Author: Rüdiger Dorn


Awards: none



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes:

HANS IM GLÜCK newest game in the big box has its background in the late medieval, when a Portuguese expedition first reached India. At that time all spice trade was done by Arab dealers and the Portuguese were excluded from these attractive trade. But that changed rapidly when the island Goa was conquered and a fleet base was established. The Portuguese expanded their interest to eastern India, more regions were conquered and finally they could sign some contracts with the Sultan who guaranteed them the monopoly over the trade of cloves.

In the game the player take on the roles of the Portuguese traders. To win the game they have to develop in the categories shipbuilding, harvest, taxation, expedition, establishment of new colonies and colonies.

At the beginning each player gets a warehouse and a development chart. The game is played in rounds. Each round is divided in the phases of placing auction markers, bidding and the action phase.

The first phase is a tricky new variant of the popular bidding mechanism which may be found in many newer games. On a board in the middle of the table the auction tiles are arranged face-up in a 5x5 grid. Then the first player, who is marked with a flag, begins to place his flag on an empty space. The next player places his auction marker on a space with an auction tile which is neighbouring the flag, and then third player then can place his marker on a space which is adjacent to the second player's marker. This goes on until every player has placed his marker. At the end the first player (with the flag) places a last marker.

Then the bidding phase begins. First the flag is for sale. The players then bid clockwise for the flag. Each player has to give a higher bid or passes. The flag owner can give the last bid. If he had the highest bid, he pays the bid to the bank and keeps the flag. If no one gave a bid, he gets the flag for free. In the other cases the player with the highest bid pays to the owner of the flag, and is the new flag owner. Then the next player sells his tile in the same way until all marked tiles were auctioned off.


The auction tiles allow the player a variety of possibilities. For example there are tiles allowing an extra action or a plantation to produce spice. There are even some tiles that are worth some victory points in the end.

In the action phase each player has three actions. First the flag owner begins with his first action, then the other players follow clockwise. After all have finished their first action, the flag owner begins with the next action. The players can choose between six actions. The most important to win the game is advancement on the development chart. To do so, he has to pay spices and ships and this becomes more expensive with higher levels on the chart.

Three other actions are shipbuilding, harvest and taxes. The number of ships, spices and money is indicated on the specific column on the development chart. So the higher he has advanced in one of these fields, the more he will earn.

The action expedition allows the player to draw expedition cards, and these allow him for example to get new ships, colonists, money or to reduce the costs for advancement.

A little bit more complicate action is the colony foundation. There are four different colonies in the game, which allow producing the spice (but remember that plantation can produce spice too). To found a new colony the player has to mobilize a certain number of colonists depending on the colony. The first source is his development chart that indicates the current number of colonists in the possession of the player. He then may draw two cards from the stock and adds the illustrated number of colonists. And if this sum is not yet enough he may play a colonist's card in his possession.

The game ends after eight complete rounds with a break in the middle, when new action tiles are arranged on the board. The player with the most victory points wins the game. There are seven categories for which victory points are given: position of markers on the development chart, number of colonies, expedition cards, money, plantations and two different types of auction tiles.

Goa is quite nice to play once you have understood the game mechanism. Every player can build on his empire and is happy about it. Nobody has to fear something from other players like destruction or to be the last on some anything. Because there are so many ways to get victory points in the end, there is not really anything to do false. And that exactly is what I am slightly missing on the game. Everyone feels fine, but there is no real competition in the game and it is very difficult to estimate who is in front during the game. But that is only my personal opinion and there certainly are other players who do like exactly this type of game. Especially if you are playing with people with different knowledge of tactics, Goa might be the perfect game. Apart from that, the game is complex enough to guarantee long time fun and especially the bidding mechanism is very interesting.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany