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Carnegie was inspired by the life of Andrew Carnegie who was born in Scotland in 1835. Andrew Carnegie and his parents emigrated to the United States in 1848. Although he started his career as a telegraphist, his role as one of the major players in the rise of the United States’ steel industry made him one of the richest men in the world and an icon of the American dream.Carnegie …
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Category SKU ZBG-PEG57007G Availability 3+ in stock
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  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • A variety of game mechanics
  • Euro to the max
  • Look at that train!

Might Not Like

  • A big table presence (and big set up)
  • Looks a bit complex (it isn’t)
  • Do you dig 19th Century industrialists?
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Carnegie was inspired by the life of Andrew Carnegie who was born in Scotland in 1835. Andrew Carnegie and his parents emigrated to the United States in 1848. Although he started his career as a telegraphist, his role as one of the major players in the rise of the United States’ steel industry made him one of the richest men in the world and an icon of the American dream.

Carnegie is an elegant and interactive management game. Players must compete in growing their companies through shrewd investments in real estate, industry, and transportation. Players will find ways to take sole advantage of lucrative opportunities. In the end, the most successful player will be victorious – but success is judged by more than one's wealth. To win, players must also contribute to the country's greatness through their deeds and generosity.

During the game you will recruit and manage employees, expand your business, invest in real estate, produce, and sell goods, and create transport chains across the United States; you may even work with important personalities of the era. Perhaps you will even become an illustrious benefactor who contributes to the greatness of his country through deeds and generosity!

The game takes place over 20 rounds; players will each have one turn per round. On each turn, the active player will choose one of four actions, which the other players may follow.
The goal of the game is to build the most prestigious company, players win accumulating the most victory points.

Player Count: 1-4
Time: 2-3 Hours
Age: 12+

Practice, Practice, Practice

Modern board games can be an odd shoal of fishes at times. You look at a game, read the back and think ‘this sounds so dry that it should be served in a hi-ball glass with an olive’. Then you play it. And you play it again. And again…

Games such as Brass: Birmingham. Or Power Grid. Or even, come to think of it, Ticket to Ride. The last is maybe not so relevant as lots of people like trains (I like I Like Trains, but that’s a different matter) but the first two, about the 19th Century industrialisation of the Midlands and power stations (Kraftwerk, you know) in Germany respectively, are hardly what you’d call pulse raising in any way, shape or form. They are, however, crunchy Euros with a neat set of play mechanisms and an irresistible flow to the play that make them the modern classics they are today.

Enter Carnegie, a game based around the 19th century Scottish industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie forging an empire in the United States. Pass me the swizzle stick and the shaker – I feel a Manhattan coming on…

Office Space

Okay, maybe that’s a harsh intro to Carnegie, but it’s accurate. Andrew Carnegie WAS a big deal in the 19th century and helped to make the USA the power-house it is today through his industrial and philanthropic projects that included theatres, libraries and universities. He was also an anti-imperialist and republican (as in he supported the American republican system, over the British Monarchy-based system), a scholar and, despite being possibly the richest man of his time, only took a $50,000 salary and use any further income for benevolent purposes rather than horde his wealth. You know, the more I find out about this guy, the more I like him…

Anyway, back to the game. Carnegie is a 1 to 4 player game designed by Xavier Georges, he of Troyes fame. Each player takes on the role of a philanthropic industrialist who is determined to make America great (no ‘again’ here, maties!) through building the likes of banks, bridges, and railroads across the states whilst developing their individual businesses and making life better for the good people of the U.S of A. This is done over the course of 20 rounds and at the end their achievements are converted into victory points. Whoever has the most victory points wins.

When you set up this game, make sure you have a nice big table as you are definitely going to need it! As well as the BIG map of North America that will take pride of place in the middle of the table, each player has a board that represents their head-quarters. This starts with only a few rooms available for use and 10 workers, five at their posts and five others in the lobby, eagerly awaiting assignment. There are also more workers that can be recruited later.

