It is extremely rare for a new game to appear to great critical reception and for me to not get what all of the fuss is about. Unfortunate this is exactly what has happened with Milestones, a new offering from Stronghold Games.
Milestones teeters uneasily between being a cooperative game and an every player for himself offering. The game description talks about building roads and settlements together and that’s certainly what happens as there is one mapboard and each player’s builds are done there. But there is no cooperation because there is no end goal that all players share like defeating a foe or getting out of a dungeon alive.
Each player has his or her own gameboard to keep track of that player’s ability to build resources. This is the part of Milestones that shines brightly.
The player moves a figure around the board collecting resources from placed workers and then spending them on marketplaces, houses and roads which are placed on the mapboard for points. This system is ingenious. So is the tax that a player must pay each time that player makes a complete trip around the board. That tax comes in the form of losing a worker.
The lone negative about this system is that one or two bad decisions on it can cripple a player for the rest of the game.
Where Milestones fails is the mapboard. Not only is the scoring a bit more difficult than necessary, but it is too dependent on the player before’s action. In a 3-player game for instance, if Player A makes a mapboard blunder, it can so greatly benefit Player B that both Player A and Player C very likely won’t recover.
The mapboard and the individual player boards feature great artwork and the worker boards to be placed on the player boards are also well drawn and make it easy to understand the resources they provide.
Milestones could be a great game with a different map on which to build and a slightly different system to keep one player from inadvertently determining the outcome.
The game plays in 45 to 60 minutes and can be played by two to four gamers. The suggested age is 10 and up, but due to the scoring, I’d suggest starting at about 12.