City of Big Shoulders – first impression

Combination of 18xx and euro, is it possible? The authors decided to take one of the coolest elements from 18xx system and add worker placement to it. After learning the rules, this title was most associated for me with 1846, Caylus (sending employees to buildings) and Puerto Rico (sending goods). Are you curious how this hybrid works? What did I like about it? Read the whole text…

The key element that was taken from 18xx is the entire mechanics of the stock round and certificates, all very clearly taken from 1846. The only differences are the president’s certificate, which is worth 30%, and an additional 20% certificate (this cannot be bought by president, but only by any other player). In addition, everything looks identical – I mean the stock market round, during which we buy and sell shares, and of course, start up the companies. Nothing has changed here.

There are significant changes in the overall game mechanics. There are no private companies – first and second: in the first SR we have to run our own company. This is something that is not known in 18xx, normally in 18xx no one is forced to start the company. I assume that this requirement was dictated by the authors’ experience, otherwise players familiar with 18xx would probably try various ‘strange’ strategies that are allowed in 18xx and the CoBS mechanics would collapse. The game would probably be unpredictable, and the euro game can’t work that way!

Another difference is the fixed number of rounds, in CoBS there are only 5 rounds, that include: a stock exchange round, a worker placement round, and an operational round, … theoretically 5 rounds could mean that this game will be fast as many other euro games, but our game lasted 3 hours without explaining the rules, so it’s not a quick one.

Let’s move on to the biggest difference, i.e. the worker placement round. During the game, at every beginning of the worker placement round we establish buildings on the board. They are drawn from a common pool and divided among players on a draft basis, from 3 buildings we get to choose from, we build one (there are 5 rounds, so each player will build 5 buildings during whole game). Each building is assigned to a specific player and here begins an interesting mechanism. After building them, we deploy our workers there. Like in Caylus, each player sends one by one worker to a choosen building, but in this game the fee depends on the type of building. Payments are usually made by one of the companies that will benefit from the effect of the building. The owner of the building receives cash. There are buildings very cheap e.g. $10 or very expensive like $80. In my case, I built the most expensive ones and they always gave me a nice injection of capital (which, unfortunately, did not transfer to my result).
As in Caylus, the rule is that first come first served, most buildings can be used only once and we always need to plan our actions well in this phase to overtake opponents.

Now let’s get back to the companies, they don’t build tracks, they don’t operate trains, they just rebuild Chicago after the great fire that took place in 1871. They do this through factories that are on companies cards. Each company has 2-3 factories. To run them, it needs a suitable set of workers/machines and goods. And all these elements (and a few others) can be obtained by sending our employees to work in buildings.

The last element, i.e. the operational round. Then, our companies can only buy goods, if we did not take care of them earlier then they are available on the market. After buying them, the production takes place. Each company produces one of four products (there are eight companies, i.e. each product is produced by a maximum of two companies). There is demand for each product. It is symbolized with tiles similar to those known from Puerto Rico ships. When the ship is full, we get a bonus and the next ship with the weaker bonus is activated. The amount the company receives is determined by the company card + other bonuses. Profit on this sale is shared between shareholders (or withheld). The share price increases depending on the amount of income and the share price (max 2x).

In this phase, companies are launched a little differently than in 18xx, because not in the order of the share price, but according to their level of fame. Of course, you can get it in various ways, including by sending an employee to a given building.
That’s all, uff ­čśë

It’s hard for me to say what I obviously liked or disliked – the only thing on the downside is the company tokens, about them I will write at the end.
Regarding the companies themselves, there is no risk of bankruptcy, if the company does not start production, it simply will not earn and its rate will drop. There is a catch in this mechanics, an element of investment risk that we know from 18xx. To develop a company so that it has a sufficiently high income, we must send our workers to different buildings at least several times. Otherwise the company will not be profitable enough. We have a limited number of workers (only three at the beginning of the game) and therefore it is unprofitable to quickly start a second company. Because we can’t grow both of our companies at the same time! So if we could realize profits from the increase in the share price and quickly sell a company that is in the early stages of development, then another player will lose on the share price and has a weak company. We checked this theory in the last game, when Jacek got my first company from me.

For this reason, I would like to play again to see if I was right.

