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VALPARAISO

Reviewed by Herb Levy

VALPARAISO (dlp Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 12 and up, 45-90 minutes; € 49.95)

 

The lifeblood of all countries is trade. So it was with Chile when, in 1811, the Chilean Congress voted for free trade and, soon after, independence. As Chilean citizens of influence, players seek to grow and develop the important harbor city that gives this game designed by Louis and Stefan Malz its name: difference between cialis 10mg 20 mg source site tale of two cities essay topics coreg levitra dissertation reports in hr electoral college essay https://idahohighcountry.org/college/william-morris-homework-help/30/ examples of common app essays 2017 see steps to writing a research paper sample paper with citations chapter 3 thesis library system prednisone 20 mg no prescription easy bus kings cross academic essay writingВ watch i want someone to do my homework go to link https://haloworldwide.org/research/cornell-university-creative-writing-mfa/8/ accounting homework services time for kids persuasive essay https://pharmacy.chsu.edu/pages/dissertation-database/45/ parenting license essay https://rainierfruit.com/viagra-vs-cialis-vs-extenze/ uw system application essay potenzmittel besser als viagra source url click kind of friends essay http://mcorchestra.org/5664-justification-for-war-essay/ x men critical essay alternative viagra women Valparaiso.

The city of Valparaiso is represented by a mounted board depicting its harbor surrounded by three sea regions to the north and, in other directions, villages (some with markets and some without). Players take pieces of their chosen color and place their one ship in the harbor along with one merchant with remaining merchants and their four warehouses placed in the appropriate spaces on their individual player boards. In addition to those spaces, player boards show a warehouse (where gotten goods are stored), a ship’s hold (into which goods are transferred in preparation for “overseas trading”), a “Mayor’s Office” and “slots” for card placement. (More on that later.) Players also receive (nearly) identical sets of 8 “action cards”. Market tiles (labelled A through E) are placed in matching letter positions at the game’s markets with the remainder placed in reserve. Achievement cards (labelled A, B1 and B11) are shuffled separately and combined to form a deck with the A on top, followed by the B1 and then the B11. The 9 A cards are then laid out above the sea regions, 3 cards per region. With the first player randomly chosen, players choose initial resources. 

Three resources are used in the game: silver (gray cubes), copper (orange) and wheat (white). In reverse turn order, everyone chooses three of these goods, placing them in their warehouse. (Starting resources must be different for each player.) Money also plays a part and all start with 20 pesos. Then, again in reverse turn order, players place one of their merchants in any village (with or without a market).

Players have a basic, starting deck of “action cards”, each having a dual function: action or resource. Actions include transfer any number of goods from your warehouse onto your ship (provided your ship is in port), sell a good from your warehouse for 10 pesos, hire a merchant (for one good of each type from your warehouse, placing the merchant in Valparaiso), move a merchant, move a ship, build a warehouse (only where you have a merchant at a cost of 10 pesos), trade in a village market or trade overseas. Alternatively, the card may be used to acquire its specified good or money. 

Each round begins with everyone simultaneously looking through their hands of cards and placing four of them, face down, in slots 1 through 4 at the bottom of their player board.  (You can open up a 5th slot if you build enough warehouses and can always “buy” an additional slot [the so-called “Mayor’s office”] by spending 5 pesos.)  When everyone is ready, all cards are revealed. Starting with the first player, everyone plays their first card, doing the associated action or grabbing the noted resource. Played cards go back into players’ hands and remaining cards slide down a slot. This continues until all cards are played. If these “programmed” moves will not work or not work as well as you would like, you can PAY to do actions out of their programmed order! (This cost is listed on the slot the card occupies.) This can be a useful option, particularly as it comes to trading. 