The player’s head-quarters also have four sliders which represent technology that can be developed and buildings that can be built (coloured wooden counters) when they are slid out (I told you that you’d be needing the room).

There is also a customisable tracker in the middle of it all that shows players the four actions available and the other effects that will take place on each turn and a whole load of rooms to furnish your head-quarters with. Throw everyone 4 resource cubes (for building things) and 12 dollars (for hiring staff or contributing to benevolent purposes) and you’re ready to… rock? You know what I mean…

Working Hard Or Hardly Working

As I said above, the game takes place over 20 rounds, regardless of how many players there are, and each round has three actions linked together, chosen by whoever is the first player in that round. In order, these are either a recall or donate action, an office action and a worker activation action. These are the order in which they are done in the game, but I’ll go over the office action first.

There are four possible office actions: Human Resources, Management, Construct and research and Development. Everyone starts with one Human Resource, two Management, one Construct and one Research and Development in their headquarters, so no matter what the ‘first player’ chooses, everyone should have the capacity to do something. Should.

Human Resources allows you to move your workers around the board for the most part, but can help you do other things such gain extra workers or score VPs for your workers. You need to move your workers as they need to get to their places of work before they start working – no free ride here (although there is a worker that is always in HR, separate from your other workers). Also, using some of these HR actions will result in the worker being sent out on a mission to one of the four regions of America – West, Mid-West, East and South. In fact, some of the Management, Construction and R & D actions will result in workers being sent out. More on this for playing Carnegie later.

Management allows you, at first to either gain resources or money, or build new rooms in your head-quarters. Later rooms will allow you to do such things as gain even more resources and/or money or convert resources into money and VP. But a bit more on building rooms in your head-quarters. If a worker is already in a vacant space, the new room only take one resource to build. If not, it will take two. There are sixteen different types of room in the game and you can only have one of each type in your head-quarters but they are still in limited supply so make sure you don’t leave your corporate makeover for too long!

Contruct allows you to build stuff on the map. Building stuff on the map is a good idea, because as an industrialist you need to be a bit more industrious than just refurbishing your head-quarters, right? Later rooms will allow you to turn money into resources too, which is handy as usually this can only go the other way and you need resources to build. Building is also good as it uncovers effects on your sliders that will be your income – more on that later – and will help you to connect cities together. Connecting your cities in a kind of Ticket to Ride stylee will give you big points at the end, depending on how developed your transport system is.

Which brings us neatly to R & D. Workers will give you so many points of R & D which can use to advance technology on your board or develop your transport infrastructure. Later rooms will also allow you gain cold hard cash or double up on another player’s donations – yes, more on that later. Advancing your technology allows you to slide out your sliders and reveal new things to build – these are circles where you place your wooden disks, ready for construction – and eventually end of game points. Developing your transport increases or changes your income in one of the regions. This will also become very important at the end of the game when you score points for connections based on your least developed region. Getting to the end of the track also reaps some pretty meaty rewards that can only be occupied by one player.

Now I am going to take a back-step to recall and donate in Carnegie. This comes before the above, but wouldn’t have made sense before. As mentioned, some of your office actions result in workers being sent to the four regions. When a player chooses a recall (or income) action in their round, everyone has an opportunity to recall any workers they have in that region (sent out by office actions) for income based on their transport level in that region times the number of workers they return and how many bonuses they have revealed on their sliders – it’s tricky at first, but gets easier once you get used to it. The workers then return to the lobby of the players’ head-quarters, ready to ride again.

If a donate action is chosen, each player can donate to one of the unoccupied benevolent causes above the map – if, of course, they have enough money. The first donation costs five dollars and rises by five dollars up to 20 dollars for each donation they make. Donations bring in the VPs at the end of the game depending on how many buildings have been built, how many rooms have been built and so forth. Donating can really either make or break your strategy.

