The Ranch - Dastardly Review #136
Updated: Jan 21, 2021
The Ranch is a collection of expansions for one of our favorite tile laying games - Fences.
We first played Fences in June of 2018 using a PnP that our grandkids hand colored while we were on vacation.
We probably played Fences twenty times on that trip alone.
Fences was a successful Kickstarter in 2018 for Tim and Adam at Bearded Board Games and delivered in 2019. The final art in Fences was much better than our coloring! The components have held up well to a year of playing.
A bit about Fences - Players place tiles containing Cows, Pigs and Sheep to form Farms. Henhouse meeples are used to claim a Farm.
A Farm is scored when it is completely enclosed by Fences. A Farm scores 1 point for each animal unless all of the animals are the same type in which case they score 2 points.
Also, each Player is a Farmer with two unique scoring modifiers for their Farms which can influence the kind of livestock they want in their farms.
Fences plays quickly, is easy to learn and has surprising depth. It became a family favorite.
The Ranch is not a standalone game. It adds 9 expansions to the original Fences.
Expansions to a favorite game always make me nervous. Will they destroy the original game? Obsolete favorite functions? Make cool things even cooler? Or add new shiny bits? We've spent the last couple weeks exploring The Ranch against these hopes and concerns.
One of my pet peeves about expansions is having to cart around additional boxes.
The guys at Bearded Board Games designed The Ranch's box to be big enough to hold the original Fences game and all of the expansions of The Ranch. Awesomely done!
And this 'Big Box' is still a reasonable size to take on a trip or fit in a backpack.
The Ranch includes 9 expansions:
Bulls, Rams and Boars - Gain points from being in a Farm with Cows, Sheep and Pigs. But a Ram is worthless without any Sheep.
Gates - A method of combining Farms.
Tractors - Allows a Player to place an additional tile after placing a Tractor.
Markets - Adds Farmer Markets and supply/demand factors for the value of animals which can increase or decrease the value of Farms.
Chickens - A new animal type! But a hungry Fox (actually a very cute meeple) has found the Farms!
Horse - A fence jumping Horse that gives bonus points.
Storage - Choose to not score an animal right away! Instead keep it in your barn and use it later to increase the points of another Farm.
Hay Bales - Collect Hay Bales from a scored Farm to score bonus points at the end of the game. Sharecroppers - A way of partially claiming a Farm already claimed by an opponent.
Whew...lots of new things in this Bigger Box: Market Cards, custom meeples for Tractors, Pigs, Sheep, Cows and the hungry Fox. Also bits for Hay Bales, Fences and Sharecropper tokens. And if I counted correctly - 66 new tiles.
The new meeples are awesomely cute.
IMPRESSIONS OF EXPANSIONS
A couple of the expansions increase Fences without significant rule changes - Chickens and the Bulls, Boars and Rams. Just more of a good thing! We will always play with these expansions.
Two new mechanics are the Fox and Horse. These are relatively simple and we will probably always include them.
All of the other expansions are compatible, but we found it a bit overwhelming to try too many at once. Start with just one or a couple. Explore. Find what fits your group best. These last six expansions add new rules and depth to Fences.
We discovered that you don't have to sort and select tiles based upon which expansions are being played which is a terrific time saver. Just add all the new tiles to the original tiles. Most of the expansions are meeple or token based so they don't have markings on the tiles. Markets and Gates include new tile symbols which are easily ignored if you aren't using those expansions and don't effect game play. Fast, hassle free setup!
My favorite expansion keeps changing based on how the last game turned out!
- Huge amount of replayability due to mixing Farmer Powers from Fences and the 9 expansions in The Ranch. Also, easy to adjust the complexity/depth to fit your current Players.
- Well balanced. No expansion overpowers the original game or any other expansion.
- Range of decisions/options increased but speed of play did not!
- No expansion "steps on the toes" of any other expansion.
- Fences/The Ranch will now hit the Geeky Gamer table in addition to being a regular at Family Gaming.
The Good: A favorite game just got bigger and better.
The Bad: The Fox is ALWAYS Hungry!
The Dastardly: Really enjoyed the thinking needed to maximize the benefits of Storage. Also, the end of game scoring triggered by Hay Bales can propel a sneaky Farmer to a sneaky win!
Here is a link to their Kickstarter: