YORKTON - When you dig under the Christmas tree and find a small wrapped box, and you happen to be an avid board game player, you are likely to assume a new game.
However, even when you are right in the guess, and it is a new game, it can be awhile before it gets to the table to play, because there is usually a stack of unplayed games ahead of it – such is the life of the avid gamer turned collector.
So when one of our members unwrapped Public Market it sat for a bit before its debut voyage.
This is one of those games which frankly has a lousy name. There is nothing about a public market which has one’s mind turning to something fun to build a game around.
And, in the case of this game, while you do sell your ‘catch’ as a sort of end of round mechanic to score points, the game has the look and feel of players being offshore fisherman like you might imagine in the Maritimes.
While fishing for mackerel off the east coast might not seem overly appealing as a game theme, it beats the idea of a public market.
So with the name offering little in terms of insight in terms of what might be fun with the game, it was really a case of exploration when we broke out this one from designers Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, and Shawn Stankewich.
From the publisher’s page (Talon Strikes Studios) the game is described as having players “head out to sea and fish to fulfill contracts in order to gain points and emerge as the winner” in this tile-laying, engine-building game.
“In Public Market players bid on and draft tiles to play into an ice chest. Once the ice chest is full, players can go to the market to sell their latest catch based on the current market values and to complete contract goals. They then get a new ice chest and go back out on the open water to fulfill new contracts. Play continues until the ocean bag is empty.”
Now, often you acquire games for some rather non-game play reasons. Certainly games which utilize a well-liked game mechanic draw attention simply for that reason. As a group we are drawn to deck builders as an example.
Game theme is another draw. One of our group loves the idea of Norse-themed games, another leans toward Medieval Japan, as examples.
And of course we as a group do like games with miniatures to move around the table.
Public Market hits on a none of our draws, but it still turned out to be a pretty solid game.
There were a lot of bits and boards on the table, but the game mechanics worked smoothly and the ‘moving parts’ all worked out with minimal issues – rarely were we digging through the rulebook to figure something out.
In the end this is one of many games which fall sort of in the middle of a collection. At one end of the collection spectrum are games you never, ever, want to see on a gaming table; Stone Age and Monopoly fit there for me.
On the other end are games you are always up to play and likely to recommend; Crokinole, Hive, King’s Cribbage, Dominion, Pandemic being examples.
And then in the middle sit most games. If they are pulled out to play they are fun and you enjoy them, but they don’t quite have the ‘it’ factor to be one you think of regularly suggesting for a night of gaming. Public Market sits squarely in this middle territory, a solid, if not outstanding effort.
If you see and get a copy you will enjoy it, but it probably won’t become a regular game to put on the table.