Thursday, 31 December 2015
We visited our friends, Val and Chris, and played a couple of games of Archipelago. This is a new game to both Elaine and I, but I think we soon began to pick up the rules and theme of the game. This is a ‘heavy’ Euro game with a vast amount of stuff on the table, and players have multiple options each turn. The designer seems to have thrown every mechanic into the pot so it is both difficult to describe and teach. Although players are competing to win, there is a co-op element because if the rebel natives exceed the colonists, then everyone loses! It should be noted that we did not include the ‘traitor’ card, which encourages one player to secretly ‘crash’ the game. The main mechanic is worker placement but card purchase and deck building exists, as does exploration, turn-order bidding, hidden victory conditions, inter-player negotiation, variable endgame conditions etc. etc. The game has 3 time variants: short, medium and long. We only played the ‘short’ game version and each game took 2 hours to complete! Val won the first game, beating me by a single point. The second game was won by the game because we failed to pay enough attention to the rising rebels as we should have (we did add the victory points anyway, and I won!). So, do I like Archipelago? I’m not sure at the moment. The theme of the game is great and all the elements mesh well with the theme – it all fits together logically. The artwork and components are good but not exceptional; the coins are small, the little wooden blocks are bland, and meeples are just meeples. I like the exploration mechanic and the random economic crisis’ that hit the archipelago. The downside is that there too much going on, and the game takes too long (2 hours for even the short game!).