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Kutna Hora Review by Jazz Paladin

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Quick Look: Kutna Hora – The City of Silver


Designers: Ondrej Bystron, Petr Caslava, Pavel Jarosch
Artists: Milan Vavroň, Roman Bednář, Radek Boxan & Štěpán Drašťák
Publisher: Czech Games Edition
Year Published: 2023

No. of Players: 2-4
Ages: 13+
Playing Time: 30 minutes per player.
Find more info Here.
Disclaimer: The publisher provided the review copy of Kutna Hora – The City of Silver. The opinions expressed in the review are completely my own.
Disclaimer: Anytime you see a link to Amazon on our site, it is another way to get your product there for the normally listed price as well as a way to support Everything Board Games and everything we’re doing here, without paying any extra. We appreciate the support!

 

Review:

At the time of this writing, I only have one economic board game in my collection, namely Indonesia. While I have played a few others, I haven’t really encountered any others that make me feel like keeping them (in earnest, I have not tried them all, but am interested in trying out the new edition of Food Chain Magnate later this year when it arrives, having never played the original).

However, in recent months, I happened to come across Kutna Hora in a variety of online avenues, and each time I encountered it, I felt a nagging interest. One of such instances was seeing a review from fellow EBG reviewer Carl King, (I will link to his review here), which gave a very compelling reason for me to try it out, despite any misgivings I may have with economic games (they usually aren’t my favorite). But something about the presentation of the game seemed to call me…

And I don’t mean to get ahead of myself, but if I had any doubts as to whether Kutna Hora was a good game, they were soon dispelled. The game is fantastic on many levels.

 

Here is what I have to say regarding it :

 

 

The presentation is top notch. 

The wooden components employed are, as many mentioned, unparalleled in their appearance, most probably owing to their high detail as well as being made using recycled materials. They certainly do both look and feel different than many items out there.

But the aesthetic splurges do not simply end there ; they go on.

We are lavished with wonderfully designed double-layered boards that easily hold components, and a crafty and unique mechanism that not only serves to store various card decks in use, but also manages to integrate into the game play itself ; the card stands are unlike anything I have ever seen before, and is a knockout feature, being both fun to assemble as well as utilize for tracking the prices of various in-game commodities.

And if that were not enough, the cards, boards, and tiles often sport a fancy golden or silver coating the help integrate into to theme better ; after all, the game is all about Kutna Hora, the City of Silver, and having this aesthetic flourish is really a wonderful layer of icing on the cake.

 

If all that is golden does in fact glitter in the physical sense, how about the gameplay?

 

 

I will say that I am quite taken by it. Not for any particular one reason, but for many small bits of attention to detail that in the end make for a solid and fun gaming experience.

Let me just get one thing out of the way in saying that there are no dice ; just decisions. 

The gameplay itself, admittedly started out a bit worrisome. Though the game manual is very well written and relatively short, it also somewhat describes a paradox ; while there is simplicity in the game, there is also complexity , and vice versa. 

I walked into Kutna Hora not knowing what to expect after reading the manual. And I know that I must have caused severe information overload to my group judging from the looks I saw on their faces when explaining how to play the game the first time.

But, thankfully, the rhythm of the game settles in very quickly, even though the understanding did not necessarily follow quickly in our first play.

Behind the gameplay is the “simple” aspect of everyone having an identical set of six cards (each with two actions on it, and players only being able to select one action on a card at a time) which are used two per turn  in player order until everyone has exhausted 5/6 of the cards, and a new round begins. The actions themselves are very succinctly defined  : Income, Plot, Build, Mine, Joker (Wild), and St. Barbara Cathedral Construction. The intricacies only become evident when you realize just how much attention you need to pay to the timing of how you use your various actions during the game’s 5-6 rounds. 

Which also highlights the dichotomy of the game’s simultaneous juxtaposition of complexity within the realm of simplicity ; there are a lot of moving parts to be aware of in Kutna Hora, with each one player action having at least one (but usually multiple) consequence(s) that will reside for the duration of the game. 

The most blatantly obvious of such instances happens with the game’s use of the law of supply and demand : prices of goods are constantly fluctuating , and if you time things just right, you can construct a building in such a way as to lower income for other commodities that players were hoping to cash in on in later turns due to over saturating the markets. Or finding ways to edify public buildings to increase public taxes and hemorrhage unprepared rivals.

Or maybe you can increase your production of ore by digging deeper into a mine.

 

 

The game does a fiendishly good job making players capitalize on whatever deficiencies or areas of opportunity they may see on the board. 

