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A worker-placement game with a social gaming twist.

Board Game Review: Mining Maniac

Mining Maniac from Y-Axis Production is a worker-placement game fit for the whole family. There have been numerous economic games where players put on the hats of real estate tycoons or managers, but Mining Maniac gives players the chance to navigate their own mining company through a boisterous year of business. The player with the most cunning, enough social appeal not to be sabotaged, and a little luck will come out on top with the most money.

Mining ManiacWorker-placement games are often overly repetitious in their rounds, giving players an eager sense of logical problem solving but gradual fatigue as the same thing happens over and over again.

Mining Maniac has a new set of conditions for each round of its 12-round “year” through the use of Incident Cards. Markets change in a regular pattern, but cards may give a spontaneous boost to one resource or collapse mines to put a hold on production. Players will have to be quick on their feet to react and, hopefully, come out ahead despite the turmoil.

Gameplay in Mining Maniac is dynamic in its use of multiple potential actions. On its base mechanic, it is a worker-placement game where players hire wooden worker tokens, use them to mine resources, and sell the product for profit. It is a solid base with straightforward logic that has a minimal learning curve while still leaving plenty of room for versatility.

One of the unique mechanics in Mining Maniac is its ever-changing map of mines. Nine cards are laid out in a square, and dice rolls show which mines are open, giving a player a field of possibilities. All players make rolls of their own, so no one “steals” an optimal condition, which is often frustrating in worker-placement games. Here, every player must think for him or herself.

A further social dynamic comes from the Character cards. Each round, players secretly choose from the set of characters each of which has special abilities. For example, the Trader card gives a bonus Sell action, the Recruiter brings in extra workers, and the Fortune Teller can take a peek at upcoming Incident cards, enabling a player to plan accordingly. Some of the most fun are the Corporate Spy and the Contagious Worker, who can cripple an opponent’s output.

Mining Maniac is a worker-placement game for two to six players aged 10 and up. Games last about an hour, depending on how many players there are and how speedy they like to go. With its broad mixture of logical worker-placement, rapidly changing conditions, and interaction with other players, Mining Maniac offers a little something for everyone.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.