- Designer: Daniel Skjold Pedersen
- Publisher: Stronghold Games
- Players: 2-5
- Ages: 7+
- Time: 15 minutes
- Times played: 3, with preview copy provided by Stronghold Games
At my recent trip to the Gathering of Friends, I got a chance to play a number of new games – Gold Fever is a game which originated in Finland, but will be coming to the US market this summer. The game is described as an exciting push-your-luck game that is so portable that you don’t even need a table to play it.
The game itself is pretty simple. Each player gets a burlap sack which starts with an assortment of 19 different gems (5 gold, 4 black gravel, 4 grey gravel, 4 white gravel, 1 ruby and 1 emerald). The aim of the game is to be the first player to safely get all 5 gold nuggets out of their bag.
On a turn, the active player draws a stone at random out of the bag, and then something happens depending on the color of the gem pulled out.
If a gold nugget is pulled out, the player can either choose to voluntarily end their turn and lock in gold nugget; it will be placed on the table and will never be returned to the bag. The player can also choose to push their luck and continue their turn; if so, the color of the next stone pulled will determine what happens next.
If you draw your first white gravel out, you can choose to immediately stop OR to continue drawing stones. If you ever draw your second white gravel stone, your turn immediately ends, and all stones drawn this turn are returned to YOUR bag. A similar pattern happens for grey stones.
However, black gravel works a bit differently. Again, nothing happens with your first black stone drawn. But, if you get a second black gravel, not only do you have to return all your drawn stones to your bag but also each opponent draws a stone at random from their bag, and if a gravel comes out (regardless of color), that gravel gets placed in your bag as well!
If you draw out your Ruby, your turn converts in to a speed-round-free-for-all. On a start signal, each player starts to draw stones out of their bag, one-at-a-time, until someone yells out “Gold!” when they pull a Gold nugget out of their bag. That first player gets to score that drawn Gold nugget, and all other players return ALL drawn stones to their own bag. The rule for pairs of matching gravel stones is not active during the speed round. If the active player had drawn out gold nuggets prior to the speed round, he does not get to score them UNLESS he also wins the speed round drawing.
If you draw out an Emerald, you are obligated to draw out two stones, one at a time, unless your turn ends automatically from a pair of matching gravel stones or a speed round triggered by a Ruby.
If you ever voluntarily end your turn, even if you have not seen a gold nugget, your turn is termed a success… Any gold nuggets that have been pulled out are scored – which means they are left on the table and will never be returned to the bag. All gravel stones which were drawn are now given to any other player and placed in their bag. All the stones must go to a single player.
Regardless of how your turn ends, the next player in clockwise order becomes the new active player and starts his turn by drawing a stone out of the bag. The game continues until a player is the first one to score his fifth and final gold nugget from this bag. That player immediately wins.
My thoughts on the game
Gold Fever was sold to me as a quick frenetic filler, and it meets that description. It’s not the sort of game that would ever be the centerpiece of a game night, but I could see where it could easily start things off or maybe cap off a night.
The entire game is contained within the 5 burlap bags, and that does lend a nice sense of portability to the game. It could be a good option for picnics, camping trips, or soccer weekends. You don’t need a table to play the game, and you don’t have to worry about the pieces blowing away in the wind.
The chunky bits have a decent heft to them, and they appears to be made from the same mold – so there’s no advantage to people with an extremely sensitive sense of touch.
The rules are easy to grasp, and honestly, once you’ve played about three rounds, it’s simple to remember the rules for each of the different colored stones.
The game tends to have a self-balancing mechanism, and all three of my games have had all or nearly all players at 4 gold nuggets before a climactic final speed round. Once someone gets a lead, that person becomes the obvious target for getting all the drawn out gravel stones, which makes it much harder to draw out a gold on their turn.
The game goes quickly, and there isn’t much downtime. This isn’t the sort of game though where strategy plays a significant role. Sure, you can decide when you want to push your luck or not, but other than that, the only good winning strategy is to be luckiest at drawing out the right color gems. But this is the sort of game that is just fun to play, and you’ll be able to play it with just about anyone and in just about any situation or weather.
It’s not a game that would be regular at my adult game night, but my kids are already fighting over it to see who gets to keep it in their soccer travel bag.
Until your next appointment
The Gaming Doctor