I cannot encourage you more, to give Irish Gauge a chance.
Publisher: Capstone Games
Designer: Tom Russell
Artist: Ian O’Toole
Game Type: Market
Game Type: 18xx
Initial Year of Release: 2019 (2014)
Age Range: 12+
Expected Playtime: 60 Mins
Number of Players: 3-5
Theme and What is it?
Could it be possible to distill and 18xx into less than 9 hours of playtime? Here the designer has made every attempt to distill fun, if you like 18xx. I was a fan when the basic gist was explained and playing through it cemented that view.
Now, I’ll tell you why.
Each turn, you will play just one of a few actions.
You can build track up to three units worth. A unit is described on the board.
You can auction a stock. You must start on at LEAST the big number, and the sky is the limit. But, remember, $$ is your victory points.
You can build a city in your settlements, if you own a stock of a train passing through, and you choose the color of the city.
You declare dividends, and each stock that has either a city and settlement (names wrong I am sure), or two paying cities, will pay dividends.
This is really all you can do. Now, the question is whether you can form a winning strategy. So far, I have played a hand full of times, and have not won. I have lost quite badly, but never won.
I have to admit to myself, and to you… I like train games. I also like market games. I also like games that are mean. I also like games that are pretty.
Therefore, simply put, my initial reaction was to love this game, without ever playing it.
Game Build Quality
The picture makes the trains look larger than they appear. In real life, they are smaller than a dime.
This is needed or the board would be huge if you used larger trains. As it is, I think the quality of this game, is nearly exactly as it should be.
The recycled cardboard print look is also VERY nice to look at and play on.
The box art is pretty if not assuming.
The game is rather nondescript in a beautiful material design sort of manner. Personally I think the art is what they needed. A few of the graphic design choices took a minute to understand and could have been clearer.
All in all, I love how this game looks on the table.
This is where the game falters a bit.
Sadly, it is not the game’s fault, but the audience. I was inclined to like it. The people I played with are not into games like 18xx and did not seem to give it a fair shake, with 18xx as a springboard.
This is not their fault but speaks as to how unapproachable many people find 18xx games. Here, this is all the fun of 18xx, distilled down.
However, if you have never played an 18xx, you may have a hard time seeing why that distillation is so important, and so very good.
Age Range & Weight
12+. I would tend to agree. This game is easy.
The scoring mechanic is a bit difficult the first time around, but after that, it comes quite naturally.
I have more than once made the mistake of not waiting to judge a game, that I later really enjoyed.
Here, I think that is this game’s largest hurdle to overcome. It is frankly awesome. But, I can see where someone that dislikes 18xx may not give this game a fair shake.
I cannot encourage you more to give Irish Gauge a chance. Though, to really enjoy it, have someone try to explain to you an 18xx the day before you play. That way when you play this, you will see why it is so much more approachable to the “average” board game audience. This game will definitely make my board game library, and I think it should make yours.
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