|Number of Game Players||4|
|Remote Control Included?||No|
|Mfg Recommended age||14 - 90 years|
|Item Model Number||ZM7395|
|Product Dimensions||6.99 x 22.68 x 31.5 cm; 1.18 Kilograms|
First Class Board Game
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- Choose your cards carefully to outplay your opponents, and your first class enterprise will truly be First Class
- 20 minute game
- 2 - 4 players, 14 Plus
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The Orient Express: the name alone evokes the wonder and luxury of a first-class journey along a scenic European landscape. But if the Orient Express was yours, what would such a venture imply. For this project to be successful, you will need a well-connected route, luxuriously outfitted railroad cars, and many passengers (including a celebrity or two). Choose your cards carefully to outplay your opponents, and your first class enterprise will truly be First Class.
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Easy setup and straight forward play style as well as being able to mix and match which special decks to use makes it both re-playable and good for even novice gamers.
For setup, players will place a score tracker, choose two modules (A-E) to combine with the base cards (X), and set aside Train cards and Locomotive tiles. Each player chooses a color along with a locomotive and 2 conductor pieces, one coin, and a player board. First player is randomly chosen as that Player will draw End Game cards equal to the number of players plus one. They will choose one card and pass the rest to the player to their right. This will continue until each player has one End Game card. All first round cards are then shuffled (2 A-E plus X) and 18 of the cards will be placed face up with six cards to a row.
Players will have two starting train cards of 0 placed next to their board (each representing a train) with two conductors in their brass location, the locomotive is placed in its own brass location. The board itself is where money will be kept so the starting coin will be placed in the coin storage. The coin storage allows a player to spend four coins to gain another End Game card, and one coin to purchase a level 0 train card, move the train/conductor and finally upgrade a train card.
The game is divided into six rounds where players will take turns choosing a card (twice) that will grant actions, or goals. At the end of round two, four, and six will have players scoring the locations of their conductors on train cards and locomotive. A row of cards to be chosen will be cleared out when a an equal amount of players playing have taken cards. So if four players are playing, a row will be removed after four cards have been taken. The only other choice a player has besides taking a card is taking the first player token.
What is generally found on the action cards:
Take a 0 point train card: This allows a player to add a 0 level train card to one of their train rows.
Upgrade a train card: This will either show a specific number (1,2,4,7,12) or a question mark, but it will always only be one number higher so 0 goes to 1. Also, the earliest card on the train card row needs to be higher/same as the rest.
Move a conductor: This simply means to move a conductor (sometimes both) one space forward onto a train card. They can only move onto train cards available.
Moving the locomotive: The locomotive belonging to the player will move a space forward on the train route present. A locomotive can only move onto available routes.
Extending routes: This is a card that is added to the route the player's locomotive is on.
The Contracts: These are goals that a player will try to accomplish to get a bonus. This bonus can be coins, upgrades, movements etc (the actions covered).
When two rounds have been finished, players will now score their boards. The location of the conductors on the train cards will give points based on the train card number and all other cards the conductor passed. Bonuses are also given on routes taken by the player.
When the game ends the players will score one finale time before revealing End Game cards. The End Game cards consists of being about collecting train cards actions, Locomotive cards, or Conductor cards. They all vary in points ranging from 2 to 4 points. The player with the most points wins, ties share the victory.
Each of the 5 modules bring different game mechanics and goals to the game. A module adds contracts to the game, B module introduces celebrities (add to train cards) and postcards (add to routes), C module adds the murder on the orient express, D module uses passengers (gives income)and Baggage (gives points), and E module are switches and mechanics placed in-between the top and bottom train cards. The E module switches give special points during the scoring phase if players have succeeded in the requirements of the switch card. The mechanics are contracts that can upgrade a train card to its next level.
First Class has great action selection in the game as it gives players moments of trying to figure out the best combo of cards. The synergies that can be created in moving a train, conductor, or spending coins to accomplish a goal is very satisfactory. First time players will sometimes have a hard time figuring out how to optimally activate their board. Also, some of the modules are not as easy as other ones when it comes to using or teaching them. The game can quickly end as players will usually have a clear idea of what they want to accomplish by the end of round four, which shows how much easier the game gets after the first few rounds. This is a game that has its scoring drastically change from a player's first time to their fourth. Aside from all this good, there is nothing really impressive as players will realize what gets them the most points. Adding to this is the fact that some players can easily figure out the way they can maximize their score and make the game not so fun. The train theme is okay, but overall First Class is a good action selection card game that players can find mechanics and actions that they will like.
