Thar’s a snake in mah boots! And a board game in mah box!  i’ll take one over the other, thank you kindly.

No – the other one.
Great Western Trail has enjoyed a long stay at the top of Board Game Geek’s Top 100 list, but who can get past that bizarre box art? i brave my way beyond the dead-eyed stares and copy-paste cowboys to reveal what you get inside the box.

(click to view transcript)

Howdy everyone. Ryan here from Nights Around a Table. There’s a snake in my boots, and this is a game called Great Western Trail, which i did not buy for the longest time, because the cover art is horrible. It’s FAMOUSLY horrible, and numerous people have commented on it online, and i just passed it by. i saw it in the game store shelves numerous times, and i wasn’t interested AT ALL. Now, i’ve read the legend of the cover of this game, and i think it has something to do with somebody getting sick and the artist having no time to prepare, and it was the weekend before the thing was due, yadda yadda. Anyway, there’s an obvious copy/paste job going on on the cover, and some people have said that this guy, even without the copy/paste job – sorry, this guy – looks like Dr. Zaius from Planet of the Apes, which is extremely apt. The artist for this game, Great Western Trail, is a guy named Andreas Resch, and you may recognize his work from another famous and popular game called Istanbul, which has a similar style… it’s not quite as creepy/uncanny valley as Great Western Trail until you look at the expansion cover art, and then it’s like “D’aaaaahh! No! Get it away!” What is WRONG with that guy? i don’t understand. i’ve complained about it before. i don’t understand what is up with board game artists and human beings! i can’t imagine how… or i CAN imagine how the conversation goes when board game publishers hire their artists. And i think it goes a little something… like this. Hi! It’s XYZ Publisher. You’re an artist? Yeah, we’re looking for an artist on our next board game. Can you draw maps really well? And objects and landscapes and animals and things like that? Yeah? Yeah, okay. What about your human drawings? You know, your faces, your bodies? Does it look like you’ve never taken a life drawing class or seen a fellow human being for your entire life? Great! You’re hired! And… scene! Alright. I’ve given him enough crap. The reason why i did eventually buy the game is i’m not quite on the forefront of deciding which games are good and which games are bad. i don’t see enough new games. But this one, for some bizarre reason, has topped the Board Game Geek Top 100 List for a very long time. It’s really had a high position. People really like it. And whenever i hear people mentioning it online and talking about it, they say “Oh yeah, it’s a great game! It’s a great game, Great Western Trail!” So it looks like a case of not judging a book by its cover. i’m gonna open it up and just take a look at the components inside. i won’t tell you how to play. i won’t know how to play myself. That’s how unboxings go. Isn’t that fascinating? Let’s watch more. Check the playlist i’ve linked at the bottom. Here we go! Great Western Trail. There’s my knife. There’s a few themes i really get into. They are: space, pirates, and cowboys. Love em, love em to death. So i’m really excited to have a new cowboy game, cuz i don’t really have that many in my collection. i have Bang! It was enjoyable when i got it many many years ago, but as i play more and more board games, i see the flaws in it. i don’t like the player elimination and there’s a whole lot of luck, which i don’t mind tremendously, but it gets a bit grating in that game. And it takes a little bit longer than i want it to. i was really happy when the Bang! digital version came out, because digital versions speed things up a whole lot. You can play by yourself any time you want, as many games as you want, as often as you want, and i looooved the soundtrack in the digital version of Bang! i would hum it to myself all the time back when i was playing the game. It’s beautiful. It’s made to sound like – what’s his name – Ennio? The guy who did the soundtrack for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – the Man with No Name Trilogy. Beautiful, great work. (box fart level 6) Whoooa-ho-ho! You know what? Box Fart-O-Meter? That’s gonna rank about a six. Six on the Box Fart-O-Meter. i know you all look forward to that. Right off the top, lot of sheets to punch out. Coins, things. Dunno. Tiles. Not to fault Andreas Resch, the artwork, if he did the rest of this stuff, looks really good. You’ve got more of the creepy faces from the front of the box. There’s Dr. Zaius himself, on these little tiles. But they don’t look quite as bad. i think one of the things that’s off-putting about his artwork on the cover of the box is the eyes are almost too big for the heads. They’re big and they’re almond-shaped and they’ve got huge… they’re brown eyes, so it looks like the whole thing is pupil. It’s really Twilight Zone-y. Doesn’t look like the same problem is going on with these guys. They’re a little less spooky/bug-eyed, so kewl. And it’s interesting: most of the games that i unbox have the instruction booklet right off the top. Maybe that’s not that interesting? But