Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery
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It is the late 15th century and a new age is dawning. While searching for a new trade route to India, explorers have discovered a new land. The first reports tell of strange creatures, exotic people, and fabulous wealth. Captains and dventurers flock to these new lands in search of gold. They are quickly followed by colonists, soldiers, merchants, and missionaries all seeking wealth of one kind or another. Colonies begin to spring up, and soon competition among the great nations of Europe begins.
Take the role of one of Europe's colonial powers and stake your claim in the New World. As the leader of your nation, there are many paths that lead to victory: Discover and colonize new lands; acquire trade goods that will build your economy; develop new technologies and infrastructure in your home country; build your merchant fleet to dominate the trade routes; and build your army to defend what is rightfully yours!
The triumphant revel in riches and glory, while the vanquished become a footnote in the history books. It is an Age of Discovery... it is an Age of Empires!
Our gaming group is addicted to this game. I will highlight a current strategy I am working on concerning being a warmonger. However, the best strategy I have had so far that has amassed the most VP's is the total Merchant/trader strategy. This game requires complete focus of will and strategy. If you try to do to many things you will be average at best. Invent your own strategy and execute it and do not waver from doing the same things until they make an impact.
Here are my current thoughts on focusing on being a total warmonger in this game.
I rarely play prototypes, mostly because there are so many finished games to try! But I was intrigued when I got the chance to try out the prototype of Age of Empires III (Tropical Games, 2007 – Glenn Drover) last year at Origins. Oddly enough, it was, even in prototype form – the best game of the convention for me. I eagerly looked forward to the full-blown game, although the troubles of the Eagle company delayed that for quite a while. Finally, one year later, at Origins 2007, I was able to play the finished product.
And my opinion is unchanged – I feel that not only is this Glenn’s best game; it’s in serious contention for game of the year – a great game. Fans of the PC game will be likely disappointed; for while Age of Empires III is a great game, there is a notable difference in styles. There are a few component issues, although they pale beside the sheer overwhelming beauty of the game. With a plethora of decisions and multiple strategies and tactics, this thematic game is one of the best of the year.
Let’s talk about some of the features of the game…
Age of Empires III is a heavier strategy game than most, although it doesn’t require too much thought to get into. However, it may be the best strategy game I’ve ever played with six players (Dune may be an exception) and certainly has no downtime and a good, flowing feel. Glenn Drover has produced some good games in the past, although he has certainly taken flak for his earlier games. He won’t receive much for this one, however; as it is a fantastic game of discovery, marrying theme with good mechanics for a tremendously solid, fun game.
“Real men play board games”
I am familiar with all of Glenn Drover's games (the games designer) of which there are many, including Age of Mythology, Civilization and Railroad Tycoon. These have all been published through Eagle Games, while his latest, is published thorugh Tropical Games.
I purchased the game the first day it hit the shelves. I've played it several times. In summary, this is Glenn's best game design to date. Not only that, its really great game in its own right.
Hey, I am no Tom Vasel... I play a lot of games, but, I don't fall in love with every game that hits the store shelves. In fact, one of my friends, Bryan Johnson is fond of telling me "I hate everything." Thats not true. But, I am not easily impressed.
Age of Empires 3 is a great game. It clocks in at 2 hours, so its longer than most Euro's. But then, again, its the shortest game Glenn has designed to date. More importantly, its fun.
Here's the scoop:
Each player takes turns placing 1 of his 5 Colonists on the board in event boxs that correspond to an action players want to take. With your Colonists you can so some fun stuff. For example you can:
Shipping Colonists to the New World is key, because players score 6 points for having the most Colonitists in a territoriy. Having the second most Colonists in a territory only scores 2 points. So, this is very much a standard area control game (aka, El Grande). Boat cargo space is very limited, so, you need to get your colonists on the boat before it fills up with other player's Colonists. Thats fun.
Players cannot colonize the New World until its territories are first discovered. At game start, only 1 of 9 territories is discovered. So, to uncover more, you can place one of your 5 precious Colonists in the Exploration Box. This sends them over to Discover territory/Defeat Natives. Defeating natives in one territory takes 1 - 5 Colonits. You are not sure how many until you flip the Discovery card. If successful, you get money and VPs and that territory is open for EVERYONE to colonize.
Place 1 Colonist in the Specialist area. You then get 1 specialist.
Soldier - Embark a soldier onto the Colonist ship (instead of a Colonist) and then you get the ability to kill pesky enemy Colonists in the same territory where your soldiers are.
Merchant - Embark a Merchant onto the Colonist Ship (instead of a Colonist) and you get $5 as soon as you land your Merchant in the New World.
There are also missionaries and Captains... Fun, fun, fun.
Collecting trade goods generates income. To get a Trade Good, simply place a Colonist in the Trade Area. One Colonist entitles you to collect one face-up Trade Good. If you eventually collect a set of 3 identical goods and you get $3 income per turn. $6 for a set of 4. Its first come first serve, here, so, you need to get your colonist(s) into the Trade Area first, to get first pick of the face-up Trade Goods. There are only 4 available per turn.
Capitol Buildings provide you special bonuses. Place 1 Colonist in this area to build 1 of these buildings. Some buildings give you a free extra Soldier, or Colonist every turn. Others give you 1 extra slot in the Colonist Ship which only you can use every turn. Others give you money, or VPs.
Warfare is handled in good, solid Euro-style fashion. Combat is not too powerful, but, it can still STING. To attack another player place 1 Colonist in the War Area. Then, pick 1 territory in the New World where you have a soldier. The enemy removes 1 Colonist for each Soldier you have there. And, vice versa, since combat is simultaneous. Whats fun is you can place more than 1 Colonits in the War area which means you can make several attacks on the same turn. You can also pay an extra $10 and attack 1 player in every province you and he share. Thats fun too!
So, go buy it.