August 28, 2008

Batavia - a Family Friendly East India Company Game o' Trade

Batavia.jpgQueen Games has released Batavia [Funagain], a family friendly board game set during the Imperial age where companies like the East India Trading Company forged trade routes to the 'far east'. Players muscle each other into an economic position to control trade routes for 7 goods capitalized by the Dutch East Indies Trading Company back in the 17th century.

Players move across the board collecting goods while they forge their route. Players then place their goods in attempt to be the most influential trader in that good. Whoever has the most influence in a particular good at the end of the game scores the gold for that good, keeping in mind there are 7 out there to monopolize. Gold can be gained in slightly less installments through other sales mechanics, and the winner is the player with the most gold in the end.

Movement isn't a simple roll of the dice. Instead players collect sets of cards corresponding to Trading companies. These Trading Companies are have a corresponding symbol on specified locales on the board, and a player can only move to a Trading Company Locale if they currently have the largest set of said Trading Company's cards in play. In other words - you have to earn your right to travel to a specific Trading Company's spaces.

Why does this matter? Well for one each locale has a randomly placed Good (from before), so you'll want to seek out your majority of goods by ensuring you land on the best possible spaces. Additionally you can only move in one direction - so you have to plan ahead or you trading exhibition might end up like as barren as Geraldo Rivera's face peering into Al Capone's Vault.

It sounds a lot more complicated than it really is, and the game is actually quite easy to learn and thus is good for the family. It should move along quickly, too ( about 60 minutes), and there's that sweet spot of strategy that lies between too-easy and analysis paralysis, which is just where we like things in our 60 minute titles.

Here's Batavia's official details:

"Beautiful sunsets, a foreign animal- and plant-world, the scent of fine spices is in the air. The Far East has always magically attracted adventurers, soldiers of fortune, and explorers as well as traders and merchants.

For about 400 years merchants in different countries organized themselves into companies in order to send large shipping fleets to the Far East.

They expected rich profits from these trips, because spices such as pepper and nutmeg were worth their weight in gold.

Batavia takes the players to the Golden Age of the East India companies. Whoever can travel to the stations with the most lucrative goods can get the best varieties and rake in the gold by the end of the game."

Batavia is out now and shipping from Funagain Games.

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Posted by Critical Gamers Staff at August 28, 2008 5:01 PM

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