Gold Digger was a game made by Reiner Knizia back in the early 90’s that still holds it’s own with my group of friends when we are traveling and want a fun and simple game to play. The game is for two to five players. The whole idea of the game is to end up with more gold than your opponents. Gold is acquired by making claims on the six different gold mines in the game. Be careful though, if you make a claim too early others will rush to fill up that mine with fool’s gold. Of course if you wait too long to make a claim though your claim on a mine might not benefit you very much.
The set up of the game is very simple. There are six mine cards laid out on the table. On the top side of the mine players will play character cards that match the color of the mine. On the bottom side of the mine cards players will place gold and fool’s gold cards that determine how much each mine is worth. Each player also receives a certain number of colored disks depending on the number of players to use to make “claims” on the mines. To start the game everyone starts out with three cards in their hand. On your turn you have several options, and you can do all of them on a turn if you wish.
The first step is to play a card from your hand. This is mandatory. If you play a gold card you put it under one of the mines, keep in mind that each mine may only have 5 gold cards under it and then no other gold cards may be played onto that mine. If you play a character card, you must place it above the mine that matches that card’s color. When playing a character card you then have the option to place one of your claim disks on the mine card of that color. Keep in mind though your claim disks are limited. After these two actions (keep in mind you must play a card, but you are not required to make a claim each turn), you will then draw another card to refill your hand to three cards.
So, you might be wondering “How do I win?”, well that’s always an important question. After all 60 cards are played, claim disks are examined that have been played onto a mine card. You earn the portion of gold in the mind that is equal to the ratio of claim disks you have on the mine. Let’s say the first mine has 16 gold pieces in it. Also let’s assume player A has two claim disks on it, player B has one claim disk, and so does player C. That means you divide the gold by four (since there are four disks on the mine). Since player A has two of them they get 2×4, or 8 gold points. Players B and C each get 4 gold points. If only one player has a claim disk on a mine, they get all the gold points from that mine. If there are fractions when dividing the gold, numbers are rounded down.
The game is deceptively simple. You will have to keep thinking “do I want a part of that large mine to limit what my opponents get, or do I want to try to control one of the other mines?”. This is a common dilemma during the game. You need to be able to calculate and keep in mind that there are only five chances to make a claim on each mine,. It’s always frustrating when you see a mine with a lot of gold, but you don’t have any character cards for that mine, which means you can’t make a claim!
This is one of my favorite quick games to play. The only restriction to this being a great quick travel game is the amount of space the cards take when they are laid out on a table. You need a decent size playing area to play the game. At between $10 and $15 though this is a very good game to own if you have a small group that enjoys playing games. Keep in mind though that no more than five people can play in a game. That is really one of the only drawbacks I see with this game, so I give it an 8.5 out of 10 as my ranking.