Finally, and this is the last action and not some kind of Pulp Fiction non-linear affair, you can activate your workers. It’s all very well building these fancy departments, but if they haven’t got anyone working in them, well… it’s going to be like the complaints department at Carlsberg (old, old advert reference – sorry, not sorry). Now, you may have a worker that has moved to a particular department, but unless they are activated they will lie there like a sloth with motivation issues. Activation usually costs money, because you’re not expecting your workers to work for free (although on further reading about Mr Carnegie… sometimes he did. Okay, maybe not such a role model now. Oops).

Once all three actions have been done in turn by all players, the first player token (a train – choo-choo!) passes to the next player, the tracker for that row moves on a space and you start again.

New York To San Francisco… An Inter-City Disco

I guess I went all in with the explanation, but I’m going to try to exercise a bit more brevity with the scoring process. That said, it’s handy to know a bit about it going in because… well, it’s not as elaborate as some, but it looks pretty elaborate at first. There is a particular order to score things marked on the board, which is handy as there are a lot of things to score. Players first score for all their working workers – not the work-shy ones lolling about like Romantic poets – and the rooms in their head-quarters. These score based on how high up they are in the building – the first three floors score two per room, whilst the top floor scores three. This includes the rooms already built but not the lobby – I mean, who ever heard of scoring for a lobby?

Next comes the VPs exposed on the technology tracks and the transport scores. The technology tracks, like the tracker boards, are double sided so may score differently depending on which side is showing. The transport score depends on the player’s lowest transport development compared to how many connections have been made between the big cities – then can make a real difference to the final scores, but not as much as the donations can. You also score for each city you have built in.

Donations will score based on four different categories: how many of each type of room you’ve built, how many buildings and how many transport developments you have built, how much money and resources you have left and how many cities you’ve built in in each region. These may seem like repeats of the previous shared scoring categories, but these are YOURS and YOURS alone. Once these have all been marked on the score tracker (which encompasses the board a la Ticket to Ride), whoever has the most points wins. If there is a tie… look, just buy the game and they’ll tell you. Sheesh.

How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall? Practice, Practice, Practice…

As you can see from above, there are a lot of moving parts to this game, but hopefully you can also see how nicely it flows. It’s one of those games where there is a definite turn order for some of the actions (the office actions, essentially), but after a few turns players can do things concurrently rather than consecutively and flow will occur. This being a euro, there will definitely be a way to break it, but there is also enough variation on rooms, building tracks and donations to generate score that many strategies will be possible.

The components are of a high quality and though the artwork is not amazing it is functional and has that turn of the century feel (19th to 20th, not 20th to 21st, which still feels weird). The wooden action marker and first player token are lovely – a cog and a train respectively – and having all the meeples and counters made from wood make it feel nice and renewable. The player boards, with their room squares and sliders, give the game a lovely dynamic feel, though there could be a space to put your resources and, though the Kickstarter version does have a rack for the buyable rooms, there could be somewhere to place the buyable rooms.

These are mere quibbles though. Though it looks complex and the scoring system looks elaborate, the game kicks along at a decent but not break neck speed and has a pleasant flow to it. The mechanisms of worker placement, movement, building and upgrading means that there’s always something different to do in the game on every round. There also isn’t the feeling that someone has completely run away with it and even the structure of the end of game scoring has an air of uncertainty to it.

Carnegie does have a hint of Ticket to Ride in the city linking and a smattering of Raiders of the North/Scythia in the bring a worker back/send a worker out thing, but these aren’t the core of the game – they just add to the experience and the variety of the game. So is this game like a Manhattan? Well, a Manhattan may be dry, but it sure is a lot of fun.

That concludes our thoughts on Carnegie. Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts and tag us on social media @zatugames. To buy Carnegie today click here!

Zatu Score


  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • A variety of game mechanics
  • Euro to the max
  • Look at that train!

Might not like

  • A big table presence (and big set up)
  • Looks a bit complex (it isnt)
  • Do you dig 19th Century industrialists?