Rainy Day Game's Board Game Review of New England:
New England in Summary
The New England board game has just won Game of the Year 2004 from GAMES Magazine. It's a great strategy game that packs a lot of bidding, bluffing, resource managment and land development into an hour of great game play.
It's 1621 and players are the heads of families of recent immigrants to New England. Starting with a modest homestead and a bit of money saved up, they begin expanding their land holdings and developing it into more valuable land. Players can also erect barns, build ships and attract settlers to their land, all in the pursuit of the best settlement.
New England Gameplay
The New England board game combines a great bidding game with a challenging development game. Players begin New England with a small land area and have to develop it into producing the greatest number of points.
You do this by laying new land tiles on the map, developing these tiles, and populating your settlement with settlers, barns, and ships. There are three types of land (farm, settlement and pasture) and when placing new land tiles they must touch one of your existing land tiles of that type. Once the land is layed on the board, development cards can "develop" that land and turn it into victory points. The key is that each development card matches a specific type and shape of land. For example, a "pasture" development card which applies to a L-shaped section of land can only be applied to that type of land in that L-shape. ZIf you haven't created that arrangement in your settlement, that development card is useless to you.
You get these land tiles and cards by an ingenious bidding mechanic which is the real heart of the game. Players begin the game with 12 shillings and get an income of 4 shillings per turn (plus one for each settler on your land). At the beginning of the turn the starting player lays out 3 land tiles, 3 cards, and 3 more tiles or cards in the mixture that they feel is the most benefit. Now comes the bidding. Each player must choose one bidding disk, numbered one to ten.
The players then choose the card or tile they want, with the highest number going first, and each player paying the amount of their bidding disc, so the player who chooses 10 will get first pick but have to pay 10 shillings; and the player who chooses 1 will go last, but only pay 1 shilling for it. Here's where all the tough decision are made, and your skill at getting what you need and blocking others from what they need will show in the final score.
You can also improve your piee of New England with Barns, Ships and Settlers. More strategies and victory points are to be found with them. The game ends when the selection of 9 cards/tiles to start a turn cannot be completed with the remaining resources. Players then total their victory points and declare one of them the master of New England!
Who should buy New England?
The New England board game is a great game for lots of different people. The 1 hour playing time makes a good game for players without the stamina for those 3-4 hour war games or 6-7 hour train games. But despite the short play time this is a gmae with serious strategy possibilites and a group can easily have a 3 or 4 game tournament night to really delve into the game and the strategy behind it. And because the rules are straight forward, after the first game or two you can really work on that strategy without being bogged down by the mechanics of the game.
The New England board game is a good game for all adult players who enjoy games such as The Settlers of Catan or El Grande. It is a very solid strategy game that you can play over and over again and learn a little bit each time.
The Manufacturer's Board Game Review of New England:
As you and your family step off the Mayflower, you tingle with excitement at the prospect of freedom.
With this new land brings the challenge of survival. To succeed, you must build shelter, grow crops, and conduct trade with your neighbors.
The winner of this game will be the one that achieves prosperity in … New England.
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