Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Review #29: Age of Discovery

Slideshow Review - BGG Listing

- numbered 3-8 (transport limit), in various colors
- each shows point value during first and second scoring round: x/y
- put all of these on display

Trade Missions (Contracts)
- show colors (same as above) and value (gold paid to player for fulfilling contract)
- deal each player 2
- place 4 face up; the rest are nearby face down

Ship cards
- each shows a number (=transport value), a number of coins (the cost of the ship = transport value + 2), and a color (matching expedition colors)
- make 2 rows of 5 face up cards
- shuffle the rest into 3 piles of 6, 2 piles of 7 (face down); shuffle a scoring card into the 3rd and 5th piles, then place these above the 2 rows
- when ships are bought, will replenish market by drawing from face down piles, from left to right.

- each player gets 6
- rest in bank

Score Board
- place one cube from each player on the score track, and one on the contract track (bottom)

Players each get...
- the rest of the cubes of their color
- 6 gold
- 3 single-use cards: 2 wild cards allow you to play a ship of ANY color, ignoring normal restrictions; 1 card allows you to reserve a ship for one turn (different distribution for diff # players)
- 2 contracts
- 1 random wild ship card; remaining wilds are out of game. These are usable for 2 different colors shown on card, and can count as transport value of 1, 2 or 3
- 1 special mission card

Game Play
You get 2 actions on your turn. There are 4 options (you MAY NOT take the same action twice):
- Take 2 gold
- Buy ship(s)
- Buy ONE trade mission contract
- Send ship(s) on expeditions and/or trade missions (= contracts)

Take 2 Gold
- from bank
- no limit on money

Buy Ship(s)
- the BOTTOM row is the current market; top row is future market.
- when you buy from bottom row, immediately slide the card above it down
- place a ship card in the empty spot by drawing from the leftmost pile of face down cards at the top; if a scoring card is revealed, finish the current turn, then EVERYONE gets one more turn, then scoring occurs
- cost = #coins shown at bottom of card
- add to your hand
- if scoring card is drawn, set aside and draw another ship card; after player finishes turn, there's a final round for EVERYONE to get a turn before scoring occurs.

Buy ONE Contract
- any of the face up cards, or top card from draw pile (immediately replace face up card when purchased)
- cost = 1 gold
- goes to your hand

Send Ship(s) on Expeditions and/or Trade Missions
- Trade Missions
... play contract face up in front of you, along with ship cards of the same color as the contract
... sum of ship transport values must equal contract value
... cost = 1 gold / ship card (or 2 gold if using your wild ship card)
... place a cube on the 1, 2, or 3 space; indicates number of turns to complete, with bigger payoff for longer time
... will advance the time cube one space at the start of each future turn; get paid when cube advances 3-> 2-> 1-> done
... when contract finished, advance your contract counter on Score Board one space and return the ships to your hand

- Expeditions
... play ship card(s) to expedition(s), with 1 cube per ship card
... for any Expedition, all ships must be the same color as first ship played there and the sum of transport values may NOT exceed the transport limit of that expedition
... cost = 1 gold / ship card (or 2 gold if using your wild ship card)
... ships remain till end of game
... Shows 2 sets of x/y numbers. Use first pair in first scoring round, second pair in second. Each ship (cube) gets y VP awarded if ship color matches expedition, or x VP if not

- First Scoring: only score cubes on expeditions
- Final Scoring: score expeditions, special mission cards, and get 1 VP per ship NOT on an expedition (trade mission ships DO score)
- Special Mission Cards: multiply these two numbers
... top half of card: shows condition required (at least 1 ship on an expedition; half the ships on expedition; majority of ships on expedition; all ships on expedition) -- # expeditions matching the condition
... bottom half of card: top row of the table shows #s for contracts you've completed; use the multiplier # shown in the row below

The Good:
- cheap ($20-25)
- fast: plays in about 45 minutes
- well made: could have been a board, but the tiles work pretty well, are reasonably sturdy, and nice to look at
- tough decisions: timing (how long to invest in contracts, when to buy ships, when to go on expeditions, when to anticipate/control the game end, when to use your single-use cards) is important, money management is tough
The Bad:
- balance: It seems as if some Special Mission Cards are significantly harder to achieve than others, with the VP award not appropriately adjusted.
- luck: setup (which ships and contracts come out, which dual color ship and contracts a player is dealt)

Overall, a good game probably worth having although there may be some balance issues (fixable with variants?).

All images are from www.boardgamegeek.com.


At August 15, 2007 3:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would love to listen to your podcast. Is it available in MP3? My Creative Zen player doesnt seem to be able to play M4A files.

At August 17, 2007 9:12 AM, Blogger snoozefest said...


Sorry, not at this time. The first 12 or so podcasts were just mp3, although the quality is pretty horrible (except for #1, Struggle of Empires, which I went back and tweaked a bit -- it's still not great, but it's less bad!).

I may try to convert these to just mp3s, but I imagine that would be REALLY boring -- rules are bad enough, but rules without pictures would make things kind of tough, I think.

At August 17, 2007 9:13 AM, Blogger snoozefest said...

BTW, since the bulk of each recording is rules, maybe watch/listen to it when ya'll are about to play the game? Of course, you'd need to have a laptop or PC in the room, with iTunes on it...

At December 04, 2007 2:23 PM, Blogger Seth Jaffee said...

I'm going to have to look into "other than mp3" formats. I feel like I'm still using Vinyl while the rest of the internet has moved past Casette tapes to CDs...

Regarding Age of discovery, great review! I'm going to have to go back and read some of your others (I don't keep up with blogs very well).

I checked my BGG comment on AoD - here's what it said: "This game is not a terrible idea, but it's not finished. I've played a number of unpublished prototypes by hobbyist designers that felt more finished than this game."

I remember playing the game after first reading a friend's review - the review detailed the imbalance of the goals which you mention under the cons of the game. I initially was skeptical about the review, and was looking forward to arguing with my friend after playing the game - but I found that I really could not.

The theme and idea of the game seems solid, but I was really disappointed with the experience. Its interesting to see that you say it's worth having despite the imbalance... without some major rules updating I can't imagine wanting to play it again.

- Seth

At March 05, 2008 8:56 AM, Blogger snoozefest said...


Thanks for your comments (and sorry for the delay -- it's been a long time since I've checked here!). Anyway, I had fun with the game but I do wish the goals were better balanced. I did trade for it, but with so many other games I haven't been able to get it to the table yet. My guess is that we won't play it enough to figure out how to beat the obvious strategy (of getting lucky and drawing the right mission card), even though the designer/publisher insists it is, in fact, balanced. Instead, we'll likely just play a variant where you can choose your own mission.


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