CoBS also has randomness as in almost every euro game. Buildings and goods available on the market are drawn from the bag. For buildings, randomness is not terrible, but the first player can get an advantage for 1-2 turns. The randomness in the goods is worse and if we are unlucky and the opponent analyzes our intentions well, it may limit our production. During the worker placement round, we can also buy goods using some buildings, but then we usually have other, more important things on our minds.

What I didn’t like: iconography on certificates and company cards, and basically its lack. Each 18xx title I played had an icon on each certificate and company card, the same icon that is on the markers that is also on the stock exchange. In CoBS they are lacking, I don’t know why, the authors decided on such a step? For sure it was a hindrance for me, because the colors in the game are not intuitive. There are three companies in blue (light, dark and regular) and two yellow ones. In addition, the company symbol is placed on the markers, and their full name appears on the cards. So you have to decipher that The Cracker Jack Co. means CJ. I know, it’s theoretically intuitive, but in 18xx games, that would be unthinkable. Certificates must be simply and unambiguously associated with tokens, because it makes the game easier and faster. And it doesn’t cause mistakes!
Second thing: income. In every 18xx game we have always been writing it down on some track in order to know how much every company’s earn and which shares are worth buying. I know, I know, there are only 3 rounds here, during which it may matter and we can train our memory in this way, but one marker more for each company would be useful.

And one last thing: climate. I don’t know how for you, but for me 18xx are very atmospheric. If there is a well-prepared map in the game, then 18xx is full of atmosphere for me. Anyway, each 18xx gives a bit of history: in 1880 there are foreign investors, in 1848 there are different track widths, in 1844 there are mountain companies, in 18Mex there is a state-owned company, etc. … Does’t it build the atmosphere of a given game? In CoBS there is no map and all worker placement mechanics could also talk about something completely different. I grew up with euro games and I’m used to the fact that the game has no climate, but it can be a minus for some players.

Ending: I would play again, I even liked such a hybrid, but after one game I can not say much. Besides that, I’d like to test a few other things in practice ­čśë

Andrzej 4694 / Jacek 4399 / Marcin 3748 / Kuba 3646
Game time: 3 hours 27 minutes
My BGG rating: 7

Original text

City of Big Shoulders – pierwsze wra┼╝enia

Po┼é─ůczenie 18xx i euro, czy to jest mo┼╝liwe? Autorzy postanowili wzi─ů─ç z 18xx jeden z najfajniejszych element├│w tego systemu i doda─ç do niego worker placement. Po poznaniu zasad ten tytu┼é najbardziej skojarzy┼é mi si─Ö z 1846, Caylusem (wysy┼éanie pracownik├│w do budynk├│w) i Puerto Rico (wysy┼éanie towar├│w). Jeste┼Ťcie ciekawi, jak taka hybryda dzia┼éa? Co mi si─Ö w niej podoba┼éo? Przeczytajcie

Kluczowym elementem, kt├│ry zosta┼é wzi─Öty z 18xx jest ca┼éa mechanika rundy gie┼édowej i certyfikat├│w, wszystko bardzo wyra┼║nie zaczerpni─Öte z 1846. Jedyne r├│┼╝nice to certyfikat prezesa, kt├│ry jest wart 30%, oraz dodatkowy certyfikat 20% (tego akurat nie mo┼╝e kupi─ç prezes, tylko ka┼╝dy inny gracz). Poza tym wszystko wygl─ůda identycznie-mam na my┼Ťli rund─Ö gie┼édow─ů, w kt├│rej trakcie kupujemy i sprzedajemy akcje, oraz oczywi┼Ťcie uruchamiamy firmy. Nic si─Ö tutaj nie zmieni┼éo.

Spore zmiany s─ů natomiast w og├│lnej mechanice gry. Nie ma firm prywatnych ÔÇö to po pierwsze, po drugie: w pierwszej SR musimy uruchomi─ç w┼éasn─ů firm─Ö. To co┼Ť, czego nie ma w 18xx, normalnie w 18xx nikt nikogo do uruchomienia firmy nie zmusza. Zak┼éadam, ┼╝e ten wym├│g zosta┼é podyktowany do┼Ťwiadczeniami autor├│w, bo inaczej gracze obeznani z 18xx, pewnie pr├│bowaliby tutaj r├│┼╝nych ‘dziwnych’ strategii, kt├│re w 18xx s─ů dozwolone i ca┼éa mechanika CoBS by siad┼éa. Gra pewnie by┼éaby nieobliczalna, a gra euro przecie┼╝ taka by─ç nie mo┼╝e!

