Manufacturer Kosmos/Mayfair Games
Year 2005
Designer Stefan Dorra
Amazonas Cover Art

Amazonas


Explore the jungles of the Amazon as an intrepid explorer, attempting to find biological specimens while avoiding fires, crocodiles and Jaguars.

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The Gameplay

    Amazonas is played on a map of the Amazon rain forest, along the banks of a large river. The jungle contains many villages, each of which has one of five types of specimens that can be found there, if a player sets up a hut in that village. Each player takes a set of cards, a set of huts in their color, and draws a "special mission" card which shows four villages which the player must place a hut in before the end of the game to avoid a penalty. Each player places a hut on the board, and takes a token of the type of specimen found in that village, and the game begins. An event card is turned up, which is in effect for the entire turn, and then the players all simultaneously takes one of the cards in their hand, and places it face down on the table.

    These cards range from 0 to 6, and each one, (other than the 0 and the six), shows a type of specimen. The number shown on the card will determine how much income the player will receive on that turn, after adding the number of tokens of the specimen type shown on the card to the number. Players are paid in silver coins, three of which equal one gold piece. Then in income order, (highest to lowest), each player takes their turn. On a player's turn they may build huts, paying a number of gold pieces equal to that shown on the village site they desire to build on. Each village can have from 2 to 4 sites, with the cost of building increasing as the sites fill up. So building the first hut in a village is cheaper than building after another player. But players cannot build huts just anywhere, but must be built in a village that is connect via either a jungle path or a river path to a village in which they already have a hut. After building a hut, the player again takes a token of the type shown for the village, and the next player then takes their turn. Once all players have taken their turn, a new event card is turned up, and the process repeats, with the players now choosing from the cards they have remaining in their hand. Once the players have exhausted their hands, they pick up the cards, and can use them all again. The game runs for 18 turns, after which the scoring takes place.

    But what about the 0 card and the six? The zero card shows all of the specimen types, and whichever type of specimen the player has the most of, that is the type that is added to the zero. The six card shows a native, and if a player has a native token or tokens, these are added to the six. In addition, if the event card being used for that turn has a negative effect, the player can ignore the negative effect.

    And the negative events can be really negative, preventing jungle "movement", river movement, loss of income or even no income for a turn. They can also help, giving a bonus for each token of a particular species, or allowing a player to gain a native token. Native tokens are "wild", and can be used to represent any type of species the player already has, (this IS the way the rule is supposed to be played, but the English rules do NOT make this clear, but the designer and Mayfair games have confirmed that this is how the natives are supposed to be played). But only one player can take the native token, and if a player chooses to take the native, they must forgo their entire income for the turn.

The Scoring

    When the 18th turn is over, the game is scored. If a player has collected all five types of specimen, they will have a bonus tile, which scores from 5 to 2, with the first player to do so taking the five, and the next the four, etc. Also, if a player has at least three of a single type of specimen, then they receive one point per token. Finally, players reveal their secret mission cards, losing 4 points for each village on their card in which they did not place a hut. The designer has also said that he plays the game with an additional bonus of 2 victory points for the player who has the most type of each specimen, with tied players each getting one point. This is an excellent variant, which increases the need to diversify, and can make a 2 specimen collection actually have a value.

Why this game is so great

The game is very good looking, with a lush board, thick nicely illustrated tokens, etc. The tight economy, and rapidly escalating hut construction costs make for a nice feeling of pressure and turn angst. In terms of a nice "gateway" game, one could do far worse than Amazonas.

Why others don't agree

    There seem to be a lot more negative comments about Amazonas than positives. There is not a tremendous degree of interaction, though the race to a particular building spot does create tension. Also, the blind bidding mechanic will turn a lot of players off. The game plays far, far better with four players than with three, as with three the interaction is lessened even further. Some people have complained that as there are only eight mission cards, these will be too easily memorized over time, leading to a lack of replayability. I happen to disagree with this assessment, as I think that only once all the players know the cards will the game shine, as then players will be able to try to determine which villages their opponents are trying for based on their starting hut location, and their first few hut placements. This is also reflected in the fact that the board contains a serious "sweet spot", a village which is located in a very prime spot, giving access to a wide variety of species and blocking locations. Send me an email if you can't figure out which village this is.

On the whole, while Amazonas is a fine game, there really isn't enough interesting things going on to make it a keeper in my collection, as I have other games that fill the gateway spot..

Recap

Strategy:  6
Complexity:  5
Fun:  4
Overall:  5

Buy/Read about Amazonas now at Funagain

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