Horseless Carriage and more

Horseless Carriage

Horseless Carriage box cover

Horseless Carriage is the latest title from Splotter. It’s a game about the early automobile business. Players try to determine what features customers want in their cars and then produce cars to fulfil those needs. Mechanically, there’s a spatial puzzle of laying out your factory to build the cars with the necessary features and another challenge of trying to manipulate the market where the customers are.

It’s all reasonably challenging. The cool part about the factory puzzle is that it is not limited by money. It’s all about space: your factory floor has minimal space, and the key to success is building clever production lines that can be shared by multiple different car mainlines. There’s exciting tech development to get the features required to reach the valuable markets and a very cool turn order mechanism where early in the engineering order allows you to borrow technology from other players but places you last in the sales.

It took us only 2.5 hours to play the game, which is fast enough. Of course, this being the first play for three of us (one player had previous experience), we also needed a 45-minute setup and rules explanation session. But especially when everybody knows the rules, this can comfortably fit in a weeknight game session.

I was last in our game; I had a well-designed factory but couldn’t sell enough cars. I was the first to start producing lucrative sports cars, but then two other players joined the market, and it wasn’t big enough for the three of us. I’m itching to play again.

Horseless Carriage factory layout

I played another game of Brass: Birmingham. It is an excellent game.

Spots box cover

A friend recently bought Spots, a simple dog-themed push-your-luck game where you try to fill your dog cards with the correct numbers from dice. Each turn, you choose an action that determines how you roll the dice. There are reroll tokens, and you can go bust if you can’t place the dice on your dogs and spill over your buffer zone.

It’s all pretty clever, looks nice and plays fast and loose. If you’re looking for a filler and like rolling dice and pushing your luck, Spots is a fine choice.

Cascadia box cover

Cascadia won the Spiel des Jahres award last year. That’s generally a sign of quality, so I didn’t hesitate to give the game a go. It’s a tile-laying game where, each turn, you pick a combination of a terrain tile and a wildlife token. The terrain tokens form a landscape where you want to maximize the size of each terrain type, and the wildlife tokens are played on the terrain to create shapes that score points. Each animal type has a different scoring rule, with different variations. In our game, the salmon formed runs, the elk formed circles, the hawks wanted distance from other hawks and so on.

It’s all relatively straightforward yet engaging. The game is simple enough to work as a family game but offers enough challenges to satisfy seasoned gamers. Cascadia is currently ranked as the best abstract game and the sixth-best family game on BoardGameGeek. I’m not sure I agree with the “best abstract” ranking, but it’s a solid game. If we play this more, I’m sure it’ll pop up on my top 100 list next year. (Horseless Carriage will undoubtedly be on the list.)

Cascadia reminds me of Akropolis, another recent tile-laying game. I enjoy both, but perhaps slightly prefer Akropolis, thanks to the three-dimensional tile-laying in that game.

Cascadia tile layout

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