Kolejna r├│┼╝nica to sta┼éa ilo┼Ť─ç rund, w CoBS jest tylko 5 rund, tzw. cykli, kt├│re obejmuj─ů: rund─Ö gie┼édow─ů, rund─Ö worker placement, oraz rund─Ö operacyjn─ů, …. teoretycznie 5 rund mog┼éoby oznacza─ç, ┼╝e ta gra to b┼éyskawica, tak przynajmniej by┼éoby w 18xx ­čśë
Nasza rozgrywka trwa┼é─ů natomiast 3 godziny bez t┼éumaczenia zasad, wi─Öc nie jest to szybkie euro.

Przejd┼║my do r├│┼╝nicy chyba najwi─Ökszej, czyli rundy worker placement. W trakcie gry, co rund─Ö budujemy na planszy kolejne, coraz to lepsze budynki. S─ů one losowane ze wsp├│lnej puli i dzielone mi─Ödzy graczy na zasadzie draftu, z 3 budynk├│w, jakie dostajemy do wyboru, ostatecznie budujemy jeden (rund jest 5, wi─Öc ┼é─ůcznie ka┼╝dy gracz wybuduje 5 budynk├│w przez ca┼é─ů gr─Ö). Ka┼╝dy budynek jest przypisany do okre┼Ťlonego gracza i tutaj zaczyna si─Ö ciekawy mechanizm. Po wybudowaniu budynk├│w rozmieszczamy w nich naszych robotnik├│w. Tak jak w Caylusie, ka┼╝dy gracz wysy┼éa po jednym (z trzech) robotniku do pracy, ale tutaj op┼éata zale┼╝y od rodzaju budynku. P┼éatno┼Ťci przewa┼╝nie dokonuje jedna ze sp├│┼éek, ta, kt├│ra skorzysta z efektu, jaki daje dany budynek. Kas─Ö z kolei otrzymuje w┼éa┼Ťciciel budynku. S─ů budynki bardzo tanie $10 lub bardzo drogie $80. W moim przypadku budowa┼éem te najdro┼╝sze i zawsze dawa┼éy mi one ┼éadny zastrzyk kapita┼éu (co niestety nie prze┼éo┼╝y┼éo si─Ö na m├│j wynik).
Jak w Caylusie obowi─ůzuje tu zasada, ┼╝e kto pierwszy ten lepszy, wi─Ökszo┼Ť─ç budynk├│w mo┼╝na u┼╝y─ç tylko raz i zawsze musimy dobrze zaplanowa─ç nasze akcje w tej fazie, aby ubiec przeciwnik├│w.

Teraz wr├│─çmy do firm, nie buduj─ů one tor├│w, nie operuj─ů poci─ůgami, tylko odbudowuj─ů Chicago po wielkim po┼╝arze, jaki mia┼é miejsce w 1871 roku. Robi─ů to poprzez fabryki, kt├│re znajduj─ů si─Ö na ich kartach. Ka┼╝da sp├│┼éka ma 2-3 fabryki. Do ich uruchomienia potrzebuje odpowiedniego zestawu robotnik├│w/maszyn oraz surowc├│w. I w┼éa┼Ťnie te wszystkie elementy (oraz kilka innych), mo┼╝emy otrzyma─ç, wysy┼éaj─ůc naszych pracownik├│w do pracy w budynkach.

