Almost Perfect, So We Made It Perfect

Almost Perfect, So We Made It Perfect

Disclosure

At what point should one consider themselves obsessed? Is it when you can’t get something out of your head? When your dreams have been taken over? For me it is when I start trying to perfect something that has a slight imperfection and am not satisfied until I make it right (in my mind at least). To date everything we’ve played from R&R Games has been as close to perfect as a reasonable person can want. Notice I said “reasonable”. No one has ever called me that before…

We got our hands on a copy of Coal Baron a couple months ago and brought it to our weekly board game group, where it seemed to be liked by all that played it. But we were all in agreement, it had one flaw – the money. For those that aren’t in the know, among hobby game enthusiasts paper money is looked down upon. They’d rather have some type of custom coin, gem, chip – anything but paper money. And even worse is when the paper money is not perceived to be high quality. This was definitely the case with Coal Baron – everything about the game was high quality, except for the single-color (black) on green copy paper play money. It made Monopoly money look cool.

Enter my obsession. After two decades in the printing industry I knew why it was done this way and if I were the publisher I would have done no different. But that didn’t mean I had to accept it. My wheels were spinning! But first, I want to show you the game.

Not only did we find a game we like in Coal Baron from R&R Games, we figured out a way to make the components just a little better! - SahmReviews.com

Coal Baron is an easy-to-learn worker placement game set in 19th century Germany, a time when coal was abundant and ripe for the taking! Players own coal mines and work to extract coal, fulfill contracts, buy coal carts, and expand tunnels to win the most victory points. Why Germany? It was originally a German game called Glück Auf before it was brought to our shores after marvelous success overseas.

Not only did we find a game we like in Coal Baron from R&R Games, we figured out a way to make the components just a little better! - SahmReviews.com

The game is played over three shifts of work, which is kept track of by a time clock on the main board. Each player has a predetermined number of workers to employ, and must choose where to place them on each turn. Maybe you want to have them deliver your loads, or maybe they need to work the elevator. You might need to send them off to negotiate a contract or dig tunnels in your mine.

Not only did we find a game we like in Coal Baron from R&R Games, we figured out a way to make the components just a little better! - SahmReviews.com

But each spot on the board can only have one player in it at a time. If you’re the first there, you only need to use one worker. If your opponent beats you to the spot, you are forced to use two workers to displace the existing one. Therefore planning your strategy a turn or two in advance is absolutely necessary if you want to use your limited workers efficiently.

Not only did we find a game we like in Coal Baron from R&R Games, we figured out a way to make the components just a little better! - SahmReviews.com

Ultimately this game is about mining coal and fulfilling your contracts by delivering them by rail, truck, horse or wheelbarrow. Each player has their own game board that represents their mine. Here is where I’d like to point out the attention to details (and quality) that is not always seen in games in this price range.

Not only did we find a game we like in Coal Baron from R&R Games, we figured out a way to make the components just a little better! - SahmReviews.com

The center block is an elevator that moves up and down, but is just a loose piece of thick cardboard. The makers could have simply printed the background and required you to guide your elevator by hand. Or they could have die-cut the background out and the elevator would have had a shaft that was your table top. But they took it one step further – they included a SECOND elevator shaft printed on slightly thinner cardboard stock that you pop in and allows your elevator to remain perfectly inside the chamber. This is a nice touch that we didn’t want to go unmentioned.

If you’d like to see some real-time gameplay, check out this video. It’s one that we used before we played to get a better grasp of the rules.

Now back to the paper money. As I mentioned before the game is originally from Germany and refers to their currency as “Marks”, even in this U.S. version. I considered picking up some Deutsche Marks off of eBay to replace it, but they haven’t had paper versions of the single Mark (or 2’s) in many years. Having a mixture of coins and paper didn’t satisfy me, so I found some hi-res scans of 1948 East German Deutsche Marks on Wikipedia and threw them into Photoshop.

Not only did we find a game we like in Coal Baron from R&R Games, we figured out a way to make the components just a little better! - SahmReviews.com

Of course the scans weren’t consistent, so some resizing and aligning was necessary, but after 30 minutes or so of tweaking, they were ready to print out on some card stock I had.

Not only did we find a game we like in Coal Baron from R&R Games, we figured out a way to make the components just a little better! - SahmReviews.com

They are printed on both sides with their matching backs and are such a huge upgrade over the included versions on the left. With them being on thicker stock, they are also much easier to pick up off the table! Our first game night using the new currency was a huge hit!

Not only did we find a game we like in Coal Baron from R&R Games, we figured out a way to make the components just a little better! - SahmReviews.com

Coal Baron is a little lighter in difficulty than last week’s feature, Village, and can be easily enjoyed by players as young as eight. Because you get to interact with the board (the elevator), it should keep the interest of younger players longer than other similar games.  We thoroughly enjoyed it and have gone back to it more than once when we’re looking for a 60 minute game. Pick up a copy direct from R&R Games or snag one off of Amazon.

