A hand of first edition "A Few Acres of Snow" cards. Image by Ivan Dostál used under Creative Commons license.
One of the best games of 2011 is about to get a better. That's more truth than hyperbole, as "A Few Acres of Snow" was named the #4 best game of 2011 here on MTV Geek, and one year later, the game is about to receive an improved second edition printing. There's also a switch at the publishing helm, with game designer Martin Wallace moving his business from Mayfair Games to Asmodée Editions.
For those not already familiar, "A Few Acres of Snow" is a two-player game that puts players in the midst of a historical conflict between Britain and France for control of modern-day Canadian land. Following the receipt of it's 2011 accolades, though, "A Few Acres of Snow" was embroiled in a bit of controversy.
With its unique blend of deck-building and war gaming, "A Few Acres of Snow" appeals to the most strategic of hobby gamers. This is truly a game for the "hardcore" crowd, and as such, the hobby gaming community managed to break the game. After exhaustive play, a strategy that upsets the balance of this two-player game was revealed, putting the merits of "A Few Acres of Snow" into question.
The contents of the original Mayfair Games first edition printing. Image by BoardGameGeek.com user Hercule Poirot, used under Creative Commons license
Throughout the controversy, my opinion on "A Few Acres of Snow" has not changed, as I have studied the game-breaking strategy and feel that even most serious hobby gamers are unlikely to root it out on their own. For the common gamer, "A Few Acres of Snow" remains a top-tier, but admittedly flawed, title. But that's why we have second editions, right? Hopefully, this new printing will fix some of the game's past problems.
I reached out to Asmodee and Martin Wallace to get clarification on what exactly is changing in this second edition printing. For the most part, it is the same game, but according to Wallace, there are a few small rules tweaks as follows:
• If you play the Home Support card and there are less than three cards in your draw pile then you pick up the remaining cards BUT you do not then shuffle your discard pile, i.e. if you only had two cards left in your draw pile then you would only pick up two cards.
• You cannot place location cards in your reserve.
• When you launch a raid the first card played allows you to raid along two connections, with each additional card played increasing the range by one connection.
• The French bateaux card has been removed from the game.
The modified second edition rulebook has already been posted to Wallace's personal site for those who would like to read further. At face value, these changes seem to shake up the game's strategy only in small ways, and may not go very far in resolving the above-mentioned imbalance. Last year's recommendation still stands though. Unless you are a Mensa member, you'll have a great time duking it out in "A Few Acres of Snow."