The quiz picture this time is of one of my convention favourites, this is just a small part of the contents of the box. “Full contact” rules are available from me on request.
The last quiz picture was Le Havre, the clues were indeed in the picture, the name of the ship MS Rosenberg and a guy carrying a crate labelled Agricola were a gift to a follower of Uwe Rosenbergs designs.
The club had a break this week due to building work at the Style & Winch however there was one “pop-up” event which I was fortunate enough to attend and a big thanks to our host and hostess, the first game on the table was Splendor a nice card collecting game which we have covered before, there are different avenues to victory all of which were played out at our table and led to an interesting ending with the victor a clear winner ahead of the rest of the us who all tied on 13 points.
The game of the evening was The Gallerist, in the rules it says 30 minutes per player but after our game I would say this is a slight underestimate our introductory game with four players took about four hours and although I can see this time reducing with familiarity I would be impressed to see it reduced to 2 hours, I think even with another half a dozen games under our belts it is unlikely to get under 40 minutes per player, despite the playing time though it is a good game and there is always something to think about. As the title suggests each player runs a gallery with a view to gaining the most cash by the end of the game.
On a turn you place your one and only player pawn in one of four spots on the board, each spot has two actions of which you must choose one. The actions (in short) are :- Buy a painting, Discover an artist, Recruit some assistants, Boost the reputation of an artist, Take a contract card, Sell a painting Attend an auction and Obtain overseas investment. After completing your pawn action you may take a secondary action which is either to place an assistant on a contract card in your possession or to use entrance tickets. If in moving your pawn you dislodge the pawn or assistant of another player they may take an extra action which may be a secondary action or for a cost of five reputation points they may take another major action at the spot they were displaced from, after which their piece is returned to them.
There are three currencies in the game and running short of any one of them will cause problems and definitely reduces a players flexibility. The first is reputation, a high reputation brings extra cash (victory points) at the end of the game end and is generated by pink meeples; cash is the second currency obtained from selling paintings or generated by brown meeples; the third is tickets which allows you to move meeples into your gallery. These currencies are used throughout the game for various benefits and are always in short supply. The auction and overseas investment actions gain you game-end bonus tokens, you also get a game end bonus token at the beginning of the game along with two game-end bonus cards which will give you bonuses for selling specific paintings and displaying certain paintings in your gallery. For your first game these bonuses do not seem large (5, 10 and 15 coins) but after playing you realise the game is all about collecting lots of small bonuses from as many different sources as possible each of which average out at about 10 coins each.
So how did it play? The mechanics worked very well and everything linked up, however from my one play I could not find any strategy, it is very “bitty” in its play as every turn you will get a little bit of this or a little bit of that towards a small goal, for instance to move meeples into your gallery you need tickets but it takes two tickets of the relevant colour to get a meeple from the centre (where they spawn) into your gallery however you only ever get 1 ticket of any particular colour at a time so 2 turns (if you are lucky) is the minimum build up for the tickets by which time the meeples you were after have gone. Each of the in-game mechanisms seem to operate in this manner and over-riding your play is the need to have a small float of all three currencies and some spare assistants. For me it felt that I was not aiming to some game end goal (even with the game-end bonus cards) and that the majority of my turns were “what can I get?” then “what can I do with it?” and even when I knew what I wanted on the next turn something occurred to change the plan. So the game was more about getting bits and finding something to do with them for me I like to have a bit more control in a game.
The Gallerist is an interesting game and I would rate its complexity as similar to that of Antiquity, I would like to give it another couple of plays before making any final decisions about it, the first game was more about experiencing the mechanics and for the first half hour of play I was just doing the different actions to see what the outcome was and what it affected without any aim in mind. It may well be that my lack of knowledge of all the game end tokens (there is a lot of iconography) and an incomplete understanding of the interconnectivity of the basic mechanisms is letting me down in spotting long term plans which I hope will become clear with more plays, it is complicated but not overly so and if you like your games with depth this is definitely one to try. Finally a word from another player :-
S > I appreciated the opportunity to play the Gallerist and can't say how often that will happen again. It's long especially the rules explanation, it's a hive of interaction and coded pictographic bonus slots. I like it though. All the actions fit the theme well, there's not masses of downtime because of the kicked out action and there's reputation as a third currency if you want to sacrifice it to do things. I think there's space for having a variety of routes to a win but only after a couple of plays and that's the hurdle; getting a few people willing to play a fairly mammoth game a couple of times before they can try and be strategic.