Rainy Day Game's Board Game Review of Amazonas:
Amazonas in Summary
The Amazonas board game has you searching throughout the Amazon jungles for rare plants and animals to further science and medicine. You will build research posts along the winding rivers and jungle paths to track down the specimens you need. Crocodiles, jaguars, thieves, and forest fires will block your progress, so only the most intrepid explorers will succeed.
Mayfair has put together a beautiful game, full of the bright colors and lush greens of the real Amazon jungle. Amazonas is a light-middle-weight game that will appeal to almost every gamer in your group. There are really interesting bidding/income mechanics, and you'll enjoy trying to maximize your network of research posts to collect the most resources. And it all fits into an hour!
The first thing you'll notice on the gorgeous board s the network of villages connected by jungle paths and rivers. Each village has one of the five specimens, and 1, 2, or 3 building sites on it with varying costs. Your job is to build a network of huts on the building suites, and collect specimen tokens of each of the 5 types.
At the start of a turn, an event is revealed for that turn. It could be a crocodile which prevents the use of rivers, a jaguar that blocks the forest paths, a fire which cuts all incomes in half... There are a few others, the most important of which is the Native event, which I'll come back to in a few minutes.
Your first action is to lay down one of your seven income cards. Each card has a number from 0 to 6 and one of the specimen types on it, except the 0 card shows all the types, and the 6 shows the native. You have to use all every card before you collect them up and start with a fresh hand. The players all choose an income card and reveal simultaneously. The player who chose the highest number goes first, the second highest goes second, and so on.
Based on the order determined in the bidding, each player receives a number of silver coins. That's the number of their bid, plus one silver coin for each specimen they've collected of the type shown on the card. The 0 bidder gets one silver coin for each specimen of the type they have the most of, and the 6 bidder gets one silver coin for each Native they have collected. In addition, the 6 bidder is unaffected by any negative events this turn. Oh, and that Native event card? When it's turned over, one player can choose to forego their income and take the Native token instead. So it's worthwhile to be first in the turn order! It is placed as one of your specimens (and associated with a type) and it'll count towards future income of that type.
You can see there's already a nice little hidden-auction for turn order. But you have to use every card once before you can start over with a fresh hand. And the number and type of specimens you've collected has a big effect on your income. But how do you collect specimens?
Whenever you have enough money, you can build a hut on a building site on the board. An important rule is that the new hut must be directly connected to your network by a jungle path or river. When you pay your money and place the ut, you take one specimen of the type shown in that village. It is added to your stock pile and will count for possible income next turn.
In addition, each player is given a secret mission card, which shows 4 villages you have to connect with your single network. If you fail to connect them, you'll lose points at the end of the game.
Amazonas comes with 18 event cards, and when the last one is used, the game is over. You will get one point for each specimen you've collected IF you have at least 3 of that type. Less than 3 and you get nothing. There are also bonus points for bing the first/second/etc. player to collect at least one of all 5 types. Finally, you must deduct 3 points if you failed to join one of your secret mission villages into your network. The player with the most points is the champion of Amazonas!
Who should buy Amazonas?
The Amazonas board game is a good light-middle-weight game with just enough mechanics to prevent us from recommending it as "learner" game. The bidding/turn order phase is interesting and leads to some cool player interaction, but the building and resource collection phase tends to be a little solitary. There aren't many chances to block other player's progress. In fact, you often don't know where they're heading anyway.
Amazonas is a great second-game purchase, especially if your group enjoys hidden auctions with simultaneous reveals, or you like light networking games. Others have commented that Amazonas reminds them of Ticket to Ride, but it's actually a step or two more complex than that. Early teens to adults in a relaxing games evening, Amazonas wil provide you with a solid "designer game" experience that will bring you back for repeated plays.
The Manufacturer's Board Game Review of Amazonas:
It's the 19th Century, and you have come to the lush tropical jungles of Amazonas in search of rare plants and animals. You must explore the twisting paths and waterways, leading your expedition from one village to another. Each village offers an opportunity to establish a new outpost. But beware – the Amazonas is not for the timid! Fearsome crocodiles lurk in the tepid waters of the rivers, and hungry jaguars stalk the twilight paths.
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