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PROSPERITY is another addition to the excellent range of boardgames published by YSTARI. This game is designed by Reiner Knizia &
Sebastian Bleasdale and is for 2-4 players aged 13+. The box says a game lasts 60 minutes but it will take you a number of sessions before
you get it down to below 90 minutes as there are a lot of Action Tiles that you need to explore each turn in regard to the effect they will have
on your game plan.

PROSPERITY is a game about keeping a balance - some would say typical Knizia - while moving ahead. The balance is between Ecology and
Energy, shown on the Research Track of the Main game board as Green (Ecology) and Blue (Energy). At the start-up 2 Tiles are placed on either
side of each of the Research tracks. The placing is decided by the number on the left or right at the bottom of each tile - if the number is on the
left then it is Blue and placed on the Energy side. if it is Green and on the right then it is placed alongside the same number space on the Ecology
track - the numbers of the Track spaces correspond to the numbers on the tiles.

During the game, tiles marked from 1970 upwards in decades to 2030, are turned over one per player turn (thus the game lasts 36 turns) and after
the Action detailed on the tile (an icon with a white border) has been activated for all players where possible, the tile is placed at the Research track;
these decade tiles are numbered in a similar manner to the start-up tiles - this way the main board expands and then contracts as players buy the tiles.

There are distinct rules for each player turn. The first thing is to turn over the top Decade Tile then call out the white bordered icon so that everyone
can gain the advantage or accept the disadvantage. The player who turned the tile then has 2 Actions which are chosen from the 4 available - players
can do 2 different Actions or the same Action twice. These Actions are a) Collect money from the bank - money is needed to pay fines and to buy tiles.
b) Buy a tile - players can buy any tile on display but the twist is the higher up the track they are in correspondance to the players token, the more they
cost; of course if they are lower than the player's token then they are less expensive.  c) Move the token(s) on the Research Track(s) - you can move 1
rung per Action meaning you can move 1 token twice or both tokens once. d) Remove Pollution (Black counters) from your player board;1 counter per
Action.

             

The symbols (or icons) are Lightning Bolts for Energy - white flash on blue is good energy, black flash on purple is pollution/negative energy.
The symbols (or icons) are Trees for Ecology - Green for Positive and Red for Negative.  The Magnifying Glass (Grey background) is the
symbol for Research, the World on a Gold background equates to Prosperity, as in Victory Points and the € on a Purple base is how you gain
finance from the Bank. On the player board there is also an X on what is called Blue but appears more like a Light Grey background. The rules
call this an unusable space, but that isn't quite right. What it actually means is that you cannot use the 2 spaces beneath the space with this X
that are attached by a pipeline until you have placed a Transport tile over the X space. This sounds confusing and to be honest calling the X tile
unusable does confuse players the first time of playing.

When you Buy research tiles you place them on your playing board on a space with the same background colour. The symbols you cover up are
already recorded on the left side of your board where the Energy and Ecology is measured from -7 to +7, so that when you cover a symbol up
you have to remember to adjust the track. Generally you will also be adding symbols as well as covering them - all you need to remember though
is that the value of the tracks on the left should always equate equally to the value of the symbols on display on the tile laying section on the right.
This way if the wooden blocks (tokens) get knocked you can quickly return them to the correct value. Being in the Positive on both tracks is the
way to win as there are monetary fines and Pollution penalties for being below zero. Also if your Pollution track gets filled to the brim then you
cannot gain Prosperity (VPs) until you lower it. Some of the Research tiles are special one-offs that immediately activate and are then discarded.

Tiles are bought with cash - there are €notes for 50s, 100s and 500s. If the tile you are buying is on the same level as your token (and obviously)
on the same side of the Research board (Energy or Ecology) then it costs €100. If it is against a section below your token (any distance below) it
costs €50. If it is above your token then it costs €100 plus €100 for every level (section) above your token it is. Money is important but it is just
another part of the balancing puzzle.

PROSPERITY is a superb game where the only complaint per se can be (in my opinion) is that it is only for up to 4 players.I am not keen on the
tie-break decider but as the game is about being Green more than earning €green I can sort of see the reasoning behind it. I am talking about a tie
being broken in favour of the tied player who has the most remaining money. For every €300 you have when the game ends you gain 1 VP. This 
means for example if one player has €900 and another has €400 the first player gets 3 VPs for their €900 then pays the money into the bank. The
second player 1VP for their €300, also paying this to the bank. This may then leave both players equal in VPs on the score track but the player who
had only €400 wins because they still have €100 remaining. As balancing finances along with Ecology and Energy is a tactical part of the game this
may seem a mite unfair, but my guess is that the second player has scored their points by balancing the Energy and Ecology at the risk of their own
financial economy.

I have been a little critical of Reiner Knizia's games of late, mainly because those I have played have generally been refurbishings of previous of his
game designs/publications. Whether PROSPERITY is so good because it has a lot of Sebastian Bleasdale's influence combined with Reiner's designing
experience or whether Reiner has just hit the nail right on the head again I don't know, and frankly I don't care. I am just so glad that these two designers
got together and came up with PROSPERITY and am equally pleased that it was published by YSTARI for the component quality. 

             

The player boards are all the same with the exception of the map in the top left. It is silver on the easy side and black on the reverse
for the advanced game. The illustration on the right shows a player board with added tiles.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015