Era of Inventions

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inventions[1]By Mark Rivera from Boardgames in Blighty

Review – Era of Inventions from Quined Games

Designed by Anthony Daamen

Art – Hans Janssen

note – a copy of this game was provided for review purposes by Coiled Spring Games

If you have seen some of my previous reviews or game comments on Boardgamegeek you may have noticed that I am somewhat Euro-Game challenged. What I mean by this is that my board game preferences lean towards war games and highly thematic games with lots of cool bits usually known as Ameritrash. I have struggled to enjoy a number of Euros mainly for 2 reasons – 1) I have found many of them dry as the Sahara and just plain boring, and 2) my poor little old brain has struggled to wrap itself around the many choices that Euro game designers tend to love throwing at you. Especially when they do nothing to further the story, develop the theme, etc.

Having said that, I am always happy to give Euros a go, especially if the “alleged” theme is of interest to me.

So here we have, Era of Inventions from Quined Games, a game where you can “explore the lives of Alexander Graham Bell, Karl Benz, the Wright Brothers and other pioneers of invention and experience the thrill of the industrial revolution (as stated in the rules)”. Well let me tell you up front that I do find the story of inventions interesting so I was interested in playing this game. Let me say also that you will find nothing of value about the lives of the historical inventors. In fact the historical inventors don’t even come into the game at all much to my disappointment, but oh well… What Era of Inventions is, is a game about putting you in the place of an inventor, well the commercial side of the inventor and what it takes to ultimately get an invention to market to gain prestige/money, etc. In other words, this is more a game about the business side of inventing, rather than the creative side. Its all about managing resources and outdoing your competitors during the industrial revolution. Hmmm… not unlike many other Euros I have to say.

sl370001[1]The components are of a typically high Euro Game standard with the requisite wooden cubes, coins, etc. All rather bland although functional. I really like the cards with images of early inventions although the colours are a little confusing and I suspect those who are colour blind may struggle. The board has come in for a number of comments. It is very colourful and I like the artwork and icons, but it does take some getting used to and it is crammed end to end with tracks and images so it is very very busy.


Your goal is to gain the most influence points as you invent, patent, and produce products to become the most successful inventor.

Caution – there is considerable set up before you can start a game and the rules are reasonably clear although I did find I had to go back over a number of things a few times to really understand the mechanics. One nice feature in the rules is the right hand column giving you condensed descriptions of the steps in the game which is helpful once the mechanics make sense.

Each round has 2 parts –

– Players place their action tokens – this takes some figuring out as it is not clear in the rules. Basically, you place tokens next to the actions you want to take. You won’t have enough tokens to take everything you would like to and also, each action has only 2 places for tokens so will be taken by other players. This important decision is the only real interactivity between players which means that each player will just get on with their own business.

– The action areas (there are 6) are resolved in order

sl370003[1]Actions to choose from –

Build Factories – these will bring you resources, money so you need to build them

Factory production – collect the payouts from factories

Buy resources – build up resources you will need to produce inventions and buy factories

Exchange market – you can receive a development cog (you need these to develop inventions and register patents) or perform up to 5 sub-actions in the market which can help you in a variety of ways including gaining influence points

Develop inventions and register patents – influence is gained or profits are paid when inventions are developed and when other players produce the already developed invention. Influence is paid for registering patents.

Produce inventions – you can produce inventions (and knock-offs)

sl370002[1]Additional Actions – There is an an option to play a limited number of Black action tokens which give you the chance to gain a bit more advantage/stop others from taking advantage. So some interaction does take place

The mechanics are fairly straightforward and seem to work reasonably well. The choice of actions makes sense. As stated before though it took a number of returns to the rulebook to get clarity over some aspects. Once you get used to it, it all came together. The tension and challenge is all about the limited choice that you are faced with in actions. The lack of player interaction keeps things pretty mechanical and process driven, bereft of much in the way of life and feeling.

Did it work for me?

Although playable, Era of Inventions takes what was really an exciting time in history and reduces it to what for me is an unexciting process with no real feel for the theme. Euro Game fans will like it in that it is familiar territory mechanically and if you like games where you vie for the optimum strategy of combining just the right actions, with some interaction with other players, then you should give this game a go. But I don’t expect much trash talking or laughter takes place. The design is solid mechanically but ultimately it left me with a “so what?” feeling. I think that its a lost opportunity to develop a stronger theme. Overall. Not a bad game but nothing to get you excited either. Certainly nothing here to set it apart from other Euros.

Boardgames in Blighty rating – 5 out 10

Family Friendly?

Could very well work for families but the 12+ age is right as this is a typical mid-weight Euro game which will be more challenging than the usual family fare.

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