Ore: The Mining Game is a joint-venture tabletop game project being published by both Atheris Games and Quick Simple Fun Games. Joe McClintock and Jason Lyle Steingisser have created a clever game where players assume the role of a start-up mining company. Players grow their companies by strategically harvesting the earth of its precious metals, distributing those resources to contracts, and spending their hard-earned wealth on buildings and businesses that expand the influence of their company. The industrious player that manages their company most efficiently can turn simple ore into the American dream.
Ore: The Mining Game can accommodate 2-5 players and is recommended for ages 12 and up.
This project has brought together the artistic talents of Andre Garcia, along with the graphic design work of Jenn Tatti, Daniel Holt, Jose Monsalve, and Sebastian Koziner to craft an impressive looking game that pulls you in with a compelling turn-of-the-century theme.
The box art evokes a gritty image of the miners and businessmen that broke into the land to build a better life for themselves. The art on the board is reminiscent of a rustic mining town with old-timey features from a foundry to a mill. Atop the mountains sit the mine cards, that by clever graphic design, blend into the art of the board to represent the five different types of mines that players can send their worker meeples too.
As with any good Euro game, Ore: The Mining Game will come chock full of pieces to keep the most tactile-loving player satisfied. It includes meeples, markers, cards, resource cubes, and tokens galore.
Ore: The Mining Game is a Kickstarter game. As it climbs in funding that surpasses the minimum mark both quantity and more so the quality of components will grow. As those stretch goals start getting checked off the value of this game will grow exponentially. At the time this article is written, Ore: The Mining Game funded within its first 24 hours and it has already broken through its first stretch goal of linen finished cards. It is reaching towards its future goals of screen printed meeples and upgraded resources.
Quick Simple Fun Games has produced high-quality games for retail in the past, and Atheris Games has run several successful Kickstarter campaigns. This partnership is very promising for the final game product and the quality of the campaign page on Kickstarter lets that experience shine.
Claiming the Mountain
Ore: The Mining Game plays over seven rounds consisting of three phases and definitely doesn’t overstay its welcome. The duration of a game is about an hour and a half with a full five players.
The first phase is the Tasking Phase. In this phase, players place their workers in locations and complete the indicated action immediately. This is true for all locations except the mining locations. Workers placed there will be a longer investment as those miners will become locked into producing a specific type of ore.
The second phase is the Collection Phase. In this phase, players who have sent their workers to mine ore from the mountains or their own personal mine will collect those resources. Then they send their miners deeper into the mountains for even richer resources in subsequent rounds – that is unless they have tapped out the mountain.
The final phase is the Business Phase. Here players fulfill their contracts and clean up the board for the next round. This is the phase players spend the entire round planning for. The better a player performs, the more lucrative this part of the round will be for them. Fulfilling contracts is where players gain their wealth and score their victory points.
Surveying the Veins
Ore: The Mining Game is a traditional worker placement game with a generous helping of resource collection on the side. Players begin the game with three to four workers they use to perform various tasks. Some workers will get their hands dirty in the mines, some workers will secure contracts from big city businesses, and the rest will be used to manage the many details of running a successful mining corporation.
As players choose and commit themselves to a contract, they become obligated to complete that contract on a set timeline. Fulfill individual deadlines in the contract to receive money. Fulfill the contract in its entirety and you will not only receive wealth but will also get the bonus opportunity to play building cards. The building cards are the key to potentially powerful chain combinations that can give a player the edge they need to take or keep the lead.
Ore: The Mining Game is not a game where players can simply carve out one strategy and stick to it all the way to the very end. It is a game that forces players to adapt, pivot, and constantly try to chain as many combinations between their contracts and buildings to be successful. Players may find themselves at the beginning of the game focusing on copper, but by the final phase doing their best to tear out every little piece of coal they can.
As the game progresses, various contracts, mines, and buildings present themselves to players who must plan their choices carefully if they want to win. Players are reacting to game variability, but rarely, unless a player pushes their luck, is a player being directly impacted by any in-game variability beyond their control. The player who optimizes every action, bonus, and dollar will become the victor.
Is it Lead, Gold, or Something in Between?
I would give it a solid silver. This game was fun and every moment in the game had me engaged and thinking about what I wanted to do next. While playing, I never knew where I was in relation to my opponents as far as victory points, but I always felt like I had a winning chance. I really enjoyed the mining mechanic, and the miners moving deeper into the mountains was a very clever mechanic to include. This is where the game really shines because it is the perfect marriage between theme and mechanic.
The only aspect keeping this from being gold, in my opinion, was the building element. If the building cards had been a little town that we were constructing and using like an engine or tableau that would have added an additional element of fun. But the buildings as they are felt like one-time bonus points, actions, or resources. They didn’t really feel like a university or an office as they were themed. This design decision was probably for simplicity because a tableau or an engine would have really made the game more complex. However, that choice serves to make the game more accessible and appealing to broader audiences and age groups. This could also leave room for future expansions!
Ore: The Mining Game really scratches that itch for a classic worker placement game without feeling exactly like every other worker placement game on the market. This game is simple enough that you could use it to introduce friends to the genre. You could use it to appeal to people who love turn-of-the-century American themes. And since this game is fairly language independent it is accessible to a wide range of players and ages.
If you’re in the market for a new worker placement or resource collection game, I recommend you hop over to this campaign on Kickstarter and consider backing it yourself. If you prefer to try before you buy, test it out with GeekSpiel’s custom made assets on Tabletop Simulator.
Don’t forget, you can also soon find a video of the game being demoed on Geekspiel’s Table Crashers to help you decide if this is a game to add to your collection.