second chance games

Search This Website of delight

1500 THE NEW WO RLD DVG are renowned for their high quality series of solitaire wargames featuring conflict on land, sea and air.  So...





DVG are renowned for their high quality series of solitaire wargames featuring conflict on land, sea and air.  So, 1500 The New World is a major departure for them: a light-weight Euro-game with multi-player focus!  The title immediately pinpoints the theme - the competitive exploration and exploitation of the Americas.  Christopher Columbus and all that jazz!

A simple, but attractive board presents a deliberately crude depiction of the Americas and the Caribbean.  For game play purposes these lands have been divided into five Regions labelled North America, Central America, Caribbean, Amazon and Cape Horn.  You'll need to look quite carefully at these areas as the colours that distinguish them are very muted and very similar and the dividing lines between the three regions that constitute the western coast of South America easily disappear into the representation of mountain terrain.  Also printed on the map are icons for five different types of goods, each of which appears in three different areas.

All necessary tracks are on the map board as is a thorough outline of the Turn sequence, End of game resolution and Scoring for each turn.  There are only six turns, game play is very simple and easy and, even with the maximum of 6 players, each game turn passes very quickly.  This is a game at the ultra-light, intro-level end of the gaming spectrum.

If you've struggled, as I did many, many years ago with the complexities of the early S&T magazine game Conquistadores [my solo initiation into board wargames], this is a stroll in the park.  The contents can be swiftly enumerated: an attractive board, two sheets of solid but very plain, basic and functional counters, 112 very pleasing cards and the easiest of brief rule books. 
Serviceable, but very plain counters
Ten pages of rules are so lavishly set out in large font and background illustrations that the fact that they aren't numbered is no problem at all.  In the bygone era of cramped rules, minimal examples and no pictures, I suspect that this would have fit easily into two sides of an average rule book.

In addition there are two pages illustrating a turn of play and four pages reprinting the 22 different types of card with even an example of how to play 8 of them.  With the excellent summary of a Player Turn printed on the game board and 10 minutes explanation, you should be up and running in lightning fast time.

Basic game play can be summed up as, by the play of cards from your hand, placing colonies on their Successful side [i.e. face-up], flipping other players' colonies to the side marked "Struggling" and scoring a point for each one and eliminating colonies that are already on their Struggling side.  Each player then scores points at the end of their turn for each of their face-up colonies.  There is also a bonus for having a Regional Monopoly [i.e. having a successful colony in each of  the three areas that make up one Region] and a bonus for an Export Monopoly [i.e. having a Successful colony in each of the three areas showing the same goods icon].  Add in a limited number of Reaction cards which you can interrupt another player's card play with and that really is it in a nut shell!

A few of the very attractive cards

So, fast, easy, simple to grasp, with fairly limited strategy.  1500 The New World makes a good intro game or light family game.  For more experienced gamers it may serve as a prelude to a more intense, prolonged gaming session or a wind-down after such a session.  It's a fascinating departure for DVG and will, I hope, be a successful new avenue.

Clearly DVG have spent time preparing this product as five companion expansions have been released simultaneously with the core game.  Each Expansion allows you to play as one of the five key nations in that early colonial drive: England, France, Spain,  Portugal and the Netherlands.  
Each Expansion gives you a customised nation deck and an A.I. deck.  Though each nation's deck does have small individualities they primarily contain identical cards to those in the core deck.  A brief rules sheet explains that each person playing as a Nation uses use their own individual deck while others use the core deck.  This in itself may lead to an imbalance, since the core deck is not reduced in any way.  The A.I. deck is played as an extra player following its own set of rules after all human players have had their turn.
England: A.I. Deck on left, English Player Deck on right

I quite like what the A.I. decks bring to the game, but feel that that the National player cards purely make a minor augmentation to game play without any significant changes.  If you kickstarted the whole package then you'll probably feel satisfied, but I wouldn't recommend investing in the significant extra cost of buying all five expansions.  Nor do I think that the ability to play totally solo with a set of several A.I decks is worth the cost.  Play is so straightforward that a solo session immediately made me wish for a much more complex game!

So, with that final thought in my head, it's off to open up DVG's long awaited Sherman Leader for just that more complex and satisfying solo experience.  No surprise that you'll be hearing more about that at a future date on this site!

But before then, it will be off to Rome for some whipping and ramming!  Yes, it's chariot racing Ben Hur style in ancient Rome's Circus Maximus.

 As always, many thanks to DVG for the review copies.