Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
 Hide
14 Posts

Age of Discovery» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Age of Discovery - Session Report rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Greg Schloesser
United States
Jefferson City
TN
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Note: This is an abridged version of a full review that will eventually be modified and published after further playings.

Mayfair’s partnership with Phalanx and da Vinci Games has resulted in a steady stream of new games being released. One of the latest is Age of Discovery, by new designer Alfred Viktor Schulz.

While there is a board to track victory points and fulfilled trade contracts, Age of Discovery is essentially a card game. Players acquire ships and trade contracts, then send those ships on expeditions of discovery and on trading voyages to satisfy contracts in order to earn much needed funds. Players must balance the need for income with the desire to earn victory points, while attempting to achieve the conditions of their “secret” mission.

Each turn, a player may choose two of four possible actions, but may not choose any one action more than once per turn.

Take 2 coins.

Accept a Trade Contract. The player pays one coin and takes one of the face-up trade contracts, or the top one from the deck, and places it into his hand. A player may never possess more than four trade contracts.

Purchase Ships. A player may purchase up to two ships from the purchase row, paying the required amount of coins. When purchasing ships, the color and transport values are critically important, as explained below.

Send Ships on Expeditions and/or Trade Voyages. A player may assign any number of their ships to trade voyages or expeditions, paying one coin for each ship assigned. There are some restrictions:

1) Expeditions

a. The first ship assigned to an expedition determines the color of all future ships that are placed to that expedition. While it is not required, a ship matching the color of the expedition will earn more victory points. Players mark their ships with cubes.

b. The transport limit of the expedition cannot be exceeded.

2) Trade Contracts

a. When playing a trade contract, a player must assign ships of the same color to the contract, and their transport value must exactly total the transport limit of the contract.

b. When assigning ships to a contract, the player decides if the voyage will last 1 – 3 turns. The longer the duration, the more income that is earned at its completion. Sometimes, however, the need for income is pressing, so a shorter duration is wiser. Each player tracks the number of contracts fulfilled on the scoreboard. The more contracts fulfilled, the greater the points that can be earned with the secret mission cards.

Players need a steady source of income, so assigning ships to trade contracts is important. However, expeditions earn victory points, so players cannot ignore that aspect of the game. Deciding where and when to assign ships is critical, and the toughest aspect of the game.

There will be two scoring rounds during the course of the game. The ship cards are divided into five decks, and scoring cards are mixed in the third and fifth decks. Players earn points for the ships they have on expeditions, with more points being earned if the ships match the color of the expeditions. These points range from 1 – 3 points in the first round, and 2 – 6 points in the second round.

The game concludes after the second scoring round, but not before final bonus points are earned. Players each earn one point for ships that are not assigned to expeditions, and then analyze their secret mission cards to determine the points they earn. Sadly, it is the mission cards that, in my opinion, appear to skew the game. Let me explain.

There are four mission cards, each requiring the players to achieve a certain presence level on the expeditions. These include having one, half, majority, or ALL of the ships on an expedition. For each of the expeditions wherein a player achieves the requirements of his mission card, victory points are earned for each ship on that expedition. The amount per ship is based upon the mission card and the number of trade contracts the player completed during the game. The more difficult mission cards potentially yield more points than the easy-to-achieve “one ship per expedition” card. So what’s the problem?

The problem is multi-faceted. One, the points earned for achieving the requirements of the mission cards is not commensurate with their difficulty. While more points are earned per ship for the more difficult cards, they aren’t enough to compensate for the difficulty of achieving their requirements. For example, it is absurdly easy to place one ship on many, if not most expeditions. On the other hand, placing ALL of the ships on an expedition is extremely difficult, and a player will likely at most only accomplish this on two, perhaps three expeditions. This is a significant problem in and of itself, but the biggest problem for me is that the mission cards completely drive the strategy of the players. If a player receives the “all ships on an expedition” card, he must begin pursuing this task immediately. The easiest expeditions to completely dominate are the smallest ones, but these also earn the fewest points during the two scoring rounds. Thus, the player finds himself at yet another disadvantage. The player controlling the “only one ship” expedition card has a MUCH easier task, and can place ships on the more valuable expeditions early, thereby earning more points in the two scoring rounds as well.

