This week, I finally got to play Automobile, the Martin Wallace game released under the Treefrog brand at UK Games Expo in June. It's a good game with a lot going on over its four turns and certainly gives players lots to think about. It's all about producing and selling cars in competition with other players and in the absence of knowing what the market demand will be. Over-production can prove costly but you need to take some risks to win.
Nige got off to a fantastic start and raked in a huge profit in the first round. Surely, even Nige couldn't lose it from there. Well, yes he could by having a poor second round while Steve and Mark K invested a bit more wisely. Mark G and I were the only ones not to have played before and I knew it was a game where you needed to play once to be able to suss out how everything fitted together. That said, I had a poor first round and decided to experiment by trying something different from the others just to see what happened. Whereas the experienced guys were into loans by the second round, I decided to see how a frugal path might pan out - "cottage industry" as Nige termed it. I managed to go the entire game without loans but it capped my investment ability pretty badly. I still made a decent enough profit (and Nige was relieved to discover he came out ahead of me) but it was never really going to be enough to win. As it turned out, Steve and Mark K ended up really close but Steve managed to edge the win - probably thanks to going first at the start of the game and being able to pick Howard.
Automobile is another solid gamer's game from Martin and the various elements of the game fit together really well. It does, however, suffer from the need to work out what's your best option and that can add to the length of the game. Our five player game took just under three hours after the rules explanation. However, we're used to these kinds of games taking the whole evening and we all seemed to have fun. Next time, though, I'm taking loans!