Age of Discovery

Age of Discovery

From: Phalanx Games b.v./Mayfair Games, Inc.

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Age of Discovery is a new Card Game from Phalanx Games b.v./Mayfair Games, Inc.

A game of money allocation and slow build up, Age of Discovery is a colorful game with quite a bit of complexity. From setup to game play, Age of Discovery is a resource-allocation strategy game that takes a couple of times playing to really learn the game and can be a challenge to new players to these type of games. I knew right away after reading the rules that I would have to play this game a couple of times to really get a feel for the game.

From page #1: “During the 15th and 16th centuries, the great royal houses of Europe sent explorers and conquerors all over the world.”

As the above quote implies, your role is to invest in the great voyages by purchasing ships and assigning them to successful expeditions. To do this you need money, and to get that you must establish and fulfill trade contracts. The challenge is balancing the needs of the trade with the demands of the great explorers.

There are several different types of cards and they are all different sizes and vary in color. There are the Expeditions. They are the largest cards and where victory points are obtained. There are 12 of these and they vary in color. Also there are the Trade Contracts where players gain money once the contracts are complete. There are 24 of these and they also vary in color. Then there are the smallest cards – the Ships. The ships’ prices and transport value are printed on the cards. Each ship is a different color and has a transport value from “1” to “3.”

Game setup involves several things. First, twelve expedition cards are placed in the middle of the table. Each of these expeditions is assigned a number from “3” to “8.” They are also one of six colors (red, yellow, blue, green, white, or black) and have victory points printed on each card for the two scoring rounds. Next the trade contract cards are laid out in a stack and the top 4 are turned over so all can see. Then what I would call the “ship yard” is created by forming 5 stacks of ship cards, and then two rows of 5 ships, one representing the purchase row and the other representing the filling row. As ships are purchased, they are replaced by the one above it in the filling row and then a new one for the filling row is drawn from the stack.

At the start of the game, each player takes a pile of wooden cubes in their color as well as six coins. Players place one of their cubes at the beginning of a scoring track, as well as the “0” space of a trade contracts track. These are the two factors when it comes time to score. Each player also gets some special action cards and secret mission cards depending on the number of players as well as one “flagship” card (which has a variable transport value of 1 to3).

A turn is composed of each player choosing two actions of the four available:

  • Two Coins: Take two coins from the bank.
  • Trade Contract:: Take either one face up contract or the top one from the contract deck. This costs one coin. All contracts may be kept in a player’s hand.
  • Purchase ships: Purchase ships from the bottom row of shipyard.
  • Send ships on expeditions and or trade contract voyages.

Getting coins from the bank is straight forward and an easy way to get money when you need it. Agreeing to trade contacts (buying them from the stack of either revealed or unrevealed contracts) is also straight forward. These contracts go to your hand until you can play ships on them. Purchase ships, as explained, is a simple matter of buying from the purchase row, moving the ship in the above filling row down, and drawing the next ship from the first stack.

Sending ships out on trade contracts or expeditions is where it gets fairly involved. Expeditions tie up ships for the rest of the game. Committing to one of those is a long term commitment and a very strategic decision. However, you realize just how few expeditions are out there when they start filling up, so you can not wait around. Trade contracts, on the other hand, are temporary commitments, the reward being dependent on how long you want to wait for it. Trade contracts last one, two or three turns, and the reward is larger for the longer waits. You assign the length of time the contract is for when you commit ships to it. Once completed, the ship is returned to your hand. Everything costs at least one coin. If you place a ship on a trade contract, it costs a placement fee per ship. Same for expeditions. The colors of the trade contract and ships must match. However, in the case of expeditions, they do not have to match but it helps if they do (more victory points). The first ship played on the expedition, however, defines the color of that expedition.

From page # 1: “It is time to seek wealth and glory in the Age of Discovery”

Hidden amongst the ships in the shipyard are two cards – First Scoring and Final Scoring. These are the two times victory points are counted. Points are scored by the number of ships you have on an expedition and points are defined by the expedition card and the scoring phase that has turned up (first or final).

The special actions cards initially were very ambiguous when I first read the rules, but in play it became very apparent how they were used. There are two types – Wild Ships and Reservation. Wild cards allow you to break the color specific rule on a trade contract or expeditions. Reservations allow you to reserve a revealed ship or trade contract in the play area. These special action cards are used once and discarded.

The secret mission cards are used in final scoring. They too are very ambiguous at first glance. They defined under what conditions you gain extra victory points. For example, you can gain extra points for every expedition on which you own all the ships or at least half the ships or at least a majority of the ships. The number of points is dictated by the number of trade contracts you have completed and each card has a chart defining those values.

In conclusion, this is a game that has to be played a couple of times to really get a feel for the nuances and subtle strategy in the game. I won the first game I played (and I NEVER win board games) and I cannot honestly tell you how I won other than I was the guy with the most points. This is a very subtly complex and interesting game. It is not a slow game at all, it is very fast paced. That is one thing I said about it when playing it – I liked the pace of the game. We played with three players and the game lasted about an hour. It was also the first time anyone had played. Initially it is hard to see the strategy in the game, but once you play a couple of times it is easier to understand. The interweaving mechanics are ingeniously put together to make it a very fun and satisfying game

For more details on Phalanx Games b.v./Mayfair Games, Inc. and their new Card Game “Age of Discovery” check them out at their website or, and at all of your local game stores.

Age of Discovery

From: Phalanx Games b.v./Mayfair Games, Inc.

Type of Game: Card Game

Written by: Alfred Viktor Shulz

Productions: Michael Bruinsma, Ulrich Blennemann, Henning Kropke

Cover Art by: Herald Lieske

Number of Pages: 8 page rulebook

Game Components Included:

  • 50 ship cards
  • 12 expedition cards
  • 24 trade contract cards
  • 12 special mission cards
  • 12 action cards
  • 88 wooden tokens
  • 1 victory point chart
  • 60 coins
  • 1 rules booklet

Retail Price: $ 30.00 (US)

Number of Players: 2-4

Player Ages: 10+

Play Time: 45 or more minutes

Website: or

Reviewed by: Ron McClung