Ostatni element, czyli runda operacyjna. Wtedy w zasadzie nasze sp├│┼éki mog─ů kupowa─ç ju┼╝ tylko surowce, je┼Ťli nie zadbali┼Ťmy o nie wcze┼Ťniej i pod warunkiem, ┼╝e konkurencja nie pokrzy┼╝owa┼éa nam szyk├│w, czyli ┼╝e surowce s─ů dost─Öpne na gie┼édzie. Po kupieniu surowc├│w odbywa si─Ö produkcja. Ka┼╝da ze sp├│┼éek produkuje jeden z czterech produkt├│w (sp├│┼éek jest osiem, czyli ka┼╝dy towar produkuj─ů maksymalnie dwie firmy). Na ka┼╝dy produkt jest odpowiedni pobyt. Symbolizuje si─Ö on kafelkami podobnymi do statk├│w znanych z Puerto Rico. Po zape┼énieniu statku dostajemy bonus i aktywowany jest nast─Öpny w kolejno┼Ťci statek z ju┼╝ s┼éabszym bonusem. Kwota, jak─ů otrzymuje sp├│┼éka, okre┼Ťla karta firmy + te i inne bonusy. Zysk z tej sprzeda┼╝y jest dzielony pomi─Ödzy akcjonariuszy (lub wstrzymywany). Kurs akcji ro┼Ťnie w zale┼╝no┼Ťci od wielko┼Ťci dochodu i kursu akcji (maksymalnie 2x).

W tej fazie sp├│┼éki s─ů uruchamiane troch─Ö inaczej ni┼╝ w 18xx, bo nie w kolejno┼Ťci kursu akcji, ale zgodnie z ich poziomem ich uznania (b─ůd┼║ s┼éawy). J─ů oczywi┼Ťcie mo┼╝na zdoby─ç na r├│┼╝ne sposoby, wysy┼éaj─ůc pracownika do danego budynku.
To wszystko, ufff ­čśë

Ci─Ö┼╝ko mi powiedzie─ç co ewidentnie mi si─Ö podoba┼éo lub nie ÔÇö jedyna rzecz na minus to oznaczenia sp├│┼éek (a raczej ich brak), o czym napisz─Ö na ko┼äcu.

Odno┼Ťnie do samych firm, nie ma ryzyka bankructwa, je┼Ťli firma nie uruchomi produkcji, to po prostu nie zarobi i jej kurs spadnie. Jest w tej mechanice jednak pewien haczyk, element ryzyka inwestycyjnego, kt├│ry znamy z 18xx. Mianowicie, aby firm─Ö rozwin─ů─ç, aby mia┼éa ona odpowiednio wysokie dochody, to musimy wys┼éa─ç naszych robotnik├│w przynajmniej kilka razy do r├│┼╝nych budynk├│w. Inaczej firma b─Ödzie ma┼éo nowoczesna/dochodowa. Robotnik├│w mamy z kolei ograniczon─ů ilo┼Ť─ç (tylko trzech na pocz─ůtku gry) i dlatego nieop┼éacalne jest szybkie uruchomienie drugiej firmy. Bo nie damy rady rozwija─ç jednocze┼Ťnie obu naszych firm! Je┼Ťli uda┼éoby nam si─Ö zrealizowa─ç zyski ze wzrostu kursu akcji i szybko sprzeda─ç firm─Ö, kt├│ra jest w pocz─ůtkowej fazie rozwoju, to inny gracz dostaje, mo┼╝e nie bankruta, ale traci na kursie akcji i ma firm─Ö, z kt├│r─ů niewiele by─ç mo┼╝e ju┼╝ zrobi. Sprawdzili┼Ťmy t─Ö teori─Ö w ostatniej grze, gdy Jacek dosta┼é ode mnie moj─ů pierwsz─ů firm─Ö.

Z tego też powodu, zagrałbym jeszcze raz, aby przekonać się, czy miałem rację i faktycznie jest, tak jak napisałem.
W CoBS jest te┼╝ losowo┼Ť─ç tak jak w prawie ka┼╝dym euro. Losowane s─ů budynki oraz surowce dost─Öpne na rynku. W przypadku budynk├│w losowo┼Ť─ç nie jest jaka┼Ť straszna, ale pierwszy gracz mo┼╝e dosta─ç przewag─Ö przez 1-2 tury. Gorsza jest losowo┼Ť─ç w surowcach i je┼Ťli b─Ödziemy mie─ç pecha i przeciwnik dobrze przeanalizuje nasze zamiary, to mo┼╝e nam ograniczy─ç produkcj─Ö. W czasie rundy worker placement te┼╝ mo┼╝emy kupowa─ç surowce, wykorzystuj─ůc niekt├│re budynki, ale wtedy mamy przewa┼╝nie inne, wa┼╝niejsze rzeczy na g┼éowie.

