I wrote about Tinners' Trail previously. I thought it was great but had some questions around how it changes with more than 2 players.
Over the weekend I played the game with 4 players. I think it still holds up. That's it, review over...
There are two ways in which the game feels different:
The first is that the auctioning off of plots feels better. In 2 player you must play a survey card and that informs the minimum bid. This is to create a little bit more excitement in a 2 player auction. Having 4 people is just better when auctioning. This frees up the survey cards for a little more tactical planning. However with 4 the auctions do take longer.
Secondly, I feel the time between turns skyrocketed. I played with a group that some times do take a while, but it felt like the time between my actions was a lot higher than normal. There are a few things that contributed to this feeling:
- The variable turn order. Building an adit takes 3 time units. In two player I mentioned that this gives your opponent potentially 3 unopposed actions. As first player in the 4 player game I built an adit. That gave 3 people 3 moves each. It felt like forever before my turn came around again.
- There's a lot of space for analysis paralysis. Lots of options to be considered and some arithmetic for each of them. If you aren't doing this during your opponents turns then you'll end up taking a while on your own.
- The teach takes a while. There'll be edge cases to explain, like the minimum bid when other players have moved to points purchasing. There will be many queries.
- Points purchasing happening in rounds is a good game of chicken but is slow. Much like the auctions. You have to be prepared to keep things snappy.
All in all I think the game is still good but it trades some of the snappy short feedback loops for some more strategic play. I'd be far more interested in playing with 3 rather than 5 to get the benefits of a more interesting auction without the overhead of more players.