First Impression of The Ruhr - A Story of Coal Trade (Eric Booth)
Designed by: Thomas Spitzer
Published by: Capstone Games
Graphics by: Harald Lieske
Layout by: Johannes Sich
Full disclosure. I was given this game as a review copy from the publisher. You can be sure that this is no way influenced my impressions of this game. If it's crap I will let you know it's crap.
Your adventure started with Haspelknecht as you discovered coal and the methods of mining needed in the removing of that black gold from the deep dark depths while you battled the ever present water that undendingly kept creeping into your mine. Now your adventure moves to the next level of getting that hard earned coal out to the cities and factories who need it the most. You will do this by traveling up and down the river earning gold and Progress Marker which will unlock and improve your ability and efficiency to deliver your precious cargo. Each Progress Marker requires you to meet different delivery goals to unlock enabling you deliver and build your much needed warehouse in the cities and coal mines. Most importantly these Progress Markers will allow you to remove obstacles along the river and replace them with locks. Thus the coal you deliver will be of a better quality thus earning you more money.
The Ruhr – A Story of Coal Trade is a medium/heavy Euro style game that is at it's heart a pick up and delivery game. You will need to map out your strategy early on what Progress Markers you want to shot for early and how to utilize them most efficiently. But you will have to adapt as unforeseen events will happen that may hamper how far downriver you can deliver or crash the marker on coal thus diminishing its value. Or upping the demand in the cities or factories making them more enticing to deliver too.
I've gotten 2 plays in so far. First game was with 2 players and was basically a learning game with a very patient Linus “Andrew”. I'm pretty sure we only got a couple minor rules wrong but once we got a couple rounds in the flow of the game became very apparent and intuitive. We did have a few snags on when actions happened when you selected them. Most of the actions happen immediately while the “Pilot” action happens during the “Delivery” phase. This is not readily apparent in the rules or on the game board. But once we got our mind around it it made total sense. Game played very well with just us two. The next play was “Teaching” game with 4 players and went very smoothly thanks to Ruth and her speed reading skills jumping in when I missed certain details. The game can lend itself to some AP moments as there are a lot of things happening and choices to be made that aren't readily apparent when you start out playing. What's nice is in some of the phases, the actions for each player happen at the same time so that helps in keeping things moving along nicely. One thing I really like is how player turn order is determined. For each phase the first player is determined by the person who is further up river than the other players. Then turn order just continues down river till the last person has gone. What makes this so interesting is you might be first for one phase and depending on what action you take you could be last for the next phase. So manipulating your position along the river is crucial in executing your strategy.
OK. Who is this game for? If you like crunchy Euros with lots of options that aren't readily apparent this game could be for you. The Ruhr is deceptively deeper than you would think when you first look at it.
So what is my impression after just a couple plays? I'm real excited to get in more plays and get into exploring what The Ohio has to offer also. The theme is deeply integrated into the game play which is not common with most mid to heavy Euros. So stay tuned and hopefully next weekend I will have an audio review of the game on the WDYPW podcast. But for now I really like what I've seen so far.