Co mi si─Ö nie podoba┼éo: ikonografia na certyfikatach i kartach sp├│┼éek, a w zasadzie jej brak. Ka┼╝dy tytu┼é 18xx, w jaki gra┼éem, mia┼é na ka┼╝dym certyfikacie oraz na karcie sp├│┼éki ikonk─Ö, t─ů sam─ů, kt├│ra by┼éa na znacznikach, kt├│re znajdowa┼éy si─Ö na gie┼édzie. W CoBS ich bardzo brakuje, nie wiem czemu, autorzy zdecydowali si─Ö na taki krok? Na pewno dla mnie by┼éo to utrudnienie, bo kolorystyka, jaka jest w grze, nie jest intuicyjna. S─ů trzy sp├│┼éki o barwie niebieskiej (jasny, ciemny i niebieski) i dwie o barwie ┼╝├│┼étej. Dodatkowo na znacznikach znajduje si─Ö symbol sp├│┼éki, a na kartach widnieje ich pe┼éna nazwa. Wi─Öc trzeba sobie odszyfrowa─ç, ┼╝e The Cracker Jack Co. oznacza CJ. Wiem, teoretycznie to jest intuicyjne, ale w grach 18xx, by┼éoby to nie do pomy┼Ťlenia. Certyfikaty, musz─ů by─ç prosto i jednoznacznie kojarzone ze znacznikami, bo to u┼éatwia i przy┼Ťpiesza gr─Ö. I nie powoduje pomy┼éek!

Druga rzecz: dochody. Od zawsze na jakim┼Ť torze je sobie notujemy, po to, aby wiedzie─ç, ile poszczeg├│lne sp├│┼éki zarabiaj─ů i kt├│re akcje warto kupowa─ç. Wiem, wiem, tutaj s─ů tylko 3 rundy, w kt├│rych czasie to mo┼╝e mie─ç znaczenie i mo┼╝emy w ten spos├│b ─çwiczy─ç pami─Ö─ç, ale jeden znacznik dodatkowo dla ka┼╝dej sp├│┼éki by si─Ö przyda┼é.

I jeszcze jedna rzecz: klimat. Nie wiem jak dla was, ale dla mnie 18xx s─ů bardzo klimatyczne. Je┼Ťli jeszcze w grze jest ┼éadnie przygotowana mapa, to taka osiemnastka kipi dla mnie klimatem. Zreszt─ů ka┼╝da 18xx oddaje troch─Ö historii: 1880 to inwestorzy zagraniczni, 1848 to r├│┼╝ne szeroko┼Ťci tor├│w, 1844 to sp├│┼éki g├│rskie, 18Mex to firma pa┼ästwowa, itd…. Czy to nie buduje klimatu danej gry? Natomiast w CoBS nie ma mapy i ca┼éa mechanika worker placement r├│wnie dobrze mog┼éaby opowiada─ç o czym┼Ť zupe┼énie innym. Wyros┼éem z gier euro i jestem przyzwyczajony do tego, ┼╝e gra nie ma klimatu, ale jednak mo┼╝e by─ç to dla niekt├│rych pewnym minusikiem.

Ko┼äcz─ůc: zagra┼ébym ponownie, taka hybryda nawet mi si─Ö nawet podoba┼éa, ale po jednej grze niewiele mog─Ö powiedzie─ç. Poza tym, ┼╝e ch─Ötnie przetestowa┼ébym kilka rzeczy w praktyce ­čśë



4 thoughts on “City of Big Shoulders – first impression”

  1. After two plays I find it a good eurogame. However, each time I played with players knowing 18xx so it felt like a waste of opportunity to play something better.

  2. I actually quite enjoyed my two games. Then I sold my copy.


    1. I could just play 18xx. It took me about three hours, but I think with more experienced (or less) players I could get that down to under two. But I think I could get 1846 or even 18Chesapeake down to three hours anyway so why not just play them?

    I have limited room for games anyway and it’s this or one other 18xx game of the many that will come out over the next five years. I’ll go with 18??

    2. A lot of problems have been pointed out to me (those that Paul Grogan raised, but also others) that I hadn’t even noticed and they started to bug me. I

    3. Plenty of other people have a copy. I’ll just play with them if I ever want to again.

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