English language edition
List Price: $49.00
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(Worth 3,950 Funagain Points!)
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It's the 19th Century, and you have come to the lush tropical jungles of the Amazon in search of rare plants and animals. You must explore the twisting paths and waterways, leading your expedition from one village to another.
Each village offers an opportunity to establish a new outpost. But beware -- the Amazon is not for the timid! Fearsome crocodiles lurk in the tepid waters of the rivers, and hungry jaguars stalk the twilight paths. Do not shy from such dangers too long, for the cost to build a new outpost increases the longer it takes you to reach each new village.
Your funds are very limited, so speed is essential. Your sponsor has also sent you a secret directive. You must fulfill the demands of this special mission, or you will lose much of your newly earned fame!
Can you face the dangers of an unknown jungle and earn fame and recognition? Or will another explorer surpass you on the way to glory? Find out when you enter the land of the Amazon!
Players: 3 - 4
Time: 50 minutes
Ages: 10 and up
Est. time to learn: 20-30 minutes
Weight: 1,090 grams
Language Requirements: Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English. This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item.
- 1 game board
- 48 wooden huts
- 64 specimen tokens
- 58 playing cards
- 28 gold coins
- 16 silver coins
- 4 bonus tokens
Average Rating: 4.2 in 4 reviews
A very fun and beautifully illustrated game. I have played this game several times now and the outcome changes every time, but the score always seems to remain close and competitive. It seems that two of the most important factors in the game is when to use your native indian card to avoid the dangers of the jungle and the importance of trying to remember what bonus exploration cards have been revealed so that you can try to capitalize on your income. Even if you get pushed out of completing your mission card, the score remains close and you can still win!
If I were to compare this to other games, Ticket to Ride would come to mind, another very fun transitional gateway game. I would, however, place Amazonas above Ticket to Ride in the lineup as it has more "meat on the bones." There is more strategy, choices and player interaction in this well balanced game. I think Amazonas has a definite chance at winning the Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) if nominated, if it's not nominated it has been definitely overlooked! This game has quality written all over it, it's pleasing to look at, has well written rules and the components are well made.
I can see no reason why this game would not deserve five stars in my opinion. A prized game in my collection that will be hitting the table quite frequently due to it's relative simplicity (my nine year old daughter picked it up the first time around), while still being a gamer's game that is a pleasure to play. This one belongs in everyone's collection!
I had this game on my 'things to get' list and kept forgetting it was there, it would get buried by the newer and more hyped games. And fortunately in my last barrage of game buying I had room for an extra game and came upon this one on my list.
This was a great game for my group of 'post-beginner' players from work. It is surprisingly simple and turns go quickly (of course someone could think too hard and take a long time, but none of that thinking hard in our group!).
The two things that were worrisome to me ended up actually working just fine:
- Why is it that you determine your income in one phase, do
something else, and later actually receive your income? It
certainly reads like you can forego this. But reading it and
playing it are two different things and it all made sense and was
- Income Card play - Uh oh - you have 7 income cards and play
1 each turn, which is then out of the game until you have used all
of them once upon which you pick them all back up again. Each
card has an income amount listed from 0-6 and you get bonus
income based on how many tokens of the indicated specimen you
have obtained. I am always leary of this type of mechanic - do I
play the 4 income card or the 5 income card? And everyone plays
theirs at once so how does they effect each other?
I am happy to say that this too ended up working very well, my
fears unfounded and I the card play worked very well.
Having just played Colosseum, I ended with with a bit of the same challenge happening to me in this game, I did not look at the big picture to start the game and it ended up causing me to lose. Since our group has played Ticket to ride a number of times, the secret mission card, showing the villages you must build in by game end or lose Victory Points, was very familiar - that is to everyone but myself where I cavalierly tossed down my starting hut and started placing huts with very little strategy for completing the mission. About halfway through I realized how relatively few huts there were, certainly not enough for me to ramble all over on my way to my destinations, and then I realized that with only 18 turns, I would not have enough time, nor money to make my connections! And I will tell you, in a game where you score 8-10 points, losing 3 points per destination you miss is not a good thing!
