We then split into 2 groups. Our table decided to try our very first game of Goldland, by Wolfgang Kramer. This is a very neat exploration game where you need to collect THIS in order to get one of THAT, and you need 2 of THAT in order to get one of THESE and 3 of THOSE, and then it costs 2 of THESE to do something else, etc., etc., etc.
Participating in this evening’s exploration was Jeremy (who had come down from the tree), David the pregnant father, Patrick on his way to have some dam fun at Hudson’s Hope, and me, your intrepid scribe.
I ran through the rules for everyone, and away we went.
Goldland is an exploration game. Each player has a backpack with 12 spaces in it. During the game, you collect various pieces of equipment which you then place in your backpack. The neat thing here is, your maximum movement in any given turn is limited to the number of empty spaces left in your backpack. So if you have an empty backpack (obviously very light, in that case), you can move up to a full 12 spaces. At the other extreme, if your pack is quite full with 11 items and very heavy, then you can only trudge ahead one space.
So the more you carry, the less distance you can move.
During your turn, you can do 3 things. Once each. In any order. The 3 things are:
a) move your explorer
b) pick up equipment (only on the space you start from or the space you finish at)
c) if your explorer is adjacent to an unexplored area, turn over a map tile.
Moving your explorer can be done by following the path(s) on the map-tiles, one space per tile along the paths until you want to stop or have to stop or you use up your movement allowance.
Some map-tiles (quite a few, actually) have “adventures” on them. You can’t enter these particular map-tiles at all unless you possess the necessary equipment in your backpack. If you don’t have the right equipment, you have to traipse back and forth along explored territory and acquire the right stuff, and then come back. To finally enter such a tile, you then have to give up that necessary equipment - in other words, it costs you certain items of equipment to enter.
Some of the adventure-tiles let you earn treasure (worth points at the end of the game).
Once you’ve done a particular adventure-tile, you get to place one of your tents on it. Having a tent on a map-tile means you can now enter that particular map-tile for “free” - you no longer need to have the specific necessary equipment to enter that space any more. On the other hand, you CAN “pay” the necessary equipment again (if you have it) - that then lets you put ANOTHER tent on that adventure tile.
Now - there are 7 different types of adventures, and there are at least 3 of each adventure tile. If you are the 1st explorer to do a particular type of adventure, you get to claim that specific adventure score token. As long as no one else has more of their tents on that type of adventure tile than you do, you get to keep that score token. But as soon as anyone has MORE tents on that type of adventure tile, then they get the score token. Then it can’t be taken away from them until someone else has MORE than them. So it basically works like the “longest road” in Settlers of Catan.
Now as long as you are following a path, it costs one space in your backpack to move one tile on the board (which is of course only gradually being built as the land is “explored”.) But sometimes you want to strike out on your own - you want to move to an adjoining map-tile that doesn’t connect by pathway. This is called an “ordeal”.
You may do this, provided you give up any 4 items of equipment. If it happens to be an adventure tile (without one of your tents on it yet), included in the 4 items of equipment you give up must be those specific, required items that the adventure calls for. If you had already been through that adventure-tile before (your tent is on it), then any 4 items is good enough.
So the game is a constant balance of acquiring the correct items in order to exchange them for something else, which in turn can be used to exchange or get something else.
You get to acquire items based on the space you start on, OR the space you finish on. You can’t collect from both spaces. You don’t have to acquire anything if you don’t want to do so. And you can discard items at any time. But once they’re gone, they’re gone. The only way to get more of that specific item is to start from or finish up on a space that lets you acquire one of those items.
Every time your explorer is adjacent to unexplored territory, he may randomly draw a map-tile and place it beside himself. So more of the countryside is discovered. You also get to take a generic adventure token for doing so.
Generic adventure tokens can be traded in (at a specific ratio depending on how many players are playing) to get any one particular item of equipment you want. And you can save them up, and they can be played at ANY time during your turn. In our game, David used them to great advantage.
The objective of the game is to score points. In general exploration, you score points by scooping treasures (worth 3 points each) in various adventures, and my having a majority of tents on different adventure-types, letting you claim that (or those) particular adventure score tokens.
