Author: Wolfgang Kramer

Publisher: Goldsieber 2002

Awards: none



Goldsieber once again presented a game in their traditional sized big box at the Nürnberg convention in spring 2002. The title of the new game was Goldland, the finished version of the game which could be seen as a prototype at the SPIEL at Essen in 2001. Author of the game is nobody else than Wolfgang Kramer, triple winner of "Deutscher Spiele Preis" and 5 times winner of the "Spiel des Jahres" awards. This name alone guarantees for high quality boardgaming...

In Goldland the players take up the roles of Adventurers who have come to an undiscovered country in search of treasure. But on their way to find those fabulous riches the players will have to fight wild animals and brigands, they will have to master canyons, mountains and deserts and they will have to trade with the natives of the country.

The gameboard itself will be made up of square landscape tiles, and in the end it will have the format of a 7 tiles wide and 7 tiles high map. At the beginning of the game, all the players will start in base camp at one corner of the gameboard, and only the stretches of coast going away from the base camp form discovered country. Each player will receive a backpack in which he can put a maximum of 12 items, and as a starting equipment they will receive 3 units of rations and 2 units of pearls. It will be the aim of the players to get to the opposite corner of the gameboard, a place where an ancient temple is known to be hidden, full of incredible treasures. However, the players will have to discover a way to the temple, and already on their way they will be able to collect a few of the treasures of the country.

In his turn, a player can chose to perform up to three different actions in any order he choses: moving, trading for equipment and discover a new landscape tile.

As for moving, a player's movement allowance is determined by the number of items he carries in his backpack. The more items he carries, the more his movement is restricted. Also, movement may only be along discovered landscape tiles, but not directly into the unknown. Speaking more generally, a player may move his playing piece usually along the paths on the gameboard, but especially later during the game not all paths might be matching the movement wishes of a player, so that - to prevent a player to become cut off from reaching the temple - a player may also chose to ignore the paths while moving from one landscape tile to another. If he wants to do so, he must make a special move, forcing him to discard 4 items from his backpack.

Any of the landscape tiles also displays trade symbols for the different kinds of equipment. Thus, a player may use his existing equipment to get other items which allow him to face some of the dangers ahead of him. For example, pearls allow a player to get tools. These tools a player can use to get wood or rope, and wood a player can use to build fishing equipment to get new rations. Normally, a player does not need to drop any of the equipment he uses - he simply needs to hold these items to get some others.

The most interesting option is the discovery of a new landscape tile. A player may draw a random new landscape tile if his playing piece is on a landscape next to a place where a new tile can be placed. A player then may draw a new tile and place it next to the tile he occupies, aligning the paths on the the tile in any way he wishes. Sometimes these tiles will just display normal country with trading opportunities, but in many instances a place of adventure will be shown which a player needs to face before he is allowed onto the tile.

It is these places of adventure where a player will be forced to use and discard the equipment he has gathered. In total, 7 different kinds of places of adventure exist, and any of these kinds demands their own types of equipment to be mastered. Thus, a wild animal can be faced with guns, a desert with rations or a mountain with ropes. A player may only move onto such a tile if he can discard the equipment needed to enter the tile. If he can do so, he may place one of his camp-markers onto the tile, indicating that he has mastered the adventure and that he may now enter the tile freely during the rest of the game. Two special rules concerning these places of adventure need to be noted. First, the player who has most camps on adventure tiles of the same kind will receive a corresponding adventure marker. At the end of the game, these markers will increase a player's score, possibly bringing him an advantage to become the winner. Second, some of these tiles may have an extra treasure buried on them. A player may take this treasure if he can discard some additional pieces of equipment as displayed on the landscape.

In this way the game continues until the first player reaches the temple at the opposite corner of the gameboard. Here, the player will receive an Amulet of Good Fortune and two gold coins for reaching the temple. The same treasures will be awarded to any player who succeeds in getting to the temple in the same turn, but players arriving on a later turn only will receive the Amulet. Furthermore, the reaching of the temple announces the end-phase of the game. A number of gold coins is available at the temple (depending on the number of players), and each time a player who owns an Amulet starts his turn he may take one of these coins. If all the coins are taken (or if all players possess an Amulet), the game will end and the player who has earned most gold by collecting treasures, coins and adventure markers will have won the game.

Due to the sophisticated rules and the well-constructed playing mechanisms this game definately bears the handwriting of Wolfgang Kramer. The game flows rather smoothly, and especially the combination of the different mechanisms for trading equipment and for discovering new landscapes offers some quite attractive playing concept. I personally like the game, although some moderate criticism can be voiced on a point or two. One weakness of the game is that, despite the box-info, the game is not really playable with only two players. If only two players participate, the competition between the players is virtually non-existent, since both players have ample space for discovering new landscape and thus only rarely conflicting situations arise. The other point I have to remark on is the fact that the game cannot be recommended for players who are unexperienced with tactical games. Right from the beginning, certain choices must be made and the success of a player's strategy only shows quite late in the game. Although all scores are visible by different markers, the outcome of the game itself remains a bit of a surprise if a player does not constantly count and re-count the current scores of all the players. This latter point of criticism could have easily been put right be including a scoreboard with the game, and I personally do not understand why this did not happen. Otherwise, the game offers real good entertainment value, and it is definately one of the highlights in 2002.

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany