Oranienburger Kanal: Construction Along the Canal Banks
Create an area of buildings, bridges, canals, roads, and more with the clever resource management in Oranienburger Kanal.
I was looking forward to trying out Oranienburger Kanal long before it arrived… Mostly because I needed to see the box to get the name correct! When my husband showed me the project on crowdfunding, I was nearly asleep, and merely referred to it as Orange Burger. Time to give this one a proper solo attempt and finally use the right name!
Actions help provide resources, which are used to add connections like canals and roads. Various buildings offer tons of options to spend those resources, activating unique conditions when surrounded or connected with bridges. It’s a very thoughtful puzzle in a compact space!
October 21, 2023
October 22, 2023
30" x 22"
Keeping It Small
The play area isn’t all that bad at all! A player board provides the map of the area to place buildings and other sorts of paths… Of which there are so many pieces.
I was surprised at the somewhat low quality of these components. The wheel wobbles and moves a lot, and all of the cardboard edges shed dust and debris nonstop.
What makes it unusual is how the paths surround the cards… Which aren’t square, so the sizes are different.
Some of the production decisions still puzzle me, as this appears to have a lot of excellent mechanics at play.
Building cards contain pretty straightforward costs, but the abilities use iconography that’s anything but clear.
I tried to parse through everything using the helpful guide, but thankfully, the glossary came to the rescue!
There are a bunch of different decks to use, and these guides offer text explanations for every card. Without the printed guide, I doubt I would be able to play. Very useful!
Still, I questioned how I was going to form a strategy when the buildings came out slowly with no way of knowing what might work together. Only one way to find out: Play!
Giant Action Discs
There was no mistaking which actions I took during each round! These enormous discs clearly marked my choices.
I liked the stack, as it helped block off spaces and gave me a visual of what was to come. On the subject of visuals, though, this was pretty much devoid of any artwork.
Picking up resources was helpful, as was using those to construct buildings that seemed to have synergies.
Still, without a guaranteed way to activate every building, it was difficult for me to decide which buildings would be useful and which ones were there for victory points.
You Spin Me…
Round and round! In theory, I was really excited to use this resource wheel to track everything and convert the more common resources into bricks and iron.
In practice, it didn’t feel that exciting. There were some neat things going on, but I wasn’t as thrilled as I thought I would be. Maybe the constant wobbling also soured me.
There were a few rough edges here, although I wasn’t put off by anything as I started to really dig into my first play!
I could almost start getting into the visual style with the various canals, roads, and railroads that took shape…
Reconciling Initial Impressions and Skill
In a nutshell, I was left a bit underwhelmed with this experience. Everything felt rather random and I couldn’t quite figure out how to best proceed with the way the buildings appeared at a slow pace. But I’ll mention that this screams of one of my initial impressions that can be completely wrong… More plays may reveal the genius of this sort of design!
My gaming tastes have evolved over the years, yet there’s an important distinction to make with newer games and low ratings. Many of these are simply not for me, and don’t have a path forward to be fun for me. Not an issue: I can’t love them all! Yet there are others where first impressions merely mean I haven’t cracked the puzzle yet. This might be one!
What’s not reflected in my numerical rating is the emotion… Whereas games I know aren’t for me often bring out anger, frustration, disappointment, or boredom, this one was more along the lines of confusion. Big difference! While I don’t know if I will devote more time to this one, courtesy of my hobby time being so limited, I don’t dislike the game!
A Complete Area
Maybe it wasn’t that big of an accomplishment, yet I found a way to construct a building in every spot!
Naturally, not all of them were activated. It either had to be completely surrounded by these path tokens, or be connected to 2 buildings via bridges. Still, not too bad!
I liked the strategy of planning out a lot of these elements. My score wasn’t anywhere near good enough, although I was more concerned about the play time feeling long.
Even my Calico Critters steered clear of this one, hesitant to break up the monotonous color scheme. Ha ha!
Secret Project: Pottery
One of the main reasons why I added this building to my area was for the name… It’s been the internal name of an upcoming title from the publisher I work for. Fun times!
I probably should have planned to activate this one again, for it was worth a lot of victory points with the roads around it. I just needed to have lots of wood stored up.
Not all of the iconography is difficult after understanding it, yet I still would be lost without the included glossary.
With a decent outing, I figured I would give this one another whirl to see what other buildings might pop up.
Play Number: 1 and 2
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game
Outcome: 91 & 100 (1 Win & 1 Loss)
Things played out much differently as I spent a lot more on canals… But those early buildings didn’t work with the ones that popped up later on. For all my efforts, my score didn’t improve that much. It all felt very random, which I know is often something a beginner will find fault with! However, nothing really grabbed me about this one… Just a lot of work to keep track of everything for little payoff. Maybe I’ll come back one day to try again. Hopefully!
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- Despite the rather mundane and boring appearance, there is a bit of charm present in the final appearance.
- Action selection is interesting with the stack of discs, so it’s nearly impossible to lose track of what’s happening.
- There are many important decisions to make, particularly in terms of which buildings to activate and when.
- Although the resource wheel may not be too innovative, it’s an excellent way to track resources with a few pieces.
- Each deck of cards has a wide selection of buildings, only some of which are used during a play, for lots of variety.
- Nearly all activity takes place on the player board, which makes the required table space reasonably small.
– Cons (Negatives)
- Buildings are revealed at a slow pace, so it isn’t easy to discover a coherent strategy to activating different abilities.
- There are way too many cardboard pieces with the rectangular cards, which just feels like a lot of excess.
- Component quality, aside from the cards, is rather underwhelming with lots of dust and debris that falls off.
- A glossary is absolutely required to understand the iconography, which isn’t very intuitive and hard to parse.
Score 100+ Points
- Overall Goal Progress 100% 100%
Goals and Milestones
Score at least 100 points.
Continue the Conversation
What do you like about Oranienburger Kanal? Have you discovered a deck that you prefer to play with? I know I sound pretty lukewarm here, and I’m still on the fence whether this one will eventually click with me or not. Still, lots of excellent ideas are present in the design! At least this is one I can safely say I expect to improve at with more plays!