I wasn’t actively looking to acquire any new games but a member of my game group contacted a BGG member about purchasing a couple of games from his collection so I looked through his collection and sent him an offer for New England and Santiago. He was coming to Columbus for the annual CABS gaming convention so I met up with him this morning to pick up the games. Both games are in excellent condition; I was flabbergasted that New England is still “unpunched” (meaning the cardboard bits are still attached to the sprues).
New England and Santiago are older games (2003) designed by Aaron Weissblum, Alan R. Moon and Claudia Hely, Roman Pelek respectively. New England is a tile laying game for 3-4 players and lasts about 90 minutes.
There are three types of land in the game, land for settlements, land for crops, and land for animals. Players each start with some of each land. Each round, players bid (using a new mechanic) to buy more land, to build cities, to plant crops, and to graze herds. There are also ships to buy and Pilgrims to entice to your land. Players always want to both acquire more land and to develop their land, but you can only do a limited number of things each turn, so there are tough choices to be made throughout. You need money for everything of course, and you never have enough!
Santiago, is also a tile laying game for 3 to 5 players and lasts about 75 minutes.
This game is about cultivating and watering fields. To accomplish this, a number of tiles denoting various plantation types come into the game each round. The tiles are auctioned off such that each player gets one, and the tiles are then placed onto the game board along with an ownership marker that also indicates how plentiful the tile’s yield will be. Whoever bid the lowest in each round gets to be the canal overseer and decides where a canal will be built that round. The other players may make suggestions to help the canal overseer decide, and back up their suggestions with money. The final decision is always wholly up to the overseer, though.
At the end of each round, players determine what the water supply situation looks like. Should a plantation not be sufficiently watered, its production drops dramatically; should it happen more than once, then that plantation may revert to fallow ground. At game’s end, naturally only the cultivated land counts. Each plantation is counted according to type – the bigger the better. But since the ownership markers play a role as well, the same plantation can give drastically different points for different players.
I initially shied away from both games because they both include an auction/bidding component that, in the past, was a turn off. However, as I play more games, an auction/bidding component doesn’t drive me away like it used to. I’ll hold back on describing my reasons as it would take an entire blog post to cover the topic. I’ll save that for another time.