DESIGNED by Eric Mosso | ART by Michael Menzel |PUBLISHED by Thunderworks Games | Area Majority, Hand Management, Point to Point Movement, Set Collection | 60-120 minutes | RELEASED 2021 | PLAYER COUNT 1-4 |
City building tabletop games have increased in popularity over the last few years. Most city-building games use tiles that the players arrange to their benefit and use points accumulated throughout the game to determine the winner. In Cape May, players must collect and balance their resources carefully as they endeavor to build up and improve the city. All while birdwatching and dealing with the challenges that transpire at this historical seaside. This unique tabletop game features concepts and game mechanics that set it apart from the other games.
Cape May can seem like it would be an extremely complex game because the box is brimming with components, but it's not that difficult to learn. The player who most recently visited a beach gets the first player token. We are usually together when we go to the beach, so we roll some dice to see who goes first. Players get player boards, Two players markers. One is for movement on the game board, and one tracks turn actions on the player board. An income tracer and a prestige marker. This marker is used when tallying end game scores because the tracker ends at forty-nine. Most of our have gone well past that count. Their cottage and shop tokens. These are placed on the board once purchased in a turn. Upgrade miniature Victorians and Businesses that are upgraded from cottages and shops. Landmark bases for when Victorians are upgraded. These are significant points at the end game. Seven movement cards that are discarded once used. They can be replenished as an action in a turn. Two activity cards that are kept secret till used. They have many many benefits from free purchases, upgrades, free movement to different intersections on the board, free bird tokens, and more. Bird collecting accrues points. Bonus cards are a secret mission that is revealed at the game's end. If the task is completed, the player receives the points. Some missions have added difficulty that will bring two more points if achieved. Lastly, twenty coins.
Cape May is played over 4 Seasons with 3 rounds each for a total of 12 rounds. The Rounds Steps are Reveal and Event Card, Take Actions, Advance Lighthouse, and receive income. At the end of each round, the Lighthouse moves forward. The new space indicates if there are income or new activity cards this round. An event is announced at the beginning of each round, except the first. These events can be profitable or very not. Some ring tales of a fire in a neighborhood. The fire markers are placed, and all properties within the fire cost more. Events with an exclamation point are resolved immediately. The events with the wheel symbol effects are active throughout the round. If the event requires players to pay a coin per business or cottage and do not have enough coins, they discard a movement card at random for each coin owed.
Players can take three actions in a turn. Action choices are: Play Movement card, Build, Upgrade, Draw Activity card, Play an Activity card, Retrieve Movement cards or Collect three coins.
Player Movement Card numbered 1 to 7 (some cost coins), and players must move the exact amount. Some spaces have arrows, and players must move in that direction only. If they have an activity card that allows them to move in any direction, disregard the indicators. Some spaces have a bird on them. Players draw from the bird bag a bird token for their collection. The Lighthouse space offers players to pay five coins to build on an empty lot. The Pier space offers to draw three activity cards and keep two.
Players can Build cottages or shops by paying the cost on the player board. The player token must be adjacent to a cottage or business. Move income token up track.
Players can upgrade buildings and cottages by paying the upgrade cost. Players can upgrade a Victorian to a Landmark by paying the upgrade cost. When you upgrade a business, the player takes an Upgrade card. These cards can have immediate gains, one-time use, one per round use, ongoing, or end game. These are a clever layer of strategy added to the game. Increase income on the tracker.
Draw Activity cards. Draw two, keep one. Play an Activity card and take action listed on the card. Discard the activity card.
Retrieve Movement cards or Collect three coins. Once all players have taken their turn, the round is complete. Advance the Lighthouse and receive income.
The game ends when the twelfth round is complete. Final scoring of Prestige points for Victorians and Landmarks. Prestige points awarded for the most buildings per zone. Points from Upgrade cards. Score Prestige for Bird collections. Score prestige for Bonus cards. One Prestige for every ten coins in hand. The player with the most Prestige wins.
The mechanics are so very clever and well thought out. The game is solid and balanced. Cape May is city building with a twist- with activity cards that offer build twice, build diagonal to the property to buy or upgrade or upgrade properties across from a property- It keeps you vacillating.
It is an economic game involving balancing coins or points that most are not fully revealed to the end game. So, it's up to the player to build in as efficient a manner as possible.
It is a card movement game that has cost some moves.
There is not much downtime between turns, and for a heavier game, it goes by fast.
We saw the game on social media and were intrigued. We got our playgroup together and gave it a try on Tabletop Simulator. We rarely agree on which game to play except for Scythe, Talisman, and of course D&D. It was nice surprise that we all thought Cape May was challenging and entertaining. We then pre-ordered it for our group.
As history junkies, the tie-in to actual events at genuine Cape May was a plus for us. Yes, we read the Event cards in an old-timey voice and the historical footnotes and news reporters.
We highly suggest that one player take charge of the income tracker because there is much to think about in a turn, and we kept forgetting the tracker. We had a "banker" in the following games, and thankfully he enjoys that duty.
Choices choices choices. Do you rush to the beach to buy a property? It costs more but brings more points. Or dash to buy up the properties further from the seaside because they are more reasonable? They bring in revenue and an easier path to have the most buildings in an area, therefore bringing more points.
Choices. Replayability is big.
The board is lovely, and the quality of the components is top-notch, right down to the linen cards. Putting all these grand pieces back in the box is a fine art. We went with large individual bags for each color containing all parts and coins to start the next game.
It is challenging to track what player is in the lead which makes for an exciting end. The hidden bonus cards can bring big points at the end tallies or none. It is not that these cards are unattainable, but some found that the other paths to accrue point or income were more their thing. It is quite the puzzle and theme for days.
Either way, it's a fantastic time, and Nerdz Garage wholeheartedly recommends Cape May.
A review copy was provided by Thunderworks Games.