Menu

AMAZONAS

Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser

(Kosmos/Mayfair Games, 3-4 players, ages 10 and up, about 60 minutes; $49.99)

 

I’ve had the great fortune to have traveled quite extensively throughout Europe and the United States. However, I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting South America, and I’ve always been fascinated by pictures of the rain forest and surrounding Amazon region. One day, I hope to visit the area.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll have to content myself with playing games such as Steffan Dorra’s Amazonas. The game is set in the lush jungles of the Amazon, and players are scientists charged with the task of setting up camps and collecting specimens at various villages scattered throughout the region.

The board depicts a section of the jungles surrounding the mighty Amazon River. Scattered throughout the region are villages, all connected by a series of land and river pathways. Each village can accommodate from 1 – 3 explorer’s huts, with the cost increasing for each hut constructed at a particular location. Beside each village is artwork depicting the type of specimen that can be collected at that location. There are five types of specimens: butterflies, flowers, fish, parrots and reptiles.amazonas

Each player receives an initial supply of twelve huts and 3 gold coins. Beware the coins! Why? Well, I’ll get back to that later. Players also receive seven cards with values ranging from 0 – 6, and each with art depicting a specimen(s) or native. Finally, each player receives a secret destination card that depicts four villages. Players should try to construct huts in each of these villages, as failure to do so will cost the player victory points at the end of the game.

Play begins by each player constructing a hut in a village of his choice, and receiving the corresponding specimen token. When constructing a hut, the village must have an available space and the player must pay the cost depicted on the construction site IN GOLD COINS. Again, more on this in a bit.

After this initial construction, the game begins. The top card of the event deck is revealed, and its consequence affects play for the current round. Event cards have a variety of effects, including blocking jungle or sea paths, increasing or reducing income, or even causing players to lose some of their existing funds. This deck is not recycled and the game ends once all 18 cards have been revealed.

Players then simultaneously play one of their income cards. The number depicted on the cards is the amount of income IN SILVER COINS a player receives, supplemented by one for each specimen token the player possesses which matches the picture depicted on the income card. Players will take their turn in order of most income to least, with ties being broken by unique numbers depicted on the cards.

I stress again that income is received in SILVER COINS. Three silver coins equals ONE GOLD COIN. Remember, when players construct huts at village locations, the cost is depicted in GOLD COINS. Thus, a site that depicts three nuggets requires the expenditure of THREE GOLD COINS … NOT three silver coins … in order to erect a hut. This rather simple rule is easy to misunderstand, as we did in our first game. The result was a game overflowing with money, which is directly contrary to the actual intent of the game system. So, take heed and play this rule correctly.

Once a player receives his income, he may construct one or more huts or pass. If he opts to construct a hut, it must be at a location that is connected via a path to one of his previously constructed huts. Thus, the presence of an event card that blocks jungle or sea paths for the turn can force a player to alter his plans for the round. When a player constructs a hut in a village, he receives a matching specimen token.

Each player takes his turn in a similar fashion, after which a new event card is revealed and the process is repeated. Thus, the turn order will likely change from turn-to-turn. Since the construction sites are limited at each village, it is quite likely that some paths will be filled, thereby blocking the progress of other players. This can make turn order an important consideration, so players must carefully consider which card they bid on each turn.

A further consideration is that players receive additional income based on their specimen tokens which match the specimen depicted on their income card. Thus, wise players will carefully plan the play of their card so as to maximize their income. However, players will not retrieve played income cards until they have played through all seven of their cards.

As mentioned, the event cards provide some unexpected obstacles. However, since all of the 18 cards will eventually surface, players can plan for their appearance. Four of the event cards depict a native. When this surfaces, players have the option of foregoing income for that turn and taking the native token instead. Once one player takes the token, however, this option is no longer available for the other players. The native token acts as a “wild” token and is immediately assigned to a particular specimen. It also supplements a player’s income whenever the card depicting the native is played. These native tokens are extremely valuable, so it is best not to let a player have it too cheaply.

The first player to collect all five types of specimens receives a bonus token worth 5 points at the end of the game. All other players can also earn bonus tokens, but the value of each decreases by one. This is yet another choice the player must make during the game; that is, pursue the bonus token, concentrate on reaching all four villages depicted on your destination card, or insure you collect at least three tokens of a specimen so that they will score at game’s end.

The game ends after 18 rounds, which corresponds to the number of event cards in the deck. Players then tally their points. A player must have at least 3 of a specimen in order for it to be tallied. If they have accomplished this, then each token of that specimen is worth 1 point. If a player has less than three of a particular specimen, then they do not score. To this total is added the value of any bonus token the player may have earned. Finally, a player loses three points for each village depicted on his destination card at which he did NOT construct a hut. The player with the most points is victorious.

After an initial playing wherein we confused the gold/silver coin issue, I’ve since played numerous games correctly. I find the game to be enjoyable, and requires players to make some interesting decisions throughout. Aside from the easy-to-confuse gold/silver rules, the game is easy to understand and teach. It should be one of those games that will have considerable appeal in the family market, while at the same time having just enough there to entice gamers. It certainly doesn’t fall into the deep-end of the Amazon in terms of strategy or depth, but it also isn’t too light so as to be tossed aside by gamers. Rather, it occupies that central location wherein there is enough here to entice gamers, but not too much so as to be a detriment to entice family and friends. Looks like I’ll be making more return trips to the jungles of South America. – – – – Greg J. Schloesser


 

Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.


