Gameday First Play – Mombasa
“It requires smart timing to cut the head off a tortoise”
~ Mombasa Mathree Bumper Sticker
Players acquire shares of chartered companies based in Mombasa, Cape Town, Saint-Louis, and Cairo and propagate trading posts of these companies throughout the African continent in order to earn the most money.
The game is made up of these 4 companies and players can earn shares in any or all of them. Players will also be increasing/decreasing the value of these Companies in order to end the game with the most money.
I’ll get into what you do later but I want go through the neat card mechanism that you use to take actions first…
This is your player board, you have slots under the board to program cards and stacks above it where they go after they’re used.
You program cards in the slots under the board, these are the cards you’ll use this turn to take actions. Once a round is complete you take ONE of the stacks of cards ABOVE the board into your hand, then move each played card from this round up into the matching stack above.
Cards cycle around this way and it’s pretty cool.
Anyway. what are you doing with these cards and why?
The first thing you do on a turn is program cards from your hand and these cards have symbols that allow you to do stuff around the board.
You can buy more cards from this selection to go into your ‘Deck’. You pay the cost in ‘Crates’ of the card plus the modifier on it’s space from cards you programmed. This cost comes from the number of a Good you are spending from cards you programmed. So if you have 4 Banana symbols you can buy a card up to the value of 4.
Any cards spent this way are flipped face down, which is important. (More on that in a bit)
Any ‘Change’ can be used to advance a company track. (More on that in a bit too)
The Expansion (Helmet) icon can be used to move outposts for a particular company. You expand out, moving buildings from the company into areas adjacent to where they have a building already.
When you take a building from the Companies base you reveal Pound symbols, increasing the value of the shares in that company. You can replace other companies buildings returning them to their supply, potentially devaluing them.
Some cards allow you to move the Book Marker. This is a row of tiles with a requirement on the top and a reward on the bottom. You can move across this track as far as you like assuming the cards under your board have the matching symbols.
The further this track gets the more points it’s worth and you can unlock an additional slot to program cards.
Similarly, on the left of your board is a Diamond track. You move a Diamond around it and again, the further it gets the more end game points you score and at a certain point you’ll unlock an additional programming slot.
You don’t just take actions from cards you program, you also have a couple of action disks to take a certain action on these limited spaces.
These let you take first player marker, buy a card for money instead of goods, sell a card for money, take a bonus tile (for use in the next round) and gain a bonus for having the most of a particular Good showing in your programmed cards.
This bonus only comes from the cards you still have face up so you need to take this BEFORE you spend them.
Each company has a track and you can move up it to gain additional shares in that company. Certain points on the track give you a bonus either as income or an action. Some tracks have a cost to pass a certain point on that track.
After 7 rounds the game ends. You score for your remaining money, the value of your shares and where you are on the Diamond/Book track.
Most money wins.
The card play is great. You have to think 2-3 turns ahead as a card you play now, you might not get back for 4-5 rounds. It also means if you play all your cards of one Good, that set of cards is split up over 3 piles and it’ll take 3 rounds at least to get them all back. You really have to think…
Everything works together really well. You want to do it all every turn but with only 3-5 cards each round you can’t so you have to do whats best for you this round. (While thinking about the next round)
There is a lot of fighting over spaces with the action disks, and having the most of a Good… But it’s not frustrating or annoying like some games where you’re battling like this. You can play all of a good, if someone has more than you then you can buy cards instead.
Actions are pretty quick, you generally know what you need to do on your next action so the game moves on pretty quickly.
If you program cards wrong, or misuse your action disks you can waste an entire round!
It looks boring, the only reason I played it is because I like the designer. 🙂
Alexander Pfister is the man and this game is great 🙂