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Saturday, 4 August 2012

BGG Competition, Playing the Games: Game #2 'Foothold Enterprises'

Boardgamegeek 2012 Solitaire Print and Play Competition

Game#2: 'Foothold Enterprises' by E. Nate Kurth

On to my second game of the competition and for this I picked a game by a designer whose name, 'kurthl33t', kept cropping up on my own entry thread. Clearly a very active member of the community, so I expected a good show. What I got was a game that given my own character flaws, I ended up 'beating' while ignoring the game itself. Not a good thing to do!

First thoughts – Printing and Initial Look

The game prints on 7 sheets. Six of which are cards, and the 7th is a nice quick reference chart, well written with most of the info you need. The game is simple to understand and after a couple of plays, you don’t need the chart, but its a nice addition.

Reading the Rules and Playing the Game

My only gripe with the rules, which are well written throughout, is one of description. The game plays by placing used cards at the bottom of the deck, a system I wasn’t very familiar with (most card games I play are CCG's which tend to have a 'discard pile'. The confusion I had was with 'how' or rather in which way to place cards. When asked to place a card 'face up and right side up' at the bottom of my deck, I was confused as to what was meant by 'right side'. I soon found it was simply with the right hand side of the card being the new top (turning the card 90degrees counter clockwise).


The idea here is simple and nice, and also considering the cards don’t have that much text on them, surprisingly presents a player with a choice of 3 options.

Ultimately the aim is to collect 'Clients' which are essentially the games Victory Points, but a Player needs money to do this, so part of the game is playing to generate money. There are also 'Advertising Abilities' which the player can bid for and offer a bonus to future actions, sometimes a one off bonus but often a passive bonus that the player may choose to activate and remains in play.

Now to the problem. Remember the character flaws I refereed to at the start? Well... I am a numbers man, I love numbers. I love Game Theory, with perfect moves. I count cards, I number crunch, and I am pretty good at maths. After a couple of moves into the game I realised the biggest flaw in the game for a player like myself – there is no random factor.

What I mean by this is best shown using the following photos. In the game the player is up against the deck and needs to spend their money 'bidding' for cards against the deck. The decks score is based on drawing a number of cards, with a pre printed value on each. Once you know the average value of a single card, you know the minimum to bid in order to play the numbers to your advantage.

Take the card on the right hand side of the photo. If a player wants to bid on this card for its ability, they must draw 4 cards as the opposing bid. The average value of a card is just below '2', therefore a minimum safe bid to win would be 9.

I draw four cards as per the rules. The combined total, and therefore the counter bid is '6'. I won.

This predictability more or less destroyed the game for me. From then on in I wasn’t playing a game, I wasn’t a 'young entrepreneur trying to get his start-up company going', I was a man doing simple maths and shuffling cards real fast. This predictability is made worse once you begin to 'card count'. There are 3 danger cards, with a value of '4', which can throw off your bids and cause you to lose. Once you pass these 3 cards, its a much smoother ride.

That aside, apart from my own annoying character traits the only real criticism I would give this game is the Advertising Abilities, although one on each card, with some duplicates, tend to feel either useless or over powered/open to abuse. One card in particular that struck me as open to abuse is 'Word of Mouth' which states 'If you lose a bid, you may win instead'. Its discarded after use, but that didn’t stop me bidding '1' and purposely losing just to win a high value card.

There also isn't much time to pick and choose these Abilities. If you spend to much time on them, you do poorer overall in the game. That is simply because the other values (Money and Clients) are mutual, Clients are needed for Victory, Money is needed to bid for Clients.

One other problem is with bidding and winning 'Money'. When bidding for Money, win or lose, you don't lose Money. By bidding all your Money (once you have a nice amount) you will automatically win more Money.

If you are not a total dick like myself, then this game is actually fun to play. But for those card counting, mathematicians, amongst us then there is simply no choice in this game. Each turn you play the numbers, if you don’t then you are simply not making the best choices.

I hate myself sometimes. Apologies Nate!

For general info on the Competition hosted by BGG, follow this link,

For 'Foothold Enterprises' rules and cards, to print and try for yourself, follow this link,

For another great looking entry by E. Nate Kurth, check out 'Wings of Lightning', here,

And if you still have time after those two games, feel free to read my own entry '2013 An Apocalyptic Survival Game', by following this link,


1 comment:

  1. No hard feelings, Chris! Foothold Enterprises was definitely NOT designed with card-counting mathematicians in mind; the game is definitely breakable if you're paying really close attention and crunching the numbers.

    But that's okay! I designed the game as a casual way to pass the time while standing in line. Or in a queue, I guess. It plays quickly, does not require one's complete attention in order to get a decent score, and does not necessitate a playing surface; it's just moving cards from the top of the deck to the bottom in different ways!

    I'm glad you gave the game a try. Hopefully the experience wasn't too terrible!