Board Game Review: World’s Fair 1893 Second Edition, What is different in the new edition of World’s Fair 1893?

When I heard that Renegade Games was releasing a new edition of World’s Fair 1893 I jumped at the chance to check it out because the first edition of World’s Fair 1893 is one of my favourite gateway area majority games. 

Two main things have changed with this new edition of World’s Fair 1893. First, this new second edition features more diversity in regards to the influential figure cards and the game has also been released as an Amazon Exclusive at a new lower price point. 

Disclosure: Thanks to Renegade Games for sending me a copy of this new printing of World’s Fair 1893 to check out. Links in this post may be affiliate links. Using these links doesn’t cost you anything extra and it helps support this blog and podcast. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. 

What do you get with the second edition of World’s Fair 1893?

World’s Fair 1893 was designed by J. Alex Kevern and features artwork by Adam P. McIver, and Beth Sobel. This new printing of the game adds Jade R. Rogers, the founder of The House of Afros, Capes & Curls, as a Historical Consultant. The original version of World’s Fair 1893 was published in 2016 by Renegade Game Studios. This new edition, which was also published by Renegade, was released in early 2021 as an Amazon exclusive game. This new edition of the game has an MSRP of $40.00 USD.

In World’s Fair 1893 players take on the role of organizers of the fair, competing for the best reputation. Players earn reputation by sending their supporters to gain influence in the five themed areas of the show: Manufacturing, Electricity, Fine Arts, Transportation and Agriculture. You collect cards that allow you to propose exhibits for each area of the fair and use Historical Figures to affect their influence. Midway ticket sales also affect your reputation, as will the variety of your approved exhibit proposals. 

To see what you get in the new edition of this classic area majority game, check out our World’s Fair 1893 Unboxing Video on YouTube

The thing that shocked me the most upon opening up this new edition of World’s Fair for the first time is that it looks identical to the original game.  For some reason, I was under the (mistaken) impression that this was going to be a deluxe version of World’s Fair 1983 that would feature upgraded components in some way. Perhaps meeples instead of cubes or something. I was shocked to learn that the only things that have changed are a new section in the rulebook about the history of the World’s Fair in reference to Race, some new box art and seven new Historical Figure cards. 

The components in World's Fair 1893 Second Edition are identical to those in the original version.Other than these three small changes, which have absolutely no impact on gameplay, this new edition of World’s Fair 1893 is identical to the 2016 printing. 

That said, the components you do get in this game are great. There are lots of thick cardboard boards and counters, well-painted wooden cubes and high-quality cards. The rules are very clear and easy to learn the game from, with lots of examples of gameplay that feature actual game components. The new historical note in the rulebook is a welcome addition and is well written.

For any of you here reading this who haven’t played the original World’s Fair 1893 game, I will be summarizing how to play the game. For those of you who are just here to see what’s new, feel free to skip over the next section of this review and jump to my thoughts on this new version. 

How does World’s Fair 1893 Play?

World's Fair 1893 is a brilliant area majority board gameYou start a game of World’s Fair 1893 by building the board starting with the centre board which has a graphic of the huge World’s Fair Ferris Wheel. There is a top section that you slot into the Ferris wheel that is based on the number of players. Then around this Ferris wheel centre, you randomly place the five area tiles so the whole thing makes a hexagon. The Ferris wheel car is then placed at the bottom section, and the round marker is placed on round one. 

Remove the start bonus cards and the reference cards from the deck and then shuffle the rest of the cards and place them beside the board. Two cards from this deck are placed outside each of the five fair areas. Randomly determine a start player and distribute the start bonus cards appropriately.

Players take all of their supporters (coloured cubes in your player colour) and place starting supporters out on the board based on your start bonus card. The rest of the components (Exhibit Approval Tokens, Midway Coins and Leader Medals) are placed off to the side of the board for later scoring rounds. 

Placing a supporter in a game of World's Fair 1893During each turn in World’s Fair 1893 the active player will take one of their supporters and place it in one of the five board areas. They will then play any influential figure cards they have collected. These will let them add more supporters or manipulate where already placed supporters are on the board. 

After placing and modifying influence through supporters they will collect all of the cards from the area where they placed their first supporter this turn. 

Finally, three new cards get added to the board starting at the now empty spot where the active player just took their cards from and going clockwise around the board. Each fair area only has room for a set number of cards and if an area is full it is skipped over.

The cards you can collect include:

Main Exhibit Proposals – These are colour coded to each of the five areas of the fair and feature actual exhibits from the real life World’s Fair. Players can convert these to exhibit approval tokens during the game’s scoring rounds.

One of the seven new Influential People added to World's Fair 1893Influential Figures – These cards represent you asking influential historic figures for favours. Mechanically these cards, if you have them, must be played on your turn and they manipulate the supporter cubes on the board. They may let you place additional cubes or move cubes already in play. 

Midway Tickets – These tickets do two things. First, each ticket collected advances the Ferris wheel car. When this car completes a full circuit and reaches the bottom of the central board, a scoring round will occur. Secondly, each ticket you have is worth points in the scoring round. 

Each game of World’s Fair 1893 will feature three scoring rounds. A scoring round is triggered whenever the Ferris Wheel Car reaches the bottom of the central board after moving due to players having collected midway tickets. 

