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Age of Discovery

sean johnson
United States
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In 2010 there was a charity auction for Cici. Sadly, I do not remember her whole story, but she is a little girl with several medical problems. The auction was to raise money for medical treatment. It was a large auction with several items that did not have any bids several days into the auction. So I placed a starting bid on several items that looked somewhat interesting. A couple of the items no one else ever bid on, and I ended up getting them. Age of Discovery was one of the games we ended up with. So did we get lucky with this game or not?

Game Overview
In Age of Discovery, players are going to be earning money by sending a fleet of ships on trading expeditions to make money and exploration voyages to earn points. On a player's turn they get to choose to do two of four actions each turn. A player can choose to take two coins as an action. They may accept a trade contract. There are four face up trade contract to choose from, or players can take one blindly from the top o the deck. The third action a player can take is to buy ship cards. Each ship card comes in a certain color and has a strength of 1,2, or 3. Obviously the 1 strength ships cost less than the three strength ships. Players can buy as many ships as they wish and can afford. The fourth action players can take is send ships on trade contracts or on exploration voyages. Trade contracts require a certain number of ships. For example, a green six contract requires a player to play green ship cards equal to six. The player then decides how many turns the ships will be at sea. The longer they are out on the trade contract the bigger the pay out. At the end of the contract, player's get the ships back. The voyage cards are out the entire time and have a limit of how many ships can be played on them. For example, a voyage might have 8. This means that up to 8 points of ships can be played there by any player. Once a card is played to a voyage it stay there the whole game.

At about the half way point of the game there will be a scoring round. Players will score points for each ship they have on one of the voyages. There is another one of these scoring rounds at the end of he game. The other way players score points are from mission cards. At the beginning of the game each player gets a secret mission. These missions might be something like have at least one ship on a voyage, or have at least half the ships on a voyage. At the end of the game they will score point for each voyage where they met their secret condition. How many points they score is tied to how many trade contracts they completed. Whoever has the most points wins.

The Game We Played
My wife got the secret mission where she got bonus points for each voyage where she had one ship, where as I got the mission where I got points for each voyage where I had at least half of the ships. We both followed a similar strategy. We bought ships, used them for trade contracts, and then sent them on a voyage after the trade contract cashed in. At the half way point, she had more ships on voyages and got a slight lead. I had one turn where I collected $24, and that allowed me to buy a lot of ships. I was able to get ahead of my wife on how many ships I had out, which is good because I needed to to meet my mission conditions. At the end of the game we did the final scoring round, and I ended up a few points of her. We had both completed seven contracts. However, because my mission was harder than hers I got three points for each voyage where I had at least half the ships, and my wife got two points for each voyage where she had at least one ship. She was at all 12 voyages and got 24 points. However, I had at least half at 9 so I got 28 points. I won with a final score of 128 to 113.

Our Thoughts
My Rating: 2.5 (Do not care for)
My Thoughts: I do like that this game is a careful balance between getting money and getting points. If a player messes up the balance they will stall. However, the secret mission cards really bother me. I am sure they are all balanced against each other, but as I play the game it sure does not feel that way.

Her Rating: 2.5 (Do not care for)
Her Thoughts: This is not a bad game, but there are many other games I would rather play. I do not feel like the secret mission cards are very balanced.

Combined Rating: 5
Fair or not, I think the secret mission part of the game is really what sours us both on it more than anything else. I do not regret getting this game, because in doing so we supported a cause worth supporting. However, we are more than ready to wish this game a bon voyage.
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