But that’s not all. In the far opposite diagonal corner from where everyone starts is every great explorer’s dream: Goldland. Getting to that temple lets you acquire a valuable amulet and 2 gold. Any player who arrives there AFTER the 1st player to get there has arrived there, and BEFORE that 1st player has had a 2nd turn there, can also claim an amulet and 2 gold. But after that, any late-arriving player can only claim the amulet.
Once you have an amulet, you also get to claim 1 gold per turn from the gold stash there. When the gold runs out (or all players have acquired an amulet), the game then ends at the end of that round.
This was our first playing of Goldland. Indiana David ran away with the victory. He got to that temple first, leaving the rest of us in the dust. It was just so impossible for anyone else to get there. We had failed to appreciate just how powerful that temple corner was. David scooped up gold, turn after turn.
We made a few rookie mistakes along the way. At one point, I totally emptied my backpack. While this meant I could move a full 12 spaces, it was kind of useless to do so, because you need to have goods to get other, better goods. So I had to waste a few turns re-acquiring basic necessities.
Jeremy meanwhile stranded himself in one adventure and couldn’t get out until he passed a few times and acquired enough generic adventure tokens to trade in to allow himself to enter dangerous territory. (If you completely pass on a turn, you get to take one generic adventure token).
Patrick, meanwhile, misunderstood the ordeal rules, and thought that once he had a tent on an adventure tile, he could just walk in unimpeded. Well yes, he could - if he entered on a path. But entering not-on-a-path meant giving up 4 items. And that cost him.
Indiana David was the cutting-edge explorer. He turned over many more map-tiles than the rest of us did, and so he acquired a large collection of generic adventure tokens to use as he saw fit. And he kept placing the map-tiles to hinder his fellow explorers. Nasty, nasty, nasty.
Next time, I think players wouldn’t let just one player get so close to the temple corner alone. That mistake of ours let David run away with it. With 2 or 3 players at the temple, the treasures and the adventure score tokens would take on a lot more significance.
There was a lot of discussion during the game “This game is really cool! I have to buy this! What a great game! etc.”
Some of that initial enthusiasm was dampened a bit when it became apparent David had a runaway lead and we basically couldn’t do anything to stop him. I blame ourselves for that more than the game. I think it was a newbie mistake on our parts. I can assure you, Jeremy, Patrick and I will not let David do that again next time! We’ve learned our lesson. A definite one-game learning curve.
There was a lot of discussion about the game after the playing of it. As I have mentioned before, any time a game generates a lot of post-game discussion, that is usually a sign of a good game.
Jeremy felt the game was unforgiving. If you made a mistake, it would take several turns to recover from it. And during that time, players that hadn’t made a mistake would be getting further ahead. I agree with that assessment to a certain degree. I don’t know if that makes it a bad game. I think it just means that you have to play with perhaps a bit more planning than we were doing in our initial game, in order to avoid those mistakes.
David also had a bit of luck with his exploring. It seemed all the desert adventure tiles came up near the very end of the game, and he could place them to his advantage and to our disadvantage. We 3 others couldn’t do much to take points away from David - but I did take some adventure points away from Patrick in the 2nd to last turn, and then he reciprocated and took some away from me in the final turn.
In the end, everyone did enjoy the game. It works with its’ exploration theme VERY well. In some ways, it feels almost like a maze-puzzle. If that type of game doesn’t appeal to you, then you probably wouldn’t like Goldland. But the 4 of us quite enjoyed it, even with David’s runaway victory.
Amulet - 3 points
Gold - 11 points
Treasures - 6 points
Majority of tents in desert - 5 points
Total = 25 points
Treasures - 9 points
Majority of tents in lake regions - 3 points
Majority of tents in mountain regions - 3 points
Total = 15 points
Treasures - 9 points
Majority of tents in cougar regions - 4 points
Total = 13 points
Majority of tents in Natives region - 2 points
Majority of tents in Canyon region - 3 points
Majority of tents in Bandit region - 5 points
Total = 10 points
Dan - 8
David - 8
Jeremy - 7
Patrick - 7