Summer 2005 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser (Kosmos/Mayfair Games, 3-4 players, ages 10 and up, about 60 minutes; $49.99) I’ve had the great fortune to have traveled quite extensively throughout Europe and the United States. However, I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting South America, and I’ve always been fascinated by pictures of the rain forest and surrounding Amazon region. One day, I hope to visit the ...
Read More
Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser (Hangman Games, 3-5 players, 2 hours, ages 12 and up; $40) Last year, the major game highlight for me at the Gathering was Alan Ernstein’s Tahuantinsuyu (Summer 2004 GA REPORT). The game is excellent, and was one of my Top 3 games of 2004. I also thoroughly enjoyed Junkyard, his novel trick-taking game using tiles. So, I was eagerly anticipating ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Ravensburger/Rio Grande Games, 2-5 players, ages 10 and up, 60-90 minutes; $39.95) The Australian continent serves as the setting for the aptly named Australia, the latest offering from the design team of Wolfgang Kramer & Michael Kiesling whose formidable credits include Tikal (Spring 1999 GA REPORT) and Torres (Fall 1999 GA REPORT). The premise of the game is straightforward. With ecology ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Word Salt, Inc., 2 to 4 players, ages 8 to 108, less than an hour; $29.95) In today's world, writing seems to be a dying art. Baffle Gab seeks to restore that aspect of human communication in a game allowing parents AND children to sharpen their pencils and writing skills and still have a good time. Baffle Gab comes in a ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (James Miller, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 45 minutes; $9.99) What? Another trick-taking game? With all the trick-taking games out there, you'd think you'd have to be a nut to bring a new one to the market. Except James M. Miller, who definitely shows sign of sanity, is not a nut but a "control nut". He has created and self-published ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Schmidt Spiele, 3-8 players, ages 8 and up, about 20 minutes; about $40) Jewels buried deep within the earth lure players to the table with Diamant, the first collaborative design by Alan R. Moon and Bruno Faidutti. In this light and fast-paced game, players seek to remove jewels from mines all the while knowing that disaster may strike at any time! ...
Read More
We Are NOT Alone In the vast reaches of the universe, we humans have always wondered if we are the only form of life in the cosmos. Outside of books and films and our imaginations, do aliens exist? Is there intelligent life out there? The definitive answer to that question has yet to be found. But when it comes to gaming, the answer has been ...
Read More
(Back in the Fall 1997 issue of GA REPORT, Steve Kurzban took a look at a little game called For Sale. With the new version of this game hitting the marketplace, we thought we'd flashback to see what Kban said about this great little game 8 years ago! ) FOR SALE (Ravensburger; out of print) For Sale is a card game for 3-5 players (best ...
Read More
(The Fall 1997 issue of GA REPORT featured a then new Reiner Knizia game we liked a great deal but, somehow, flew below the radar of many gamers. That game was Palmyra. Today, Überplay has revamped this release under the title Buy Low/Sell High, featured this issue. But here's what we thought of the original way back when.) PALMYRA (Editrice Giochi; out of print) Caravans ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Überplay, 3-6 players, ages 8 and up, 10-15 players; $19.99) Two awkward circumstances often arise during a typical game night with friends: 1) what to do before the rest of the crew arrives AND 2) what to do when the night draws to a close and your brain is too fried to deal with the heavy lifting required by some of ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Buffalo Games, 2-8 players, ages 8 and up, 75-100 minutes; about $30) Some people always like to get in the last word. In Buffalo Games' new adult party game, Last Word, that's the trait that can make you a winner! Last Word comes in a bookshelf style box which includes a playing board, 230 subject cards, 56 letter cards, 8 pawns, ...
Read More
Reviewed by Larry Levy (Alea/Rio Grande Games, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 75-100 minutes; $29.95) Last issue, I reviewed Jambo and I mentioned that when it came out, I had really been looking forward to a game from one of my favorite new designers, Rüdiger Dorn, in one of my favorite game series, Kosmos’ Spiele für Zwei. Well, I really like that series, but ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Avalon Hill/Wizards of the Coast, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 90 minutes; $45) I love those old B-movies and I'm especially fond of those that feature strange monsters threatening mankind. Well, now these scary monsters have returned. But this time, the return is not on celluloid but on the gaming table - with the new release of Monsters Menace America ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Überplay, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 45-60 minutes; $29.99) Reiner Knizia's Palmyra is a terrific game that vanished from the gaming scene, swept under the surface in the flood of other Knizia releases. We featured it and liked it way back when. (The original review is reprinted in this issue.) The game deserved a better fate. Fortunately, Überplay has come ...
Read More
Reviewed by Larry Levy (Zoch Verlag/Rio Grande Games, 2-6 players, ages 8 and up, 20 minutes; $24.95) Dice don’t have a very good reputation in gaming these days, primarily because a lot of us grew mighty sick of them due to our childhood exposure to designs like Monopoly and Risk. But I think that true dice games, where the gameplay revolves around judging probabilities and ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Columbia Games, 2 players, ages 12 and up, 3-8 hours; $59.99) About 20 years ago, Craig Besinque came up with an interesting and challenging design that zeroed in on the North African campaign of World War II. Long out of print, the game has now returned in a new edition, destined to warm the hearts of wargamers everywhere (just as the ...
Read More
Reviewed by Frank Branham (Days of Wonder, 3-7 players, ages 10 and up, 60-80 minutes; $49.95) It has taken two weeks to try and figure out how to start this review decently WITHOUT using a reference to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Perhaps I shouldn't bother, as Days of Wonder includes at least two references to the legendary movie inside the game itself. What ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Hans im Glück/Rio Grande Games, 3-5 players, ages 10 and up, about 45 minutes; $34.95) The seven wonders of the ancient world - and why the eighth wonder was never built - is the puzzle posed in yet another new design from the prolific Reiner Knizia: Tower of Babel. Tower of Babel comes bookshelf boxed with a mounted game board, 28 ...
Read More

If you enjoy games, then Gamers Alliance is right for you!