Final thoughts: Great game for casual gamers - flows very nicely and should not be overlooked. Be sure to look at your mission card and figure out find the most direct route!
Two things came to mind when I first opened up the box of Amazonas. One was how absolutely beautiful the board looked, standing out even in a day where board games are starting to look better and better. The other was the reminder in my head not to make the same mistake Greg Schloesser made with the coins. I don’t know how many times I’ve sat down to type up a review and noticed some minor or critical mistake I’ve made when playing the game, so I was thankful that Greg had caught the slightly confusing rule for me.
Amazonas is not a deep game, being more of a middle-weight game along the lines of Ticket to Ride. The choices are simple; but the strategy is good, and each game turns out differently (so far as I’ve seen.) I wouldn’t want to play the game every week, but I could easily play it several times a year and find that it’s an excellent stepping stone to use on the path of introducing new players to the wonderful world of strategic board games. It’s simple enough that everyone in the family can play but deep enough that it that adults will be satisfied. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was nominated for the Spiel des Jahres in 2005, although I would be surprised if it won.
The game board, with thirty villages, all connected to each other, is placed on the table. Each village has one specimen type (blue fish, purple flower, yellow butterfly, red parrot, or green lizard) associated with it, and has one to three building sites on it - each with two to five gold pieces printed on them. Each player receives a set of seven “income” cards, three gold coins, and twelve huts of one color. A pile of gold and silver coins is placed near the board, as well as a shuffled face-down deck of event cards. Each player is given a “Secret Mission” card, which has four of the villages marked on it. Four bonus tokens are placed near the board, as well as piles of each of the five specimen tokens, and four “native” tokens. Starting with the youngest player, each player claims a building spot in a village of their choice, placing one of their huts on the spot, and paying the appropriate amount to the bank. The game is then ready to begin.
On each of the eighteen turns of the game, an event card is turned over, which affects that turn. Players then each choose an income card from their hand and play them face down, then simultaneously reveal them. Each of the income cards has an icon on it (one of the five specimens, a native, or a “wild” icon). Each income card also has a number from “0” to “6”. Players will receive income that equals the sum of the number on the card plus one for each token they have that matches the icon on the card (for the “wild” icon - the token type they have the most of.) Players declare how much income they will get and turn order cards are handed out to the players, with the player getting the highest income going first. Ties are broken by a small number at the top of the income cards. Each player then takes their turn in this turn order.
On a turn, a player takes silver coins (three silver coins = one gold coin) equal to the income they get that turn. They then can build as many huts as they want, provided they
- have enough gold coins to build. Each hut in a village is progressively more expensive than the last.
- Each hut they build must be connected to one they already own, by either a river or land route. Whenever a player builds a hut in a village (even the one at the beginning of the game), they take a token of that type and place it in front of them.
When a player gets one token of each specimen type, they may take the top bonus tile and place it in front of them. (Bonus tiles are worth “5”, “4”, “3”, and “2” points). After a player takes their turn, they cannot use their income card again until they have used all seven of them, at which point they take all their income cards back into their hand.
Each event card affects the game differently, causing players to adjust their strategies. If a player plays the income card with the “6” on it, they can ignore the bad effects of any of these cards.
- A jaguar event shuts down all land paths for that turn.
- A crocodile event shuts down all river routes for that turn.
- A bonus event gives one extra silver coin to all players that have a token that matches the one shown on that card.
- When a native event card is drawn, one of the four native tokens is placed on it. During this turn, a player can forfeit their income to take the native, which they must immediately assign to one of the five specimen types (it essentially becomes a token of that type.) Once the native token is taken, other players are out of luck.
- A theft event causes each player to lose silver coins equal to the number of tokens in the single category they have the most of.
- A forest fire event cuts all income received that turn in half.
