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Posted on Dec 10, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Location, Location, Location” – New York 1901 Board Game Review

“Location, Location, Location” – New York 1901 Board Game Review

By Rick Martin

New York 1901 Game Review.  Publisher: Blue Orange Designer: Chenier La Salle  Price  $59.99

 

Passed Inspection: Beautiful components, family friendly, mentally challenging, pure fun, informative examples of play

 

Failed Basic: colors are a little confusing (and may be detrimental if you are color blind), rules need to show both the back and front of the different card decks

 

Not all battles are fought on the battle field and, as New York 1901 demonstrates, business can be considered a battle as well.

 

Blue Orange’s brilliant New York 1901 is not a war game per say.  It is a combination of a worker placement game and an area control game.  It’s easy to learn, fast to play, family friendly and extremely addictive.

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As we gamers gather together with family over the holidays, we at Armchair General think it important that all gamers have family friendly games at their disposal as well as the more tradition “grognard” games that we all enjoy.  New York 1901 perfectly fits that bill.

 

New York 1901 abstractly simulates the sky scraper building boom of early 20th Century New York.  The game accommodates from 2 to 4 players with each player playing a real estate developer and having their own character card with their name, where they are from and the actions they can perform each turn.

 

The goal of the game is earn the most points by building different types of buildings on specific key streets using the workers and building types you have at your disposal.  For each game, the important streets which score the most points are different.  In addition, you score more points for not using some specific bonus actions and for building more technologically advanced buildings.

 

New York 1901’s components include:

1 Game Board

5 Character Cards

5 Streets of New York Cards

5 Bonus Challenge Cards

65 Territory Cards

4 Skyscraper Score Tokens (1 per player)

16 Workers (4 per player)

4 King Tokens (1 per player)

12 Action Cards (3 per player)

76 Skyscrapers (19 per player, including 1 Starter Building)

4 Legendary Skyscrapers

 

The game box is sturdy and features a beautifully evocative piece of artwork by Vincent Dutrait who also illustrated the other components in the game.  The box features a plastic storage tray for keeping all the wonderful gaming goodies protected and in order.

 

The mounted map board features the heart of New York City in 1901 complete with the major streets, iconic buildings and parks.  The map board is subdivided in to districts and territories for the building of two square and three square buildings.  Later in the game, you can build even larger buildings and even the iconic skyscrapers that are all too familiar in Manhattan.

 

Each player has a different color representing him or her – yellow, green, blue or brown (although the instructions show red instead of brown).

 

Each player is represented by different color buildings and workers.  You have four workers per player and then cardboard building counters of various types of buildings you can place on the board.  Each building piece is rated for the technological level of the building plus the victory points that the building will give you.  The tech levels of the buildings are bronze, silver or gold.  The higher the tech level of the building, the more points it may bring you but know that the more points the building can bring you, the harder it will be to place on the board and build.

 

In addition to the color of your buildings and workers, on your character sheet you also have a little picture showing what color on the map your districts are.  You can usually only build in the district which matches the color on your character sheet.  This was sometimes confusing as the color for building doesn’t match the color of your workers and building counters.  I think the two different color schemes could have been combined to avoid confusion but once you get used to it, it’s not really a problem.

 

You also have cards to use in the game.  There are Streets of New York Cards, Bonus Challenge Cards, Territory Cards and Action Cards. It would have been nice if both sides of the cards could have been shown in the rules as the rules only show the face side.  This added to the confusion of setting up our first game.

 

The Streets of New York Cards determine which streets will reward you bonus points if you have the most buildings standing on them at the end of the game.  These cards are randomly drawn from game to game and each player must be aware of these as they may influence your building placements.

 

The Bonus Challenge Cards give you bonus points for specific styles of playing and one is chosen for each game.  As with the Streets of New York cards, you must pay attention to the specifics of the card picked if you want bonus points at the end of the game.

 

The Territory Cards represent different territories in New York and are coded by color  of the territory on the New York Board and show whether they can be purchased and traded for lots of either 2 space or 3 space buildings.  The Territory Cards are placed face down near the players and four are always available face up near the board.  These four make up the “Open Market” and show what land is available for players to purchase and then to build on.  When  there are no more Territory Cards in the  Open Market, the game is over and points are totaled up to see who wins.

 

Each player has three Action Cards available.  These are one time use cards which can help give you an advantage as you play.  If you don’t use them, you actually get points towards your final victory point total so use them wisely.

 

Each turn a player can do one of the following:

1) Build a building where you have workers

2) Demolish a building and build a more advanced building if you are able (you remove the old building from the board and replace it with a new, fancier building and you get the victory points from the new building too!)

3) Pick up a Territory Card from the Open Market then place one of your workers on top of a territory on the board that matches both the color and size of the Territory Card you just picked up.

 

As you get more and more victory points (these are tracked on the edge of the game board), you can build more advanced buildings. You start with bronze level buildings and then get access to silver and gold buildings.  Tracking victory on the edge of the board is a great way for all the players to see where they stand and how much ground they have to gain in order to win the game.  None-the-less, even if you think you are winning, at the end of the game more points are awarded based both upon the Streets of New York cards and the Bonus Cards.  Victory is not a sure thing.  As you play the game and gain experience with it, you really begin to appreciate the subtle ways to win the game.  There is no one path to victory in New York 1901.

 

The acquisition of territories is key to the successful placement of your buildings.  You can acquire land next to another player’s territory and really mess up their plans to grow their skyscrapers.  In addition, the subtle acquisition of land and pre-planning allows you to access the legendary skyscrapers which are one of the key pathways to successfully wining this game.  You have to be able to conform the footprint of the new buildings and skyscrapers to the available territories under your control.

 

Before you think that this sounds like a game that is way too complex for kids, it’s not.  That is the beauty of this game – it can be played in a variety of ways and even your best strategy may fall prey to accidentally brilliant moves by less experienced players.  New York 1901 stretches your strategic thinking in to the abstraction of territory pattern matching.

 

Variant rules are included to add to the fun.

 

An average game takes around 45 minutes to an hour to play.

 

I love this game.  It’s deep enough for adults to play and simple enough for the kids.  Buy this and keep it ready to play – it should be on every gamer’s shelf!

 

Armchair General Rating:  95 %

 

Solitaire Rating: 1 (1 is not suitable, 5 is perfect for solo play)

 

About the Author

 

A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!

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