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VEJEN

You’re gonna need a bigger oxcart

VEJEN

You’re gonna need a bigger oxcart

Never let it be said that American games have a monopoly on drama. Where countless US releases ofler players the chance to pilot starships or battle their way through monster-infested dungeons, new Eurogame Vejen lets you and your friends… buy and sell goods in the Middle Ages while plodding around on ox-drawn carts.

It’s not a prospect that immediately gets your blood pumping, but beneath this docile facade lies a game full of careful planning, economic wrangling and reacting to changing circumstances.

You’ll start from modest means, with just a handful of coins and some big ambitions – and an ox. Over the course of 12 rounds you’ll travel between the towns of Denmark and Germany, buying fish and grain in some locations, selling iron and lumber in others, setting up a network of storehouses and attempting to save up enough to bling out your cart with sturdier wheels or some extra storage space

While it might sound simple, though, life as a wandering trader is far from easy. As you criss-cross the border between the two countries, you’ll deal in two currencies – Danish kroner and German thaler. Their values fluctuate as you play, meaning that with some judicious forward-thinking, you might be able to buy low and sell high, turning a tidy profit. But there’s also the risk that you’ll invest in resources only for the financial markets to turn against you, leaving you with the bitter prospect of making a loss on a trade.

WHAT’S IN THE BOX?

► Six city boards

► 150 building tiles

► 85 goods tokens

► 65 coin tokens

► Scoring pad

There are a handful of things you can do to turn events in your favour. Trading goods between far-flung cities lets you charge higher prices than shuffling between more closely-located ones, with the promise of exotic goods encouraging customers to pay more. Upgrading your cart allows you to travel further on your turn, seeking out places where your wares will fetch the highest price. Investing in a sailing ship lets you skip between ports, avoiding slow overland routes. Building mills means you can convert basic items into more lucrative manufactured goods.

The result is that each round hopefully sees you becoming wealthier and more powerful. You’ll also navigate a series of random events, with storms impeding sea travel, plague cutting off your passage through cities or spikes in demand for certain goods providing rewards for players who can amass them in the greatest quantities.

It makes for thoughtful fun. But while Vejen is an economic Eurogame to its very core, its turn structure sees players alternate taking a single action at a time. It means that play progresses fairly quickly, with rivals trying to chain together individual actions for the greatest cumulative effect.

There are a couple of potential flat points. The values of currencies change randomly, and if the cards decree that they don’t move much throughout the game, it feels a touch anticlimactic. There’s also a lot of iconography to get your head around. But Vejen combines a respectable cerebral challenge with a level of complexity that isn’t too intimidating for folks new to the heavier side of the hobby.

OWEN DUFFY

WE SAY

If Vejen’s bone-dry theme doesn’t immediately discourage you, you’re probably the type of player who might enjoy it. Its fluctuating currency system sometimes fails to fire in interesting ways, but it rewards longterm planning while forcing players to adapt to unpredictable events.

TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED… CAPTAINS OF THE GULF

Its theme and core mechanisms might be very different, but the process of upgrading your cart feels a lot like improving your vessel in the shrimping boat strategy game.

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About The Best Games of 2019

Must Plays and more in our Best Games of 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Over the next 196 pages discover all of the most positively reviewed games of the year. With a massive 181 games reviewed, this is the definitive “what to play next” guide of 2019! Games reviewed include: Wingspan Copenhagen Hellboy: The Board Game Res Arcana Lifeform Century: A New World Megacity: Oceania Pandemic: Fall of Rome Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Rough Nights & Hard Days Azul: Stained Glass of Sinatra Tapestry Letter Jam Hako Onna Everdell Battle Ravens Dune + Many more!

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