In days before, the gears still turned and the old machines still worked. The sky was clear and blue, and life flourished. Then noxious clouds came and choked the air. Smoke blanketed the sky. Some people departed in flying cities, ascending above the clouds to the World Above. Others dug deep beneath the ground, vanishing into the World Below. Meanwhile, those in the Borderlands watched the world grow dark as the gears ground to a halt.
The people who have ascended above the clouds have long maintained their distance from the Borderlands, but that time must come to an end. The vast stores of power that those in the World Above depend on have finally begun to dwindle. To ease their burden, the engineers have drafted plans for mighty skyworks, towers that will bring the heat of the Fire Beneath to the cities above the clouds. Meanwhile, the scavengers of the Borderlands are a desperate people, and they are constantly in need of supplies in order to survive; luckily, the Sky People will trade with the tribes that build them the skyworks. Gather resources, trade with other players, and battle your rivals in an effort to be the first to develop three skyworks to bring energy to those who inhabit the World Above and gain their favor!
Announced in February, Gearworld: The Borderlands is a game of negotiation, conquest, and construction in which two to four players compete to gain the favor of the Sky People for their tribe of scavengers in a post apocalyptic landscape. Based on the classic board game Borderlands by Bill Eberle, Jack Kittredge, and Peter Olotka, Gearworld: The Borderlands has re-imagined the classic game’s setting while retaining its spirit and core mechanics.
In today’s preview, we’ll look at the game’s economy, and how a seemingly simple ruleset (based on moving, trading, and gathering five key resources) belies a wealth of opportunities for negotiation and trade. We’ll also look at the ultimate goal of savvy trading: development tokens, which include the game-winning skyworks.
The five Production Tokens above are placed throughout areas of the board, and they produce their respective Resource Tokens, below.
Miners and Scavengers
In Gearworld: The Borderlands, players make and break alliances with each other in a race to be the first tribe to build the vaunted skyworks, bringing energy to the powerful civilization that dwells amongst the clouds. The tribes struggle to survive in the unforgiving borderlands, and the favor of the Sky People will bring untold prosperity to those who earn it.
Players should transport their resources carefully, gathering what they need to build developments. The chart above shows development costs on the left, and the relative speed of each conveyance on the right.
This makes the limited resources in the borderlands extraordinarily valuable. Mining, scavenging, and raising what livestock they can is the only way for the tribes to scrape by, now that the machines have stopped. Some parts of the borderlands are still rich in raw materials, allowing the tribes to eke out some small bit of civilization by mining iron, coal, and gold. The ruins of the now-defunct machines that dot the lands provide the tribes with the scraps of technology and materials that they cannot fashion themselves.
These development tokens show their strength points, which are used in combat. We'll reveal the specifics of combat in a future preview.
These sites are the very lifeblood of the borderlands. They are vital locations that provide the tribes with the means to build what they need to come out on top in this conflict. In addition, some places on the blighted borderlands are still suitable for ranching, and horses can make all the difference when tribes are building or battling. Horses can be ridden into battle, increasing your military might, and can also transport goods for building developments or weapons as you try to defend your holdings. Each of these essentials is produced during the Production Phase in any territory that has the resource’s corresponding Production Token.
Traveling and Trading
While they may not have the knowledge of how to make the great machines move again, the people of the borderlands are not without some technological aptitude, and they can use the resources that they gather to build a range of developments. You might construct bridges to connect islands to the mainland, or you could focus on manufacturing weapons to defend your borders. Ships and steamboats, while expensive, allow you to control the waterways and transport goods and guns with great speed.
In order to build any of these structures, including the skyworks, the tribes must gather all the materials they need into one area, and transporting resources is no easy task in the borderlands. During the Transport Phase, players can move resources slowly by foot (from one area to one adjacent area), or they may utilize their networks of horses, steamboats, or ships to rapidly transport those resources.
However a player chooses to move his resources, he should keep transit underway to ensure healthy production; if a resource (with the exception of Horses) is in the same space as the token that produced it, that resource can’t be generated in the next round’s Production Phase! It’s therefore vital for each player to keep his resources moving, freeing up production sites so that they aren’t blocked by their own surplus.
While the tribes are competing for the attention of the Sky People, there are times when working together can be advantageous for both sides. Controlling a production site of a given resource is ideal for stockpiling supplies, but players can also gain resources through trading with their rivals. Perhaps you’ll trade coal for gold so a coal mine token can produce in the next round, or maybe you’ll give up some horses for the chance to score some scrap.
You may even trade a resource for one exactly exactly like it. Why? Because when a player receives a resource through trade, he can place it anywhere on the board in an area he controls. This freedom of placement makes trading a great way to circumvent the problem of transporting your goods. Players should be ever mindful of the progress of their rivals, however, as each trade also brings them one step closer to constructing their skyworks!
Since there is already a gold resource token in Savery Hill, it cannot produce another one during this Production Phase. On the other hand, since there isn't already a coal resource token in Ockham, its coal mine produces one coal resource token. Now, the blue player will have to move those tokens where he wants them.
Of course, if your rivals are somewhat less agreeable, they might decide to bring your economic aspirations to a sudden and violent halt. Keep checking back for future news to learn how war can disrupt undefended trade routes, and head to your local retailer to pre-order Gearworld: The Borderlands today!