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Subject: Andre outlines Amerigo (pros & cons) rss

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Andre Jeworutzki
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Amerigo is a game by Stefan Feld (Castles of Burgundy, Trajan). The game uses a cube tower for action selection. Players competitively explore and settle islands of South America by placing buildings (Tetris tiles) on them to collect resources and score victory points. Amerigo lasts over five rounds, seven turns each. The cube tower randomly reveals colored cubes which represent the possible actions and their power.

What makes it special?

* Cube tower for action selection which also determines the power of an action.
* Tetris tile laying to collect crops and to colonize islands (race).

Pros:

+ Components: cube tower, frame for the islands that prevents the map from moving

+ Cube tower: memory effect, probability element (push your luck), tension, and a cool tactile element

+ Modular map: the game comes with several map tiles. Sometimes there are many small islands, sometimes there are only a few big islands (replayability, variability)

+ Players race for everything (indirect player interaction): establishing trading posts on limited spots, buying limited Tetris tiles, collecting limited multiplier and crop tiles, completing limited islands with Tetris tiles, blocking other players on islands, competing for player order.

+ Acquiring Tetris tiles before being able to place them requires planning ahead (players have to place the tiles in their mind, potential for analysis paralysis)

+ Two types of Tetris tiles: expensive neutral tiles for big points or cheap village tiles for low points (the latter is also used to block other players on an island).

+ Gained number of victory points for completing an island depends on the round (the earlier, the better) which gives players a reason to build early (race)

+ Players can get special powers by acquiring limited progress tiles (engine building)

+ Players can focus on limited collecting crop tiles and resource multipliers (set collection, engine building)

+ The turn order track has an additional function and is used for additional action selection (gives a player more flexibility)

+ Gold can be used to increase effectiveness of actions (more flexibility, mitigation)

+ Finding the balance between long-time and short-term goals (rush vs build)

+ Plays well with all player counts (the modular map scales in relation to the number of players)

+ Easy to teach and to learn (explaining each of the 7 actions one by one)
+ Well written rules

Neutrals:

# Artwork is good for the islands. The box cover looks cool, however, the game boards are very dry and functional.

# Theme (exploration, colonization). It fits but still quite abstract

# No hidden information

# Language independent

# Somehow sequential gameplay: usually most exploring is in the beginning, most building is at the end of the game

# A little sandbox: there are objectives to fulfill

# Many options but players should focus on placing Tetris tiles (which score the most points)

# Luck is shared by all players equally through the cube tower: constantly determining the probability of which cubes showing up

# The cube tower usually provides the action related to the current turn, sometimes players have only one choice (some people find this boring)

# Randomness: cube tower, different order of progress tiles and multiplier tiles. Map tiles and crop tiles are randomly distributed each game.

# All tiles are available, there are no "new" elements each game (except for a few progress tiles)

# Maintaining canons to fight pirates forces players to prevent loss of victory points. It is a simple mechanic but some people find it just annoying and do not like spending actions just to prevent negative points.

# There is one nasty progress tile that increases the strength of the pirates for all other players

# Denial play: players can block other players on an island by building own Tetris tiles like a "wall"

# Scoring happens during the round, between rounds, and at the end of the game (point salad)

Cons:

- Huge game box (bigger than necessary, however, it comes with a neat insert for the cube tower)

- Fiddly: plenty of pieces and tiles to sort

- Set-up takes some time

- The color of neutral Tetris tiles is hard to distinguish from the players' Tetris tiles (especially for the white player)
- People who do not prepare their turn lengthen the game (usually when buying and playing Tetris tiles, analysis paralysis)

- Players may only build Tetris tiles in order to block other players (denial play)

- No player aids

Thoughts:

Amerigo feels a bit like Anno the computer game with Tetris tiles. Placing the Tetris tiles to complete an island is very satisfying. Amerigo is also a tense and competitive game: players race for nearly everything which perfectly fits the theme of exploration and conquering "the new world".

Similar games:

* A Feast for Odin (worker placement, placing Tetris tiles to complete islands and collect goods, less of a race, more solitaire, more complex, by Uwe Rosenberg)

Variants:

* Denial play is not my favorite game mechanism, so I like the house rule that all players can build adjacent to any Tetris tile (neutral and opponent).

See also:

* Excellent player aid: https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/96049/player-aid-actions-...

Actions overview (depending on the available colored cubes):

a) Blue: move ships to establish trading posts on islands
b) Black: add cannons to fight off pirates (who get stronger over time and cause players to loose points)
c) Red: acquire Tetris tiles (aka "planning")
d) Green: build acquired Tetris tiles and probably collect crops on islands with established trading posts
e) Brown: move forward on the development track (unlocks progress tiles which grant special abilities)
f) Yellow: acquire production tiles (crop multipliers)
g) White: either move forward on the colored turn order track or do the action associated with the color on the current location of the turn order track
h) Pass: Take gold in relation to the current number of cubes
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