It's a race to the temple across a hostile landscape, as your intrepid explorer adventures across Goldland!
Goldland puts players in the role of an Indiana Jones type adventurer, trying to complete the most adventures while racing to a temple full of gold.
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Goldland begins with each player taking a backpack, with space for twelve items, and loading it with two "pearls" markers and three "provisions" markers. Thirteen tiles are laid out in an L shape, representing the explored coastal areas, with the "base camp" tile being placed at the crux of the "L". Two piles of gold are placed on the temple, and it is placed on the opposite corner of a square that will be built by the addition of the remaining tiles. Play then begins.
On a player's turn, there are only three types of actions that can be performed, but these can be done in any order, with one major exception. The actions are:
Move - A player can move as many tiles as there are unfilled spaces in his backpack. At the start of the game, each player has 5 items, leaving 7 spaces unfilled. Thus, a player can move up to seven tiles at the outset. Movement is done along roads that are on the tiles. Players can also elect to move across tile borders that do not have road connections, but this is costly, (see Ordeals below). On many of the tiles, the roads do not connect in the center. These are the adventure tiles, which are discussed below as well.
Explore - If a player is on a tile with an open spot next to it orthogonally, (it's a German game - NO DIAGONALS!), that is within the 7 x 7 field of play, the player can take a facedown tile and place it on that space. Now each tile has roads running off three sides of it, but unlike other tile placement games such as Carcassonne, there are no invalid placements for a tile! IF you want to dead-end a road, you can, (and often will, as this can prevent other players from getting to that tile before you). Whenever you place a tile, you receive a "discovery" chit, which can be traded in later for any item if you have enough of them.
Acquire Items - On each tile, there are various symbols, which correspond to the items you may be carrying in your backpack. They are shown on the tiles as : Item -> Item, where the item on the left is the requirement and the item to the right of the arrow is the reward. If you have all of the items shown on the tile as a requirement, you then can take the item or items shown as the reward. On some of the tiles, the requirement items have a red outline, which means that those items must be discarded to get the reward. On many of the tiles however, simply having the item means you will get the new stuff.
The only restriction for actions is that you cannot break up your movement, nor can you do anything more than once per turn. So you can explore/acquire/move, or you can move/acquire/explore, (which seems to be the most common), etc. You cannot move some/explore/move some more, nor move some/acquire/ move some more. The adventure tiles mentioned above add an interesting decision to this, as to cross an adventure tile you must discard the two items shown as the requirements. You may then acquire the reward on that tile but you don't have to, so it doesn't have to stop your move. On more than one occasion, I've been able to get by another player's attempted block by doing the discard and continuing on through to the next tile. When you have met the requirements of an adventure tile, you place one of your ten "camp" markers on the tile, and to enter that tile in the future, you do not have to repeat the adventure requirements, (although you may do it again and place another camp marker there). If you now have a majority of camp markers on adventure tiles of this kind of adventure, you then take the matching "Adventure Chip" from either the player who had it previously, or from the box if you are the first one to get it. These range in value from 2 to 5 victory points.
If a player wants to, or has to, move between two tiles where there is no road, this is called an ordeal, and to do this a player must discard any four items they are carrying. If the target tile is also an adventure tile, then two of the discarded items must be those required by the adventure. Ordeals are very costly, but can get one out of a blocked spot. Timing one of these poorly however can leave one trapped, forced to burn turn after turn getting discovery chits to trade in for whatever item they need to keep on moving.
Certain tiles also contain treasures. If a player ends her turn on a tile with a treasure, and discards three provisions, they can take the treasure and place it in their backpack, (takes a lot of time and food to dig up those treasures).
Once a player ends a turn in the tile where the temple is, that player takes two gold pieces from the "bonus" stack of gold on the temple. Any other players who reach the temple on the same turn also get two gold. After that, before you take your turn, if you have reached the temple, you take one gold from the "non-bonus" stack of gold on the temple. When this gold stack runs out, the game ends after the last player has taken a turn.
Each gold you have is worth one VP, each treasure 3 VP and each Adventure Chip is worth the value printed on it. The player with the most VPs wins!
Well, I'm not sure it is great. It definitely appeals to a certain type of gamer, or rather, certain types of gamers will NOT be thrilled by Goldland. The majority of the game play has a "puzzle feel" to it. Can I get from here to there? No? Well then what will I need to get there? Where can I find that? What do I need to get to THAT tile and get what's there? Etc. However, that being said, there is certainly more going on than just that. I'm a sucker for tile-laying exploration games, and Goldland fits the bill in that regard.
There are also several layers of strategy involved, such as whether to head off towards your own part of the board, or to follow along with others. Should you try to get to the temple as soon as you can, or should you spend your time attempting to complete adventures and get VPs that way. And what about treasures? Is it worth your time and effort to try to gather these, or are you better served by doing something else? Tough decisions.
In addition, the entire game, (being a Goldsieber game), is of high quality. The tiles are sturdy, the items are thick and solid, the camps are the same as those found in Tikal, and the box is another big Goldsieber box. The game comes with very nicely illustrated instructions, however these are in German, and the English translation is plain text. However, Nick Danger has done a terrific pdf of the illustrated German rules with the translations put in their proper places. It's available at Boardgame Geek. The rules themselves are very straightforward, and there are really no ambiguities.
As I said, it has a puzzle feel that may not appeal to some. It also seems a bit cut-and-dried, as there is no uncertainty in what is going to happen during your turn. You either have the stuff to move somewhere, or you don't. The tile-laying also leaves something to be desired, as at best there are only three possible places for a tile you draw to be laid, and more often it's only one or two places. And while you can place the non-road side of a tile somewhere, that's the only choice you really have, and it doesn't seem like you can generally make a particularly clever play with a tile placement. It's also a bit fiddly, as trying to determine who has the most camps on any given type of adventure tile requires searching the board for those tiles, while counting up the number of camps the leading player has. One possible solution to this is to get a handful of dice, and place the die on the tile, with the pips showing how many camps of that type the player has.
As an aside, I had only played this game three times before I had it stolen from my car, (along with three other games). I enjoyed those plays, but in two of them I never made it to the temple, and in the other I just made it, but still lost by a wide margin, so I may be missing something with this game. But, my point here is that of those games that were stolen, I have replaced all of the others, (Tikal, Through The Desert, and Wyatt Earp), but haven't been able to bring myself to repurchase Goldland. I've been sorely tempted, but I haven't yet made that leap.
Buy/Read about Goldland now at Funagain
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