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KRAFTWAGEN: V6 EDITION

Reviewed by Chris Kovac

KRAFTWAGEN: V6 EDITION (Stronghold Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 75-90 minutes; $59.95)

 

Kraftwagen (the V6 edition comes with the first expansion) is a 2-4 player action management game about building cars in Germany between 1900 and the 1930’s designed by Matthais Cramer, #3 in the Game Designer’s Series produced by Stronghold Games. 

To start, players take a playmat, a set of worker markers and a race car of their color.  The playmat shows three workshops (each can hold one body or engine marker), a Grand Prix car space with a starting engine value of one (more on this later) and a canteen space where you put four worker markers.  The main game board is divided into five sections: Grand Prix Track, Action Track, Research Cards (in the top part of the board) and Award Tiles and Car Market sections (found at the bottom). 

To set up the main game board, players first place their race cars on the pit lane space and a worker on the zero-lap space on the Grand Prix space.  The ten action tiles are sorted by the number of actions (between one and three). Each set is shuffled and then, starting with the one action tiles, laid down on the square action track starting at the top left.

If you play with the V6 expansion included in the game, you shuffle the tiles for the appropriate era/turn and add the first one to the end of the regular action tiles.  These tiles give you special actions like selling cars in the market for a reduced value, the ability to build high value engines or bodies, etc.  However, these action tiles are only used once and then discarded.  Every time one of these tiles is bypassed by all players or used it is discarded and the next tile for that era is drawn and placed at the end of the line of action tiles.  At the end of every era, a different set of special action tiles are used. 

Every player puts a worker on the action track starting from the space nearest to the start of the action tiles.  The research deck is shuffled and placed on the research deck space face down.  The top two cards from the deck are placed, face up, on the research card spaces. Award tiles (more on these later) are placed on the designated spaces. Buyers are sorted by type and put on the appropriate spaces on the buyer track.  Point markers go on the spaces next to the buyers (amount as shown on the board).  You put the buyer market action token on the start of the buyer market action track.  Finally, first turn price markers are placed in ascending order from the top of the price track to the bottom. Body, Engine and point markers are placed next to the board.  Beginning with the player closest to the action markers on the action track, each player will choose a start tile and perform the actions listed on the tile (giving each player different starting conditions).  The start tiles are turned over to reveal one body work and engine symbol indicating your starting research level. 

Kraftwagen is not played in a fixed turn order. Instead, the player furthest away from the action markers takes a turn. On his turn, a player will move his marker to a chosen action token, take the action(s) and then place his marker in this spot and put the action token to the back of the line of action markers so it can be used by the next player.  A player will not get another action until he is the player furthest behind all other players.  The actions on the tokens (between one and three) are:

  1. Hire Workers – Put a worker from your supply onto your canteen Build a car body – Build a car body equal to your research level and put it in a workshop
  2. Build an engine – Build an engine equal to your research level and put it in a workshop
  3. Move your Grand Prix Car on the race track. The number of space you move on the track is equal to the engine power on your Grand Prix car.  You can jump over other cars on the track as part of your move
  4. Put a buyer on an empty buyer space.  You choose from one of the four types of buyers – best body, best engine, best service (most service workers) and lowest cost.  If you are the first to choose a buyer type, you get the bonus chit next to that buyer type.  If all four buyer spaces are taken and you use an action tile with a buyer action, you instead move the buyer track token down one space.  If this token reaches zero the round ends.
  5. Take the two face up research cards, choose one and discard one. You place the chosen card to the left of your current starting card forming a chain of research cards.  Research cards will allow you to do such things as build higher value engines/card bodies, get new workers or get engineer cards with special abilities.  Some research cards require using a worker from your canteen in order to use the abilities shown on the card.

After you take an action, you can optionally build one car and put it on one of the six car market spaces of the main board.  In order to place a car on this space, it must have a body marker, an engine marker and any number of workers to act as a service crew.  Once you place a car on a space, you choose one of the price markers for the current turn and place it on the car.  If one of the buyers at the end of the turn buys your car, you will get that marker. The round will also end if all six spaces of the car market fills.  If you meet the goal of one of the awards tokens during the course of the game (things like the first person to complete a lap of the Grand Prix track or get three engineer research cards), you get to take the award and keep it for points at the end of the game.

Once a round ends, you score first for your Grand Prix car’s position on the track (you get points for first, second or third place) and bonus points for doing complete laps on the track.  Next, every buyer on the buyer track, from top to bottom, will buy the car of the highest value that matches that buyer’s criteria.  For example, the buyer who likes engines (power) will buy the car with the highest value engine. If there are ties, the car with the lower cost will be bought.  Players whose cars are sold get the price marker for their car which counts as points at the end of the game.  Then the board is cleared of all remaining cars, all price markers removed, the next turns set of price markers placed on the price track and the Grand Prix track reset with the players cars going back to the pitting spot and all the players lap markers going back to zero, ready for the next turn.  After three turns, the game ends. The person with highest number of points from sales of cars, plus buyer bonuses, plus Grand Prix points plus award bonuses wins.

Kraftwagen is a reworking of the action choice track which Matthias first pioneered in his earlier game Glen More.  The only difference is that, in the earlier game, you were taking tiles instead of actions.  This is mainly a game of planning; you have to plan how to you use your actions most efficiently to build cars that will sell to various buyers while keeping up with research to build better cars later in the game.  All the while, your fellow players try to do the same! As there are only four start-up condition cards, strategies might become a bit repetitious with repeated plays. (Perhaps an expansion with additional start-up cards might be an option to consider.) 

Kraftwagen is well produced with a good rule book as we have come to expect from Stronghold Games. This is a good medium weight gamer’s game which plays in a hour to two hours with experienced gamers.  I give Kraftwagen an eight out of ten. – – – – – – – – – – – – Chris Kovac


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