Anno 1503

Anno 1503

From: Mayfair Games
Reviewed by:Ron McClung

Anno 1503 is a new board game from Mayfair Games.

Anno 1503is an impressively constructed board game of abstract exploration and civilization building.  It is not at all complicated and very entertaining to play.  Apparently based on a PC video game I have never heard of, it really has some interesting mechanics and new takes on the civilization building genre of games.  It is also a very short game, so you do not have to dedicate your whole day to the game.  

From the page #1:“ Anno 1503… when adventurous mariners sailed the Seven Seas with dreams of fame and fortune.”

I have never played or even heard of the computer game,Anno 1503, but the board game attracted me because of the names associated to it – Mayfair Games and Klaus Teuber of the Catan game series fame.  Learning the game was fairly easy and within 30 minutes, two friends and I were exploring the high seas.  

Basically, you are an exploring ‘island nation’ sending your boats out to sea.  You have your home island which contains your initial colonies and your production chart.  Each home island card is subtly different.  You have two boats, but you only start out with one and can build another later.  You can only have two boats in the ocean at once.  The boats are used to explore islands, which have random island tiles on them.  Everyone starts out with 7 gold, one boat, one pioneer colony and one settler colony, and that is it.

Everyone rolls a die at the start of their turn.  This die represents the production for that turn for everyone.  Rolling a 1 through 5 means everyone references their production chart to see what they got.  There are 6 different resources or commodities – stone, lumber, tools, cloth, spice, and tobacco.  Everything but spice and tobacco can be produced initially.  A roll of a 6 means an event occurs.  There is a 2 out of 3 chance that something bad will happen – pirates or fire.  The other third chance is good fortune, which means more productions.  This applies to everyone like the production role.

Once productions is over, a player can spend/build or buy/sell.  You spend gold to buy commodities, you spend commodities to build ships/colonies or upgrades to your colonies.  You can sell commodities to your colonist for gold.  The amount of gold is based on the type of commodity.  Upgrading the colonies changes what they will buy but also increases the amount of gold they will give for the commodity.  Also, after the third colony bought, the player receives a public building which will add its own bonuses to his home island.  The problem is there is a limit to the types of public buildings.  For example, there are only two fire brigades (which protect your colonies from fire events). Once those two tiles are gone, no other colony can have a fire brigade.  This adds an interesting level of strategy to the game.

From the page #1:“ Those who returned safe and sound told tales of grand, bountiful islands unspoiled by man. ”

The last phase of a turn is ship movement.  Your ships explore and sometimes settle islands.  The catch is once you decide to land and claim the island, the ship is removed from the game and must be replaced by the player. One of three things can be found on islands – treasure, trade agreements or outposts.  Treasure either gives you more gold or upgrades a colony for free.  Trade agreements effect commodity cost, and outpost increases the variety of commodities one can get.

Players win by gaining three victory points.  You gain victory points through five possible victory conditions – 300 or more gold, 4 outposts, 3 trade agreements, 4 public buildings and/or 3 merchants (highest level of a colonist).

There is not enough good words I can say about this game.  It is simple, family friendly, easy to learn and teach, has extensive replay-ability and is fun.  The board is very well laid out with everything on the board that you need.  Even the events table is symbolized in one corner as are the victory conditions.  There were no stumbling blocks for us, and the rules were precise and clear about everything.  This is a great game for the whole family.

For more details on Mayfair Games and their new Board game “Anno 1503” check them out at their website and at all of your local game stores.

Anno 1503
From: Mayfair Games
Type of Game: Boardgame
Written by: Klaus Teuber
Game Design by: Klaus Teuber
Developed by: Klaus Teuber
Number of Pages: 4
Game Components Included: Game board, 90 commodity cards, 4 home island, 32 island tiles, 28 colonist tiles, 14 public building tiles, 16 coat of arms markers, 8 wooden ships, 1 die
Retail Price: $ 49.00 (US)
Number of Players: 4
Player Ages: 10+
Play Time: 90 min
Item Number:  

Reviewed by: Ron McClung