Saloon Tycoon: The Ranch Expansion – Van Ryder Games – Review

Saloon Tycoon: The Ranch Expansion - Van Ryder Games - Review 1
Saloon Tycoon: The Ranch Expansion - Van Ryder Games - Review 2

Theme and What is it?

*Note* Copy of the game provided by the publisher for review purposes.

You’ve completed the town and bested the other business owners. It’s time to try your hand at ranching. In this expansion to the tile placement game Saloon Tycoon you and the other players compete to see who can build the largest empire around the modest beginnings of a single saloon. However, this time you also have a ranch to manage. Now you need to do everything you did before but must also manage a ranch where you tend animals, improve your main house, and make sure you’ve hired the right hands for the job.

Gameplay Mechanics

For those who haven’t seen the original review you can find it here. https://meeplegamers.com/saloon-tycoon-review/ For a brief overview, Saloon tycoon is a tile placement game. Each player starts with some money and a saloon. On your turn you take some actions from a small list and work towards improving your town in order to make it the best it can be. You do this by improving or building new businesses, playing cards, or moving citizens around from one town to another.  

The Ranch Expansion adds little in complexity while fleshing out some more options while you play. One of the things it adds is a new Ranch board. Every player starts with their own ranch that consists of an animal pen and a ranch house. There are a couple of slots on the board for more pens and a bunk house for your Ranch Hands. There are no places on the board for any of the original buildings. Only ranch structures can be built on the ranch board.

Over the course of the base game, players earn income every round. The Ranch Expansion expands this by giving players a ranch point every round. Ranch points can be spent to improve your ranch. You can build extra pens, improve your ranch house, or purchase/sell cattle and horses.

The game also includes new ranch-centric outlaw, claim cards, and tycoon cards. All of these fold neatly into the existing game and fit well.

Initial Impressions

I like Saloon tycoon. Seeing the new bits here made me happy. I was interested to see how the new pieces fit into the game and wanted to see what happened when the game was underway.

Game Build Quality

Saloon Tycoon: The Ranch Expansion - Van Ryder Games - Review 3

Like the original, the quality of the game is very good. The new cow and horse meeples are quite nice. I still wish the cards were thicker but they have a good linen finish. One difference between the two is that the ranch boards maintained their shapes. I don’t know if this is because they’re smaller or because of a different print quality. Mine remained flat.

Once again, like the original, the rules are well written and answered most of our questions. We did hit one rule hiccup; it’s possible to reduce the cost of cows to free. You can also buy and sell cows as a free action as many times as you want on your turn. This made it so it was possible to generate infinite money. We house ruled that you could only make one cattle or horse purchase a turn and had to respect the limits of your ranch in how many you could buy. Other than that the game worked pretty well.

Artistic Direction

The art here is the same as the original. I liked it. The visuals on the citizen and outlaw cards have a nice appearance. Player card images were more function than form and while I would love to have both of the two I’ll take function. The building tiles once again had really nice character and detail. 

Fun Factor

The base game is a nice engine builder. The addition of the new bits doesn’t change that any. A player can get a little bogged down on their turn trying to figure out their next action but, I think everything still works out pretty good.

Age Range & Weight

The box says 13+ and I think that’s still a good range. The additional mechanics don’t complicate the game any. While younger kids might have a bit of trouble with some of the strategy I think the game should work well. 

Conclusions

I like Saloon Tycoon and the Ranch Expansion fits nicely with everything else. The new boards add new options but don’t really add complexity. Everything you can do on the Ranch board is a free action so it doesn’t take away from your regular turn. With the exception of the one issue I mentioned earlier with the cows the game works great. 

There isn’t really a lot to add here. If you like Saloon Tycoon then you’ll probably like this as well. I don’t think it’s a necessary expansion to enjoy the game. It does add some fun bits and bobs but doesn’t bog the game down in new things.

I always suggest trying something before you buy it and that advice stands here as well. However, if you enjoy the base game and grabbed this without getting a chance to try it I don’t think you’ll be upset by the purchase.

 

A good expansion that is a welcome addition to the herd.