Trading is done at the markets but what is traded changes after each transaction! Each market has a bunch of transaction tiles. Using the “trade” action allows a player with a merchant at the market to do the bottom-most transaction once. (More merchants and/or warehouses at a market allow you to perform that transaction more times). Once done, that trade tile is removed (with the rest of the tiles there sliding down a space) and placed at the top of the reserve while the bottom-most reserve tile is transferred to the top of that market. This creates a constant cycle of trade possibilities. You can see what trades are possible as future trades are common knowledge but timing is important so that you trade when the transaction you want is active and before another player does! You can also trade “overseas”.

Overseas trading is a bit of a “hand builder”, requiring the transfer of goods from warehouse to ship, ship to the region of interest and then trading three of the required matching resources in exchange for one of those valuable Achievement cards. (Taken cards are replenished immediately.)  Not only are these cards more powerful then your basic 8, they are also worth 2 or 3 Victory Points (and one may be cashed in at the end of a round or saved to be totaled at the end). As noted, Achievement cards come in A, B1 and B11 levels and, while all are good, the B cards tend to be even better! Because of this, a player trading for a B card when A cards are still available will have to pay a 10 pesos penalty!

When everyone has played all of their programmed cards, the round is over. Players earn a bonus for having the most or second most warehouses in the port city in addition to earning “revenue” (in the form of additional goods and/or money) based on the positions their warehouses occupy there. Merchants in markets with one of their warehouses return to Valparaiso. Now the next round begins. Should it be impossible to replenish taken Achievement cards OR if a player has scored 18 (or more) points, the end of the game is triggered. That round is completed and points totaled. 

All goods, in the warehouse or on ship, are cashed in for 3 pesos each. Every 20 pesos converts to 1 Victory Point. Then the VPs of any Achievement cards held by a player are added to that player’s total. The player with the most VPs wins! Tie? Then the player with most remaining money breaks the tie in his/her favor!

As with most games of quality, Valparaiso presents various paths to victory. Building warehouses in the main city will provide you with a very useful stream of goods, money and/or Victory Points but you only have four warehouses and they can be very valuable in helping you make multiple trades when placed in villages with markets or aid in travel when placed in villages along the roads (not mention enabling you to collect 2 pesos from all players passing through that village with your warehouse).  Sailing between the city and the three outer areas of the sea will allow you to reap a bounty of Achievement cards, strengthening your hand as well as earning you a significant amount of VPs. And, of course, by growing your merchant “force”, you can position them at the various markets of the board enabling you, with just one trade action, to trigger an avalanche of resources which can be converted into other resources which can be converted into Victory Points. (Such a scheme makes that Achievement card which allows you do a second trade action in a round at the cost of 5 pesos extremely valuable IF you have adopted a plan like this and put it in motion.) In any case, it takes some time to reap the benefits that each of these approaches offer which is why the game tends to accelerate as players get deeper into the rounds. While many games with programmed moves can stymie a player when the situation shifts, Valparaiso allows for an “exit strategy” by permitting you to pay to play cards out of order. Although a penalty good to avoid, it is not a penalty so stringent as to paralyze a player from responding to changing circumstances. An excellent design decision. 

While the game is for two to five players (with the board being double sided to accommodate two and three on one side, three to five on the other) and works for any number, four or five is recommended as it ramps up the competition. Graphically, the game is sound aided greatly by the very successful use of icons. The iconography is almost intuitive and very easy to recognize and use. (The only caveat to this is the money icons used on the trading tiles. Telling the 10s apart from the 2s, the 5s from the 1s, can be a little tricky. Significantly different colors for the different denominations would have eliminated this problem.)

Louis and Stefan Malz are successful designers whose creations include the highly regarded Rokoko (featured in the Winter 2015 issue of Gamers Alliance Report). With Valparaiso, they have done it again! Valparaiso cleverly combines aspects of programmed moves with hand management and a touch of deck building to provide a thoroughly entertaining gaming experience. Valparaiso, the city, is in Chile and Valparaiso, the game, is very very cool.  Highly Recommended. – — – Herb Levy


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