Recap: Homesteaders and Fresco With All Modules | Giant Fire Breathing Robot

Recap: Homesteaders and Fresco With All Modules

The past few weeks have been dedicated to four-player games, and this week’s gathering was no exception. Finals and some other end-of-the-school-year shenanigans have given us the opportunity to delve into those games with a lower player limit.

This week, we decided to see if Homesteaders would hold up as a four-player game (the three-player version was a good experience) and we gave Fresco a go with all of the included modules. The group concluded that we enjoyed at least two out of three of them.

Check out the full experience and impressions past the cut.

Homesteaders. Four-player Homesteaders was just as fun as the three-player version. It took marginally longer with the extra bidding stack, but not so much that it impacted the enjoyment of the game. The major difference was that, with three purchases being made each round, the available tiles were snapped up much more rapidly. In turn, that meant that auctions were far more important in the four-player game. Luckily, with an additional opponent, we were passing less frequently.

Whereas I opted for a heavily money-oriented strategy last time, this time I went for a mix of money, trade tokens, and some resources. While I was cash-poorer than in my prior play, and thus couldn’t always bid on what I wanted, I ended up with a terrific engine. At about round four, I started shifting to a victory point strategy which ultimately paid off.

Thanks in part to an early purchase of the church, at game end I had 34 points just in chips. Counting up afterward, I had a solid 50 points. But my good friend Eric managed to squeak by with 52. Or so we thought. After congratulating him, someone asked me if I had subtracted all my debt. I proudly proclaimed that I had managed to pay off all of my debt at game end. Eric, however, announced that he had forgotten to subtract it and had three minus points. Victory!

Eric plots his final moves, hoping to squash us all under his mighty special buildings

Fresco. Up until this week, I had only played Fresco without the included modules. Though I enjoy it when a game includes bonuses (and I often find myself hunting down and purchasing any “promotional” additions), I typically will play the base game a few times to appreciate it. And, that’s what my review is based on—just the base game.

After putting that review up a while back, I got a few emails letting me know that the game really lights up only after including the “expansions.” So, I decided to test that out. The three expansions added a lot to the game, but not so much that any of the basic mechanics were changed. Just a few choices here or there which made some alternate strategies viable.

The artists’ studio was my favorite module of the bunch. Whereas previously that action was only taken when in need of coin, now there was always a tempting offer to be had. And, sometimes, it might be best to avoid the studio if no one there can get you the needed thalers. I attended the studio on nearly every turn—gaining permanent powers when available—and loved how they allowed the player to define a unique strategy for themselves.

The advanced paints was also interesting. It meant that more workers were allocated to mixing paints so that we could get the coveted brown and pink sooner. This, in turn, lead to a greater effort by all players at maintaining happiness to get the extra worker. Plus, those extra colors were extremely valuable. Even after the painting tiles that included them were gone, one player focused solely on repairing the altar each turn for a cool fourteen points—more points than any tile in the basic game.

The only one I felt was a little off was the “Bishop’s Favor” expansion. It allows you to turn in sets of tiles for bonus points and free paints—effectively exchanging thaler income for paint income. While I enjoyed that trade-off, those tiles also gave a healthy amount of points. I’m not sure that was needed. As it was, I was able to get 16 points just from turning in tiles. It meant that my strategy of just grabbing even easy tiles was extremely effective. While the other players busied themselves with creating fantastic paints, I swooped in and scooped up all of the easy tiles and quickly turned them around for points and profit.

 

You can see blue, yellow, and green on the left, and red far, far in the lead near the opposite side of the board.

I think I’ll play it a few more times to be sure, but I may be skipping that last module in the future. Or perhaps playing it without the point bonus. It really made my particular strategy especially dominant in our game.

What did you play this week?

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