Essen Preview #17: First Impressions of Milestones

The new release from Eggerspiele/Stronghold games this season is a collaboration between two designers – one well known for years and one whose reputation has been growing in recent memory: Stefan Dorra and Ralf zur Linde.  This team has worked together recently, most notably on Eselsbrücke, the 2012 SdJ nominated game from Schmidt Spiele.  Unlike that game which was more of a memory game, this is more of a tranditional Euro-game, though after I few plays, I can certainly see that this game could have SdJ nomination potential as well.

Milestones
Designers: Stefan Dorra and Ralf zur Linde
Publishers: Eggertspiele / Stronghold Games
Ages: 10+
Players: 2-4
Time: 60 minutes

Theme: Building roads/buildings in the countryside
Main Mechanics: Rondel action selection, resource management

Times played: 3, with review copy provided by Stronghold Games

Milestones is a game played on two boards – there is a main board which starts as mostly empty countryside.  Each player also has their own personal board which serves as a rondel for their actions.  At the top of this personal board are spaces for up to 8 workers – these workers provide resources and coins to the player.  At the bottom of the board, each player has a few buildings where different actions can be taken.

At the start of the game, each player gets his own board and is able to draft 2 different worker tiles.  These tiles can be placed anywhere on the row, but once placed, they cannot be moved.  The workers have a resource above them which shows what they make.  They also each have a number underneath them which is important for bonus coins later.

The main board is also prepared, though not much is needed here.  Score markers are placed on zero, the first marketplace is placed in the upper left corner, and the bonus markers are placed randomly on the appointed spaces.

The initial board setup

On your turn, you essentially get two actions.  You have a meeple on your personal board which moves around clockwise.  Each time it stops, you do the action of the space where it stopped.  You can go as far as you want clockwise around your board with one exception.  Each time that you reach the grey castle in the lower left corner, you must stop and take the action in that space.  After you do your two separate actions, play rotates clockwise around the board.  It continues until someone hits the target number of VPs (67 VPs in 2p game, 59VPs in 3p game, 51 VPs in 4p game).  At that time, each of the other players gets one more turn and then the game ends.

If the meeple stops on the top row, on one of the workers, you make resources.  The resource you make is whichever type is pictured on the space where you stop.  The number of resources of that type made depends on how many icons of that same type you passed during this particular action (and only on that action).  In the example below, the first movement will net 2 gray cubes while the second will generate only one coin.  Eventhough the meeple passed over a coin earlier on this player’s turn, it does not count towards the coins produced in the second move because the second move did not pass over that coin.

The first building you encounter in the lower row is the Trading House.  When you stop here, before you choose any actions, you first look to see if you get a bonus coin.  If your workers on your board are in numerical order (low to high, from left to right), you get a coin.  One of the things that we missed in our first game is that you only check for this bonus IF you stop at this space.  If you pass over it, you lose your chance at the bonus… After you check for the bonus, you have the option to do one or more of these three options

  • Hire a worker – there is a supply of 5 worker tiles, and you can buy any one of these tiles for 2 coins. You place it anywhere you like on the top row of your board.  You are allowed to cover previously placed worker tiles. If you only want to cover half of a previous tile, there are leveling chits used to keep all your pieces flat.
  • Buy Goods – you can buy as many goods cubes as you want for 2 coins each
  • Sell Goods – you can sell as many gods as you like for 1 coin per 2 cubes

Your options at the trading house

The second stop on the bottom row is the Board of Works – this is the space where you get to build stuff on the main board as well as score VPs based on what and where you build.

  • Build streets – Here, you build two road sections and then place a milestone down in the space between the two road sections that you build. You score VPs equal to the number covered by the milestone marker

    Here, this road scores 2 points

  • Build a House – You place a house in an empty triangle of land – as long as at least one of the edges of this triangle has a road on it already.  You score points equal to the uncovered numbers at the verticies of this triangle

    A 3 point House (2+1)

  • Build a Marketplace – you build a marketplace at the end of a street or between two road sections. You score VPs here equal to the number you cover.

    A 2 point marketplace. It would score 1 if placed on the blue spot

While you are at the Board of Works, you can build as many pieces as you want (and can pay the costs for).  A graphic reminder of your options at this space:

While you are building things here, you might also get to pick up a bonus marker.  Remember, there were 15 of these seeded on the board at the start of the game.  If you build a thing anywhere on a triangle that has a bonus marker, you can pick it up.  You must have at least one worker that matches the type on the bonus marker.  If so, you pick up that bonus marker and place it on the matching type of worker on one of your worker tiles.  This worker now makes +1 thing each time you pass over or stop on it.  If you do not have a matching worker, the bonus tile remains on the board and can be picked up by someone else.

The third stop on the bottom row is the Mill.  Here, you can buy sacks of flour that you then use to supply marketplaces.  Each marketplace can only be supplied once in the game and is marked with a chit.  When you do this, you get 1 coin from the supply and you score the sum of any 2 uncovered numbers in the hex surrounding the marketplace.

Here, the player chooses to score 7 points for this flour sack. I suppose he could have chosen to score 4 as well.

