Game Review: Freedom: The Underground Railroad

Freedom: The Underground Railroad
Academy Games, 2012

Freedom: The Underground Railroad is a fully cooperative, historical board game for one to four players. The players have two goals. First you must attempt to assist slaves in escaping southern plantations, and move them across the board into Canada. Second, you must attempt to sway public opinion to the abolitionist cause. You and your team mates will have 8 rounds to accomplish both of these goals.

These two goals are made more difficult by having to avoid slave catchers and by having limited supplies of resources. When a slave is moved into the path of one or two of the five slave catchers, the slave catcher moves one space closer to that slave. If this movement causes a slave catcher to move into a space occupied by a slave, that slave is captured and sent to the next slave market. At the end of each round, slaves from the market will be placed into the plantation spaces. If there aren’t enough spaces to place the slaves, then the remaining slaves are lost. Each round has a full slave market, plus any lost slaves to place. Losing too many slaves will cost you the game.

Players start with limited funds and have only a few ways to earn income. All of the support tokens for the abolitionist movement must be purchased by the end of the game to win. In order to gain more options and avoid negative events, you must also use these precious funds. It is a delicate balance, and one that, over several games, I have not yet figured out how to master. Most of the game’s goals and supplies are tiered to the number of players, which makes it a balanced game, no matter how many people play.

I have to say that this is one of the most intense and difficult cooperative games that I have played. It is incredibly thematic. Academy Games is known for their educational games, but because of this, I wonder if they may sometimes get overlooked when people are looking for an entertaining game.

Games like Pandemic or Forbidden Island/Desert, are very thematic as well, but sometimes the win or loss can be pinned on random card draws. While Freedom does have some of this, the cards seem to affect this game less. I feel that the players are more in control of the destiny of Freedom than other cooperative games.  I have played this game several times, and we have lost every game, usually due to not being able to purchase all the supply tokens before the end of the eighth round. We have managed to free all the required slaves (giving us sort of a moral victory?). We are usually very close to winning, within one or two tokes. The cards are very thematic and educational as well.

Overall, I very much enjoy this game and recommend it. It is always challenging, no matter how many players you have. It will keep you involved and “on-the-edge-of-your-seat”. The recommended age is 13+ and I highly recommend following that guideline, as there are a lot of possibilities each turn and analasis of those options to maximize potential can make this game tough for a younger crowd.

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April 2017 Minutes

Mindbridge Meeting Minutes for April 5th, 2017, 7 pm at ARC of Southeast Iowa

  1. Call to Order
  2. Minutes Posted online, approved.
  3. Treasurer’s Report — we have money.
  4. Convention Reports Read More »
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Game Review: New York Slice

New York Slice
Bezier Games, 2017

A game guaranteed to make you hungry, New York Slice is a “I slice, you choose” game. Remember when your parents, or perhaps your kids were given a cookie or other treat, and one child divided the treat, but the other child choose which piece they received? This game is modeled on that principle. This game is played in six rounds or “pizzas” of 11 slices each. The pizzza slice types run from three to eleven points (Three 3’s, Four 4’s up to Eleven 11’s). The slicer (first player) will divide the pizza up into a number of sections, one per each player in the game. Then they will add a daily special event to one of the sections, or may choose to make the daily special its own section. Each player will then choose a section to keep, with the slicer receiving the last remaining section. This is a set collection game, where you are attempting to have the most pieces of each pizza type at the end of the sixth round. If you have the most of a type, you will receive that many victory points. (have 2 or more of the “3” pieces will get you three points)  Ties will receive no points. When you take a pizza portion you also have the option to “eat” any of the slices you just acquired. Those slices will be placed upside down in a pile beside your other pieces. You may only eat a slice if it has a piece of pepperoni on it. Anchovies on slices not eaten will count as negative points against you at the end of the game, and each pepperoni on eaten slices will counts as one point at the end of the game. This makes for interesting decisions throughout the game as you have to determine if you need a slice in order to have the most of its type, or if you may want to eat it for extra points at the end of the game or to negate an anchovy.

At the end of the game, you receive points for the sets for which you have the majority, plus or minus points from daily specials, plus eaten pepperonis, minus anchovies. Special slices like the wild slice or combo slices can tip the balance for ties. Daily specials can add all sorts of strategies. There are 14 daily special included in the game, but only 4-6 are used for each game, giving lots of replayability. This is a fun game, but can get a bit thinky as people try to determine the best slice for their strategy. If you have players with analysis paralysis difficulties, you may want to add a timer for the slicer to keep the game moving. It is a light weight casual game that is lots of fun. Make sure to plan to order a pizza before you play so it will arrive when everyone is hungry after staring at yummy pizza slices for a whole game. Recommended.

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March 2017 Minutes

Mindbridge Meeting at Gamicon – Sunday February 26, 2017 at 11 AM
Bid for Gamicon 2018 by Tim Rudzianski, Rebecca Smith and Sean Howard approved for Gamicon.

Mindbridge Meeting Minutes – Wed March 1, 2017 at Denny Lynch home

  1. Call to Order
  2. Minutes – posted online and on list
  3. Treasurer’s Report – we have money.
  4. Convention Reports Read More »
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