Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Vladimír Suchý


No. of Players:
3 - 5



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

In the game 20th Century we have a brush with one of the biggest problems confronting humanity in the last century: garbage. As the development of technology proceeds, nations proper and become more educated, the amount of garbage spawned by mankind also increases inexorably. Thus, the only chance to win the game lies in developing recycling technologies which match the growing rubbish problem. Sounds somewhat boring to you? To be honest, if it weren't for Vladímir Suchý as author, I would have never concentrated my attention on CZECH GAMES EDITION's new game. Noted for the excellent but complex game Shipyard, Vladímir Suchý now puts forward a much simpler game with an uncommon, even inconvenient setting.

Each player starts the build-up of his country with a single starting landscape tile. Indeed, these landscape tiles resemble a little bit those of Carcassone. The landscape tiles feature one or more cities which can produce money, science points or prosperity points which function as victory points. However, a town can only take up production if a citizen token is placed upon it. Together with the starting landscape tile, the players receive two citizen tokens which are to be placed upon two of the tree cities on the landscape tile. Moreover, the players also receive one garbage token which is to be placed onto the landscape tile, too. During each round of the game, the two cities produce three coins and two science points, respectively. These gains are registered on the players' player boards. Since none of the cities on the starting landscape tiles produce prosperity, the prosperity point track starts at 0. The last track on the player board records the level of pollution. Players start with level 0, but during the game, pollution is measured on a continuum between -6 and +6.

The game is played over six rounds. The players start each round by equipping the main board with a new display of landscape and technology tiles which may be bought during the next phase. Then, an auction for the landscape tiles is held. On a player's turn to bid, he or she may offer a higher sum of coins for the landscape tile currently on auction, pass or quit the auction phase for good. If the player decides to pass, he or she may still bid for another tile during the auction phase. If the player chooses to quit the auction, this gives him or her the opportunity to purchase one of the technology tiles from the display. The number of available technology tiles exceeds the number of players by only one; thus, it might be wise to draw one's back to the auction early and grab the most promising technology pile from the display.


Together with each new landscape tile, the player also receives a citizen token and at least one garbage token. It is possible to obtain more than one landscape per round, but in this case, the player must accept one additional garbage token for each landscape tile he or she has already bought in that round.

After the first bidding phase described above, a second bidding phase - prevention of catastrophes - ensues. During this phase, the players try to prevent additional damage to their countries which might result from environmental disasters. At the beginning of each new round, a catastrophe card is drawn and deposited under a row of max. five columns with numbers from 0 to 25. The actual number of columns depends on the number of players participating in the game. At the end of the bidding phase, only one player may have a figure in each of the bidding columns, so a player who is outbid must - in turn -place a higher bid in the same or in another column. But what is the importance of the bidding? Well, each column wields different effects. Only one column has no effect at all, all the other columns feature garbage icons or pollution icons or both. A garbage icon means that the winner of this column has to take one additional garbage token whereas a pollution icon means that the player dominating the respective column has to draw the pollution indicator one unit towards the negative end of the display.

Following the prevention of catastrophes' phase, the players integrate the new landscape tiles and technology tiles purchased during the first bidding phase into their countries. The newly obtained garbage is placed on the new landscape tiles and the players decide on which landscape tiles to place the citizen tokens. Finally, the production indicators on the players' boards are updated.

Finally, the production starts and the players get as many coins and science cards as indicated on the players' boards. Furthermore, the players also receive prosperity points as indicated on the boards. As a next step, every active recycling farm (i.e. a farm with a citizen token) can remove one garbage token. This is where the railway lines on the landscape tiles come into play: Garbage tokens may only be removed from landscape tiles with active farms or from neighbouring tiles provided that these tiles are connected directly to the recycling farm by a railway.

Railways are also necessary for effectuating technology tiles. Some of those tiles have immediate or lasting effects, but quite a few technology tiles must be integrated into the player's country to be of use. Those are called institutions and can improve the output of a nearby city provided it is occupied by a citizen token and it is connected to that city by the railway line.

But what can one do, if one is not favoured by fortune and the railway lines on the landscape tiles do not match up? In this case, a bridge comes in handy. This technology allows the player to connect two landscape tiles and hence allows the railway to reach new destinations.

Many of the other technologies have to do with garbage. For example, the technology 'litter service' enables the player to transport one garbage token to any one recycling farm in his or her country once a turn - regardless of whether the two landscape tiles are adjacent and connected by a railway line.

There is one other technology which should be mentioned. Only with the help of the 'locomotive' can a player move a citizen from one city to another. Particularly as the game proceeds, it can be of great importance to have the ability to move citizens from one city to another in order to change the mode of production or to a nearby recycling farm in order to reduce garbage.

Every second round, the players are awarded bonuses. Players receive additional prosperity points in case they have available specific combinations of indicators, landscape tiles and garbage tokens. For example, a player may receive a bonus for each landscape tile in his or her country with no garbage token on it. Since the cards determining the conditions for receiving bonuses are drawn at the beginning of the game, each game follows a slightly different schedule.


Finally, after my first trial of 20th Century I must admit that I was quite happy of not having turned a blind eye on the game - as was my first impulse - but gave the game a fair chance. 20th Century is easily taught and displayed very quickly. In comparison, when I gave Shipyard the first try, I had a much harder time… Although 20th Century can easily be played in about one and a half hour, the game possesses enough depth to satisfy even experienced gamers. The path to victory is not carved in stone but follows different directions from game to game. For example, one promising strategy is to concentrate your efforts on earning money. In this case, you are well advised to cultivate large areas of land which generate a lot of income. But the other side of the coin is that you also have to deal with substantial amounts of garbage, too. Thus, it might also be wise to concentrate on only a very small country which is basically free of emissions. In this case, you should quit the auctions for landscape tiles very early in order to secure the most promising technologies from the display. But beware of your opponents who strive for the best fitting landscape tiles or technologies, too - and sometimes are one step ahead of you. Blimey!

The game material is of a quite good quality and the graphics, though a little bit simple, correspond to the topic. Nevertheless, in my eyes the game lacks atmosphere. The topic - environmental pollution - has the potential to fascinate players, however, personally, I felt was not deeply concerned with the growing pile of garbage points on my landscape tiles. Perhaps it would add more atmospheric density to the game if the garbage wielded negative effects on the production, thereby illuminating the devastating effects of environmental pollution. But counts only as a minor minus point. On the whole, I am of the opinion that 20th Century is a pretty good game which remains very entertaining even if played several times in a row. But, clearly, the inconvenient topic as well as the prominence of the bidding mechanism will - as expected - not appeal to each and every player.

[Gamebox Index]

Google Custom Search

Impressum / Contact Info / Disclaimer


Copyright © 2011 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany