There are riches to be found in them hills! Grab your pickaxe, miner hat, and trusty pooch and get ready to dig up copious amounts of copper, silver, and gold. Ma Courtland and Baron Pearce are counting on you to fullfill your contracts and prove yourself to be the best miner in the land. Today, we take a look at Ore-Some, designed by Sarah Kennington and published by One Free Elephant, which will begin its Kickstarter campaign on February 14!
To set up a game of Ore-Some, randomly determine who will be the first player and give them the first player marker. Each player will then choose a character card and take the mine cart of the corresponding color. The next thing to do is set up the game board.
This is done using the stack of tiles, which ensures that each game of Ore-Some will always be different than the last. Begin by placing the mine shaft tile as the center tile. Then, place each of the colored corner tiles in the four corners of the board. Give each player a colored tile (but not their own color), and use the remaining tiles to form the tile stack. Beginning with the first player, each player will add tiles to the mine by either drawing a tile from the tile stack or using the colored tile they were given. This tile is added to the mine by connecting it with one of the tiles already placed. Tiles may be rotated in any configuration the player chooses, as long as the tracks on adjacent tiles line up (a track going off the edge of the board is acceptable). If the drawn tile cannot be placed, it is discarded and a new tile drawn and placed. This will continue until a 5×5 grid is complete. This grid will serve as the mine for the duration of the game. If any of the colored tiles have not yet been placed when the 5×5 grid is completed, the player who chose the character matching the color of the unplaced tile(s) can remove any neutral tile and replace it with the tile of their color (ensuring that tracks still line up). All remaining tiles are returned to the box.
Once the board is set up, each player will place their mine cart on the corner tile that matches their character color. Place the coins in a pile near the board within reach of all players. Do the same with the wooden beams. All of the colored wooden cubes (the ore) are placed inside the bag, and the bag is placed near the board. Shuffle the two decks of contract cards and deal one of each type of contract to each player. Players should keep these contracts hidden from the other players. The two contract decks are then placed near the board, with the Bank Price card placed between them. Place the Pocket Watch token (round marker) on the space marking round #1 on the Round Tracker card. Shuffle the Action Card deck and deal three action cards to each player (these cards are also kept secret by the players). Place the remaining Action Cards facedown to form a draw pile near the board. Make sure Scraps is close to the draw pile. Ma Cortland (white) and Baron Pearce (yellow) will begin on the mineshaft (center) tile of the board. Finally, give each player a reference card and a die matching their color.
Ore-Some is played over 6 rounds, with each round being made up of two phases – a move phase and a dig phase. Let’s break each phase down.
At the start of the move phase, the Contract Agents will move. Baron Pearce is interested in cashing in contracts worth a lot of money. For this reason, he will move up to three tiles closer to the mine cart containing the most ore. If there is a tie, he will move toward the closest of the tied carts. If there is still a tie, he will move toward the first player. Ma Courtland, on the other hand, is happy to work with contracts of lower values. This means she will move up to three tiles toward the cart with the least ore in it. Ties for Ma Courtland are broken in favor of the youngest player. If there is still a tie, she will move toward the first player. (Note: the Contract Agents do not move at the start of the first round.)
Once the Contract Agents have been moved, all players will simultaneously roll their die to determine the number of moves they will have on their turn. It is important that all players roll simultaneously because players have action cards that can be played to affect either their own movement or the movement of an opponent. The first player will then complete the remainder of his or her move phase by playing action cards to improve their own movement (or affect an opponent’s movement) and then moving their mine cart according to their die roll (plus or minus the result of any action cards played). When moving, they must always follow the track they are on and cannot switch directions mid-move. If the track were to go off of the board, their cart is shunted and they drop a piece of ore out of their cart. Shunting also occurs if they collide with a wooden beam blocking the track they are on, or if they collide with another player’s cart. Once they have completed their movement, play will continue clockwise so each player can complete their move phase in the same manner. Once all players have completed their move phase, we move on to the dig phase.
During the dig phase, each player will take up to three actions – dig for ore, cash in ore, and pick up ore – in any order they wish. Starting with the first player, each person will complete their entire dig phase and then play will proceed clockwise around the table. On their turn, each player MUST dig for ore. This is done by drawing two cubes out of the mine bag (or four cubes if your cart is on a tile that matches your color) and placing them into your mine cart. Any cubes that are dropped during this step remain on the tiles where they land. If any dropped cubes land off of the board, place them on the tile closest to where they landed. There can be multiple cubes on a single tile.
The second action a player can take is to pick up ore. If there is any ore in the tile where the player’s cart is currently located, the player can opt to pick up any or all of it and place it into his or her mine cart. Any ore that is dropped during this action remains in the tile to attempt to be picked up again on a later turn.
The third action that can be taken is to cash in ore. There are two ways that ore can be cashed in. Ore can be sold to the bank or it can be used to complete contracts with one of the Contract Agents. If sold to the bank, the sold ore is returned to the bag, and the player selling it will take money equal to its total value ($3 per gold, $2 per silver, $1 per copper). In order to complete a contract, the player must have the ore shown on the contract card AND be within four track tiles of the agent the contract belongs to (i.e. the agent shown on the card. To cash in a contract, the player will lay the card (face-up) on the table and then remove the required ore from their cart and place it on top of the contract card (to show they have all of it). The ore used for the contract is returned to the bag, and the contract card is placed face down near the player who completed it and will used for scoring at the end of the game. Any remaining ore is returned to the player’s cart in any order they would like. Any ore dropped during this action does not count as dropped ore and can be picked up.
Once all players have completed their dig phase, each player has the option to discard as many cards as they would like, and then draw back up to a hand of five cards. Their hand can be made up of any combination of contract and action cards. The round marker is advanced to the next round, the first player marker is given to the next player in clockwise order, and play resumes with the move phase. At the end of the sixth round, any ore not used to complete contracts is sold to the bank. Players count up the money earned through completed contracts and ore sold to the bank. The player with the most money is the winner.
There are three types of action cards that can be played over the course of the game. There are Move cards, Dig cards, and Surprise cards. Move cards can be played during the Move phase of the game, and are identified with a railroad track icon on them. These cards are used to help mitigate your own die rolls, allowing you to move further (or not). You can also play Move cards against any of your opponents to slow them down (or speed them up). Dig cards can be played during the Dig phase, and are identified by a pickaxe icon on them. These cards allow you to draw extra ore, steal from other players, or place (or remove) wooden beams on tiles to block movement throughout the mine. Surprise cards can be played at any time, and are generally used to counter cards played against you (such as blocking an attempt to steal ore from you or making other cards inactive). These cards are easily identified by an exclamation point icon.
I’m going to make this review about as simple as I possibly can …. Ore-Some is just plain fun! It’s a simple to teach and play game that is fantastic for families to play together. If you have younger kids (ages 8 and up would probably be best), and they’re like mine, they’re going to absolutely love the “take that!” of the cards. My kids love to steal things from my mine cart, or cause my cart to not be able to move by playing Sabotage cards to negate my die roll completely or Dynamite cards to throw wooden beams in my way. It definitely makes for some good laughs and they thoroughly enjoy playing this game whenever it hits the table. Their enjoyment simply adds to my own enjoyment of the game. The mechanisms in Ore-Some are very solid, and the modular tiles that make up the game board help ensure that no two games are ever the same. Some players may find that playing only six rounds is not long enough. Good news! You can opt to play for eight rounds by simply flipping the Round Marker card to the other side! This is definitely a light filler game. While it won’t be a staple at your game nights, it makes for an excellent game for a family game night! Head over to the Kickstarter page for Ore-Some for more information and to back this project.