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RACE to the NEW FOUND LAND
Note that it is NEW FOUND LAND not Newfoundland even though it is about exploring North America
Designed by Martin Kallenborn & Jochen Scherer with Illustrations by Alexander Jung. Published by Hans im Glück.
This is for 2-4 players (best with 3 or 4) aged 10+ and plays in about 90 minutes (75 minutes after a few games)

Note: Play is over just 4 rounds and as each round begins with the Start Player moving clockwise which means that unless you are playing with 2 or 4 players (ie in a 3 player game) one player is going to start two rounds. When playing with 3 players each of us take a turn at going first and then we dice for who will start the final round.

  

There are a good number of components, these being wooden blocks in 4 different (Player) colours and other wooden shapes in Gold (Gold), Brown (Wood), White (Cloth) and Grey (Iron) resources. There are also 4 wooden ships, one in each of the player colours, which are used to sail on the twisting ribbon score-track. The rest of the components are various small decks of cards and Tiles of various shapes and colours - each with their own clear and specific purposes.

The excellent Rules Book opens to a double-page spread that shows the game-board surrounded with 13 boxes describing the original Set Up. Follow this in order and, even before your first game, the concept of play will be instilled within the cells of your gamer's brain (brain cell in my case). Each of the 13 boxes has, where necessary, illustrations and examples of the Tiles and/or Cards that are referred to within the constrained text, ensuring that players quickly learn which pieces are which.

   

Every player has their own personal play-board where they moor their Merchant Ship cards in the three free harbours (or the fourth that can be bought) above the board and move them during the Action Phase to one of the four Harbour/Action spaces below the board. Each board represents one of the Nations involved; Spanien (Spain), Frankreich (France), Portugal, Niederlande (The Netherlands) and England. These player boards should be shuffled face-down and then randomly distributed to the players. This has nothing to do with the Nationality and all to do with the fact that the only difference between the player's boards is the specific bonus given by their "special harbour space" once it is up and running (ie the player has paid the costs to bring it into the game); these bonuses are available every round.
England: Colonial Harbour. May keep an additional x1 card during the Load Action.
The Netherlands: Naval Office: Expands your Sail value by 2 on any one of the Actions each turn.
France: Customs. 3 extra VPs for fulfilled Contracts in the Delivery action.
Spain: Colonial Administration. Place 2 markers one on top of the other on an island tile.
Portugal: Shipyard. One additional Shipyard. This can be helpful by allowing the owning player the opportunity to have an extra ship.

  

One of the things I really appreciate about The RACE to the NEW FOUND LANE is the number of useful options players have in their turns, without preventing the game from moving freely, quickly and effortlessly, as well as efficiently. At the beginning of their turn all players receive their "income" which is always one piece of Wood and one piece of Cloth, though extra Goods may be obtained through cards etc. We have found that in the first round almost everyone immediately spends this to buy one of the available ships for their second Shipyard. Later, when you have gathered other resources you may wish to unlock the shipyard on the far right, costing a Cloth and an Iron, though many of us have played, and won, using just the three shipyards available from the start. 

The Rounds are played in phases with the first player taken the first action in each of the phases - the first actionphase is the Landphase which is where you get your income, open new Harbours/Shipyards and buy new ships. The second phase is in 4 segments which during the game are settled individually in order but during this phase the players determine which (if any) of the segments they wish to place their ships. 
Beladen: Loading - This is where Goods are gained. Your ship/s have to have a total of boxes equal to the highest load (Gold = 4, Iron = 3, Cloth = 2 and Wood = 1) or below that you want. For example if you have a ship showing crates with the value of 4 you can load any ONE of the resoures. If your ship shows 3 crates you cannot gain a Gold but all other resources are an option for you, but only ever one can be bought whatever you buy. You may only send one ship to be loaded.
Siedeln: Settling. If you have any ships here that show people you are allowed to claim a space on any already found land and claim one of the rewards from that land. If you had 2 people you get to place 2 cubes but these have to be atop each other and still only on one space of the two on a piece of land. Up to 3 ships may carry passengers.
Liefern: Delivering. Up to 3 ships. The total value of your ship's crates values determines how many Goods you can deliver. You deliver to the Cities on the board - Stockholm, Hamburg, Venetzia and Antwerp. Once a City is full of stock (small boxes under each city name) the City is scored according to the values beside it. Only Antwerp remains open but only gives 1 point per Goods received.
Entdecken: Discovery. Maximum 2 ships. For each Telescope (Spyglass) available on your ship/s you get to look at that many Island Tiles and select one per ship you have there to place on the board. Also, as the tiles are placed on the board the player places one of their wooden markers and claims both the rewards.

