In a sea of games, Public Market stands out. The fantastic cover art by Beth Sobel instantly drew me in. Then I saw it was designed by the same team that designed Point Salad and published Calico. With that talent and experience behind it, I was eager to take a closer look.
Public Market puts you on a fishing boat in the Pacific Northwest, hauling in a fresh catch to sell at market. You must pack your ice chest strategically and build up your reputation with the local canneries.
You can get a copy of Public Market, plus all stretch goals and a Kickstarter-exclusive drawstring bag, for only $39. Check out the campaign before Thursday, March 19, 2020 (it ends very early Friday March 20th in the US).
About Public Market
Public Market combines bidding, tile placement, set collection, and engine building.
Players bid for turn order. If they bid more than zero, they earn a scrap of fish for their ice chest.
The market board has spaces for turn order and action selection.
When choosing your action, If another player selects a spot that you had your eye on, you can still use that location. You have the option of paying the other player a $1 fee to move in front of them, or paying the regular amount and taking your place in turn order. This is the kind of balance I prefer in a game, where there may be an extra cost but a player is not frozen out entirely.
During the fishing action, players take a tile from the ocean grid in the center of the table. The tile must be selected from the column of tiles under the boat. The boat is moved at the end of each round by the lowest bidder from that round.
Fish tiles and scraps are placed into the ice chest. Shrimp, ice blocks, and crabs are printed in different spots on the 8 double-sided ice chests, and must be taken into account when trying to make the fish tiles and scraps fit. This adds a puzzle element to the game. Then players adjust the Catch Tracker to show the current level of each type of fish in their Ice Chest.
Public Market has several custom wooden components, including the gear and fish tokens shown above, and fantastic crab meeples.
Once players have fish in their ice chest, they may go to market to fulfill public contracts or deliver fish to small local restaurants. When these contracts or orders are completed players are able to score and gain special bonuses.
After each player has taken their action, the ocrean grid is repopulated with fish tiles from the ocean bag. When the bag is empty it triggers the end of the game.
Kickstarter backers will receive an exclusive plush velour drawstring bag with the game's logo.
More on Kickstarter
You can find a ton of great videos and a link to the rules, plus information for retailers, so be sure to check out the Kickstarter before Thursday, March 19, 2020.