Ryan Laukat & Red Raven Games
A review by
- 2-5 Players
- 60-120 minutes
- 13+ Age
No not the song, Geez. Klondike Rush is all about gold. That glorious gorgeous yellow stuff from out of the ground. Nuggets as big as your hand I tell ya. OK I am getting carried away sorry. Klondike Rush is set in the snow covered peaks of Mount Titan during the great gold rush. Four mining companies are rushing to grab as much cash as possible. But wait reports are coming in of some sort of snow monster. An Abominable snow-beast rampaging through the wilds. As a major investor your fortune is at stake here. Will you hunt down the snow-beast and claim the fat reward? Will you invest in the right companies at the right prices to make the biggest profits? Or will you face bankruptcy and ruin as a pauper.
When You first get your box you will immediately notice the beautiful cover art. It immediately tells you this is a Ryan Laukat and Red Raven Game before you even see the name or logo. The characters on the cover have that unmistakable style, everything has that soft almost ethereal quality we have come to expect from games like Above & Below or Near & Far. Open up and your first surprise is unlike the aforementioned games this box is not creaking at the seams. In-fact you get the following,
- 52 Order cards.
- 5 Last Bid cards.
- 60 Money cards (in 1,5,10,20,50 denominations).
- 1 Snow-beast card.
- 5 Profit cards.
- 36 Mining company cards.
- 1 Town token.
- 35 Hunt tokens.
- 48 Mine miniatures (12 each in four colours).
- 1 Snow-beast figure (player turn marker).
Panning for gold.
Unusually in Klondike Rush, you are not an individual colour much like you would expect in most games. Players are in fact investing in all four of the companies throughout the game. Trying to maximise your returns.
At the start of a game. One of each colour mine is placed on the investment track and also on the town token, which has already been placed on a random spot on the board. Unfortunately the town token is a little small so the four starting mines do not sit nicely onto it. This is a shame as a little bit larger token would have made a huge difference in the aesthetic look. Hunt tokens are spread randomly onto the remaining spaces. Each player is allocated some cash a couple of hunt order cards and a profit card (last bid cards are also used in 4-5 player games). Mining cards, remaining order cards, money cards are placed nearby ready for use. Whoever is allocated to be first player is given the Snow-beast (this figure will move around each turn and it is a good idea to help keep track of whose turn it was). First player reveals the top mining company card and decides how much he is willing to pay for it. The next player is then allowed to increase the value by a minimum of $1, then the next and so on. Players may pass if they feel the price is too high. BUT (this is the important bit), You are only allowed to bid once! (last bid cards allow extra one use bid in higher player number games). Thus if A bids 3, B bids 4, c passes and D bids 5. Then player D would get the card and pay the bank 5. So careful consideration of how much you think a card is worth is important. Once a player has bought the card then place any relevant coloured mines onto the card. Play then reverts back to the first player.
Checking the pan.
After the initial auction phase a player then has the option to place any mine currently on cards that they have bought. Mines in Klondike Rush can be placed anywhere on the board that there is a space, at a cost. You choose the spot you want to build on. Then you locate the nearest built mine of the same colour (in the town at the start). In-between each pair of spaces on the board is an amount. You just total the cost up between the two mines and that is how much it will cost. However if on the spaces in-between the two mines there are other coloured mines adjacent then the cost between the two adjacent mines is reduced to 1 allowing for some big savings to be made. Once you build a mine you immediately take the hunt token from that space and move the relevant coloured mine up one on the investment track. When the last mining company card is purchased then the final round begins all players have one more turn to try to maximise their money.
During a game of Klondike Rush you will start to collect hunt tokens and you will be able to complete orders. When completing your order you can immediately cash in (even out of turn). Alternatively if you feel the need you can cash in three mismatched hunt tokens for $5. At the end of the game the player with the most Snow-beast tokens collects the reward ($25).
At the end of a players turn if they feel the need they can cash in their Profit card. This is a one time only deal so needs to be weighed up carefully. When cashing it in remove it from the game. Then total up the value of all red, blue, green and yellow mine cards that the player holds and this is their profit. You will all do this again at the end of the game as well a little bit like the mid and end of year dividends from stocks and shares.
Klondike Rush however is a huge step away from the normal style fans of Ryan and Red Raven have come to expect. If you go into a game of Klondike Rush expecting more of the same you will be disappointed.
What we have here is a brutal game hiding under the gentle art. There is no catch-up mechanism in this game. Make some bad decisions or overpay for mine cards and tough luck. Just like the miners from this time, you will be frozen to death on the mountainside. There is strategy here in surprising amounts. Do you skip a space to get the hunt token you want to complete an order for $7 or do you build a camp on the previous space to allow you to claim another token and then next turn get the token you want but end up spending $1-$2 more and have an extra token towards the next order. In two games the answer could be very different. You have to bring your “A” game at all times or you will get crushed either by your opponents or by the game. Some players might find the game length feels a little long but I found it to be a decent time scale barring AP prone players. If however you manage to bankrupt yourself you will end up as a bystander for the remainder of the game. This is an easy game to lose but a hard one to win. I found myself wanting to play again straight away. Literally a glutton for punishment. I do think this is fun to play but it is not really a cosy cuddly game for newbies and this is despite the very short and easy to explain rules. If you and your fellow players go into a game of Klondike Rush with the right mindset. You will really enjoy the hard thinking. Is that mine card worth $3 or $4? When should I cash in my profit card? I do see a lot of people being disappointed that this is not like Near & Far. This is different and deserves to be looked at differently. Is it a game that will have a long term home on my shelves? Honestly I am not sure. It is however a perfect choice to take along to games night meet-ups.
Tough and Unforgiving game with great art. Easy to learn and teach. Hard to master. Good for occasional play.
- Snow-beast mini.
- Ryan Laukat artwork.
- Simple to learn.
- Easy to teach.
- Surprisingly thinky.
- No player catch up.
- One or two bad choices can destroy your game.
- Not Near & Far.
- No story.
- Questions over longevity.
Red Raven Games kindly provided me with a copy of Klondike Rush for review purposes. This in no way affects my review or my final thoughts on the game.