Sunday, August 9, 2015

Archipelago, an excellent semi-collaborative board game

Recently, I played Archipelago.

It is a multiplayer board game. The theme of this game is colonization of Archipelago, a series of islands. The players are to explore new areas, hire labors, harvest some kind of resources, and build towns and ports.

The rule book is available at the official site. And the list of evolution cards are available on BoardGameGeek.

BoardGameGeek: Archipelago Evolution cards

This explanation cam make you imagine Settlers of Catan. Indeed, it resembles Catan a little since each area is expressed with a hexagon tile. But the element of expedition gives Archipelago a wonderful experience which is not included in Catan.

The rule of Archipelago is quite complex. For example, the price of resources are variable according to the fertility of the market. There are two market: domestic and international. Each market has different price list of the resources. The population of Archipelago is gradually growing. You can get your labors only from surplus workers. Some events such as education and emigration can reduce surplus workers.

The most unique system of this game is the possibility of independence of Archipelago. If you cannot treat the native people properly, revel level will be increased. In addition, in almost every round, some kind of crisis about a certain resource will occur. If revolution is established, Archipelago will win the independence. In this case, all players will lose the game!

Furthermore, this game has variable condition of the game ending. Each player is given a hidden card in which the condition of the game end and a scoring factor. Thus, no one knows when the game will end exactly, unless the situation meets the criterion written in your card. There are some potential scoring factors: Building Churches, Expedition tokens, Money, and so on. You have to guess which factors are decisive, through looking through other players' behaviors.

This game is time consuming. There are three modes available for the time span, but I recommend you to adopt the long game. It will take 3-4 hours.

In the latest game, I got the third of five players. If I had built a few more structures, I would have won. It was a precious time, regardless of the result.

To be honest, Archipelago is too complex to enjoy entirely in a few games. I would like to play it again some day.

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