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Subject: Impressions of Goa after 5 plays rss

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Hertzog van Heerden
South Africa
Johannesburg
Gauteng
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Overview

Goa is a medium weight euro style board game with auction and building elements. It can be played with 2 to 4 people and takes approximately 90 minutes.


Components

The game consists of wooden spice tokens in 5 colours and wooden cubes used to advance on each player's technology chart. There are cards for money (ducats), additional actions, settlers, ships and special exploration cards. Also included are sturdy cardboard tiles to be auctioned off at the start of each round, representing either plantations, colonies, missions that award victory points, instant payouts (of ships, colonists or actions), continuing minor advantages that can be activated once per round and special advantage cards that can be held until activated and then discarded. Additional components include player auction discs, the game board, individual player mats (one for plantations and colonies and one for technological advancement), a start player token and a rule book. The cards are especially sturdy, which are an advantage
because they are the used extensively in the game. The rulebook is clear and concise, and a sample game is presented at the end of the book to illustrate the first round of play. It is highly recommended to read through this after being familiar with the rules, since we discovered (after two or three plays) that we misinterpreted some critical aspects of the game, such as plantations being initially filled with spice or additional action cards being payed out once all technology fields are upgraded to a certain level.


Game play

The game is played over 8 rounds, divided into a phase A and B. Every round, each player will receive 3 actions. So the game will conclude after 24 actions for every player, not including additional action cards. The youngest player starts the game by turning over a navigation card in the hopes of getting a tiger symbol. Until such a symbol is drawn, players draw cards in a clockwise fashion. Once a tiger is drawn, that player receives the starting player marker and 7 ducats, while all the other players receive 10 ducats. The starting player then places his marker next to the board of displayed phase A tiles. He also places his first auctioning chip on the start player marker. In player order, each player places another auction marker on a tile that is adjacent to the previously marked tile. The starting player is also the player to finish off staking claims by placing another auction marker. The auctions then start, with each player assumed to have a standing bid of zero ducats for his own claim. Players, in clockwise fashion, either pass or increase the previous bid amount. The player that bids the highest pays the person whom the marker belongs to and receives the tile. If the player won the auction on his own tile, he instead pays the bank. It is desirable to win the starting player marker, as this includes a free additional action card as added incentive.

After the auction phase has been concluded, each player has 3 actions to spend beginning with the player who gained the starting player marker during the auction. The actions include building new ships, harvesting spice, gaining ducats, drawing navigation cards, attempting to form a new colony or upgrading the technology tree by expending spice and ships. The technology tree determines the extent of the previously mentioned actions' effectiveness. For instance, a beginning player will not gain much spice when she is still on the first level of spice production, but will gain significantly more spice on the 4th or 5th level for the same expenditure of one action. The technology tree also provides victory points at the game, gives an additional action card each time all technologies have progressed to a certain level, and rewards players with navigation cards for reaching the highest and second-highest levels of a certain technology field first.

Also worth mentioning is the navigation cards, which provide the players with added advantages by playing them, such as additional spices, money, colonists or ships, or by modifying an action to be more favourable. A good example of this is upgrading a technology to a higher level by expending only spice and not needing a corresponding amount of ships. If the cards are left unspent, they provide victory points at the end of the game, with matching symbols fetching exponentially higher scoring bonuses. The last function of these cards is to determine the success of a colonizing attempt. A player will attempt to colonize by comparing the base number of his colonizing technology field plus the number of colonists revealed on the top two navigation cards (1 to 3 each) with the target number for that colony. If he misses the mark, extra colonists have to be spent from his hand to make up the difference. If there aren't enough, he fails and gains a colonist card as consolation. This is one of the only ways to get new colonists. A lot of people have mentioned that this aspect of the game seems unbalanced and the loss of a turn seems catastrophic. The loss of a turn might seem like a large upset, even with some compensation, but the rewards of a colony are worth the risk, as they provide victory points at the end of the game and fill up with spice (just like plantation tiles auctioned off).

After all players have had their three actions, any player may spend additional action cards (in player sequence) to take one action for each card spent. Any additional action cards beyond the first has to be spent, while one action card can always be transferred between rounds. At the end of four rounds, all the tiles on the auction field are removed, and a new set of tiles for the B phase of the game are placed randomly.

Once all eight rounds are completed, play finishes and scores are calculated according to missions accomplished, small plantation points, colonies founded, technological achievement, navigation cards left in hand, and the most money. A tie is resolved by the player with the most ducats.

An official variant allows players to choose by starting with two technologies advanced one level each or an extra 10 ducats.


Summary

Goa has made quite an impact on our group after only five plays and will be played extensively over the next few weeks to explore all its subtle interactions. And that is the game's strongest point : the way the seemingly different game mechanics and themes all influence each other and one well-timed move or blunder can have long-lasting, subtle repercussions. Different strategies seem viable and an awareness of your opponents' game play is vital, especially during the auction phase, which determines a lot of short term goals and decision making in each player's turn. At this point it is destined to become a group favourite.

Score : 8.5 / 10


 
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Treacherous Cretin
United Kingdom
Unspecified
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Check the BBG files for a 5th player expansion kit ( spotted your microbadge PnP )it works surprisingly well.
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Hertzog van Heerden
South Africa
Johannesburg
Gauteng
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Thanks very much!

I would definitely be keen to try it out
 
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