A to Z Gaming: Gold Digger

We mined gold and tried to stake the best claims in Gold Digger, the next game in our A-Z game shelf play-through.

Basic Info: Gold Digger
Players: 2-5
Time: 20 Minutes
Designers: Reiner Knizia
Artists: Karl Heinz Daxl, John Kovalic
Publisher:  Hans im Glück

Gold Digger is a card game where players attach prospectors to mines in the hopes of staking a claim on the mines with the most goal. Once all of the prospector and gold cards have been played, the player who collected the most gold wins the game.

The game is set up with the six mines lined up in the middle of the table. Each player is dealt a hand of three cards and given three claim chips. The cards depict prospectors which are connected to one of the six mines, gold in amounts from one to eight, and fools gold.

On their turn, players play one of their cards either above the appropriate mine (if the card is a prospector) or below any mine (if the card is gold or fools gold), with a maximum of five gold cards on each mine. If the player places a prospector, they can optionally play one of their claim chips on the same mine. When all of the cards have been played, the game ends and each mine is scored.

Players get points for their share in each mine they’ve staked a claim in – each gold is worth one point, each fools gold is worth zero. For example, if only one player staked a claim in the Outlaw mine, and the mine has eight gold and two fools gold, that player gets eight points. However, if two players had claims, they would each get four points; if three players, each would get two.

That’s it! The player with the most points wins.

We picked this game up YEARS ago. I found an old email between Andrew and me from about 2003 when we talked about a sale at the game store. I mentioned this as one of the games I was considering. I’m pretty sure I was drawn in by the art. I may have also been attracted to the designer (Knizia), though I may not have known much about various designers at that time. I’m also fairly sure we played this game not long after we bought it – and I think I remember a game with a friend and her husband when they visited from out of town. However, that may have been the last time ig got to the table. I couldn’t remember the game play at all.

It’s not a bad game. There are some good decisions to make – play gold to make a mine more valuable? get rid of a prospector from your hand for a mine you know you’re not going to invest in? play a prospector and get a stake in on a mine that looks like it’s going to be good? However, I didn’t find it very interesting as a 2-player game, and I image that at higher player counts it gets simply chaotic. At least in the 2-player version, I would know that I would have a chance to add gold to a particular mine before it gets closed out, which could inform some of my decision-making. With more players, that wouldn’t be the case.

All in all, as a filler game, it’s not bad – easy to explain, simple rules, quick-playing; however, as a game for our game shelf? I don’t think so. We have a number of more interesting games, and a fairly large collection of filler games.

How is it as a 2-player game? Gold Digger is okay as a 2-player game. At this player count, you still feel like you have some control and know when a mine is going to close out. I suspect that higher player counts make the game feel a lot more random. However, it might be more interesting with more players, simply because of that randomness. I don’t know – I don’t remember playing with more players!

How about the art and component quality? The only components are cards and claim tokens. The cards are fine – not too flimsy. The claim tokens are super-cheap and not very satisfying to play. I think the one redeeming quality for this game is the art…however, for it’s cuteness, I’m fairly sure it’s culturally insensitive, and honestly made me somewhat uncomfortable to play.

Will this stay in my collection? No. This one is easy to let go.

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