Review: Stroganov (Game Brewer) – English

The Stroganov family was an important family of traders, entrepreneurs and statesmen in Russia. Stroganoff is also the name of a famous Russian meat dish with beef and sour cream named after this family (very tasty with a firm pasta). In Stroganov, players take on the role of members of this famous Russian dynasty (and not the delicious dish). Over the course of four years, players try to gain the most fame, wealth and favors from the Czar. Players travel across Siberia during different seasons to hunt and collect and trade the finest animal skins and pelts. From the adventures they have along the way, they write stories and songs that they perform during their return in the winter. Players receive income and head out again in the new spring. Will you be remembered in the stories of old to be retold?

During the spring, summer, and fall (rounds) players travel through Siberia. They move their Cossacks over the landscape tiles and in their turn (each season is a round and all players get a turn) perform a number of possible actions. The Cossack that has moved furthest into Siberia takes the first turn during a season. A player must move a Cossack 1 or 2 tiles but may also discard horses to move further (the driving skills of these Cossacks certainly come in handy).

After a player has moved his/her Cossack, this player may take a basic action. With the basic action, a player can, for example, receive coins or horses, move the Cossack further or back, or hunt. Hunting allows players to collect fur (tiles) from the location data where his/her Cossack is. By discarding a coin, players can hunt more, and by using horses, players can collect fur with a higher value. Collecting fur is the important engine of the game. In fact, using fur, players can perform and complete advanced actions to earn points.

After the basic action, a player can choose to play another basic action (for free) or perform an advanced action. By playing (specific) fur, players can even perform a basic or advanced action afterwards. You therefore try to connect as many actions as possible in the game and thus score as many points as possible.

The advanced actions are largely tied to the location of the player. This player can visit villages or camps with Yurt tents for bonuses, build settlements in Siberia or collect locations (for victory points). Advanced actions require players (mostly) to discard tiles (fur) from the corresponding region. Players can also earn favors from the Tsar as advanced. In addition to victory points, this gives them the ability to perform more actions during specific seasons.

During the winter, players regain some horses in stock and depending on their progression on the story track (during the game they can collect songs/stories) to earn bonuses and victory points. After the fourth winter, players add up their points. For sets of landscape tiles, players also earn some extra points.

Stroganov is a highly strategic game with a buffet of choices. Because of the many possibilities a player can be quite overwhelmed during a first (or even second) game. During your turn, you take different actions and have to take into account multiple elements. This really puts your brain to work – real brain food. It is a wonderfully thematic and extremely beautifully designed game that (once you get the hang of it) flies forward like a wonderful engine. Highly recommended for the frequent player (or lover of beef Stroganoff)!