Join the great migration west. Fill up your stagecoaches and drop off your settlers along the way. Be mindful of the ones you pick as you might not be able to get everyone off in time. The more settlers you offload, the more stagecoaches you can empty to win!
The goal of Pioneers is to earn the most VP by emptying stagecoaches and populating a route with as many settlers as possible.
Set out the board between the players. Randomly place the Settler tokens on the board. Place the coins and gold nugget tokens nearby. Shuffle the small stagecoach tiles facedown and draw four from the stack and place them in the market face up.
Each player takes $2 of coin tokens, Settler meeples, road markers, scoring marker, and Shop tokens of their chosen color. Determine the first player and give him the First Player token.
A player’s turn has three phases: Income, Purchase, and Movement/Colonizing. A round ends when the player to the right of the first player finishes their turn.
During the Income phase, the player takes the number of coins indicated on his Player board.
During the Purchase phase, the player takes the Shop tile from his board and puts it on one of the choices. If the player has Merchant tokens and enough coins, he can place those as well but not on a space already selected.
During the Movement/Colonizing phase, the player moves the Stagecoach token along the path until it reaches an unclaimed token. If the path is owned by another or no one, the player pays $1 per segment; it’s free if owned by the player. The player acquires the token and gains or performs the effects associated with it. The player then takes a Pioneer meeple corresponding to the token acquired from one of the Coaches and puts it at that location (more is possible if the Farmer is acquired). Finally, another player may also put a Settler meeple of their own of the same type there as well for $2 to the current player.
The final round is called when a player places his last road or the last stagecoach is placed in the marketplace.
I really like the look and feel of the game. It has a lot of nice bits that go along with the theme.
The game components are made of primarily cardboard and wood. The game board and tokens are all made of sturdy stock, good quality paper and gluing, and cut well so punching them out wasn’t difficult. The wood components are nice with shapes fitting the theme.
There is a lot of art to this game — the stagecoaches, tokens, gameboard, rulebook, etc. It is all evocative of the theme and very well done. My favorite part is the gameboard with its extra little detail.
There is more strategy to this game than you might think and that’s where I got the most fun — trying to figure out what the other players are going to do next because it will affect which location(s) are available to you and what your next play might be.
The age range says 8+ but I think the game should be more along the lines of 10+ because of the strategy component and managing where you are with relation to the other players. The rules are fairly light but as the game goes on, the play might take longer as you think more on what your next move is countered by what your opponents might be doing.
When you first pick up the game, it reminds you of Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride with the road component or another game with the stagecoach marketplace, but this game is all its own. There is no set collection but there is order fulfillment, and area control is there only in a minor way. This game is a great gateway game to introduce new or young players to these concepts without having whole games based around them. That is a long VP track, and it does take some skill and planning to make it around.