During these scoring rounds, players get points for each Midway Ticket they’ve collected as well as bonus points for whoever has collected the most tickets that scoring phase. All midway tickets are discarded after players receive their points. 

World's Fair 1893 is an Area Majority board game.Next, you go around the board scoring each of the five fair areas starting with the one to the bottom left of the Ferris Wheel. This scoring is based on area majority with the points being awarded based on how many players are in the game. For example in a full four-player game the player with the most supporters in an area gets a Gold Medal Token and the player in second gets a Silver Medal Token. In the case of a tie for first, both players get a Silver while any other tied players get no medal. 

In addition to these medals, which are worth points, players can also turn in Proposed Exhibit Cards that match the area currently being scored to collect Exhibit Tokens. This is again based on area majority and changes based on player counts. With four players, the player in first place may convert up to three cards while second place only gets to convert one card, or players tied for first may convert two and players tied for second may convert one. 

After each area is scored, players must return one half (rounded down) of their supporters from each area to their supporter pool.

Collecting sets of approved exhibit tiles in World's Fair 1893At the end of the third scoring phase, there is a final end of game scoring. 

At this point, players tally up all of their midway coins and medals (each worth the number of points indicated on the token). Then everyone gets points for their approved exhibits.

The points rewarded for exhibits are based on set collection, with complete sets of five different exhibit types being worth the most. For example, each full set of five different tokens is worth 15 points, with smaller sets being worth less down to as little as 1 point for one individual token.

The player with the most points wins. 

Is it worth picking up the new edition of World’s Fair 1893?

Playing World's Fair 1893 with the familyI picked up the original version of World’s Fair 1893 in June of 2016 and it’s stayed in my collection ever since. It’s a game that I’ve play with my home group as well as a game that I’ve enjoyed bringing out to public play events. I think it’s a great lighter area control game and I’ve enjoyed it every time I’ve played it.

This new edition of World’s Fair 1893 is the same game. It’s identical. There’s absolutely no change, with this new edition in regards to gameplay. 

Due to this, I love the game play of World’s Fair 1893 Second Edition just as much as I love it in the first edition. 

This game still features really simple to teach rules that manage to be pretty thematic. I love the way the Ferris Wheel and Midway Tickets are used to control the timing and round structure of the game. I adore the “flavour text” on the cards and the fact that they all represent actual exhibits and real people. 

I find that everyone I introduce this game to for the first time spends pretty much all of the downtime between turns reading their cards and actually learning something about the technology of that time period. While this does slow down early games a bit, I don’t mind as people are enjoying the theme of the game and may even be learning something.

A couple more of the new historical figures added by Renegade Game Studios to World's Fair 1893This is the only aspect of the game that has actually improved in this new printing of World’s Fair 1893. Realizing that there were race-based issues surrounding the World’s Fair of 1893, addressing those issues, and adding in five more diverse historical figures is something I applaud Renegade Game Studios for doing. I enjoy the fact that people that could not take part in the World’s Fair at the time get to in this updated version of the game. 

However, this does lead me to the problem with this version of the game. While I do appreciate this addition, it doesn’t actually do anything to make the gameplay better and honestly, it doesn’t feel like enough of a change to warrant a full new printing. 

That said, this new version is now an Amazon Exclusive and due to that agreement is available for a lower price than the original printing. 

World's Fair 1893 is a fantastic gateway area control game.Overall this leads me to the conclusion that I think that the second edition of World’s Fair 1893 is a great game and is well worth picking up, but only if you don’t already own the original game.  There just isn’t enough here to justify buying two copies of the same game. While I do appreciate the increased diversity, to me that’s not enough to warrant buying another copy of a game I already own and enjoy. 

I wish Renegade had done two things with this new product. First off I wish they had done more to support underrepresented people, perhaps donating a portion of their proceeds of this game to a worthy cause. That would have had me telling everyone to take the time to upgrade their copies. Which leads me to the other thing I would have liked to have seen, and that’s an upgrade kit for people who own the original game. A way to get these new cards and improve our games without having to buy the same game again with all of the same components minus five cards and a new blurb in the rulebook. 

Playing a game of World's Fair 1893 Second Edition Oh and then there’s the fact that I thought this was going to be a deluxe version. I would have loved to have seen meeples instead of cubes, maybe a nicer finish on the cards, metal coins and/or medals, etc. I would happily pick up a deluxe version of this game, but that’s not what this second edition of World’s Fair 1893 is.

Overall, if you don’t already own World’s Fair 1893, I strongly recommend that you head over to Amazon and grab a copy. 

If, like me, you already own the first edition of  World’s Fair 1893 than it’s up to you if you feel it’s worth buying a whole new $40 game just for a little bit of added diversity. 

I have to admit that I have a really hard time buying a game a second time and I tend to get frustrated when publishers release new versions of games I already own. This has happened often lately with games like 7 Wonders, King of Tokyo and Viticulture (and don’t even get me started talking about Miniature Wargames like Warmachine). 

What about you? Do you mind when a publisher releases an updated version of your game? Have you taken the time and spent the money to swap over to the new version of a game you own? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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