Published by: Passport Game Studio & Rock Paper Scissors Games
# of Players: 3 to 5
From the box to the pick axe first player token Fool's Gold takes you into the 1849 gold rush. The game board is one of the sturdiest. well constructed boards I have seen and felt. Cards are easy to read and look like playing cards during that era. The miners are meeples in miner shapes with each player's color. The first player is identified by a wooden pick axe. Someone will do something goofy with the axe. I hurled it at another player's screen after he took the spot I wanted. The player screens are thick cardboard and have helpful information on the back, but also fall over very easily. Coins are your standard punch out cardboard coins. The dice are a light blue except for one white die that is used for winter. The rulebook is very clear and has lots of helpful illustrations. This allowed me to learn the game after one read through and be able to teach others. Fool's Gold does a great job of implementing the theme into their quality components.
Fool's Gold puts you in charge of making tough decisions in this game of chance. The goal of Fool's Gold is to have the most victory points at the end of the game. To earn victory points you must mine gold and gems from each location. Each gold nugget is worth one victory point and gems are worth a certain amount depending on how many different ones you have collected. Fool's Gold is separated into two phases per year (round). First is the prospecting phase followed up by the mining phase. At the start of each year starting in 1950 (second round) players will receive one coin and miner to use for the rest of the game. Coins are always returned to you after each year but you must be wise with your coins because with more miners you are spreading the money thinner each year.
The third action you can take is placing one miner in front of your screen and retrieving three coins from in front of your screen and placing them with your unused coins behind the screen. Finally if you have no other actions you want to take you can pass. Any miners left that have not been used can be placed as reserve miners. This is done by placing them next to any location deck of your choosing. After you place all your remaining miners you can take back all coins and miners that were placed in front of your screen. Once you pass you can not take any more actions this phase. Finally when everyone passes you move on to the mining phase.
Once false alarms have been resolved players will use their miner's action one miner at a time. Priority is given to the player who has the most miners on the trail and reserve combined. If there is a tie then the miner on the highest numbered spot goes. The miner can choose to take one of the gold or gem cards. (note: players can only have one of each type of gem) If they decide to not take a card or one is not available they can take two coins from the bank or place their miner on their back signifying they are going to stay for winter. After the miner makes a decision we see who now has priority and they take their action and so on till all minors have taken an action on that trail. Resolve all trails and remove any miners and their reserves not staying for winter.
Fool's Gold takes elements from push your luck, worker placement and set collection games and sifts through it to try and pull out a gold nugget. Did they accomplish this? In my opinion they did get gold with some silt as well. I liked the risky decisions of where and how many miners to play on any given trail. Do you place more miners at a location to try and get priority over another player and more cards to choose from or spread out and hope you get lucky on the draws. The choice of taking two coins or staying for winter is a rather big decision and risk. I have had it pay off huge with a gem or a four nugget card and I have had it not pay off and end up with nothing. I like that the end scoring will really punish you if you focus on one or two areas too much. The theme is felt by the art design and the shrinking amount of gold in each deck as the years go by. In 1853 it was a lot harder to get gold than it was in 1850 and this game translates that great. The card reveal is fun for the anticipation of what cards will be drawn and the reactions as things either go great or horribly wrong. Good thing the pick axe was wood and not metal...just saying. The game did feel a little repetitive and longer than I would have liked. This is not a game I see myself playing every game night but will be fun to pull out occasionally. The low amount of coins really makes you think and make tough decisions on where and how many miners to place. Do you go for quantity or quality with a higher priority. Fool's Gold has earned a spot in my collection. For a light to medium type game it was fun and one I could enjoy with players of many different ages.
+ Art design gives it the gold rush era feel
+ Push your luck decisions
+ Coin management vs. placing miners
+ Depleting decks of gold feels like the gold rush in later years
+ The wooden pick axe
- Games can go long and feel repetitive to some
- Some will dislike the luck of the card draws
- Player screens fall over easy
- Getting hit with the wooden pick axe
If you enjoy this review and other So1ks reviews please follow us on twitter @so1ks and on facebook at facebook.com/so1ks