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Basic Game Description (from Somasim website)

The year is 1849, and gold has just been discovered in California.

You decide to head out west, to seek fame and wealth in the approaching Gold Rush. Will you strike gold and become an overnight mining magnate? Or will you build your fortune bit by bit by supplying 49ers with pickaxes and blue jeans?

With all of the peril and possibility of the new frontier, 1849 challenges you to build a thriving mining empire in 19th century California. Inspired by SimCity and other classic simulation games, 1849 is set within 20 real Gold Rush-era cities, each with unique topography and natural resources that influence how they grow. Transform Northern California from a rugged backwater into an economic powerhouse: build mines, establish farms, attract workers and keep up with their ever-increasing needs, set up trade networks from the High Sierras to San Francisco and beyond—and best of all, strike it rich!

1849 is a city management game where your task is to build towns, populate them with workers, and make sure that they are housed, fed, and entertained. You’ll have to manage and coordinate extensive production and trade networks to make sure your towns thrive.

A few details about 1849:

1849 is currently available as an early access beta version and will launch in May of 2014.

Games Gazette Review:

This is a cracking game with so much going for it. There are many things similar to other building games but there are also many things different, and it is these that give 1849 the edge over the majority of other sim-build, resource management style games.

You can play a Sandbox version of the game which allows you virtually free roam and teaches you how to play or you can jump straight in to the Story mode which gets progressively harder and longer with each chapter.
I decided against starting with the free roaming style and opted straight for the Story mode, not that there is much of an actual story, as you can tell from the preamble off the publishers website (above), you basically leave the East (of the USA) and travel West where you hope to make fame and fortune. I'm not sure what work you did in the East but in cowboy country you become a landscape developer, taking small settlement camps of folk who have, like you, traveled from afar, and building them into thriving concerns with industries producing various goods that are required in other towns. Generally a town produces one or more resources to sell while it has needs to buy different commodities and thus by balancing your building, producing, buying and selling and managing your town the game expands and continues.

The first town, Novato, is a simple affair where you have to maintain the workers houses, build them a bakery along with a wheat farm etc, and then a hunting lodge etc until you hit the target set by the chapter's missive. Then you move onto the next town, Stockton, where your main production is alcohol, mostly wine, onto Sacremento (Brandy) and then Placerville where riches become the prize - although gold has already been found and panned in your earlier towns it is now more than just another commodity, it's the mainstay of your town. Of course you need to sell more of it to buy more resources from other towns to make resources which are required to make new resources etc. The game rolls round wonderfully well and in a natural fashion.  As the game progresses so the towns continue to grow larger and larger.

Generally when you are ready to start a new town you are given Bronze, Silver and Gold options on what to begin with - none of your previous wealth counts towards the new town. The options available to you differ a little from town to town but generally there is a Cash only start-up where you are given a set amount of cash and an empty canvas - even then the canvas isn't usually entirely empty, there will be a couple of houses or a building of some kind. Then there is a Cash and Resource start-up package where you are offered a lot less cash than the cash only option but you also have either a starting amount of resources/commodities or a monthly/weekly income of resources. Finally the third option is often an amount of cash and an amount of equipment or buildings. Each option offers you a different challenge, for the game plays differently whichever option you select.

There isn't as much animation as you find in some resource management games such as Coasterville on FaceBook, but the animation there is does the job amiably. What I like most about 1849 is the way everything works off of everything else as I have sort of already described. You need a Sheriff's Office as there are crooks in town who will rob your buildings - the Sheriff doesn't totally negate the possibility of a robber, it just makes it a little less likely - as in real life - the same way having a Fire Station doesn't prevent every fire or having a bakers means that the workers will never go hungry. There are causes and effects that expand and stretch across the whole, eventually, of California, making this game a truly addictive pasttime.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015