Reports surround you of Spaniards settling new colonies, French delivering shipments of gold and Portuguese discovering new unexplored lands. Meanwhile, as lead explorer of the English nation, you are left adjusting the worn sails on your unimpressive small vessel, your cargo of wood highlighting your failure. You are letting your nation down in the Race to the New Found Land.
Race to the New Found Land is a fantastic game! It puts you at the helm of one of five European nations competing for fame and prestige on North America’s east coast in the age of discovery. In order to come out on top, you will have to build larger and faster ships than your opponents. All whilst filling them with precious cargo to deliver in growing cities. If the life of a merchant doesn’t seem exciting to you, then instead opt to discover new lands and fill them with settlers from your nation. Staking your claim to the resources and bonuses the territory has to offer. There are multiple ways to ensure your nation emerges victorious. Just be quick about it, as those that pull ahead will find exciting new opportunities come their way before others. In the Race to the New Found Land it pays to be winning.
Pledge your Allegiance and Represent your Flag
Set up for Race to the New Found Land is quick and easy to do. The first step is to take one of the five-nation sheets along with it’s matching starting ship and card. Here you will find out your nation’s unique ability and your most advantageous route to winning the game.
The next step is to place all the tiles and cards in their correct positions on the game board. This doesn’t take long as the board has images of where to place each different component. Always ensuring a quick and efficient setup. Nine order tiles will be revealed. These have different commodities illustrated on them to tell you what is required in order to fulfil them during the game.
An essential part of the game and what helps make Race to the New Found Land so unique is the milestone markers. These are placed on five different numbers on the score track. The first to pass these markers during the game will receive a special bonus before anyone else, getting the first choice from the rewards. These rewards vary from special captains to help navigate you to victory, a free commodity or even cards to access bonus points. The power these cards give to the person in the first place always ensures a desperate and hard-fought battle to achieve early points and get your nation into a quick lead.
The final stage of set up is revealing the first discovered segments of land. A number of compass tiles are revealed equal to the number of players. These tiles have the name of one of the four major landmasses on them onto which the first island tiles will be placed. A single island tile is then placed onto each revealed compass location, matching the image on the board.
Each player’s coloured ship is then placed on the score track and the game begins.
Building to Victory
The game is played over four rounds. Each round consisting of four phases. The first of these phases is the land phase. This is when you receive your income in the form of different commodities. Every nation receives one wood and one cloth as standard. Throughout the game, you have the chance to receive multiple commodities including iron and gold.
Each nation then has the chance to upgrade its port by buying more shipyard spots on their nation sheet or by purchasing their special ability for use later in the game. These purchases are made by spending accumulated commodities.
The third part of the land phase is to purchase new ships. This is where you have your chance to acquire faster and larger ships than your opposing nations. Small brown ships can be bought for a low commodity cost but these usually lack speed or size. Larger blue ships can be bought for a higher commodity cost and these are faster and larger. An added bonus is that you score three victory points for buying a blue ship, moving your marker up the score track and closer to the ever-important milestone markers.
Ships are a major part of the game and understanding them is key to winning. On each ship, there are four key elements. The sail in the top right which will determine player order during the action phase. The crate value which will determine both the level of commodity your ship can acquire as well as how many commodities it can deliver. The settler number which will determine how many nations cubes you are allowed to place in order to settle islands. Finally, the spyglass value which will determine how many island tiles each ship can find during the discover action phase. Taking all these factors into consideration early will help you choose which ship best suits your game plan in order to win the Race to the New Found Land.
If you Fail to Plan, you Plan to Fail
The second phase of a round is the planning phase. This is when you decide how many of your ships you are going to commit to the four different actions available. Each ship can only be allocated to one of the actions per round so choose wisely. The four actions available are load, settle, deliver or discover. Now is the time to decide if you are going to load your ship with goods in order to deliver them later in the action round for all important points, or maybe settle your nation on the island tiles and stake your claim to its resources. If the revealed island tiles are already taken or you just have a desire to explore then it is the discover action you should take, this reveals further island tiles and new opportunities to gain resources.
Raise the Sails
The third phase is the action phase, the four available actions are then performed in order starting with the load. All nations that decided to send a ship to load up with goods compare their speed by seeing who has the highest sail number in the top right of their ship. The order of play is then dictated from highest to lowest sails. When it becomes time for you to load you can take one commodity of a value equal to or lower the crate value of your ship, the more precious the commodity the higher the value is required to be. Regardless of which commodity you took, you then draw cards equal to the crate value of your ship and choose one to keep, these cards give you instant commodities or one-time use charter ships.