When teaching the game, emphasize the fact that players can spend their coins at any point during their turn and that locomotive abilities can be triggered in any order. This will help the players do better combos and help them make choices that can drastically change their scores.
First Class has 6 turns made up of three rounds each (18 total during the game) plus three scoring rounds. During each round a player will do only THREE things: acquire a card and do ALL of the actions on that card, or acquire a card and ignore ALL the actions on the card and get a free upgrade of one of his trains, or take the first player card. That's it. Simple, but INSANELY DEEP!
The cards are made up of base cards (marked with an "X") and up to FIVE modules (yes, FIVE!!) marked "A" through "E". Every game is made up of the base cards and two modules. Each module radically changes the game (in a good way) leading to incredible replay value. Furthermore, each module is deeply thematic! For example, one module deals with celebrity passengers; another deals with luggage (yes luggage!); Another module deals with postcards, yes POSTCARDS; and yet another deals with switching passenger cards! There's even a murder mystery themed expansion! I kid you not! They all work.
Players complete with each other to score points in a myriad of ways. Each player starts with two trains, three conductors (yes, CONDUCTERS), 4 Mail Cards, one coin and one train route marker. And each piece is critical to scoring points.
Your train's value is based on the value (luxury?) of it's passenger cards. which range from 0-12! Players start with two 0-level cars. By selecting various cards, players can acquire and improve the value of their cars (always upgrading from left to right). Other cards will allow your conductor to move along your trains (left to right). Conductors are important because during EACH scoring phase, players will add up the value of trains, but only score VPs of the cars to the LEFT of their conductors! The value of the cars AND the further along your conductor moves, the higher value the train is.
Each train can hold up to 10 cars, but two of the car spaces are reserved for special cars that add even more strategy!. When you a 5th passenger car, the 6th car automatically becomes one of your 'mail cards'. Each player's mail cards have unique, one-time, special abilities that are activated once they're added to a train. When a player completes a train they get to add an engine which adds from 4-15 more VPs (the trains are stacked lowest VPs to highest) for that train! So, being first gives you a lesser value train.....BUT a completely train allows a player to become the first player to reach Constantinople and score even more VPs! There are lesser point for being 2nd and 3rd to the city as well. This adds a great 'race element' to the game!
Players can also build routes (by acquiring route cards) to score points! Route cards (and cards that allow you to move your locomotive token along them) give the players straight out victory points and/or special abilities! What's powerful about the route cards is that the special abilities on them activate EVERY scoring phase! This can create insane levels of chaining abilities to score points!
Then there are the Contract Cards! Contract cards allow players to score VPs for completing certain tasks (i.e. have a trains with a 4-level car, a 2-level car and a 1-level car). Many Contract cards also give a one-time special ability when scoring them!
Then there are the 'end of game' cards. End of game cards are only scored at the end of the game, and reward set collecting (Yes, this game adds a set collection mechanism!). For example: score 2pts for every card that allows you to upgrade a passenger card. BUT....there is a twist-you only score points for sets of BASE cards (the ones marked "X"...see above), NOT the module cards your playing! Which mean EVERY card you take you have to weigh it's actions vs it end game value!!
And there's still more.....
Money (coins) have a very unique function in this game. First off, each individual coin, when acquired, MUST be placed on your player board in columns from left to right, bottom to top. Not only are they worth VPs at the end of the game, they can be spent (in blocks of 4) to buy more 'end of game cards' (see above). But, most importantly each column of coins has a special ability underneath it. Players can spend coins from each specific column to activate that special ability as many times as they wish! Again, this creates an insane level of choices and actions!
And the scoring phases are unique in that cards, coins and special abilities can be activated DURING the scoring phase to maximize your points! This takes engine building to a whole new level!
IF you love simple but DEEP euro-games, then First Class is for you. About the only flaw is that this game WILL INDUCE AP!!