Mole Rats

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Import/Export Review


Quick Look:

Info:
Designer: Jordan Draper
Artist: Jordan Draper
Publisher: Dark Flight Games
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 2-6
Ages: 8+
Playing Time: 45-90 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com
WARNING: This is a preview of Import/Export. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.

Import/Export pits players against one another as shipping experts tasked with gaining the most credits through the import and export of goods. The job won't be easy, as they'll have to choose from a variety of goods to transport and manufacture, not to mention contending with others pirating their shipments! An active and a passive economy come together in the end to determine the victor.

The game box, appropriately modeled after a shipping container.

Review:

Rules and Setup:
At the start of each round, the leading player may choose to either draw cards or to declare an action for that round. Actions include loading, building, supplying, importing, and pirating. If they declare an action, they must spend one card from their hand whose color matches that action (pirating, for instance, requires a red card to be spent). The other players then decide if they will draw cards or follow the leading player's action, which will require either a card to be spent from their hand or for it to already exist in their imports. Once everyone has decided, the leading player performs their action, followed in clockwise order by any others who chose to follow.

Once everyone has gone, the used cards go into the discard pile, and the person to the left of the leading player becomes the new leading player. Play continues in this fashion until someone reaches 50 credits, there are no more cards left to draw, or someone has a special Goods card at which time the game ends.

The detailed rules come in a small and stylish pamphlet with plenty of visual examples of gameplay. If preferred, a PDF version can be downloaded from the publisher's website.


Setup doesn't take very long. Each person is given a Harbor card and is randomly dealt a Player Ships card. Then, the Supply Island card and the matching Player Ships cards are placed into the middle of the table, which is considered the "open sea." Once this is done, the Goods cards are shuffled and placed by the Supply Island. Several cards are dealt to the Player Ships and the Supply Island, and the remaining cards serve as the draw deck. Each person is given ten credits and five Goods cards to start with. Once everything is prepared, one person is declared the leading player and the game begins!

The table is set, but the game has only begun...

Theme and Mechanics:
Economy is the name of the game in Import/Export. It's not just about who has the most credits, either; at all times, there is a passive economy working alongside the active economy of credits. Each Goods card has an effect that activates once the shipment has been completed; these effects can include extra credits gained during play, extra shipments received depending on others' actions, bonus credits at the end of the game, and even new end-game requirements.

Balancing earning credits with completing shipments is a difficult task to master. Focusing too much on what shipments are being completed could mean someone else racing towards the 50-credit goal and leaving you in the dust; conversely, not focusing enough on shipments could mean your opponents capitalizing on the passive economy and coming from behind at the end.

Each completed shipment grants a bonus. Some bonuses may increase your credits, while others may change the rules entirely!

Artwork and Components:
All of the components seem to fit the theme well. Shipping terminology is used on the cards, and the Harbor and Supply Island cards are decorated with shipping containers and cranes. The five different types of Goods are separated by colors and are easy to distinguish from one another.

One thing in particular that I appreciate is that roughly half of the Goods cards have designs on them to make them a bit more aesthetically pleasing. Whether they be icons, official logos associated with the goods, or even sly jokes (such as the Big Cats card having a hole torn through the shipping container), these add a bit of flavor to the game and keep the cards from being too repetitive.

A sampling of some on the Goods card designs. I'm especially a fan of the Pistols card. "Onions," indeed!

The Good:
Import/Export has a level of complexity that sets it apart. Keeping track of the two separate economies while simultaneously paying close attention towards what your opponents are working towards is a difficult task to master, but it's a blast to follow the patterns and to be a part of the process. The artwork is understated, not taking over the game but rather allowing for players to focus on the difficult task at hand while keeping them engaged. The sheer amount of goods to build, buy, and steal (100 in total), each with its own ability, means that no two games will end the same way.

The Bad:
The complexity of Import/Export is a double-edged sword. While it provides a worthwhile challenge, it's not an easy game to master. After the handful of games I played, I still didn't fully understand the rules. It certainly isn't the sort of game you pick up and play a quick hand of, nor would it likely be the sort of game you take to a friend's house for a handful of new people to play. This is a great game for a group of dedicated people to sit down and learn, but less interested casual players might not take to it.

Final Thoughts:
While it might not be a good fit for more casual players looking for a quick game to play, Import/Export is still a fascinating game. The competitive aspect of the dual economy and the unique goods that change the game provide a fun challenge that I recommend giving a chance.

Players Who Like:
This game has been described as a mixture of Container and Glory to Rome, and I have to agree. If you're a fan of strategic, resource-management-focused games, this is one to add to your collection.



I am giving Import/Export 7 out of 10 super meeples.

7 10

Check out Import/Export on:

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/217776/import-export  http://www.darkflightgames.com/#/importexport/  https://www.facebook.com/DarkFlightGames/?ref=br_rs  https://twitter.com/darkflightgames  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jordandraper/import-export?ref=nav_search

About the Author:
David Jensen has tried his hand at everything from warehouse work and washing dishes to delivering pizza. Now, he's trying his hand at writing creatively and working as an editor for a start-up literary magazine. When he's not busy procrastinating, he's also running tabletop game sessions for friends and family.

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