While it is admittedly intimidating and a lot to chew on at first, the fact that the game has so many separate physical areas to focus on (the city, the mines, the St. Barbara Cathedral which can be constructed outside of the main board area, etc) makes it a pleasure to constantly purvey strategic viabilities

It all integrates so well together that I have to pause and reflect on the experience even as I write this review. Though I would be loathe to introduce this game to beginners, I am actually considering bringing this game over to a couple of people that I know who are just starting to go beyond simpler games into the next level of gaming ; I do think they would enjoy it after playing it once to bridge the gap in understanding given the simple way that game handles turns.

Another added bonus to the experience is the fact that one can actually learn something of historical relevance. I loved how the game instructions go into such vivid detail of the real-life development of Kutna Hora and its significance. The fabric of its society appears to have had some marvelous achievements during its “Golden (Silver) Age”, and though I know history can often be prone to exaggeration or oversight (especially given that only a sparse few paragraphs overall pertain to the development of Kutna Hora) it was nevertheless fascinating to learn about, capable of easily prompting someone into doing ,ore research.

 

 

Here are some more positives : 

—Jigsaw puzzle style game board assembly. Makes for easy maneuverability of various boards to convenient areas

—Player’s Aids. I cannot overstate how extremely helpful these are. They go into the perfect amount of detail for all of the various icons and events that can pop up in the game.

—Very small box, but can pack a table full of strategy!

—I love how the opportunity for scoring really does not manifest itself until the last few rounds. It makes for a much more unpredictability. 

—Player interaction! This is not verbal, but rather through the actions taken that constantly expand (and eradicate!) opportunities.

—Playing time. 30 minutes per player. This may seem on the short side, but it managed to always feel engaging and leaving a sense of where the time went…

—Does not feel as cut-throat as games such as Indonesia, though it can be, circumstantially, if you for example decide to focus on buying multiple plots before anyone else, and blocking their optimal scoring positions…

—Scoring! This is really genius how it is implemented, it feels fair and balanced (if you know the rules), and leaves ample opportunity for everyone to score in numerous without making it seem like people are getting free handouts for points. The game capitalizes well on the way markets work ; If for example you increase the local population due to creating a mine (and its essential workers) it will result in more bakeries and inns being needed to supply food to the booming city ; why not you who fills the vacuum?

 

Downsides :

—The game box is a bit flimsy. I have heard others complain about a lack of good storage trays, but I don’t mind bagging tokens and supplies up, and thankfully they include these.

—Though the game plays well with just 2 players, you really want 3 or 4 to take advantage of all of the uncertainties ; two players leaves all of the game Guilds, buildings, and available land in the hands of just the 2 players. With 3-4 players, you all of a sudden have to worry about potentially sharing a Guild with another player , meaning they can take the rights to a building you want to construct!

—I know I mentioned scoring was a positive, but it can also be challenging figuring this out at first. Thankfully, this is not much of a negative at all, just a minor hinderance until you get the hang of how points are earned in the end.

 

Final Thoughts :

 

I know I previously mentioned Indonesia ; for me, it is not just an economic game, it is one of my favorite games of all time ; it now must share a shelf with Kutna Hora, as I am most decidedly not parting with it. Is Kutna Hora the equal the equal to Indonesia for me? Perhaps. Time will tell. But for now it should say something that they will be sitting side by side in my collection, being the only two economic games in my collection.

 
After reading Jazz’s review, if this sounds like a game for you at the time of this posting Kutna Hora The City of Silver will is available for purchase on AMAZON for only $59.95 via our Amazon Affilate Link!! (Won’t cost you anymore and it’s a way to support us here at Everything Board Games
Check it out and get yours HERE.

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Check out Kutna Hora – The City of Silver and Czech Games Edition on:

         

 

Disclaimer: Anytime you see a link to Amazon on our site, it is another way to get your product there for the normally listed price as well as a way to support Everything Board Games and everything we’re doing here, without paying any extra. We appreciate the support!

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jazz Paladin- Reviewer

 

Jazz Paladin is an eccentric at heart — When he is not learning to make exotic new foods at home, such as Queso Fresco cheese and Oaxacan molé, he is busy collecting vintage saxophones, harps, and other music-related paraphernalia. An avid music enthusiast, when he is not pining over the latest board games that are yet-to-be-released, his is probably hard at work making jazzy renditions of classic/retro video game music tunes as Jazz Paladin on Spotify and other digital music services.

CD’s are also available here!
See Jazz Paladin’s reviews HERE.

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