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Pay Dirt is an immersive board game about modern-day gold mining
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Pay Dirt is a strategic worker placement game about modern-day gold mining in the wilds of frigid Alaska. - photo by Ryan Morgenegg
The board game Pay Dirt is about the gritty and competitive world of modern-day gold mining in frigid Alaska. In this worker-placement-style game, players take the roles of enterprising mining companies looking to refine the most efficient process for gold discovery. Hire the best employees, buy the best equipment and manage through the hardships that will inevitably come to hit pay dirt and win.

To start the game, players receive a base camp board, $9,000 in cash, five workers and a claim with three possible gold combinations. A round consists of bidding on available equipment, personnel or additional claim areas for excavation. The starting player gets to choose the first thing to go up for auction until everyone has had a chance to choose an item for auction and purchases are finalized.

The next step is the most fun. Players put their teams of workers in the field using equipment, repairing equipment, selling gold or buying additional equipment. The process involves moving a gold tile from a claim through excavation, loading and washing. When a gold tile reaches the end of the cycle, it is revealed and a semi-random number of gold nuggets are collected. The better equipment and employees a player has, the faster those gold tiles reach the end of the cycle and become shiny, yellow victory points.

The component quality in the game is absolutely superb. The box is sturdy and the artwork is gorgeous throughout. One of the highlights is the shiny yellow gold nugget playing pieces that come with the game and represent the gold collected. And the money in the game is good, solid cardboard rather than thin paper.

Pay Dirt is one of the few games I know that contains a theme that works hand in hand with the way the game plays. Its strategic, engrossing and lots of fun. Watching the gold refinement process from buying a claim all the way through washing away the dirt to discover how much gold youve earned helps a person feel as if they are truly mining gold in the wilds of Alaska. The game accommodates 2-5 players, lasts about an hour, is great for families and comes with my highest recommendation.

From the company website, "Crash Games is in the business of designing games that we think are fun, creative and engaging. As fanatical gamers ourselves we strive to provide games that are of the highest quality both in design and components. Nothing is worse than having a game with subpar components or a game that is great to play but has a terrible design or artistic quality. Crash Games will have no part in poor quality or design."