The second action of settle is then performed by anyone who placed their ships there during the planning phase. The order of play is determined by the combined number of sails in the top left of each nation’s ships. Once again the order of play is highest to lowest. It is worth noting here that each action has a maximum number of ships that can be allocated to it, the load is a single ship from each nation, settle and deliver are three and discover is two ships from each nation.
Each nationality then settles either 1 or 2 cubes onto a chosen tile (this is determined by the settler value on each ship), taking one of the two bonuses on the tile they have settled on. They do this for each ship they sent to the settle action before play continues to the next fastest nation.
Somewhere Beyond the Sea
Once the settling is done it is time for the third possible action, deliver. Again the order is determined with sails. Each nation then has the chance to fulfil any orders that they have the required commodities for, scoring the number of points stated. A ship can only fulfil one order each and can only deliver a number of commodities equal to its crate value. When you successfully perform the deliver action, place one of your nation cubes below that city to try to earn a bonus point later in the game.
The fourth and final possible action is to discover. As always the sails determine the player order before each nationality begins drawing island tiles. Your ship’s spyglass value determines the number of island tiles your nation can draw, add up the number of spyglasses on the ships you sent and then you can place one tile on the board for each ship that you sent. When you place a tile you immediately get both bonuses on the tile and you settle one cube for free. Discard unused tiles.
The Adventure Continues
The final phase is the end phase. To begin the end phase you draw a compass tile and place it on the highest empty compass space (This is the turn tracker). Then draw a number of island tiles as indicated by the chart below the compass stack. Place these tiles on any empty spaces on the board as you would during the discover action.
If any island on the board is completed (It has been completely covered in placed island tiles) then each nation scores one point for each of their cubes present and the person with the most cubes scores the island’s primary bonus points. The person with the second most cubes then scores the island’s secondary bonus points. Each island is only scored in this way once, after it is done for the first time, cover the bonus points with an unused nation cube or commodity.
Sea vs City
In a similar fashion, any completed cities on the load action space are now scored. Each city has a number of spaces below that can be filled with cubes when an order is completed there. If all the spaces are gone then the player with the most cubes placed scores the primary bonus points and the person with the second most cubes scores the secondary bonus points.
The final stage of the end phase is to complete any goal cards that you may have received from a milestone marker, if you have fulfilled the requirements then you score points for completing your goal. The first goal completed is free each round, but if you wish to cash in on further completed goals then it costs two commodities for each additional goal.
The first player token is then passed on and the game continues until four rounds have been played.
Fame and Glory
After four rounds the game ends. There is one last chance to score bonus points, these are awarded for each marker you have on unscored islands or cities and two points for each card left in your hand.
There is a possibility that you went around the score track once or twice during the game, any bonus points for doing so before your opponents are added to your score also.
The player with the most points is the winner of the game and won the Race to the New Found Land.
Points make Prizes
I really enjoy Race to the New Found Land, it is a game that brings something different to the table. The milestone markers that are placed on the score track ensure there is always a quick scramble for points, it is often advantageous to sacrifice a long term larger point opportunity in order to claim a quick couple of points instantly. This game mechanic of rewarding the player in the lead can cause those that are losing to fall further behind which can be frustrating for less-skilled players. Nevertheless, I find that seeing an opponent closing in on a milestone marker gets me thinking even more of where I can grab a few quick points and sneak ahead. I personally usually play the long game and try to cash in on mega points later in the game, this mechanic completely changes how I for one have to approach this game.
I find that the game sticks to its theme fantastically and is fun and easy to play for all the family. The commodities are all wooden pieced in place of little tokens which really brings that extra layer of quality to an already good game.
Player interaction is limited to comparing your sails in order to see who goes first in each action space as well as where your nations cubes can be placed on the small cramped islands. However, with such strong emphasis on reaching the milestones before your opponents, there is constant watching your opponents moves and trying to predict their next move to prevent seeing them claiming the all-important prize before your own nation. For this reason, I find that Race to the New Found Land has me more interested in my fellow player’s moves than even some co-operative games, meaning that where concentration can sometimes waver on other player’s turns, during this game the other players will be focused on your move.
In summary, I would highly recommend Race to the New Found Land to any board gaming group, bringing a level of intensity unseen in many of its competitors in the market.