We were lucky enough to get our hands on a hot-off-the-press prototype of the brand new expansion for one of Board Game Gumbo’s favorite recent games, Merchants Cove, from Final Frontier Games. (When your twitch channel is one step above rodeo clowns in the entertainment industry, this is a really big deal.)
All jokes aside, we have probably streamed more content of Merchants Cove and its various factions than any other game we have in The Gumbo Pot library. We love the combination of its asymmetric powers, beautiful production, amazing modular expansions (a Jonny Pac design philosophy) and elegant scoring system. Plus, the more you play the different modules, the more you get into its unique theme.
The same day that we got the package from Final Frontier Games, Jerod and I fired up the stream. We couldn’t wait to dive into Merchants Cove: MASTER CRAFT.
First, let’s briefly cover the basics, for those who have no experience with Merchants Cove before. It’s a worker placement/time management/engine building/economic game all about producing thematic goods to sell to hardy souls like bards and wizards flush with cash from their own adventures.
Every character that you play is unique. Not unique in the sense of being different tropes, but unique in the fact that every one of them has a completely different play style. They are so different that it’s really no use watching the other players do their thing on their turn (especially if you’ve never played that character before) because you will have no idea what they are doing to produce their goods. They could be making potions a la Potion Explosion, or doing pick up and deliver, or a sliding puzzle. Of course, if you do watch, you will hopefully pick up some clues for when you inevitably play that character.
The funny thing is that despite the different ways goods are produced, the designers made the smart choice to make all of the goods easy to see at a glance with the distinctive “sale shelves” each character has. And that’s really the most important thing — knowing what the other characters are producing and comparing it to the adventurers washing ashore with their fat cash. You can do all of that with a simple glance.
Now let’s cover the new content. Although we are not privy to everything that is going to be in the Kickstarter, we do know what we have on hand. Final Frontier Games sent us a prototype version of the four new characters as they prepare for the crowdfunding project. ** NOTE: Any pictures or video you see are prototypes; the final versions will be exactly the standard you expect from Final Frontier Games. **
The four new characters are:
- The Treasure Diver
- The Detective
- The Mushroom Farmer
- The Pastry Chef
I have only played The Treasure Diver — who seems to be the younger, punker version of The Captain — so that’s what I’ll talk about today.
The Treasure Diver is a bag building character that is all about pushing luck. The board that you get comes in two parts. On the smaller side, you have two actions, the North Shore and the South Shore. Generally speaking, one is for making product, and the other is for upgrading your bag.
But the other board is where the action is.
On the right side of the board, there is a diving track with space to hold coins, gems, nets, and….the dreaded crabs. You also have three diving packs where you can put your coins and gems. When I went to this spot with my mini (and unfortunately, the plastic home-made mini that was sent didn’t make the trip without injury, so I borrowed Robin Hood), I started pulling tokens randomly from a bag.
The good tokens gave me money and gems which I could use to craft goods, or upgrade my bag. But the crabs were so unhelpful. Each crab pulled moved me that many spaces (depending on its number on the token) down the diving track, which could increase the time spent for this action, cause me to get a corruption card, or even bust if I pushed too much.
In the later stages of the game, I had really built up my bag for success. I had big money coins. I had nets to capture the crabs. I had maps to give me stronger actions. A couple of good pulls gave me tons of loot to use to score tons of points. But, one bad run busted me right when I needed to finish strong. If you like that feeling of tension and trying to decide about taking “one more shot” — think Can’t Stop mixed in with a worker placement game — I expect you will love playing The Treasurer Diver.
That’s it for our look at this particular character. As we play through the rest, we’ll continue to give you some sneak peaks. And of course, as soon as we hear details about the crowdfunding kickoff, we’ll keep you posted.
Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!
— BJ from Board Game Gumbo
The publisher provided us this prototype copy for review.
For more great Gumbo content on Merchants Cove: