Age of Discovery
English language edition of Zeitalter der Entdeckungen
List Price: $30.00
Your Price: $24.00
(Worth 2,400 Funagain Points!)
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During the 15th and 16th centuries, the great royal houses of Europe sent explorers and conquerors all over the world, hoping to discover and secure new areas of influence and sources of wealth. Without the right naval vessels, these voyages would have been impossible. But even the incredible wealth of the royal houses could not sustain these expeditions for long. So they were happy that private entrepreneurs were ready to finance these expensive journeys.
Now your king has come to offer you the opportunity to invest in the great voyages of the famous explorers like Columbus and Magellan. You will need to purchase a fleet of ships, and assign them to the most successful expeditions. Of course, you will need a lot of money! To earn money you must fulfill trade contracts. Can you balance the needs of trade with the demands of the great explorers? It is time to seek wealth and glory in the Age of Discovery!
The theme of Age of Discovery (Mayfair Games, 2007 – Alfred Viktor Schulz) seems to be one of exuberance – sailing out to discover new lands. Make no mistake, the game is one of mechanical maneuvering; but the shipping theme is there, and the bright colors give this game a charm that adds to the mechanics. At the same time, the game has stirred up some debate on the internet, as one of the four special cards seems wildly underpowered.
I disagree that the specific card is too weak; I actually prefer it and consider it balanced. But it is a pointer to a fact about Age of Discovery; it’s a game that must be played more than once to truly understand its intricacies and winning strategies. It’s intriguing and requires some thought as to how best use one’s money; but there’s certainly more to the game than initially appears, and it feels quite “meaty” for the forty-five minutes it lasts.
In the middle of the table, twelve expedition cards are placed. Each of these expeditions is assigned a number from “3” to “8”, is one of six colors (red, yellow, blue, green, white, or black), and has victory points printed on it for the two scoring rounds. Each player takes a pile of wooden cubes in their color as well as six coins. Players place one of their cubes at the beginning of a scoring track, as well as the “0” space of a trade contracts track. A pile of trade contract cards is shuffled, with four being placed face up next to the draw pile, and a pile of “ship” cards is shuffled and placed in a way that basically results in two rows of five face up ships and five draw piles. Each player gets some special cards, depending on the number of players, and one “flagship” card. Finally, each player is dealt a special mission card, and the game is ready to begin, starting with one player.
On a player’s turn they may take two of the following four actions in any order.
When using a trade contract, the player plays the contract face up on the table in front of them. Each contract has a number of completion, and the player must play ships whose value equal that total AND are the same color. The player must also pay one coin for each ship sent. After doing this, the player decides how long the voyage will last, placing a cube on the number of turns (1, 2, or 3). At the start of each future turn, they move all cubes of this type one to the right. When it moves off the contract, the player receives money equal to the corresponding length of the trip. Fox example, on a trade contract with a value of “6” one turn returns nine coins, two turns returns eleven coins, and three turns returns fourteen coins. All ships are returned to the player, the trade contract is discarded, and the players trade contract marker is moved up one space.
When sending ships to an expedition, a player must pay attention to the number on the expedition; the sum of all ships there may never exceed it. The first ship to any expedition may be any color; all succeeding ships must be the same color. Players place one of their cubes on the ship(s) to denote ownership, and pay one coin per ship.
Players may use their “flagship” as a normal ship, except that each flagship acts as one of two different colors, can be a value of “1”, “2”, or “3”, and costs two coins to put out. A player may also use their “wild ship” action card to assign a ship to an expedition or trade contract, even if not the necessary color. Finally, the reservation card can be played by a player to allow them to “reserve” a ship or trade contract until their next turn.
The game has two scoring rounds. In the first, when the card comes up in the ship piles, each player receives victory points for each ship they have at the expeditions. Ships will score more points if they match the color of the expedition. The second scoring is similar, except a player also scores one point for each ship in front of them, and points for their special mission. There are four special missions, and each offers a bonus for a different setting.
Some comments on the game…
Lasting less than an hour, Age of Discovery will likely present a problem to new players, as they struggle to determine what exactly to do. But once played repeated times, some neat strategies present themselves as players learn the timing of when to purchase and place ships. Certainly a game for experienced gamers, Age of Discovery takes some common mechanics and puts an interesting time-limit feel to them. Delay too long in this game, and you won’t discover anything. It’s a satisfying two-player game and works even better with three (okay with four). Yes, it’s yet ANOTHER game about sending out ships in the 1600’s, but it’s a good one.
“Real men play board games”