Province

I’ve backed a fair number of Kickstarter game projects at this point, and this one was interesting for a few reasons: it only cost $5 (!?) to jump in, the product came in an envelope rather than a box, and my experiences post-campaign were harrowing but my patience rewarded.

Province is a “micro” (buzz word du jour) euro-style resource management and worker placement game for two players. It’s simple, quick and compact (easily fits in most pockets) and yet has reasonable depth and a small, entertaining range of meaningful choices to make. The theme, as with most euros, is light and thin, but the graphics on the components are just about perfect. Seriously, the design here is absolutely top notch. I really appreciate when components have iconography and layout choices that act as easily understood mnemonics for rules. This is one of those games, and after you’ve played it once the graphics will remind you of anything you forget. They’re also cute, if that’s something that matters to you. Totally fam-friendly.

It’s a good choice for introducing players to some of the concepts without drowning them in the deep end. It also has replayability via the limited depth and the random selection of goals each game (think Kingdom Builder but with a much less dramatic, swingy affect on play). It also plays quickly (30 mins or less), which means it could end up becoming a lunchtime staple if I ever corral my coworkers into gaming! The components are good quality punchboard. It’s not quite FFG but it’s a lot better than another recent acquisition of mine, MageStorm, which normally costs quite a lot more than Province.

Just to be clear, once it drops in stores Province will come in a box, not a bag-and-envelope.

On to the game summary, them a score breakdown:

Goal: the goal, as with so many other games, is simply to have the most victory points when the game ends. Building structures before your opponent and achieving goals are the two ways of gaining victory points. The game ends when any of three conditions have been met: a player builds 7 structures, all structure types have been built, or all 5 goals have been achieved.

Components: the cutest little board I’ve ever seen; 7 structure tokens colored red (and another 7 blue) for each player; 3 red sailor worker tokens, 3 blue; 3 green shared workers; a camper worker (brown) and a villager worker (orange); two ship tokens; a lender token; 9 gem-shaped goal tokens; 10 silver coins, 3 gold coins, and one platinum coin; a labor tracker; and some unnamed crown token I assume is to designate current player.

Game turns are quick and consist of two phases. The first is where you rotate workers around the rondel in the center of the board. This reminds me of the bowls of power in Terra Mystica, though Province’s mechanic is simpler and easier to grasp. You start with 3 green workers, which are shared by both players. Part of the strategy involves deciding whether to shift all available workers or to leave some unmoved, which changes the available resources on your opponent’s following turn. Certain goals also involve trying to shift workers to particular “pads”, such as the goal of generating 4 labor in one turn. Of the three pads, two generate labor, the other money. Labor and money are the two resources of the game.

The second phase is where you spend resources to build structures and power other actions. Structures cost a mixture of money and labor, and each structure provides an ongoing benefit. The simplest examples are the camp, which provides an additional worker available to anyone who has built the camp; the mill provides you with one free labor at the beginning of your turn. Some structures can only be built if a precursor structure exists, such as the village (which depends on the camp) or the smithy (which depends on the mill).

Beyond these initial functions, the harbor and the lender add more interesting capabilities (the harbor randomly provides either money, labor, or the ability to hire a sailor who works just for you; the lender allows you to “borrow” the functionality of an opponent’s structure for the cost of 3 money to the lender at a later time)

The game plays very quickly and is enjoyable strategically (medium depth), with little downtime between turns and an interesting selection of random goals every game. It’s definitely gateway material but interesting enough to hold the attention of experienced players as a warmup or segue game.

4 stars out of 5. 5 stars for the visuals alone. Get this game!

Will post photos here tomorrow at some point, I plan on getting in another couple games then!

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