here’s the instruction booklet. It’s beautiful. Full-colour illustrated gorgeous-looking rulebook, and pretty dense. And big pages. And it clocks in at around… Don’t need to say “around,” i can just look at the page numbers. So a 16-page instruction booklet, and it reminds me – the layout reminds me a lot of The Voyages of Marco Polo! If you want to watch that video. Please do! Tell your friends. I’ll read that later, obviously. More punchcards – holy cow. A whole stack of a lot of things to punch out. More of the same: little tiles, coins, one-and-a-half-inch tiles. And – ah, here we go: our board. i’m gonna open this right up. Ah! (laughing) They’re like “i dunno, boss: the artwork looks kinda creepy and weird.” “Well, okay, let’s make sure that we put it on… absolutely flippin’ everything!” “You sure we just don’t wanna leave the back of the board just black?” “No! just put the crazy bug-eyed cowboys the back.” “Oh, okay. Sure. Whatever you say.” Here is the board. i’m gonna guess… one of my favourite things in board games, i’m gonna guess that it has a modular setup, because we have all these dotted line boxes to hold the inch-and-a-half tiles that are coming out of the punchboard. Love it! Modular setup is fantastic. And it looks like – i’m just guessing here, but it LOOKS like this dotted line that goes all the way around the board is – i’m gonna blow your mind here – IS the Great Western Trail. Now that’s just, i mean, it’s just my power of intuition figuring that out. i know you’re all probably blown away by it. Yeah – fantastic. There’s a train that goes around the edge? Ah – look! And there’s a little icon… cool! There’s an icon for little trains. Who doesn’t love little wooden trains? Do we get any? Well, let’s put the board away and see if there’s little tiny trains in the bag! Here’s our bag of wood. And yes! In fact – i’m gonna dump all this out – there is, in addition to discs and – oh my gosh! i’m droppin’ things everywhere – and little cowboy cattlemen. Little cattle rancher/herder things – there ARE little tiny wooden trains in everybody’s player colour! Adorable! Love it. Oh! And little wooden cubes as well. So standard components, except i’ve never seen these little cattlemen in any other game. Or these trains, actually. So you’ve got some unique pieces there. As far as insert goes, box insert, i mean there’s nothing exciting about this. It’s a standard thing. They like to put these two bolsters here to have just a gigantic well in the middle where you just dump all your crap. A scoring sheet. i always get nervous when games use these scoring sheets because they’re obviously consumable. You never get them back. But i have never played a game with a scoring pad so often that i’ve run out and needed to buy another one, so (impotent, inconclusive wordless fumbling). And two decks of cards. If i had to estimate, i would say that each deck has about… fifty thousand cards in it? Not my skill. i’m gonna open one of them. Beautiful! Look how easy that was. Already – mmm. Top of the Board Game Geek list just for ease of opening the decks of cards. We have beautiful cows. i have actually seen one of these cards online, because somebody was talking about how adorable the baby – ah, this guy! (laughing) Ah, that IS cute. The West Highland calf. (attempted Liverpudlian accent) Oh – he’s got, like, a little mop-top hairdo. He’s gonna go down to Apple Studios and… cut an album. Cute! Very cute. So we’ve got cows – cuz i guess, i’m gathering that you play cattle ranchers in this game, and you’re trying to get the cattle along the… Great Western Trail… from beginning to end. Cows, cows, cows… ooh. Black Angus, which i have on good authority are… delicious. And the last thing in the box are these player mats, which are each different according to the different player colours. You have blue, saffron, crimson, and… alabaster. Which i think… that means “white,” doesn’t it? i guess? They’re beautiful. They’re beautiful. Great illustrations, nice iconography. But of course, i won’t know until i crack open the instruction booklet to figure out how to play. That’s everything that’s in the box! Everything looks beautiful, everything’s nice and thick, thick card, nicely illustrated, good board. i dunno about the back and what they were thinking, but other than that, it looks great! i just have one modification to make to the front of the box. Just gimme a second. (old-timey piano music) Yyyyyyes! Looks great! (crazy cartoon head-shaking sound) Andreas Resch: gimme a call! You and i would be a match made in heaven! Did you just watch that whole thing? Oh – hey! To 100% this video, click the badge to subscribe. Then click the bell to get notifications when i’ve got new stuff.

Get Your Own Copy of Great Western Trail

It won’t win any awards for Best Box Art, but there’s a very meaty eurogame in Great Western Trail. Our play times at my house average around 3-4 hours. If that sounds like something you’d want to git yer spurs into, follow the Amazon link below to get your own copy of Great Western Trail, and i’ll receive a small commission.

Great Western Trail
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Great Western Trail

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