It’s always taken something tangible for me to invest in learning about things of yesteryear. Travel, movies and museums inspire me. But reading about events that happened long before I arrived on this earth? Ugh. No. Reading makes me sleepy. Board games have definitely livened up my interest in history. It honestly wasn’t that hard because I previously has virtually zero interest. Games like Sierra West from Board and Dice drive me to learn more about the theme they are based on.
Sierra West is unique because it has four different modules built into the game, each that only utilizes a portion of the related components. The result is that you have multiple options to play. Each time you bring it back to the table for another game night, you can expect it to be different from the prior time. Because there are four different, the setup varies, but generally they are the same. Create a mountain with the mountain cards. Give everyone an individual player board and related components. Then set up the mode-specific parts.
The overall idea of the game is that you’re traveling across the Sierra Nevada mountain range on your way to what we know as California. You have a deck of cards, drawing three each turn and organizing them into slots on your individual player board. The actions you can take are determined by the icons that are revealed when placed in these slots.
You can acquire more cards, usually with better action options, by traversing the mountain. These cards are added to your stack to be used on future turns. Icons represent resources, movement (for your frontiersman or wagon), shovel to claim cards or build cabins and a few other actions. There’s also a bear that may be revealed that indicates a hazard and could cause you to take damage, lose resources or get set back in your progress.
Each of the different modes has a feature unique from the others. As an example, in Apple Hill mode, players gain apples displayed on their mountain cards. Then specific actions allow you to harvest them, earning resources or moving up on the homestead (scoring) board. The Boats & Banjos mode has fish and canoes. Gold Rush mode includes dynamite, lanterns and mine cards while Outlaws & Outposts mode includes outlaws and a sheriff.
Ultimately, you’ll need to move up on the various harvest board tracks as well as on the wagon trail. These two things are factored together to determine the bulk of your score. As I mentioned, each mode is different so they each have additional scoring options to factor into your play.
Sierra West is fairly fast moving, but everyone is pretty much playing their own game. When we played, we weren’t communicating with one another very much which is very unlike the experience we’ve had with other titles from Board & Dice. If you’re a history buff and want to take on the westward movement, grab a copy of Sierra West from your local game store or online from Amazon. Be sure to stop back and let us know what you thought of it!
Do you enjoy games that incorporate history into the gaming experience?