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



Author: Wilko Manz

Publisher: alea 2004



Welcome to New York City in the roaring 1930's !!!

At that special time, the building boom was at its peak, with new shops and buildings shooting out of the ground almost everywhere in Manhattan. Especially along the famous Fifth Avenue one Skyscraper is raised after the other, but since space is getting more and more scarce a race has started for building next to the most favoured shops and galleries.

In Fifth Avenue, the players try to win victory points by building skyscrapers and shops. As will be seen, it is most essential that a skyscraper should be placed next to as many different shops as possible, so that a good combination between the building of skyscrapers and of shops is the key to win the game.

At the beginning of the game, the markers showing the four different types of shops will be randomly mixed and one shop will be openly placed on one of the 5 building sites in each of the 7 areas of Midtown. The other shop markers then also will be revealed, and they need to be randomly distributed among a special row of spaces on the upper edge of the gameboard. As a rule, these markers are distributed - alternately - into groups of 3 and 2 shops, so that in the end the 20 shops are divided into a total of 8 groups. Later in the game - whenever a player wants to build a shop - he takes one of these groups of shops and discards one shop while he may place the remaining one or two shops on the gameboard.

The preparation continues with the distribution of the playing cards. Building cards of different values exist in each of the 5 colours of the different building sites in each Midtown-area, and furthermore there also exist building cards coloured black which serve as jokers or free-cards. At the beginning, the all cards are sorted by colour and mixed into separate decks, and each player receives a starting hand of four randomly drawn cards from the black deck.

To continue the preparations, the two "Building Commissioner" figures are placed at their starting places on the left hand of the gameboard, and now each player is allowed to place two skyscrapers at building sites of his choice on the gameboard. These two skyscrapers can be freely placed, with the noteable exception that already now the rule that a building site can only be occupied by either up to two shops or by skyscrapers needs to be observed.

With all preparations done, the game can start and the players now take turns in which they can perform different types of actions. In general, a player's turn consists of three types of activities: first the player performs the main action of his turn, then he draws some cards for his hand and finally he moves a Commissioner on the gameboard. A player may chose his main a action between the following four options: He may take three skyscrapers and add them to his stockpile, he may place a shop on the gameboard, he may take and extra card and move an additional Commissioner or he may evaluate one of the Midtown areas.

When looking at these actions, you may ask how a player can build skyscrapers on the gameboard, and this is the point of the game when the special role of the Commissioners needs to be explained. A Commissioner figure always moves from left to right over the gameboard, going from area to area until it reaches the Central Park. Due to the layout of the gameboard, a Commissioner figure always will be moved through 3 areas of Midtown before it reaches the Central Park. Once the Commissioner has reached the Park, the figure will be moved back to its starting point, but then the normal course of the game will be interrupted because an auction phase takes place.

Now an auction will be made in each of the areas which were "inspected" by the Commissioner on his way to the Park, and in this auction the players will use their building cards to bid for the privilege of building. Each player who wants to participate in an auction must decide which colour of building cards he wants to use in this auction. By chosing a colour, a player will be restricted to build his skyscrapers at the matchin building site in this area, and furthermore he may only use cards of that colour and black cards (jokers) in this auction. In turn, each of the players now makes a bid or passes until only one player is left in this auction. The winner will be allowed to build skyscrapers on the building site matching the colour of his cards, with the number of skyscrapers depending on the cards which he has used in the auction. These cards not only show their value for auction purposes, but they also show a maximum building allowance which leads to the effect that a player who has used more expensive cards may build less skyscrapers in that area. After all three auctions were made, a special auction takes places which allows players to build some skyscrapers at "Central Park South". These skyscrapers do not need to be placed on any building site because they are not placed at an area of Midtown, but they will bring the players additional victory points at the end of the game.

The question now should be how the players can score their victory points. At thay point it becomes important to understand how areas are evaluated. As said above, a player may chose as his main action to make an evaluation. This evaluation must be made at an area which is presently occupied by one of the two commissioner figures, and as a rule the skyscrapers of ALL players will be evaluated at that area. Now also the interdependence between shops and skyscrapers can be explained, since the value of each skyscraper in that area will be determined by how many different shops have been located on adjacent building sites. As a rule, a skyscraper gets more valueable the more different shops are adjacent, and when the evaluation takes place the players receive corresponding victory points and they may add them to their total score.

Apart from this in-game evaulation, a final evaluation of all areas takes place at the end of the game. The game is over once all shops have been placed on the gameboard or if all building sites in at least two Midtown areas have been used. The areas now are evaluated the same way as outlined above, and then the players will finally also evaluate their skyscrapers at "Central Park South" to calculate their final scores. To give a value to these skyscrapers, the players mix up all 8 shops which have been discarded from their groups during the placement phase, and then three of these shops will be revealed. The skyscrapers at "Central Park South" now will get their values according to how many different shops were revealed. The game then is won by the players with the highest score!

Fifth Avenue was a game which was rather difficult to describe due to the somewhat tricky rules and the quite intricate playing mechanism. The game itself is not easy to master since a player needs to understand well how the different elements in the game work together and how to score most victory points. However, once the rules are understood the players will find Fifth Avenue a game worthy to disply the ALEA-label. The playing mechanism is many-layered and allows a good room for strategic options, while at the same time an element of luck and tension remains due to the unknown value of the skyscrapers at "Central Park South" which will only be revealed at the end of the game. To my mind, the game offers a perfect mix of luck and strategy!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany