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Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery» Forums » Reviews

Subject: "a cunning use of flags" ;) rss

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Greg Poulos
United States
Oak Park
Illinois
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I guess there's more to starting a game company than just having a name... :(
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What we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, a gaming machine. It's really a miracle of evolution. All this gamer does is sleep and eat and place little meeples, and that's all.
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Much like the Americas, this game is a wonderful discovery, and also like the Americas, this may not be entirely new territory.

Licensed from a computer real time strategy (RTS) game, this board game targets the building aspects of the game while leaving the warfare side all but ignored. At the start of each of the 8 turns every player has a base of 5 colonists which they place in turn order onto different actions. Different actions include turn order, settling existing colonies, competing for a merchant ship, acquiring trade goods, buying capital buildings, exploring\conquering new territories, training your colonists and declaring warfare. Most of the actions are first come first served while competing for a merchant ship is based on most guys on that action and exploring\conquering is independent to each player. Victory points come from having the most guys in a territory (6 for first, 2 for second. Ties for first each get 2, ties for second each get 0) which is scored three times during the course of the game. Victory points are also earned based on your final economy determined by the number of trade goods you have (3 of any good = 1coin, 3 of a kind = 3coins, 4 of a kind = 4coins). Some of the capital buildings also give VP (2 per capital building, 2 per settler, 1 per 5coins, etc…). There are units beyond the basic colonist called specialists. They are Merchants, Soldiers, Captains, and Missionaries. These are acquired either through training one of your colonists one turn to produce one specialist the next, or through acquiring capital buildings that produce one of these specialists each turn. In addition to being able to be used as regular colonists if need be, the specialists each give bonuses if used for certain actions. They may give the owner extra money or settlers, or they may count as 2 points in determining influence. Or of course, the soldiers may allow you to shoot settlers . Warfare is option that wasn’t chosen until the end of the game I played but I could certainly see how sometimes it would come into play a lot depending on when the first shot is fired. Choosing warfare as an option allows all of your soldiers that in one colony in the New World to eliminate one unit each from an opposing player. The player being attacked may also eliminate one unit for each soldier they have in that colony, if any. This is the only way to take something away from another player that they already have, and could have a huge impact in controlling the colonies and again, once first blood is drawn there may be no stopping the escalation…

The basic rules of the game are easy to grasp, though keeping track of what the individual specialists can do is a bit tricky at first. There is excellent growth throughout the game as you get buildings that allow you to produce more guys, yet, the number of things you want to do with those guys grows as well. Initially with just one colony to settle, dedicating units to that action isn’t quite as important, but later in the game when you have several colonies you’re vying for control over you want to get every man you can on the boat. Of course the boat can only hold so many people so once one player starts to load the boat you’d better get at least one guy on there as well. But wait! There’s also a cocoa trade good available that you need in order to make four of a kind… No one else really needs it, but doesn’t that mean they won’t take it before you get a chance! Oh and there’s a Capital Building allowing your Missionaries to produce an extra settler that would really compliment the building you have that produces a Missionary each turn!! And now someone else is trying to get the Merchant Ship which acts as a wild card in the trade good sets!!!! Ahhh!!!!! The agonizing decision each time you have to place a guy on one of the actions is terrific and really makes for an exciting game. Only the very last turn had a ‘well, I’ll just throw all my guys here’ moment. Aside from that last turn, every other placement is a tension filled moment.

I feel the gameplay is very strong. It builds well, one tough decision after another, an opportunity to come up with nice combinations of buildings to complement your particular strategy for that game. However, the one complaint I have, and it’s minor, is with the some of the choices for presentation. Each player gets a pile of plastic figures representing the different types of units. This is cool and adds to the flavor, however some of the units are too similar to each other. We had two instances of “oh wait, that should be a soldier not a captain” and I think this will be a fairly common experience for people, certainly at least at first. A spot on the board for the available Capital Buildings would’ve been nice, there’s room for them, just not a dedicated spot, but now I’m just being picky. The last visual issue I had was that there is information printed on the board around the various action boxes which tell you which specialists add their bonus for that action. This is nice to see on the board so the rules don’t have to keep being referenced, but the problem was that as the board became populated with the figures, this text was obscured. I think after just a couple plays this won’t be an issue at all, it was just that trying to keep of the different specialists’ abilities initially was difficult. A player aid would also alleviate this problem, none are included but I’m sure it won’t be long until some are available.

There are similarities for sure to Puerto Rico and Caylus, but I see Age of Empires III as the next step in that line of games, and this step doesn’t falter. Age III solidly stands alongside the top games and will be around for a long time to come. I rate it a 9 out of 10 and can’t wait to play it again! (the minor issues with the usability of the pieces and a bit of “well, let’s not get too excited just yet” keep me from giving it a 10 out of 10)
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Brother J
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Summerville
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I have this on preorder and am looking forward to it. Even more now.

And to your title I can only say the following:

"The rebels are here."

"What do they want?"

"I'm not sure. They have a flag!"

"Duecedly clever of them!"
 
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Wade Broadhead
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Pueblo
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how did you get the game so early?
Thanks for the review.
 
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Glenn Drover
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Plainfield
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I had an advanced copy of the game fed-exed to me by the warehouse a week early so that we could play the final production copy.

Great review. One other way to score VP's is through "Discovery". This is very important and can add up significantly for those players who focus on it.

One other correction: four of a kind trade goods set = 6 doubloons

 
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Greg Poulos
United States
Oak Park
Illinois
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I guess there's more to starting a game company than just having a name... :(
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What we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, a gaming machine. It's really a miracle of evolution. All this gamer does is sleep and eat and place little meeples, and that's all.
Avatar
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Budley wrote:
I had an advanced copy of the game fed-exed to me by the warehouse a week early so that we could play the final production copy.
yeah, what he said

Budley wrote:
Great review. One other way to score VP's is through "Discovery". This is very important and can add up significantly for those players who focus on it.
One other correction: four of a kind trade goods set = 6 doubloons

oh yeah, that too

brotherj wrote:
"Duecedly clever of them!"

heh, that's a good one. i lifted the title from...
Eddie Izzard wrote:
“"We stole countries with the cunning use of flags! Yeah, just sail around the world and stick a flag in.
- I claim India for Britain!
They go,
- You can't claim us, we live here! 500 million of us!
- Do you have a flag?
- We don't need a bloody flag! It's our country, you bastards!
- No flag, no country, you can't have one! That's the rules that I've just made up, and I'm backing it up with this gun that was lent from the National Rifle Association."”
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Nathan Morse
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Powell
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For those of you in need of more entertainment from Izzard, get a quick fix at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/17963 - Cake or Death!
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Glenn Drover
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Plainfield
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Cool list! Love the IZ. Saw him live on stage in Chicago about a year and a half ago. He killed.

laugh
 
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Andrew H
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Brisbane
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The abilities of each specialist may be "tricky to remember" but the board (and discovery tiles / card) prompts you with every ability except those relating to the new world - the Merchant ship designates merchants and captains = 2, while the Discovery box designates captains = 2, soldiers = $ then the discovery cards show a soldiers helmet symbol to designate coins per soldier. Maybe the colonist dock could have merchants = +$5 and Missionaries = +convert but whenever I taught the game, the only one that was ever mistaken (not forgotten) was people thinking soldiers = 2 for discovery...and that one is written on the board.
 
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