Fantasy Ranch Review

Mike Hourigan review, tabletop Leave a Comment

Fantasy Ranch - $39.99

Game title: Fantasy Ranch

Game description: In this area of control and set collection game, you take the role of a ranch owner who is working to expand their ranch and win horse shows. Includes two distinct games (Fantasy Ranch and Trail Ride) as well as three difficulty and complexity levels for each game.

Overall
4
  • Play (Mechanics)
  • Presentation (Art/Quality)
  • Plan (Rules)

Summary

Saddle up, cowpokes! Fantasy Ranch is a game by Keshia and Ana Swanlund where you take the role of a horse ranch owner. Can you manage your stables, expand your ranch, and win enough shows to be crowned the winner? With three levels of difficulty, and a bonus “Trail Ride” game to boot, Fantasy Ranch brings an enjoyable game whether this is your first rodeo or not.

Pros

Has really solid mechanics

Brings six unique game experiences to the table in one box

Has fun options for new and seasoned gamers alike

Cons

Some of the art is a little cartoon-like

Has some parts of the rules that are not immediately clear

Full Fantasy Ranch Review

Saddle up, cowpokes! Fantasy Ranch is a game by Keshia and Ana Swanlund where you take the role of a horse ranch owner. Can you manage your stables, expand your ranch, and win enough shows to be crowned the winner? With three levels of difficulty, and a bonus “Trail Ride” game to boot, Fantasy Ranch brings an enjoyable game whether this is your first rodeo or not.

While Fantasy Ranch brings a few different mechanics to the table, it is primarily a set collection and area control game. The primary game has three difficulty and complexity levels: the Greenhorn level, the Wrangler level, and the Boss level. For brevity sake, this review will focus on the Boss level because it uses all of the available rules, but note that the Greenhorn and Wrangler levels work similarly but with less complex rules and some pared down mechanics.

In the Boss level, your main job is to collect horses, use those horses to expand your ranch and claim areas on the board such as the pasture, barn, and more, and win shows to gain resources and points. Points are gained in two primary ways: controlling areas of the board, and owning sets of “buddies” (horses with matching buddy symbols) or world class horses that are worth points by themselves and are the only ones who can enter the final shows.

The game is played over five rounds. In each round, players take turns taking one primary action, and one of a number of free actions. These also include farming resources, buying areas, and making use of your ranch employees and their special powers. After each player has gone, all players will enter the shows for the round, rolling a number of dice determined by their owned horses. The highest roller wins, and each player receives a prize based on their placement.

At first play through, it seemed like the shows were unbalanced– the winner would gain an incredible amount of resources compared to the other players. However, we found that at the end of the game, the whole thing was really well balanced– all our players’ final scores were within four of each other. Really a photo finish!

Steal my pasture? I say neigh!

The game’s theme and art style suggests a light game experience that doesn’t require much thought, but don’t be fooled. The Boss level provides a gaming experience that requires strategy and consideration that even seasoned gamers will enjoy. In fact, one huge marker for me that the game was really solid in the mechanics department was that I know next to nothing about horse ranching, and the game was still really fun for me. I can only imagine that having a strong vested interest in the theme would make it even that much better.

When I first cracked open the box, something that really stuck out to me was the amount of advertising in the game for ranches around the country, horse products, etc. Again, I had gone into the play through thinking they would be a distraction but found myself pleasantly surprised that they added to the game and did not detract from it.

Overall, the game is really solid in terms of the mechanics, and includes some fun components like the horse meeples.

Bonus Game: Trail Ride

Hold on there, buckaroos! Fantasy Ranch also includes a game for the little ranch hands in your life– Trail Ride! Trail Ride is a game where players move along a track with increasingly complex rules as you gain difficulty with the same primary goal of collecting horses.

I played Trail Ride a few times with some youngsters and it really brought a fun challenge for kids of any age. Kids have fun looking at and collecting the horses, and learning their names. As the difficulty increases, some kids may need some assistance with the strategy of choosing particular horses for their traits rather than who they like the best, but overall it’s also a solid game for what it brings to the table.

Fantasy Ranch is an excellent game that can grow with your family. Yee-haw!

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