Peter Clinch
United Kingdom
Bedford
Bedfordshire
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# previous game in chain Le Havre

AofE3 plays up to 5, and in my opinion is best with 5 as the actions become taken more rapidly and there are more pieces fighting for control of the regions. The basic premise is; each player represents an European power setting forth to discover the land of opportunity. With a host of occupations including captain, merchant, soldiers, missionary and workers. Each turn players place their allotted figures in various boxes which each give a different benefit. From top to bottom; change the player order & earn income, send settlers to the new shores, acquire trade goods (gather sets to earn greater income), acquire shipping (counts as a joker when making trade sets), buy an advantage (these improve throughout the 3 ages), hire specialists (this is where captains, missionary, etc come from) and finally fight battles (for free) or pay for a war (can be devastating with a lot of soldiers).

Players first have to make discoveries before being able to land in a given region. This involves beating up the natives and earning gold/vp. As the board quickly becomes discovered, players send across their settlers with different special abilities. Merchants earn gold, missionaries count double and soldiers can combat other players settlers. The areas are a fairly straight forward majority control, with a scoring round at the end of each age. Players manoeuvre their people to maximise the points. Scores are given for 1st, 2nd & 3rd. Once placed people do not move, unless a special card allows this. The special cards convey other bonuses like extra soldiers, or taxes on other players. Gold is scarce and very useful for buying the special cards. Trade goods are made into sets (i.e. 3 of anything and 3 or 4 of a kind) the better the set the more income. There is no intrinsic difference in value between silver and fish, but some are more limited than others making the completion of a set more difficult. Another mechanic that is present throughout the game, is however lays first in a particular box chooses first (i.e. when landing, selecting trade goods, buying special cards & fighting). Battles are fought by soldiers (obviously) and can either be in a single region or every region where 2 particular players have a presence (this is a war).

Overall the various mechanics fir the theme well and blend together most satisfactorily. Typically you are choosing the “best thing to do first” whilst there are many things to choose from, depending on your particular strategy. The game appears fairly robust in that no one strategy is favoured, it also has the “stab your buddy”, or screwage as some people call it, where control of a region can ebb & flow rapidly. I like this alot, and the rules are simple enough so that you don’t have to worry about them and so can concentrate on the game. Carl’s tactic of missionary overload put him in good stead, I favoured a goods/combat approach, Paul M managed to monopolise the fleet which made him loads of money, Les was taking it softly and Paul F was on the receiving end of my soldiers. Suffice to say Carl won and Paul F lost, and bizarrely the rest of us ended up with exactly the same points!

Having spent a good couple of hours, we needed something a bit simpler, so we retired to the bar and I pulled out Cartagenato shouts of “ahoy thar!” and “shiver me timbers”
 
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