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The new game 2004 from BeWitched-Spiele:

A game for 3-5 players planning paradise age 12 and up by Andrea Meyer

Artwork: Sebastian Wagner, Sebastian Balogh
Playing time: ca. 70-90 minutes
Price: 9.95 EUR plus package and postage.
1st edition (2000 copies, October 2004)

Please note: There is an English version of the game by Rio Grande Games, USA, titled "Mall World". At BeWitched-Spiele you can only order the German version.

Right in the middle of nowhere. Nothing but desert around you. No oasis, no camels in sight. But what's that? A shopping paradise before unknown to the world is going to open its doors to the public:

MALL WORLD

Beforehand, however, you need to settle the right branches in the building and rent the shops to those chainstores paying you the highest amount of money. Kids' clothing next to biofood? The gunstore next to the gamestore? Who is going to pay you for realizing their concepts?

Come, look and build. Welcome to Mall World!

The Game:

3-5 players are going to plan and build the interior of the mall. International chainstores and conglomerates pay them for settling clothing, food, hobby and sports shops for different target groups in "Mall World".

The orders come by fax, payment is received monthly into your more or less legal Swiss bank account. Approvals and building activies are numerous.

'Another store of Lovis? Fine, that gives me another 4,000 Swiss francs later, go ahead! And my client Cheap-O likes that, too. Just a second, those coins are mine, after all it was me to offer you that approval. The catering funds will increase anyway. Now I am going to build this Biologic store and then we need another foodshop next to this sports shop of course!
And now I only have to confirm my special order ... what do you mean, which one do I have? You'll find out soon, promise! Whaaaaaaaaaaaat, you are going to finish the game, are you nuts?! Wait, when I'll have paid my cash into my account we will see who has been the biggest in business!'

Große Geschäfte will only bring profit to those who are able to reveal their orders in time without telling early whose interest they're in favour of.

Content:

1 board
5 overviews in German and English
36 branch tiles
32 target group chips
10 bribe chips
40 approval cards
28 orders
25 coins (liquid capital)
5 x 2 pawns
1 rules

Special thanks go to:

Hartmut Kommerell, Alan R. Moon, Stefanie Rohner
and Jay Tummelson for their support and good ideas at the right time.

Comments and reviews:



Please also check out the German comments.

Please also check out the Boardgamegeek ratings and comments for Mall World.

spielbox - issue 1/2005

Große Geschäfte: Swiss account for everybody

Roman Pelek writes in his review:

[...] Grosse Geschäfte is a good game about economy, which combines well-known and new mechanisms well. The permanent dilemma between confirming an order in time (including the problem of giving information away to the other players) and further building the mall remains interesting over the 90 minutes a game lasts. Especially the four-player-game convinces; in the three-player-game the auction looses attraction; with five players it becomes more difficult to keep an overview of the other players' orders and intentions.

The well structured and well-written rules provide you with a fast start. The quality and amount of material will open your heart. [...] There's different opinions on whether the artwork ist esthetic or not. Some players blandly considered it to be ugly. Personally, I think it fits the theme and I liked the fact that for once I did not have to deal with more or less perfectly designed images of honorable knights or castles from the Middle Ages. Putting the artwork aside: If you are looking for a good economic game with complexity, you should consider Grosse Geschäfte for evenings full of gaming fun."

Roman Pelek, Knut-Michael Wolf, and Wieland Herold each award 7 points on the 10-point-Scale of spielbox, Christwart Conrad awards 4 points and comments: Lengthy, attached theme, ugly artwork".

translation: Andrea Meyer

The Munich based WestPark Gamers write:

If you are interested in games that transmit their theme nicely and provide more than an abstract flair, "Grosse Geschäfte" will not appeal to you. However, if you like abstract tile laying games ("Einfach genial" comes to mind here) and want to see some new game mechanics that foster player interaction and provide player dilemmas this is the game for you.

The Piddinghoe Gamers write in their Essen report:

The theme of the game is placing shops in a shopping mall. This may turn some people off, but shouldn't. The game is very much about strategy and not shopping. [...] Opinions? This one went down very well with everyone. Of the five who played the game, four of us immediately purchased a copy. It would have been a clean sweep if Andy had not decided that we didn't need four copies of this between us. [...] This is another game which will appeal to the gamer more than the family. It allows for some interesting decisions, and rewards careful timing and attention to the actions of your fellow players. The auctions, in particular, had a nice feel to them. You are allowed to auction off from one to three cards, with each number being handled differently. Another of my favourites of the show.

Rick Thornquist writes on www.gamefest.com:

In this game, players are building up stores in the local mall. The mall starts out almost empty, but then starts to fill up with various types of stores. The main way of getting money, which are the victory points in this game, is to fulfill orders that require various types of stores to be on the board or to be adjacent to certain other stores. During the game, four of these orders are laid out face up and can be bought (the mechanism for doing this is the same as Showmanager). The first order cards out of the deck are fairly easy to fulfill but they get more difficult. You also start the game with a very difficult order that you work towards fulfilling during the game. The harder the order is to fulfill, the more its worth.

