This week, five of us tried out Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery designed by Glenn Drover and published by Tropical Games. This is a good meaty game in which you take on the role of a colonial power seeking fame, glory and riches in the New World. As you proceed through three ages you can launch expeditions of discovery, colonize regions, expand your merchant fleet, build capital buildings that give your nation distinct advantages, develop your economy, and if necessary, declare war.
Chris and I had tried a two-player run through earlier that day and Steve had played previously so he was the hot favourite. Early on, I tried to establish a good smattering of colonists in the New World. Nige went for two capital buildings on the first turn, which looked to put him in good position but he then pursued a discovery route and was very conservative in making sure he had enough men not to fail. He was not rewarded well by consistently picking low scoring areas. Mark G was going for Trade goods in a big way and shipping, whereas Chris was going for a balance in various areas. Steve, however, did well to get capital buildings that allowed him to place 3 missionaries in the colonies and completely dominated the second and third colony scorings, gaining 30 points in the second and 36 points in the third. He was also able to back up this dominance by using his soldiers well and Mark G also utilised soldiers to my and Nige’s disadvantage. By the start of the third age, I had given up on the colonies and pursued discoveries and cash with the $5=1VP capital building. I could have done with a few more trade goods appearing that benefited me but they just did not turn up so I knew I was struggling and Steve was cruising. Sure enough, after the final tally, Steve emerged 11 points ahead for a well worked win.
The verdict was AoEIII was excellent, although Nige marked it down due to the time factor (about 3.5 hours for our slow mob). He also probably picked the wrong strategy and when this worked through even worse than expected, this may have coloured his view. The rest of us though were pretty impressed.