Gameday First Play – Batavia
A game about East Indian shipping companies…
Not that theme actually means anything.
Batavia takes the players into the golden age of the East India companies – England’s, Holland’s, Sweden’s, France’s, and Denmark’s.
And Batavia – now known as Jakarta – wasn’t just the main branch of the Dutch East India Company on Java, but the name of their flagship as well.
The players, representing merchants, visit the trading posts of the five East India companies all over Asia.
Every company’s station offers a different good, which will be made available to the merchant who visits the trading post.
To get a passage there, you’ll need the ship card of the corresponding company.
Every turn, these cards will be auctioned off, according to a special method, where there are only winners: the highest bidder gets all the offered cards but divides the money he paid equally among the others.
The one who is able to travel to the trading posts with the most lucrative goods will be able to procure the best wares for himself and get the most gold for them at game’s end.
This is an odd game.
Firstly, the mechanics are GREAT. I love the game and how it is played but the theme is as pasted on as I have ever seen.
So the game breaks down to two phases.
1 – Bidding
A D6 is rolled and this shows how many cards are up for auction this turn. These cards are used to give you influence in one of the five shipping companies to take their company logo.
What I really like about this is the winning bid is distributed to all the other players meaning cash flow is constant turn after turn.
2 – Movement? (No idea what you would call this phase, maybe Trading?)
You take turns moving along a track collecting tokens that match a shipping company you have the most influence in. These tokens are where you get your points.
Of the 5 shipping companies there 6 commodities, giving 30 tokens in total. So you’re trying to get a majority in each commodity to score it at the end of the game.
BUT, you’re also going to sell these tiles through the game in sets of the shipping company.
1 gets you one point, 2 gets you 3 points etc
This means you can’t Just focus on one commodity AND you can’t JUST focus on one shipping company. Very well done.
This is another clever feature.
When playing the cards to influence a trading company, 2 items are tracked.
One is the number of cards in play for all players for each different trading company
The second is the Pirate Meter! 🙂 which tracks total cards played so far.
When this meter reaches 25, Pirates attack the shipping company with the most cards in play (all on a tie) and those cards are removed and the influence lost.
It’s a great equaliser and another clever way to keep the game balanced and moving forward.
All in all a very good game with lots to think about and great mechanics.