The Race for El Dorado board game is a deckbuilding game

18. May 2018 - Alexander Schmidt

The Quest for El Dorado Board Game – What Offers the Deckbuilding Game? | Review


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The Quest for El Dorado board game is a tactical deckbuilding game in which 2 to 4 adventures battle their way through jungles, deserts and lakes to be the first to discover the fabulous land.

The goal is clear for all players: El Dorado, the legendary gold country that the Spanish conquistadors suspected somewhere in the jungles of South America. But whose expedition will reach it first and thus be able to return as a celebrated discoverer in glory and honour?

In the Quest for El Dorado board game, you do not move forward by rolling the dice, but by playing cards and tactically expanding and optimising your own set of cards. Game experts call this principle deckbuilding.

Read more about the gameplay and our personal conclusion with a detailed evaluation of the game below!

Note on transparency: The publisher Ravensburger kindly provided us with a review copy of the Quest for El Dorado board game. However, this review is unpaid and reflects our independent opinion.

The Quest for El Dorado Board Game at a Glance

  • Game type: Strategy game, family game
  • Age: 10 years and up
  • Players: 2 – 4 players
  • Duration: approx. 60 minutes
  • Publisher: Ravensburger
  • Playing author: Reiner Knizia
  • Year of publication: 2017
  • Awards: Nominated for Game of the Year 2017
  • Game Objective: Arrive first in El Dorado through skilful deckbuilding, use of cards and route selection, and with a bit of luck, be crowned the Discoverer.

How to Play the Quest for El Dorado Board Game

In the Quest for El Dorado board game, the game board can be variably puzzled.

You need some space to set up the Quest for El Dorado Board Game

You need space for the game construction: The playing board is puzzled together from 4 large hexagons, each with 37 honeycomb-shaped squares. In between there are barriers that are covered at the beginning of the game and must first be uncovered.

The starting squares for the 2 to 4 players are marked on one of the hexagons. On the other side of the board you place the smaller target tile that marks El Dorado.

For the first game, there is a recommended game plan made of individual elements, but the instructions list further variants or experienced players can puzzle very individual race tracks out of it, so that the way to El Dorado is always different, even over many games.

In addition, there is a cave variant of the game, in which you place stacks of cave tiles on certain fields.
In addition to the game board, the marketplace is laid out according to a predefined structure, which is equipped with predefined cards according to the game instructions.

Deckbuilding in the Quest for El Dorado Board Game

There are many different action cards to buy at the marketplace at The Quest for El Dorado board game

Marketplace at the Quest for El Dorado Board Game

At the beginning, each player receives the same 8 cards (1 sailor, 3 explorers, 4 travellers). Everyone shuffles these well and draws 4 of them face down into their hand, while the other cards form the draw pile. Each player has their own player board on which they arrange their cards.

All cards represent members of one’s own expeditionary force, which is constantly being expanded, e.g. simple travellers, adventurers, explorers, journalists, wealthy millionaires, seasoned captains or real jack-of-all-trades (something like jokers). As the game progresses, however, cards are added that represent items that become useful in the Quest for El Dorado Board Game, such as a machete, a compass, a travel diary or even a propeller plane.

Each move consists of playing and using your own cards tactically to:

a) move around the game board, if possible, and / or

b) acquire new cards that are available on the marketplace.

In the course of the game, you get better and better cards that help you move faster or give you other advantages. But be careful: you may not take the additional cards directly into your hand, but must first put them on your own discard pile. Only when your own draw pile has been used up is the discard pile well shuffled and becomes the new draw pile.

Most of the cards can be used to move on a certain area (jungle, water, village etc.) as well as currency to buy new cards. However, there are purple cards that allow special actions, such as drawing additional cards and / or disposing of worse cards. The latter is also possible on some playing fields.

In itself, there are no “negative” cards, but it makes sense to remove less good cards from one’s card arsenal in order to draw the strong cards more often.

Our Experience in the Quest for El Dorado Board Game

The Quest for El Doroado board game can be played with 2 to 4 players

Starting line-up for 2 players

For us, this was the first game that works according to the deckbuilding principle and so we had to get familiar with it first, but thanks to the comprehensible instructions, we got into the game very quickly. Those who already know other deckbuilding games such as Dominion or Thunderstone will certainly get into the game effortlessly.

The first time we played, two of us played against each other, with each player having to bring 2 research troops to the goal. We quickly realised that the game allows a wide range of different tactics. Rush ahead or buy a lot of strong cards first? Take detours or go the most direct way?

Of course, everyone has to see for themselves which decision is the right one, and certainly one gets better and better at assessing this with playing experience. Nevertheless, luck also plays a role, because sometimes the cards you draw only allow a few or even only one action.

The Quest for El Doroado board game remains exciting, even if one player has a lead

A lead can quickly be gone in the Quest for El Dorado…

At the beginning, I (the author) dashed ahead and it looked like I had an unassailable lead. In fact, I was the first to bring my first piece to El Dorado. But then my second expeditionary force got stuck in the deep jungle of the last hexagon and Anika overtook me with the propeller plane.

Playing another game with the four of us, we noticed that now the cards from the market were used up quite quickly – there are only 3 of each kind, so the element of a run on the best cards was added.

In addition, this time we played with the cave expansion, which makes the Quest for El Dorado Board Game even more exciting, because a diversion through the cave can be a total stroke of luck, but may also have been for nothing, depending on which tile you happen to uncover.

Rating and Conclusion

 Which Card Will Get You the Best Way in the The Quest for El Doroado board game?

It’s the right card at the right time that counts!

The Quest for El Dorado Board Game is a very entertaining and varied game with many possible variations and a solid design. All test players enjoyed the Quest for El Dorado very much and it certainly won’t be the last time we played it.

Although the game is a race and as such competitive, there is no possibility to inflict direct damage on the other players, which is a nice change from many other games where you play more aggressively against each other. Not least because of this, it is also well suited as a family game. There is little danger of children crying.

Wettlauf nach El Dorado does not reinvent the wheel of board games, but combines game elements of classics such as Settlers of Catan, Africana and Dominion in a very successful way.

The result is a absolutely recommendable game, for which a few expansion boxes can probably be expected in the future.



Varied and varied competition to see who can reach the fabled El Dorado first! A deck-building game in which many different tactics can lead to the goal and which only really unfolds its appeal when played several times.

Do you already know Carpe Diem, Neom and the mother of all deckbuilding games Dominion? Discover recommended game tips and find inspiration for gifts and activities with kids, partner and friends on Abenteuer Freundschaft!

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