New York 1901: Great New “Gateway” Game!!

NY 1901 AllI bought New York 1901 for myself for one big reason: I was really interested in seeing what kind of more complex strategy game was going to be coming from Blue Orange. It’s kind of out of the norm for them – especially when it comes to price point, so curiosity made me buy.

I will be the first to admit that seeing the TWO sets of rules in the box really made me think twice about my decision to learn this one (turns out one was a quick start guide which can be helpful). It was late on a Friday night and it had been a long week, so I did what any sensible gamer would do — I turned to the internet and watched a video. I found this one particularly useful (and yes, I realize it’s 16 minutes):

After we watched the video it was time to play!

How to Play

New York 1901 is based around the idea that the players are land developers. During play you’re going to acquire land, build buildings of varying sizes, and demolish buildings to reuse your land for larger buildings! Likely you can guess that the bigger the building the more points it’s worth, but how do you build a big skyscraper? You need to own land in the right configuration. On a turn you can take 1 of 2 actions:

  1. Acquire Land and/or Build: Take a card from the 4 that are face up and then place your worker on a matching color/shaped space. And/or replace workers and build a building. The “and/or” is important because you can do one or the other or both.
  2. Demolish and Rebuild: Remove one of your buildings and discard it from the game. Use that land and any additional land to build a new building.

NY 1901 boardSince demolished buildings are removed from the game, and you only have 4 worker characters (which means you can’t keep a lot of vacant property) you really need to make an effort to plan your moves. If you don’t have any available workers, you cannot acquire land. It’s these little nuisances make the game really interesting, but it’s also what makes the instructions (or instructional video) so long!

My Thoughts

We played three times that night and the first time was definitely a “run through” of sorts as none of us really had great strategy. By game three we all agreed that we liked the game, you had to play with at least the ”Streets of New York” cards (which award a 5 point bonus to the player with the most buildings along the 3 chosen streets), because the strategy of trying to snatch up property along the bonus-worthy streets was an essential element to the game. There are also “Legendary Skyscrapers” that can be built by anyone (but they only get one), and more advanced “Bonus Challenge cards” that can alter the game once you’ve gotten a hang of the game. We felt that the game had a Ticket to Ride feel in that you are selecting cards that allow you to take areas on the board which can seriously help you or block your opponent. Is that a negative? No, I like Ticket to Ride, and think it’s a great “gateway game.” Overall, I enjoyed the New York 1901 and cannot wait to play again soon! I will, however, force any new player to watch the video above.

New York 1901 Stats

~ $40 New York 1901 at Amazon and some local game retailers
2-4 players
30-60 minutes (with 2 it took 20 so I don’t agree with the box’s 30-60 minutes)
Ages 8+