Replay: Colonia

Posted by James (admin) on January 18th, 2010

[If you don’t know how to play Colonia, please read my initial review before reading this post.]

My initial review of Colonia was one of my earliest reviews and focussed a lot on how the game is played.  My recent play of Colonia made me want to re-visit it and talk more about the gameplay.

This time we played with 5 players.  The 3 of us that had played before were slightly concerned that it would be more chaotic than when we played with 4 because plans could be more easily disrupted by other players because there would be more players who could take the action you were planning before you did.  In actuality, it didn’t feel like this and you just planned with other players in mind as usual.  It did make player order even more important because the amount of materials/goods/contracts/relics are the same no matter how many players are playing.  So, there were fewer materials/goods/contracts/relics per player to be had compared to a 4 player game.

In my first game, the logic chain (get materials to make goods to load ships to get cash to buy relics to earn points) seemed quite hard to plan; however, it was much easier to calculate this time.  This may have been because of knowing what to expect but also may have been because it was the last game we played at Essen after some very long days and very short amounts of sleep.  Not to say that other players didn’t interfere with our plans, but that’s part of the fun and contingency planning is part of the game too.

The outcomes of the votes were a lot more varied this game.  In our first game, most motions were carried out as we wanted to have extra goods, contracts, etc. but this time players were much more discerning about which motions they allowed to be passed.  Often, we would vote no on allowing extra goods being available, or ships sailing, in order to disrupt others more than help ourselves.  This uncertainty made the voting much more interesting.

In our game, the relics to be bought never really matched the currency available for shipping goods in the same round.  This meant it was more important to think ahead and collect resources and strike at the right time, and also made the competition over a few relics each round quite intense.  This made player order very important but it also meant that reserving relics from one round to the next was part of the players’ strategies – and not just one relic either, I reserved two relics for a couple of rounds (so I could fill a shrine with a high scoring relic) just in case someone else bought one of them before I could (which they did).

The assignment of meeple for each action limits what players can achieve each round and are an important factor as something must limit how many resources players can buy and how many manufactured goods players can queue for.  However, it was good that it felt like we weren’t too restricted by our meeple and, apart from a few exceptions, were more restrained by our resources not meeple.  So, the focus of the game remained on the resource chain.

Overall, I really like Colonia.  There are a lot of simple game mechanics which are interlinked but it’s not complicated.  The different decisions all have a similar approach so there’s a common structure in each phase making it easy enough to learn.  I still think any player will take a few rounds to fully appreciate the strategies or tactics required but they will be up to speed quite quickly – which is usually an indication that it’s not too simple but not too complex.  The board is superb and I really like the way each round is split into 7 phases each (of which being a day of the week) and this really assists understanding the structure of a round.

So, is it a good game?  I think it is.  In fact, I really like Colonia because it offers lots of difficult (but relatively simple) decisions and almost no downtime.  It is possible to plan but be prepared to stay on your toes.   I was really pleased that further plays seem as good as the first, maybe better because of the knowledge learnt from experience, and the randomness of the resources available make the game feel different to a previous play.  I still really want to try it with just 3 players.


[Played with 5 players]

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