R&R Games has a huge number of titles in their library for all ages. Be sure to see what they have coming out next by checking their timelines on Facebook and Twitter. Who knows, you may find YOUR next obsession there!

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Scott

About Scott

A former manufacturing executive, Scott now balances his family life with ownership and backend administration of websites such as SahmReviews.com, GiftCardCollector.com and a number of other online properties. He also is an occasional writer and full-time board game fanatic.

42 comments on «Almost Perfect, So We Made It Perfect»

  1. Emily says:

    I can’t wait until my boys are older and we can do family game nights. This one certainly looks like a lot of fun!

  2. Kasandria Reasoner says:

    Thanks for the new game rec. My son will love this!

  3. That looks like a great game! My Husbands heritage is German, so he would probably get a huge kick out of it!!

  4. tammileetips says:

    That looks like a fun game to play! Great idea to replace the money with cardstock! I have always hated how flimsy the money in board games is.

  5. Mel says:

    This looks like a really fun game! When my kids get a bit older, they will really love this!

  6. Jennifer Williams says:

    I love that you added your own touch – I love the new money! I will have to check this game out for our game night.

  7. Daisy says:

    I have an uncle that worked in a coal mine many years ago. This game would be so perfect for him. I had not idea that such a cool game existed!

  8. Jenna Wood says:

    I love intelligent games, so many mindless board games, it’s great you continue to shed light on the more obscure ones through your exploration. I think the older kids would really enjoy the strategic aspect of the shift planning.

  9. Deborah A. says:

    We are a game addicted family. This sounds PERFECT for us! We also have like an unofficial competition to see who can get the coolest new game before anyone else hears about it. So, thanks for this!!

  10. What a cool game. I have to say, I love all the really unique games you feature on your site. Thanks!

  11. Krystal says:

    This looks really cool. We can always count on you to bring us games we don’t normally see. Thanks!

  12. Gingermommy says:

    We are always looking for games to add to our collection. The kids get kind of competitive though haha This one looks fun!

  13. Annie M says:

    This looks like a fun game to play! I gotta go look for it now 🙂

  14. I like that you decided to make the game better. I like your version of the money much more!

  15. This looks cool! My family and I love to play games together.

  16. This looks like a really neat game and I absolutely love how resourceful you were to print new money for an otherwise awesome game.

  17. I never knew people looked down on paper money. Even with monopoly? Well I can understand why.

  18. I think this game would be a fun family game to add to the family game night.

  19. Paula Schuck says:

    Sounds like a really fun game! We’ve been looking for some new games for game night and this is a strong contender.

  20. Michele says:

    So you improved the game a bit did you? Good for you!! No I have never played this nor heard about it before. I think I know a couple of people who would enjoy this game–of course we would have to use the regular Marks!

  21. This sounds like a great game and I love the changes you made to it. Can’t wait until I can play that kind of game with my kids. I’m kind of fed up of Candyland LOL

  22. michelle says:

    I’m intrigued by your board game group. I love the new money, too. It’s given me ideas for adding currency to our foreign country unit studies.

  23. Rosey says:

    I haven’t heard of the game, but now you’ve got me very curious!! And I have to admit I laughed about the paper money. That was my favorite part of Monopoly, I can’t believe paper cash is frowned upon. 😉 🙂

  24. victoria says:

    I agree about now knowing that paper money was frowned upon in the board game world. I must admit I also haven’t played board games in a very long time, but they can be so much fun with a group of people… I’ll take a look at this one a little more so thanks for the review!

  25. Had never heard of this game. Seems pretty interesting! Might have to add it to my game night rotation. Thanks for doing the post.

    Check out our blog if you get a chance, too. Thanks.

  26. Jen says:

    WOW! How creative. . .using graphic design to improve a game. Awesome!

  27. Victor says:

    Looks like a fun game to try. Thanks for sharing this game.

  28. Aman says:

    This looks like a fun game to play! I gotta go look for it now 🙂

  29. Gupta says:

    This looks like a really neat game and I absolutely love how resourceful you were to print new money for an otherwise awesome game.

  30. Jio says:

    this seems to be a great game to play with mah friends. Thanks for your sharing.

  31. fontapk says:

    I love it

  32. Thank your post 🙂

  33. tubemate says:

    good! This looks like a really fun game! When my kids get a bit older, they will really love this!

  34. Appnaz says:

    thanks for your effort.
    I like that you decided to make the game better. I like your version of the money much more!

  35. ilovenetflix says:

    What a cool game to try

  36. Andy William says:

    I love it

  37. Andy William says:

    good! This looks like a really fun game! When my kids get a bit older, they will really love this!

  38. Emily says:

    Thank you for sharing! I will try to play it

  39. Flora201 says:

    What an exciting game! It looks quite complicated. Thanks for your post!

  40. Lovereview says:

    Thanks for sharing this game. Love it! <3

  41. Kai Wancort says:

    Oh. It’s great. thank you for your sharing.

  42. What an exciting game! This looks like a really fun game! I will download and try playing this game. I think i will like it.

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