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CORNWALL

Published by Schmidt   Designed by Dunkle Moore, Grüne Wiesen & Dichte Wälder

CORNWALL. When I hear the name Cornwall I think of Cornish Cream Teas, Cornish Pasties, Tin Mining,  Coal Mining, Sandy Beaches, Deep Sea Fishing, Dolphins & Sharks, Land's End even Devon and .....
Well this boardgame has nothing to do with any of them, in fact it has nothing to do with Cornwall at all, despite the box blurb trying to identify it with the scenic landscape of Forests, Hills, Meadows and Wetlands (Swamps). So what is the game about ? Well it's a nicely rounded, semi-abstract, land-grabbing mechanic which has been called Cornwall because, well I guess because the authors liked the name or have been to Cornwall at some time and liked it. Of course I am just being pedantic, the name is as good as any for a land themed game and it is the game (and its mechanics) that you play and not the name.

Throughout our games, with different groups of players, there has been one regular comment "So it's Carcassonne with different tiles then ?" and although there are some minor changes from  Klaus-Jürgen Wrede's game, this comment is basically true. So me saying if you like Carcassonne you'll like this and if you don't like Carcassonne you won't like this also is a fairly accurate statement.

CORNWALL features 3 different people types, a fat 3 pointer, 2 x thin/tall 2 pointers and 4 squat 1 pointers for each player in their chosen colour (as long as their chosen colour is Red, Green, Blue or Yellow) and 36 land tiles that each comprise 3 hexes. Note that unlike other hex based games the flat sides of each of these tiles has a mini hook system so that when placed against another tile they fit together and can sustain at least one cat attack (for the uninitiated a cat attack is when the cat jumps on the table and knocks the carefully laid tile plan askew) - excellent design thought.

Cornwall features Hills, Swamps, Pasture Fields, Villages and Forests and each of these terrain is found on the starter tile and then again on the 3-hex game tiles. Also found on the game tiles are Chapels (instant points) and Cottages (which end the region - a series of same terrain tiles laid next to each other creates a region). Once a cottage is placed on a region that series of tiles is scored and no other tiles of the same terrain type may be added to it.

The game mechanic is the same as Carcassonne, take the top tile from the stack and play it so that at least two of its sides touch one or more previously laid tiles; with at least one of these sides matching the terrain it butts against. If you can lay tiles so that two or three terrain sides match previously laid tile sides then you score 1 or 2 coins (there is a printing error on the box and in the rules about the number of coins in the game, it is 20 not 40 as printed).

Money is, like in so many games nowadays, and also as in life, is hard to get and harder to keep, though it is worth a point a coin if you have any left at the end scoring. Money is used to tempt your workers back from the pub and to pay for the privilege of placing a worker on a region where there are already other workers, any other workers (very important to remember that your own workers count against you in this situation).

So you play until the last tile is placed, it is very unlikely, near-impossible, for any tiles to not be placeable, and all players have had the same number of turns. What the designers have been careful to ensure is that the player who goes first, and thus plays their last tile before the others, doesn't find all their planning going up in smoke because the last player can ruin their game-plan by playing a tile and adding a worker to take control of a scoring region. Of course this can occur but that would mean the last player having saved up enough coins to be able to pay the necessary fee and besides if you have the usually required 3 or more coins at the end of the game you are better to hang onto them as VPs.

Points are scored as the game progresses and regions build - it is often a good idea to end your own region before an opponent jumps in or to end an opponent's region to prevent them scoring greater. You also score 3 points every time you put a meeple worker (any) on a Chapel. Watch your regions because although they all score per tile, some terrain scores higher than others and not all regions have a 1st and 2nd place scoring - ownership determined by the highest value of total pieces (a 3 and a 1 is the same as 2 2s, the higher piece doesn't edge it). 

CORNWALL is a functional, enjoyable game. It flows well, plays quickly and features luck and skill in almost equal parts (probably a bit more luck than skill but it's a close decision). There is nothing in here that hasn't been seen or played before but it is put together so very neatly it provides a good 40-60 minutes play (the box says 30 minutes but that would be rushing placing of the pieces) The idea of the workers going to the pub after doing a day's work is just so true to life, and, I like to think of it as bribing the publican to throw them out before they get unruly, paying to get them back to work is a neat input. Yes it is Carcassonne revised, there is no doubt in my mind that the designers were influenced by the Hans im Glück game, but that's why it's published by Schmidt as they are hand in glove with HiG. It is for Carcassonne players who want a slight and interesting change and for new players who like tile games whether they have played Carcassonne or not. It isn't for deep, long thinking players, for action adrenaline players or for players who don't like Carcassonne.

 
The 5 hex start tile and some of the 3-hex tiles face up (also my shadow)

 
A set of player's men 1 x fat 2 x thin and tall 4 x short and dumpy 

   
Cornish Cottages                                    The 5 Hex starter tile                            The Game in progress

  
The Game has progressed                       An Unfillable Gap   

 
Merry Workers Down T'pub             The Pub Gets Really Busy


The Final Score, having already been round the board once, clearly showing Green (me) Won !!!

   

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015