Sadly, the mission cards force the players into pursuing specific strategies, which takes away the thrill of exploring viable alternatives. Compounding the problem is that certain players are placed at a significant disadvantage from the moment they receive their secret mission cards, and the obstacle they face seems extremely difficult. The end result is that, for me, these cards spoil an otherwise decent game. Sadly, removing them would take away some important game elements, so the solution seems to either tinker with the conditions and/or points awarded by the cards, or to abandon the game. I’m leaning towards the latter option, but will play at least once more before making a decision. This is a shame, as the rest of the game is decent – not great, but decent.

I will be playing the game, and sincerely hope I gain additional insight that may change my opinion. Let's hope so.

Jim, Rhonda and I purchased ships, fulfilled trade contracts, and outfitted expeditions, all in attempts to increase our wealth and fame. It became clear that Jim possessed the mission card that required him to simply get one ship per expedition. This allowed him the luxury of not concerning himself with other ships on the expeditions. Rhonda was required to achieve at least half of the ships per expedition, while I had the horrible task of having to possess ALL of the ships on expeditions. I did manage to completely control two expeditions, but had my attempts at two others foiled late in the game. It was no surprise that Jim won.

Finals: Jim 80, Greg 72, Rhonda 63

Ratings: Jim 6, Greg 4.5, Rhonda 4


Both Rhonda and I declared that our ratings would have been in the 6 – 7 range if it were not for the mission cards.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Wade Broadhead
United States
Pueblo
Colorado
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Good review. Such a cool theme, I'm not sure why they can't quite get it right, either in a 30 minute filler or a good meaty 2 hour game. Sounds a little like VOC, without the interesting dexterity tests.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mik Svellov
Denmark
Copenhagen N
EU
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A friend of mine, Henning Kröpke who is one of the developers of the game, does not agree with Greg's conclusion about themission cards.

Here is his reply from a private e-mail regarding Jims "easy" Mission card:

Greg S. wrote that in his one game Jim got 9 boats to 9 different expeditions giving him an easy victory. That is a marvelous play, because he needed quite a lot of different colored boats to be able to play them regarding the rules ("the first boat at an expedition defines the color of all other boats at the same expedition"). That means that it must be difficult for him to get many trade contracts because of a multi-colored fleet of ships he needed to buy.

If there was no need for him to buy multi-colored ships because he was always the first to place them at the different expeditions - again a marvelous play! All the opponents must have slept to most of the game because they let him to place all these ships.



Henning also explains that each Mission card requires a different playing style, and that players will most likely need to play several games before they discover the optimal strategy for each card.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Greg Schloesser
United States
Jefferson City
TN
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Yes, Henning did have some nice insight into the game, and gave his impressions as to how the mission cards should be used. I really appreciated his insight.

However, the fact that the mission cards force the players into specific strategies is one of my main concerns with the game. They remove most of the players' flexibility and choice. It appears that each player must pursue a specific strategy based on the mission card they receive. Deviation from that strategy will likely fail. I don't care for this design approach.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Geeky McGeekface
United States
Manassas
Virginia
flag msg tools
designer
badge
It's time for baseball, people! Pitchers and catchers report soon and the national pastime is with us again!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Greg, I don't think this would have altered your game too much, but according to the translated rules just posted, there is no limit to the number of ships you can buy in a turn, as long as you have sufficient money to pay for them.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Greg Schloesser
United States
Jefferson City
TN
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Larry Levy wrote:
Greg, I don't think this would have altered your game too much, but according to the translated rules just posted, there is no limit to the number of ships you can buy in a turn, as long as you have sufficient money to pay for them.


Interesting, the Mayfair rules are quite clear that only TWO ships can be purchased per turn. It doesn't appear to be a misprint, as the explanation makes this very clear.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mik Svellov
Denmark
Copenhagen N
EU
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
gschloesser wrote:
Interesting, the Mayfair rules are quite clear that only TWO ships can be purchased per turn. It doesn't appear to be a misprint, as the explanation makes this very clear.

It's even more interesting - as the published PDF appears to be the MAYFAIR rules: they have the contact adress for Mayfair in case of missing parts, and they state that the game has been published under license from Phalanx.