The final stop on the rondel is the Castle.  This is the only space on the board where you MUST stop.  There are 2 mandatory actions which happen here

  • You reduce the number of goods and coins you have to 3
  • If you have 3 or more workers on your board, you must cover one of your workers

The two things you must do at the Castle. They both pretty much suck

So those are all of your options.  Again, on your turn, you get two actions taken one after the other.  It’s important to remember that each is a completely separate action, especially when you’re on the top row producing goods.  After you take your two actions, play rotates around the board clockwise and that player get 2 actions, etc.

The end of the game is triggered in one of two ways: either reaching the appointed VP target or by buying the last worker tile.  When either of these things happens, the player who triggered the endgame is finished.  Each other player in the game gets one more turn.  After that round, there are some endgame scoring bonuses.  Each of the 5 worker types (coin, yellow, brown, white and gray) is scored – the player with the most workers of each type gets 5 VPs. – each worker is worth one, and each bonus token of that type is worth 1.  IF there is a tie for most, all tied players get 2VP.  The player with the most points after bonus scoring is the winner!
Discussion –

Dale: So, I like this game. And with each game I play, I like it a bit more.  At the current moment, it’s on my list of games that I feel could be on the SdJ list — but, of course, it’s pretty early in the cycle to make any definitive judgements!  What do I like about it?  Well, the theme, artwork and production all are in the wheelhouse for recent SdJ games.  The game is pretty easy to learn – the rulebook is well written with many illustrations to help guide you through the steps of the game.  Furthermore, the game has many graphic reminders on the personal board to keep the game flowing along.  The game is also quick to play, with all of my 4p games coming in under an hour.  With experienced players, this will definitely fall into the 30-45 minute range with my group.

What might hold it back?  The scoring, while easy after a few games, is not entirely straightforward on an initial play.  There is a nice pictoral review of scoring on the main board just above the scoring track.  I’m not quite sure why this wasn’t included on each player’s personal board though. I would have found it easier to refer to here than on the board.  My gaming group really didn’t have any issues with the scoring, but I can see where an “average” German non-gamer family might struggle a bit on an initial play.  Even though the concepts are easy to learn, the fact remains that the scoring is not necessarily intuitive.

Picture of the top of the scoring chart where the scoring reminders are

Overall, I have found the game to be enjoyable with both my game group as well as with my two boys.  The fact that both groups have been able to play it is a big plus for me.  I like being able to create my own rondel – trying to figure out which workers I want to have.   The game continually forces you to monitor your board because each circle around the rondel causes you to lose a worker.  Thus, in order to keep your options open, you usually have to think about buying a worker tile every two or three cycles around the board.

Furthermore, the fact that you can only carry 3 resources or coins around the rondel makes you try to be as efficient as possible on each pass – you want to have enough resources to build the things you need to build while making as few stops as possible because each extra stop on the top row to generate resources is an action that you lose the ability to build.  And, if you don’t plan your building correctly, you could end up losing stuff at the Castle.

However, timing is also crucial to your success because you would like there to be high scoring places available at the time that you’re building stuff.  Keeping an eye on your opponent’s plans is a good idea because you can try to foresee which scoring spaces will be open for you to take advantage of.  But, if you wait too long, someone else may come along and take the space away from you!

There are a lot of decisions to be made in Milestones, yet the game falls into the time range of a heavy filler – and this is sort of game that I’ve been gravitating towards in the past year or two.  I still cannot comment on how it holds up over time since I’ve only played it three times, but I am definitely still looking forward to more plays – which is a promising sign.

Ted C. – Well, I have only played once and believe several more plays would be in order to truly share thoughts.  My first impressions were, wow, this is really different.  I really like the idea of setting up an engine which the king tends to destroy every round.  I liked the pacing idea of how far do I move each turn for resources and balancing what I needed to maximize scoring on the board.  Half way through the game things seemed to change.  One person was building roads and managed to keep that engine the whole game.  The rest of us were fighting over everything else.  It was a first play and no one knew any better.  The road builder ran away with the game.  I do see a lot of potential here and need some more plays.

Larry Levy – I’ve also only played once and, unfortunately, there was a major rules error, so I can’t really fairly judge it yet. But I liked what I saw from the rules and the gameplay was interesting. My main question is if the gameplay will be open enough or if it will be overly defensive, but I still have have high hopes for this one.

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About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
This entry was posted in Essen 2012, First Impressions. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Essen Preview #17: First Impressions of Milestones

  1. Dale, Ted, Larry,

    Thanks for the review of MILESTONES!

    From my first play of Milestones, which I did with the thought of co-publishing with Eggert-Spiele, I said to myself “Yeah, this is a good one — its got SdJ weight/length/style.” Though getting nominated for the SdJ (must less winning) is a pipe-dream, as there are many that could be placed into this category, I do think the Eurogamer crowd will gravitate to this game as a good light-mid-weight game.

    The uniqueness of the rondel mechanic, which is not only a personal rondel but an ever-changing one during the course of the game, is what makes the game for me.

    Thank you very much again!

    Thanks,
    Stephen M. Buonocore
    Stronghold Games LLC

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