To place businesses, you need approval cards. These allow you to place various types of stores on the board. Auctioning and playing of these cards is really the heart of the game you need the right cards to get the stores that you want on the board. Maneuvering yourself to get the right cards and playing them at the right time is crucial. [...] As all of the player are building in the same area, there is much jockeying for position as the board starts to fill up. You have to watch what other players are doing to make sure they dont shut you out, but at the same time you could try to ride their coattails if they are building some stores that you want. [...] In the end I found the game quite interesting. I liked it. This is a bit of a heavier game, though not as heavy as Im Schatten des Kaisers. Im very interested in playing it again to explore the various strategies.

On Boardgamegeek Rick Thornquist writes::
[Mall World is a] Quite good gamer game. There's a lot of thinking in this one. For the first half of the game it can be a bit daunting, but it becomes quite straightforward.

James Miller writes in the DIGgers-mailing group:

Große Geschäfte (Mall world)

This is a very close runner up to the best game I played at Essen. I am generally a fan of Andrea's work and this is certainly no exception. The RioGrandicizing of the game turned out a fabulous looking product that I think will please many folks who may have been turned off in the past. The game functions well as an exercise in time management and tactical card capitalization where your helping out a neighbor can help you in the short term but hurt you in the long. It is a game however if you are not careful that it may be easy to let your neighbor get away with something he shouldn't, essentially shoplifting a victory. Well you'll get that every now and again. It is a Mall World after all!

Greg Schloesser writes in the DIGgers-mailing group:

Due to too many people showing up for the game, I opted to sit out and observe the game. I liked what I saw and feel certain I'll thoroughly enjoy this trip to the shopping mall.

Dale Yu writes in the DIGgers-mailing group:

BeWitched Mall World

Had the priviledge of playing this one at the BeWitched booth! Thanks to Henning for taking the time to teach us this one. It's quite fun, and hit a particularly sweet spot for me as I have been trying to develop a game with similar concepts for awhile now. Luckily for everyone, Andrea's game is much better than anything I would have been able to foist upon the gaming world.

It's a clever game of filling contracts. You want to set up the mall so that you can score points based on combinations of stores (and people targeted by those stores) being adjacent to each other. Like many popular games, you can't seem to do all the things you want to do and this tension is what makes the game fun. The trick is to decide when you want to play your contracts to the table. If you play them early, you get a small bonus of money and you are guaranteed that you will be able to score that contract, but your opponents then get the advantage of knowing what you want to score and are able to block your position on the board to keep you from scoring. The game looks like it will play in about an hour in my group, and it's pretty meaty for that time range.

Joe Huber writes in the DIGgers-mailing group:

[...] I've only played twice, but played with 5 both times and found it a very good number for the game. the game took about 80 minutes, and I didn't find there to be too much downtime at all. And the theme worked for me...
Joe (who will note that Mall World made my final top 10 list for 2004)

Find Eric Landes' review here.

Spelblogger writes in the Dutch game journal:

[ ...] we went to BeWitched Spiele, where we had reserved a table to play Grosse Geschäfte I was afraid my boyfriend wouldn't like it, but he did. The blind bidding was just a small part of the game. An important part, but it wasn't all blind bidding. After one round, my boyfriend confidently made his moves, and to me, that was an indication that he was 'getting the game'. The rest of us was not, at this point. It really takes a few rounds to grasp what it's about. If you like heavy games (not literary this time), this is a good one. [...] we liked Grosse Geschäfte, and we bought the game.

Tony Maniscalco writes at Boardgamegeek:

Mall World - a new release that I had not heard of before GLG. Despite a horrible name which made me think we were in for a game more appropriate for 15 year old girls, this turned out to be a very good game! I saw this game played by 4 or 5 groups throughout the day, and I think that it had a good reception overall. [...] In any event, it was one of the big surprises for me this weekend!

Chris Farrell writes in his weblog:

If you remember, last time I played Mall World I was somewhat uncertain. Stuff in there intrigued me, but we had a lot of trouble with the rules, and the balance seemed slightly off with 5.

Having played it a second time now with 4, I'm much happier with the game. The rules were easier to explain now that I'd played once, and I was able to do so pretty quickly. Once we got going, the game played smoothly. This made a huge difference. Mall World can feel a bit chaotic, mainly due to the way the contract cards come out. Sometimes you get good ones, sometimes you're facing down lousy ones. The good thing is that you always feel like you can make progress. You can be working towards your special order (which requires a lot of work), or doing your best to develop the contracts you have. So it feels constructive, and even if you are behind, you feel like you're doing stuff and if you can get a big late-game special-order payout, you can feel like you're still in it. All good stuff. And like Andrea Meyer's other games, I guarantee you that you have nothing quite like this in your collection, even though it shares some mechanics with other games like Union Pacific, Traumfabrik, and Show Manager.

The first play is the toughest. The learning curve was described by one of my fellow-players as being more like a "learning cliff". [...] I don't know if Mall World will gain classic status, but like the better smaller-press games, it's clever, it works, and it gives you something rather different, something that you just aren't likely to get from the bigger brands.

A Norwegian website featuring Mall World can be found here.

Errata:

In the rules for "Große Geschäfte" on page 7 top right the following sentence is missing: "Hat bei drei Spielern der Anbieter das Hoechstgebot, so zahlt er dieses abweichend von der Tabelle in die Schwarze Kasse." It translates as follows: "If with three players playing the active player has the highest bid, he pays his bid into the slush fund, too."