Maybe they discovered the misprinted rules and changed them prior to shipping, but too late for the review copies?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Martin Nelmes
Wales
Machynlleth
Powys
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Surely it would be simple to devise a variant to deal with the "straitjacket" problem. Just allow any player to select any of the four strategies: i.e. place the mission cards face-up on the table and players may indicate their chosen mission by placing one of their cubes on the relevant card. You could even give a 5 VP bonus to any mission cube placed before the first scoring card is turned over (and a 2 VP bonus to any cube placed before the second scoring card). Just my 2c.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Viktor Kobilke
Germany
Hamburg
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
First of all, it is allowed to puchase in one turn as many ships as you can afford to buy - which is very important.

Concerning the special mission cards: testplaying the game, it took quite a while to figure out a good balance for the special mission cards, and there were quite a few adjustments to make before it felt right. But from the beginning I felt that there would be quite something missing, if they're would have been left out of the game, because besides keeping up the suspension, they leave room for different strategies - I don't think that they restrict your playing as much as they give room to more variation. Without them the game was much more one-sided, I feel.
Since there are quite a few interdependences, I'm aware of the fact that it might take a few plays to become aquainted with all of this.

1. For every expedition, where you fullfilled your special mission, your victory points increase with the amount of trade contracts you have fullfilled throughout the game. Which means for example, if you have the special mission which requires you to simply get one ship per expedition and you are able to assign all those ships (probably of many different colors) to that many different expeditions AND still fullfill enough trade contracts to receive a high amount of extra points - then you played really good.

2. There are just four different special missions. You know what you got and you probably can figure out really quick what the others got, according to their way of assigning ships to expeditions - and you can adjust and react to that. Of course, it is somewhat harder to be the owner of every ship in an expedition then just having to have one ship in it. But that's why you get much more victory points for that, and if you play smart - by fast filling up expeditions with low transport value and maybe even get one or two of high transport value - then the victory can be easily yours. You should never forget, owning every ship in an expedtion rules out that the others can get any points there.

I hope this helps a little.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ed Rozmiarek
United States
Liberty Hill
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
gschloesser wrote:
Interesting, the Mayfair rules are quite clear that only TWO ships can be purchased per turn. It doesn't appear to be a misprint, as the explanation makes this very clear.


Weird, because my version of the Mayfair rules has:

4.3 Purchase Ships
You may purchase any number of ships if you have enough coins to pay for them.


That seems pretty clear to me that you are not limited to two ships.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michel Condoroussis
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I got my Mayfair edition last week and the rules say "You may purchase any number of ships if you have enough coins ot pay for them." So I guess they either changed it recently, or their are 2 ways to play.
As I was reading the instructions I did find the Special Missions Cards to be uneven, however I have not yet played, so I cannot really comment yet.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Have faith
United States
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Greg,
What about a variant that allowed everone to secretly choose any of the 4 missions, including a mission someone else may have chosen. Instead of choosing an acutal card, everyone could write down their choice and reveal it at the end of the game.

Do you think this variant would work, and if so would you enjoy the game more this way?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Greg Schloesser
United States
Jefferson City
TN
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
cull wrote:
Greg,
What about a variant that allowed everone to secretly choose any of the 4 missions, including a mission someone else may have chosen. Instead of choosing an acutal card, everyone could write down their choice and reveal it at the end of the game.

Do you think this variant would work, and if so would you enjoy the game more this way?


Interesting concept. I do want to play the game again with the rules as written to see how further playings pan out. If the problem persists, I may try some variants. Yours certainly bears consideration. Thanks for passing it along!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
CORWYN59 .
France
Unspecified
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
vittorioso wrote:
Of course, it is somewhat harder to be the owner of every ship in an expedition then just having to have one ship in it. But that's why you get much more victory points for that, and if you play smart - by fast filling up expeditions with low transport value and maybe even get one or two of high transport value - then the victory can be easily yours. You should never forget, owning every ship in an expedtion rules out that the others can get any points there.

I hope this helps a little.


Thank you for all your advices, and it was exactly what i thought after my first play yesterday : this hard secret mission is compensate by the fact that other players don't make VPs on these fullfill expeditions

the scores with three players were 75 (half cubes), 72 (one cube), 69 (for the hard secret mission : the player doesn't optimize his play ie 2 fulfilled expeditions late in the game, he could have done three easily and win the game + 9 PV --> 78 PV)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.