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End of the Trail by Elf Creek Games Review

Theme and What is it?

Howdy Pardner…

I’m going to be your game review, and there ain’t nuddin’ you can do about it, except read a different review. Please, don’t do that, read me first.

I am the “End of the Trail,”  (EofT) a poker game derivative that has been gamified. You might as well get  the boys for a posse, you’re going to need it. 

In end of the trail, 2-4 players are either playing poker or mining for gold. Can you imagine a gold miner that liked to play poker? I am sure that never happened in real life.

Gameplay Mechanics

The mechanics for EofT are generally pretty simple. You will start a round by drawing up to five cards, then bidding on threee cards with the money your 5 cards have, then discarding that much $ if you win the bid, and now you will start the worker placement aspect. 

You will choose to use 2-3 cards cards to survey, and ultimately stake a claim on a plot of land, with either a permanent stake, or three less permanent tents. You will at the end of this, get to choose how to play cards, based on who won the auction. These cards when played, will also possibly go into your end of game poker hand. So, planning the next 2-3 actions is very smart, and very necessary. 

Once you have chosen your actions, you can then place up to two of the “action” cards into your poker draw deck, but only if they were both used for surveying. 

Ultimately these poker cards have three uses, money for auctions, land actions, and poker cards. Did I mention, you are also trying to make a poker hand for end of game scoring? 

Initial Impressions

I am a sucker for anything western. I even sat through a few of the Netflix westerns, including the one with Adam Sandler. It was punishing, but ultimately I feel proud of myself for suffering through it.

In regards to EofT, the poker theme is perfect for the theme. It feels right for the culture of the time. An autoplay piano would have made the game, but ultimately, was not feasible given the cost projections to send one to every purchaser of the game, shipping alone was outrageous.

In other words, love the idea of a western based poker board game, that is well thought out.

Game Build Quality

The BOX has WHEELS. I mean functional, rolly on the ground wheels. Your western based horse drawn carriage box game doesn’t have wheels (is there another?)… EofT however, it does.

The game build is fantastic. They knew the target audience, and just went with it, and in so doing, hit a home run. I want to keep this on my shelf forever, just for the wheels alone. Every retailer should buy at least two, so they can open one and display its wheels. Did I mention, the modular board pieces are heavy duty cardboard? You could put an eye out, but hopefully you don’t, that would be misuse of the board entirely.

Artistic Direction

Gush. “I’ll be your Huckleberry.”

Love the motif. Like the idea the box conveys, either the outer box, or inner box. This tag team of artists, who has been involved in nearly every major release EVER knew exactly what they were doing. The claims are done by little tent pawns. I mean, awesome!

“Move a little stranger, you’re gonna get a bullet. Not a warning, not a question…a bullet.” If you like Westerns as much as me, you’ll likely also dig the art.

Fun Factor

Anyone who enjoys the theme, and poker, and board games will be right at home. I enjoy the theme, and that makes the game fun for me.

Age Range & Weight

Due to the depth of the planning, I would tend to agree with the publishers which say 10+ is an appropriate age. 

Conclusions

As you can tell, I am a fan. I am now super interested to see which direction Elf Creek goes. This game plays as one would expect, the art is fun and thematically appropriate,it has some good table presence, and for that reason alone it will be on my shelf. 

As I said, I think the box presence is fantastic. It tells a tale before ever playing the game. Some tales are yarns to be told, and others, must be lived. Elf Creek Games, you had me at Huckleberry.

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