Open up and settle new islands, ship goods and carry out orders from powerful cities as seafarers – the Race to the New Found Land board game transports players to the time of the competition between nations in the New World. Who can decide it for themselves?
Race to the New Found Land is one of the games from Hans-im-Glück-Verlag. In this complex board game, each player slips into the role of a navigator in the service of one of 5 nations: England, France, the Netherlands, Spain or Portugal.
As captain, you have to build up your own fleet, trade and discover and settle new lands. It’s a race to see who can collect the most points and thus gain supremacy among the explorers. More in our detailed review!
Note: We kindly received a review copy of the game from the publisher. However, this article is unpaid and reflects our independent opinion.
For the set-up you need a large table or space on the floor. The foldable game board shows a course where the race with small sailing ships made of coloured wood takes place, as well as the 4 islands Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Île d’Anticosti and Prince Edward Island, all islands off the east coast of Canada. There are also fields for important European trading sites for which you can complete orders: Stockholm, Venice, Hamburg and Antwerp.
Before the game can start, all kinds of tiles and cards have to be distributed on the board: Island tiles for discovering the islands, order tiles for the trading cities, destination cards and frame markers for special fields on the route, as well as a stack of 1x cards (read: “one-time cards”).
At the top of the game there is also the ship market, where you can buy small and large sailing ships and thus build up or expand your own fleet.
Each player draws one of 5 player tableaus face down and represents one of the 5 discoverer nations England, France, the Netherlands, Spain or Portugal. Each player receives their own ship and a 1x card with a charter ship to match their nation. It is interesting that the characteristics of the ships differ for each nation and that you can unlock a different special ability on each player’s tableau!
Now each player chooses a colour, places their sailing ship marker on the starting square and places their 25 markers in front of them.
As the relatively complex structure of the game suggests, the moves in the Race to the New Found Land board game are also anything but trivial. Put simply, a game consists of 4 rounds, each with different 4 phases, and in each phase each player has a turn, but not always in the same order.
Sounds complicated? Fortunately, the fairly well-structured game instructions can help. The four phases of each round are: Land Phase, Planning Phase, Action Phase and Closing Phase. These are moderated in each round by the start player, who changes from round to round.
In the land phase, you receive 2 goods as income: a wood and a piece of linen. There are also iron and gold as goods. The land phase could also be called the purchase phase, because here each player can now decide to exchange his goods for ships, an additional shipyard or the unlocking of a special ability that varies depending on the nation played.
There are small and large ships, which have different prices and also different properties or abilities. Each ship shows 4 numerical values: Sailing Power, Number of Settlers, Number of Cargo Boxes and Number of Telescopes. These determine how quickly it is your turn to settle, load or trade cargo, or discover new land.
In the planning phase, one’s ships (including any chart ships by 1 x cards) are placed in turn order under each of the 4 possible actions of Load, Settle, Deliver and Discover, thus predefining the following action phase.
In this phase, the 4 actions mentioned above are carried out. For each action, all players who have placed one or more ships on their game tableau for that action take their turn.
The order is based on the sailing power. This is important because there are target cards to grab and bonuses to collect on the race track. So it can sometimes be a great advantage to be able to carry out an action first.
When loading, you gain new goods and 1 x cards. Settling, delivering or discovering can earn you points for the race track as well as goods and, if you are lucky, special bonuses. Which strategy you sail can be quite different, especially as the nations also have different special abilities, as mentioned.
In the final phase, the first step is mapping, i.e. new island sections are unlocked on the 4 islands on the game board by the starting player placing island tiles on them. Then a round scoring takes place, in which completed islands and cities whose orders have all been completed are decisive.
After the final phase of the 4th round, there is another final scoring, in which unfinished islands and cities, as well as any additional special points, are also evaluated. The player who has scored the most points with his ship at the very end has won the Race to the New Found Land board game.
As soon as we unpacked the Race to the New Found Land board game, we noticed two things: it’s very nicely designed and it’s quite complex. At least that’s what the amount of game material suggested, and our impression was not deceiving.
The first time we played Race to the New Found Land, two of us had a hard time getting into it. This is mainly because the 4 game phases of each round all build on each other and you can only make meaningful decisions in each phase if you already have a rough understanding of what this will bring you in the further phases.
From the second round on, things went much faster, even though we still had to consult the game manual for the many details of the game. In this round, I pushed ahead and gained quite a lead, which I actually held until almost the end.
But then, at the very end, in the final scoring, Anika overtook me by 2 squares and won the game for England against the Netherlands.
In the game for two, it took quite a while before islands could be fully developed and orders from cities fulfilled. When we then played the Race to the New Found Land board game again with friends as a foursome, the game progressed much faster. But we also realised that we both had a big advantage from having played before.
Because in order to develop a really good winning strategy, you need a certain overview of the many possibilities to get points or advantages, some of which only bring you decisive bonus points late or at the very end of the game.
The Race to the New Found Land board game is a beautifully designed strategy game and implements the theme of the historical seafaring era in an interesting and detailed way. Each player represents a nation with a sailing fleet and pursues the great (game) goal: to increase one’s own fleet and power in the trading cities and on the islands with each turn in order to win at the end with the monopoly as the leading colonial power (indicated by the victory points).
A great attraction of the game is the many possibilities one has in the course of the game to develop one’s own strategies, e.g. depending on which target cards and which bonus captain one selects on the special fields and on which actions one focuses.
Since the drawn or selected cards (e.g. target cards, charter ships, resource bonuses) remain face down in the hand, the other nations can only speculate which card the player might have received and draw conclusions about the player’s strategy based on his actions. This speculating and making assumptions – Spain is on a course of discovery and is fully focussed on island xy and England is making sure that it has the trade monopoly in Hamburg as quickly as possible – is all the more fun when you know what significance this had in the real history of the colonial powers.
At the same time, however, this complexity prevents an easy start to the game, because it is initially quite difficult for newcomers to judge which decision is the best one. It took us until the third game to really get a gut feeling for Race to the New Found Land.
At the beginning of the game, chance decides which nation you play – and thus makes some strategies more effective than others even before the first turn. And the choice of captain can also make a change in strategy sensible, or also serve to strategically undermine the previous advantage of another nation. All these tactical possibilities make the Race to the New Found Land board game varied and indicate that this strategy game becomes more and more fun after repeated play.
Race to the New Found Land is definitely more of a strategic connoisseur’s game than a family game, but as such it offers the possibility for many exciting and varied games.
At Abenteuer Freundschaft you can find more board game tips, recommendable are for example to The Quacks of Quedlinburg or NEOM. There are also lots of colourful ideas for gifts and activities with friends, partner and family on our Leisure Ideas Portal!
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