Saturday, November 30, 2013

Game Review: Letnisko Summer Resort by Karol Madaj

Letnisko Summer Resort by Karol Madaj

In the 1930s the Letnisko-Falencia district saw a boom in vacation housing, thanks to a rail line from Warsaw that brought holiday seekers to the area. In Letnisko Summer Resort, players are land owners who develop their properties and woo visitors from the train to stay at their property. The more people stay, the more money an owner will have to expand and upgrade their properties. The player with the most money and most valuable properties at the end of the game is a winner.

The game is played in several rounds that represent weeks in the summer. A deck of locomotive cards is shuffled. One side of each card shows a weather forecast (sunny or cloudy); the other side shows the actual weather and how many visitors to put on the train.

Sample train cards (fronts on right, backs on left; click to enlarge)

Visitors range from students (who pay 100 zloties when they leave), convalescents (who pay 200 zloties), and socialites (who pay 300 zloties). Bad weather means the ritzier people won't come to visit (see the bottom card with two red Xs). Really good weather might double the number of visitors (see the top card with the x2s).

Players start with two forest cards, one cottage card (placed on a forest card), two cards worth 100 zloties each and two player tokens (a husband and a wife). The porter token is randomly given to one player. That player will be the last player for the first round. The tokens are used to choose actions. Players may purchase buildings or land or an automobile. Or they can invite visitors from a train car (the automobile lets one token invite two adjacent train cars but needs refueling after each run) to their properties.The visitors are choosy about where they will stay--only students will stay in a humble cottage; only students and convalescents will stay in a villa (players can upgrade cottages to villas); only convalescents and socialites will stay in pension (an upgraded villa). The green/red/blue color scheme on the cards helps to make this easier to remember. Visitors will stay in an accommodation one higher but not one lower.

The various cards--the people/money are front/back of cards  (click to enlarge)

Each round starts with flipping up the next locomotive card to see how many and what type of visitors are on the train. After filling the train, each player puts one or two tokens on an action they want to take (buying something or inviting visitors). Placing two tokens on an action triggers a discount (though that means a second action can't be chosen). The player who goes last has the porter token and can choose a third action.

After the players have placed all their tokens, they pay for their house upgrades or new items and put them in their individual play areas. Then they accommodate any vacationers they've invited. New visitors have to go into empty houses if available; if not, old visitors vacate houses and are flipped over to turn them into cash. If there are more visitors than houses available (only up to two people can stay in one house), they are returned to the visitor pile (unless someone has become president of the summer home society which allows them to accommodate extra guests).

The game is a little complex but not too hard once it gets going. It has a lot of different decision for players to make and has a nice balance of developing your own properties and competing with other players for the best resources and best vacationers. We saw it at the Spiel in Essen and our friends bought a copy. We've played it several times and really enjoyed it. The games are usually very close, making it exciting. Playtime is under an hour which we like.

An almost finished game

The game is not available in America yet but hopefully it will get some good buzz out of Essen and be picked up by an American distributor. It's a fun economic game with a great theme that goes well with the mechanics of game play. I wish we had bought our own copy in case our friends move away!

Find out more about the game at

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