Colonia

23 07 2014

Colonia

Colonia is an Set Collection, Resource Management and Worker Placement board game released by Queen Games designed by Dirk Henn who also designed Shogun and Alhambra. Set in the ancient Holy Roman Empire city of the same name renowned for its ancient cathedrals and versatile trade, the game plays out over several rounds, but within those rounds are rounds themselves where players take on the role of one of several influential families and instruct them to do several things per mini round. Basically the game plays out with each turn within the round representing a different day of the week.

Colonia 1

On day one, players set up the game board for the week, placing edicts and setting out contracts, items for trade and ships that will set out. On day two, players secretly choose how much influence they will have during the turn by dedicating as many family members as they wish, the player with the most dedicated family members becomes the first player for that round, this is also how the voting mechanic works as a simple yes or no from everyone is multiplied by how many family members each person put forward on day two. On day three, players send any remaining family members they have (but preferably not all of them) to collect resources from the market. On day four, these resources are given to craftsmen to create new resources with family members taking the appropriate resources to the right contractor. On day five these new resources are then taken to ships in the harbour and their cargo holds are loaded with the asked resources. On day six the ships leave the harbour and the players are given the money for their products. Each ship though represented a different location in the empire and so the player is given money based on the type of money that the ship carries. Finally on day seven, players get the chance to buy relics using the money they earned from the week. Relics are how players win the game, as the family with the most points from Relics wins the game. After all this has been done the game continues for an allotted period of rounds before the game ends. As players go round the board again though, they retrieve the family members they put down on the previous round space by space.

Colonia 6

At its heart, Colonia is not a bad game, a definite improvement I feel over Alhambra which while having an ok mechanic is completely random where you want to build something but need the required money, save up and by the time have the correct money the building is gone.

Alhambra

This time around though, there is more opportunity to get the correct money you want in Colonia as the money is readily available, you just need to plan ahead and get the satisfactory results to get the money you want to buy the relics you want; however that is also one of the game’s short comings. The relic’s score so low a number of points that you personally think that more high scoring ones will be out in a bit but as most score no more than between 1 and 3, you hold out for as long as possible instead of buying as many as possible. While the game does include shrines, one of each colour that doubles the score of up to 1 relic placed in it, it’s still not enough and it is really only thanks to the end game stained glass window bonuses that a winner can be crowned at all.

Colonia 4

Colonia’s basic structure of buying resources to turn into other products to then sell is brilliant, and an absolutely brilliant idea at that. It beats the usual resource gathering mechanic where you buy resources to use only once for certain things. The mechanic in Colonia is more like that of the world today and I am surprised to see that said mechanic is not used more often, even in big economic games like those designed by Uwe Rosenberg.

Colonia 3

While I do like the game to a point, there is just a sense that there could be more to this game. Why is it that I hardly have anyone in my family remaining to do the basic of commands, why is it that I lose family members trying to buy contracts and resources, why can’t all the ships leave the harbour every round instead of just a few, why is it that the edicts don’t seem to make much for understanding without reading the rules and why do we decide on them during their round than right at the beginning so we don’t forget about them, why can’t the relics be a lot more valuable. It’s almost like the game is trying to sabotage itself by limiting options when in the end you need as much as you can, which is very hard to do when to begin with you are limited to the point of almost impossible. I don’t have problems with games that limit what you can do, it puts a real strain on your gameplay if it’s part of the mechanic and forces you to think clearly about what you both want and need to do to accomplish them. That’s fine, but not when such gameplay prevents you from doing the most basic actions that are required in order for the game to work.

Colonia 7

The look of the game is very basic and holds some charm but given the detail of games out there which play and look along the same lines, there could be more to appeal to the player, though on saying that, the player shields which are used to hide the resources collected and produced are a nice touch and the bag that is used to place resources randomly on the market tiles is a good device also and prevents the players from holding a monopoly on certain resources. While Colonia is still a very enjoyable game, I don’t think it carries enough value for much in the way of replay value and at most is a game that you will want to play after a few months or so after playing it for the first time.

Colonia 5

GENEPOOL

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