Ramble Review – World’s Fair 1893

It’s no secret that Renegade Games is one of my favorite gaming companies out there. Ever since they burst on my radar by co-publishing World’s Fair 1893 with Foxtrot Games, I have not been able to turn back. Every game that I have played that was published/co-published by them has burst into my top games – at this point, that includes this title, Lanterns, Clank!, and Lotus. Also, I’m excited by Fox in the Forest (which is being co-published by Foxtrot yet again – Foxtrot is definitely up at the top as well).

Game: World’s Fair 1893
Publisher: Foxtrot Games, Renegade Game Studios
Designer: J. Alex Kevern
Main Game Mechanisms: Area Influence, Set Collection
Number of Players: 2 to 4
Game Time: 45 minutes (maximum)

World’s Fair caught my attention when it came onto Kickstarter in 2015. I like my history games, so the theme caught me as unique and interesting. It was actually one of the first 10 Kickstarters that I backed (and I’ve backed 30 or more at this point).I liked the art a whole lot and ended up backing it, especially because the price tag was something that was affordable for me. I was really getting into adding to my gaming collection at that point, and Kickstarter was a great way to do that.

When it arrived, it looked even better than it had in the pictures I’d seen – and I finally got to play it with my brother, while I was visiting my family in Northern PA. While I hadn’t played an area control/influence game before this one, I definitely got the hang of it quickly and recognized that I like that mechanism in certain contexts.

Game Play Overview: Get on the Ferris Wheel and take a journey through the World’s Fair 1893 in Chicago, Illinois in this engaging, educational 3 round game. By using your own cubes to gather up cards, you can collect sets of different types of exhibits, each of which has their own color. But, you can’t score those exhibits until you control the specific areas that they are located in (manufacturing, electric, etc). By balancing your cube distribution, using special abilities on your cards, and messing around with your opponent(s) a little bit, you can score your exhibits and get “finished” tokens for each completed exhibit. Gain victory points by controlling areas, gaining money, and putting together sets of different types (colors) of exhibits. The person with the most points at the end wins!

Pros: There are a lot of things that I love about World’s Fair 1893. Here is just a quick look at some of the positives that come with this game.

  1. Art design. I cannot talk about World’s Fair without talking about the art design. The art is reminiscent of the late 19th-century style which the World’s Fair actually happened in. The old-timey art looks great and Foxtrot ensured that bright colors were used so that you get the feeling of the fair. The art design is what drew me in, and I still love it. Beth Sobel is quickly becoming one of my favorite board game artists.
  2. Vision-friendly. Both my partner and I have poor vision, and we have issues seeing the text for some games that are currently on the market. World’s Fair is definitely an exception. I feel like they made the print large enough so that we can read it and, on top of that, they ensured that there were also a lot of symbols on the cards so that colorblind persons can have an easier time checking things out, too.
  3. Quick Gameplay. Many area control games have a bad reputation of being too long and too “brain-burny.” Analysis paralysis (AP) is common in many area control games. While you definitely need to think through exactly what you’re doing, the pace of the game is quick and you don’t feel like you’re sitting too long. Sarah and I have gotten through a 2 player game in around a half an hour, and 45 minutes at most.
  4. Easy to Learn. While I do much better with showing people a game, I was able to explain the basics of the game in a couple of minutes. They also have amazing player aids that, once you learn the game, you can use it for reference and rarely, if never, take out the rulebook again. A great learn to play video was done by The Game Boy Geek on YouTube, and it’s less than 15 minutes to learn setup and play.

Cons: No matter how great a game is, there is always something that could be a little bit better. Here are the cons I found with the game.

  1. Board slips easily. I do love the cool rondel set up that this game has. And I totally understand why it has to come in pieces (certain parts are being used for different player counts). But, the issue is, I can end up bumping the pieces way too easily. I think it may be advantageous for Foxtrot/Renegade to consider getting something like the border fix pieces you can find on Etsy for Catan.
  2. Starting player rules. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that everyone gets a different place to throw a cube at the beginning of the game. Having a different “starter card” for everyone is, I believe, an ingenious mechanism. But, I do wish you had more of a choice in it, instead of requiring the first player to lay one on Manufacturing, the second player one cube (each) on Agriculture and Transportation, and so on and so forth. It doesn’t matter in the long run, but it is something that I think would add another little tweak of strategy into the whole thing.

Value: I Kickstarted the game for $29, which included the shipping. The MSRP is actually $40, and it’s on most resellers for anywhere between $26 and $32. You get a lot of cubes and bits in this game, which would make it worth the price in the first place. Mix in the history lesson that you find on almost every card and the wonderful, fun art and it is definitely worth any price you’d pay for it – even if you paid full price at your FLGS!

Try, Buy, Deny. Ah, the ultimate question that you need to consider. If you like area control games and you love history, this is a game that you will definitely need to add to your collection. Sarah and I have an affinity for area control games that are not “mean” (i.e. war games, etc), and this hits that sweet spot. I own the game and we play it a couple of times a month, and I have never regretted Kickstarting it.

Game On!
Marti – The Fluffy Meeple



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