Furnace is a card game for 2 to 4 players designed by Ivan Lashin and published by Hobby World. In this game each player takes on the role of capitalist who builds their industrial corporation through purchasing companies, extracting resources and processing them. By doing so each capitalist aspires to make as much money as possible and the player with the most wealth at the end will be the winner of the game.
Setup is easy and fast. Each player receives a random capitalist, a set of capital discs, a corresponding emblem, a random start-up card and the resources it provides. Shuffle the company deck and place it on top of the company board accompanied by the round marker. Create piles of resources, upgrade tokens and money. Choose a first player and you are ready to go.
The game consists of four rounds and each round is split into two phases, the auction phase and the production phase. The auction phase starts by the first player cutting the company deck and afterwards placing a number of company cards in a straight line depending on the number of players. Once this is done the players can start bidding on the companies using their four capital discs. These have a value from one to four. When placing a capital disc, the following rules need to be followed: you cannot place a disk of the same value or color on the same company card.
After the bidding is completed it is time to resolve the auction. Each company card is resolved in order and for each you check who has the highest value disc at that company, this player gets the card to build in its private area. All other players that have a disc at that company get the extraction or processing effect of the company equal to the number placed on the company. For extraction this means that the players get the resources provided multiplied by the value of the disc, for processing this means the player can convert resources as many times as the value of the disc.
Once the auction phase is completed it is time to start the production phase. In this phase each player can use all of its companies once, resolving them one by one in any order of your choosing. There are companies that produce resources, others can convert resources to other resources, some let you upgrade other companies and last but not least convert resources to money.
When the production phase is over it is time to start a new round by discarding the leftover companies in the center row and passing the first player token to the left to start a new auction phase. At the end of the fourth round the game is over and the player with the most money wins the game. In case of a tie the player with the most companies wins followed by the most resources left.
The two player game plays a little bit different with an extra dummy player. This one uses a set of capital discs and rolls a die after the second player has placed a bid to see where the dummy places a disc. The dummy player places its discs from low to high value.
There is also a variant that can be used for more experienced players. In this variant the companies in your area form a horizontal chain. The new companies you acquire can be placed anywhere in the chain but afterwards cannot be changed in relation to each other. During the production phase you process them from left to right.
Now what do we think of this game, in short, we love this game. The artwork is great and fits the time this takes place in. The symbology used is very clear and easy to understand. Usually we are not very fond of bidding games, but the bidding mechanism used in this game hit a sweet sport with us. Especially the fact that you get the factories top ability when you do not win the bid is a nice touch. This gives you the option to deliberately underbid for a certain factory to get its top ability multiple times. Actually, the premise of this game is very easy, get resources, convert them into other resources and in the end convert these resources to money. How you go about it depends on which factories come up and which route you choose to partake in. The production phase might lead to some overthought because you want to make sure that you get the most out of your factories especially towards the end of the game. The advanced rules handle this in a very elegant way by making sure that you need to place the factories in order and that you process them in order. This makes the placement of your factories much more important and still gives you enough decisions during production (use resources for a certain factory or save them for a later one…). This is our preferred way to play the game. The game is fun with all player counts and since the game is only four rounds, it does not take too long to play. The one tiny nitpick might be that the box is a bit large for its contents. But you can look at it this way, this leaves room for expansions. All in all, this is a great and fast bidding and engine building game with lots of meaningful decisions and gorgeous artwork. An instant hit in our gaming group.
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