World’s Fair 1893 is published by Foxtrot Games, designed by J. Alex Kevern for 2-4 players, ages 10+. It plays in about 45 minutes.
What it is
World’s Fair 1893 is a worker placement/set collection game. The board is variable, meaning it changes each time and with the number of players playing. There’s a bunch of little cubes to represent your workers. Along with these components are award chits, money and a wonderful deck of cards.
How to play
The game is set up with 2 cards around each board space, of which there are five. The cards are either influential people, types of displays or tickets. These board spaces are randomly distributed at setup. The central bit of the board, representing the fantastically huge Ferris Wheel featured at the fair is double sided – which side you use depends on how many players are present.
Players then place a worker cube (known as Supporters in game) on one board space, grab the cards that are there, then place three new cards. The first card is placed in that space and the other two in the next two spaces clockwise around the board.
Ah, the cards! Here’s what you’ll see. Exhibits, Influential People or Midway Tickets. Exhibits are used at the end of the phase and may allow you to actually construct them (depending on who holds a majority) and score points. Influential People allow you distinct bonuses such as placing extra workers – but are only used once. Midway Tickets earn you money which in the end game equals points.
There’s also a little bit of majority area control. At the end of each phase (there are three) each player checks who has the a majority in the five spaces. These spaces represent general areas of the fair, like Art or Agriculture. If a player has a simple majority in that space, they may set up one to three displays that match that area. If you happen to have two Agriculture display cards in your space (having claimed these by placing workers on a board space and snagging these cards) and have a majority in Agriculture, you’ve just earned two cardboard chits for Agriculture! You also get an award worth 2 or 4 points (based on number of players or if their’s a tie for majority).
At the end of that phase, for every pair of workers you have in a space, you take one back. So half your workers rounded up, which have already been placed on the board.
How to win
After the end of every phase comes the money. You will earn one dollar for each admission ticket in your possession. The player with the most tickets earns an extra two dollars.
When the game ends, you add up all your points and then score your award chits for displays. One display chit equals one point. A set of three different displays is worth five points. A set of all five different chits is worth 15 points. The player with the most points (i.e. my 10 year old daughter) wins!
I very much enjoyed this game. Using the BGG point score of 1-10 it’s a solid 8 for me. I’ll play this just about anytime, just about anywhere. The artwork is great and entirely appropriate for a game that takes place in 1893. There are some unique little touches that I really enjoy, such as each phase being tracked by one revolution of the giant Ferris Wheel at the center of the board.
I like that there’s a bit of randomness in which cards will be dealt on your turn, after you’ve made your decisions. I also like that this can be fairly well mitigated with some strategic play in subsequent turns. For a 45 minute game it’s got a nice bit of weight to it without being brain-burning – this is what I’d expect from a game of this length with an MSRP of $39.
The components are fine – the cards are in my opinion a little on the thin side and repeated shuffling over many games may produce some wear – so sleeve them if that’s a concern. I really like the additional flavor text on the cards that, while they have no relevance to the game play do offer a ton of neat factoids about an important time in world history.