After the eighteenth event card is turned over, and all players have received their turns, the game ends. Each player then totals their final score. If players have at least three specimen tokens (including natives) of a specific type, they get one point for each token; otherwise tokens score no points. To this total, players add the number on their bonus chip (if they have one), and then subtract three points if they don’t have a hut in the four villages on their secret mission card. The player with the highest total is the winner, with ties going to the player with the most research tokens!
Some comments on the game...
1.) Components: As I said, the game components are quite beautiful, starting with the picturesque board. The river and jungle paths wind all over the board, creating a really nice visual effect. I think that Amazonas is a good example of how an abstract game can really be changed. I’m sure that mathematically, all the villages could have been lined up in nice, straight lines; but because of the way the board is set up, wavy lines go all over the board, creating a very pleasant effect. Each specimen tile (which are of good quality) is of a different color; and all the colors are very bright, helping cement the theme of a tropical rainforest. The cards and artwork are well-done, and everything fits very neatly in a nice plastic insert in a colorful, large square box.
2.) Coins: I thought I’d briefly mention the coins that I’ve seen a few people complain about on the internet. The game rules have players take income in silver coins and pay out in gold coins. While this works well from a mechanical viewpoint, it’s just not intuitive. Fortunately, I didn’t miss the fact that payouts were in gold coins (not silver - an easy mistake to make), but even though I stressed the point clearly, I still had players ask for clarification several times throughout the game. This is a minor thing, but it helps if you know about it...
3.) Rules: The rules were shorter than I thought and were frankly quite simple. The four pages of the color rulebook were well laid out, and included many illustrations and examples. The game (even with the little coin snafu) is very easy - and people quickly picked up on how to play. One might want to show the event cards to players before a new game, as they can be a surprise to those not prepared; but other than that, game play is fairly simple to pick up.
4.) Secret Missions: There are eight different mission cards, and most of them go to completely different cities, not affecting each other at all. Still, it’s possible to box someone out of getting a city. Don’t let this discourage you if you don’t like nasty games, it’s usually pretty difficult to see if someone is heading towards a specific city or not. Boxing someone out of a city is usually accidental; so while some annoyance results, it’s usually not intentional. I suppose someone could memorize all eight secret mission cards, and thus determine what card everyone holds; but this person would not be fun to game with period. Either way, while not insignificant, the loss of three points for not connecting all cities isn’t always devastating; I’ve seen people win regardless.
5.) Income cards: I’m a sucker for simultaneous selection, so I was glad to see that in this game, although it’s not as intense in other games. The only time where I felt turn order really mattered was when a Natives event card was revealed. Those native tokens are extremely useful and really help to push a player’s score up. But are they worth sacrificing a lot of income for? Small decisions like this make the game fun. Since the “6” card cancels a bad effect, and this can only happen three times a game, knowing when to play this card is important also. Is the forest fire bad, or is it worth it to be able to ignore the Crocodile card?
6.) Fun Factor: The game, while having an interesting theme, really doesn’t have too many thematic elements to it - other than the beautiful pictures. I really didn’t feel like a forest fire occurred, or that I was traveling through the Amazon. But I didn’t care, it was a fun game regardless. The fact that the game took about forty-five minutes, yet provided a fun gaming experience, makes this game worth playing. Everyone was absorbed in connecting their own cities, making the game a bit of a solitaire experience, punctuated by a bit of interaction (going first and taking the native, blocking someone else.) Because the cities are fairly expensive, for many turns players simply collect their income and do nothing. Normally this would be annoying, but it’s assuaged by the short playing time, therefore causing little downtime.
I think Amazonas is a keeper. The game looks good and is a good “after the gateway” game. It’s very simple to teach, and there are different strategies and tactics in the game. Will players mainly concentrate on connecting their cities, try to be the first to get a bonus chip, or try to get as many tokens of one or two types that they can? These aren’t deep thoughts, and I doubt we’ll see too many strategy articles about Amazonas on the internet. But that doesn’t mean the game isn’t fun, and worth playing. It’s not quite a filler game; but when you have less than an hour and want a game that provides some return on your time investment, Amazonas is a good choice.
“Real men play board games.”