GIGANTEN - Reviewed by Mike
I bought this game having seen pictures on Mik Svellov's website and I was not disappointed with the components or the huge board.
Ron Olszewski's review in COUNTER Issue 5 captured the main points of the game so I don't need to repeat that here. To me the key to the game is the number and value of the licences you hold. These can be vital in the oil selling phase especially if you have say 5 units stacked at your base and an opponent then moves in an equally high number to the same base and it's obvious there's going to be a high price to pay to win the auction. On 2 occasions I have bid 1 more token than I held in an attempt to force an opponent up and he has dropped out, causing me to lose half my licences and thereby the auction itself and of course the oil was 'spoilt'. This means that you have to be cautious in choosing in which depot to place your oil in the first place.
To support this strategy I have tried selecting the card with the most licences on it early in the game to build up a stock for use later in the game. This meant that my truck and train had limited movement points so I didn't generate many drilling sites....not to worry I'll be laughing later. However that backfired on me when I had moved to the higher yield sites at the top of the board, only to find that the person playing the train card had moved my train back below my drilling rigs which meant I had to pay the black train to transport it, eroding profit levels.
This is just one example of the clever balancing systems in this game. You really do have to keep a track on the different cards that are in play and allow for their effect when making your own move. It also makes the choice of card to take a difficult decision to make, as the one you ignore will either help your opponents or they will use it to stuff you.
The die rolls at the start of each turn to determine the rise or fall in oil prices have been designed to stop anyone gaining a huge advantage for stockpiling oil but this even allows for a speculator to improve the values of his holdings. This could be achieved by the price being in the red section at $3500 and rolling a 4 on the dice, which moves the price up to $5500 and then on the next turn rolling a blue 4, which moves the price up to $7500 in the blue section. Even then the player is not certain to sell his holding as other players could place stock in the same depot and outbid them at auction....all very interesting.This game has receiving lots of favourable comments from my group and was only knocked out of number 1 spot by Tikal. The board and components are first-class. There is just the right mixture of control and luck elements to make the game hugely satisfying for the 2 hours plus you need to play it. I should imagine there would also be a high replay value as the distribution of the Production counters is different every time, as is the sequence in which the Action cards come out.