This development game set in the Wild West is one of my favourite games of 2009. In fact, I got to play the game in prototype form the year before, and really enjoyed it then.
Each player starts with a homestead and the opportunity to produce a few resources. As the game goes on, they add more buildings, which allow them to produce more and more valuable resources (including victory points). The settlements evolve into towns with more opportunities to score points in the last two of the ten turns the game lasts.
What constrains players is the initial auction at the beginning of each turn. At stake are 'permits' to build a type of building – and there aren't enough to go round. You can expect a couple of rounds when you don't get a permit. The trick is to make these the turns where it doesn't matter!
Homesteaders is a clever, atmospheric game that forces players to make tricky decisions. I recommend it. Not least because this is the second edition, which has remedied the production problems of the first edition – in spades! The cardboard components are thick, solid and brightly printed and the wooden pieces are great (black and white cows!).
For 2-4 players, aged 12+, playing time 90 minutes: £37.00