Kickstarter price point at $29, this is one to not pass up!
World’s Fair 1893 blends multiple mechanics into a very balanced, easy to play, lite euro game that scales very well for 2-4 players and will be enjoyable for any level of gamer.
The game is also very family friendly and will teach some great lessons for kids as they’ll be forced to weigh cost to benefit for each of their moves in a non-intimidating manner. In fact, the kids may have an easier go of making choices than some adults.
If you’re looking for a light weight game that’s a step above other fare like Ticket to Ride or Carcassonne and offers the same enjoyment from games like Lords of Waterdeep and 7 Wonders, this is one to back!
The Kickstarter project launches this Tuesday, so don’t miss out.
Company Website: http://foxtrotgames.com/
Company Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoxtrotGames
Company Twitter: https://twitter.com/foxtrotgames
Note: A preview copy of this game was provided to me.