Another one of the clever details of this game is that the islands onto which the Island tiles are placed are overlaid with squares in which the land and sea seen within match one or more of the tiles (rotate the tile as necessary when placing) so you can only place Island tiles in spaces on the islands where the landscape and shoreline of the tile exactly matches the shoreline and landscape of the square on which they are being laid. This can mean that towards the end of the game you are limited as to the tiles you can place. It has happened but very rarely, for us, that of the tiles selected to choose from none were a fit and they had to be removed to the flipped over Player board that isn't being used (there are 5 boards for 4 players) and is now called Storage. If the main supply is exhausted the Storage is shuffled/mixed back in to form a new supply.

  

Dotted around the Score Track are symbols printed on the board that match the Outline tiles that are placed onto them during set up. As a player gains VPs they move their Wooden (score markers) ships along the VP track. When they reach or pass one of the Outline tiles a couple of things occur - the Outline tile is moved 3 spaces back (or less if it meets another player's ship) and the Bonus is unlocked - depending on the Outline tile the rewards are extremely useful The game requires that players think about every turn and the affect it will have on their position on the victory track. One of the rewards given by the Outline Tiles is the choice of Captain - each player may only have one Captain but he can be used each turn.
Columbus: Allows you to place an extra Island Tile and claim the reward.
Magellan: One ship gains the value of 7 to its Sails for the Planning Phase.
Cortés: You receive One Gold immediately and One Gold at the beginning of the Land Phase each turn.
De Gama: Increases the crate value of a ship to 3.
Drake: Gives the player an extra Shipyard.

At the beginning of the game the ships on the VP track move so very slowly that during your first game you may begin to wonder why there is a 100/50 card that is awarded to players when they pass the 50 mark on the Track. It seems that once they start to move, the ships begin to speed up and continue to move round the track, it is quite likely that other less successful player's ships will be lapped.

  

Ships come in two sizes, Large and Small. Each can be bought by paying the appropriate Goods for it from the supply. Owning more than one Large Ship may be an advantage during the final count up/scoring but sometimes it is better to spend less to use the smaller ships. It's a choice for the players to make for themselves, there is no right way or wrong way. Each ship has 4 values on it:
Two People - these represent Settlers. How many Settlers is determined by the large Blue number - which can be a Zero (0) - laid over them.
Crates - represent the Goods you can Load or /and Deliver. They are overlaid with a large Golden number.
Telescope/SpyGlass - Black number over laid shows how many Island tiles you may examine before placing one per ship on the board.
Sails - The Green Sails have a Green number and the value of all sails in the same area determines the player order for that area.

The RACE for the NEW FOUND LAND is an excellent game where the designers have done their utmost to ensure that every eventuality is accounted for and that the game is fast, fun, interesting, different enough each time, replayable and wonderfully produced throughout (with a little help from Hans im Glück), and they have succeeded on all counts.
There is a cost for excellence and quality and for this game it is around about £50.00. On today's prices and for the playability alone, this is well worth it. This is a superbly designed and presented game and will give you hours of enjoyment. It is certainly a Euro-gamer's game. It isn't really an entry level game into Euro gaming, but if you could talk non-experienced players into giving it a go you will almost certainly convert them. 

As my mobility difficulties are preventing me from attending Essen I have lost touch a little with what game/s are being touted for GotY - in my opinion RACE for the NEW FOUND LAND should be high on the list of probable nominations.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015