Anno 1602, Anno 1701....
From Screen to Board
Anno is one of the most successful range of computer games, beginning with the publication of Anno 1602 in 1998. The range was continued with several other games on the topic, for instance Anno 1503 and Anno 1701. Both have been successfully transposed into good board games by Kosmos.
When the latest game in the computer games series, Anno 1800, was published in 2019, and was a big success immediately, the development of a board game version was a given. With this intent, the computer games company Ubisoft approached Kosmos and offered the rights on the transposition to them. Kosmos in turn asked the well-known and greatly successful games designer Martin Wallace to develop a board game version - the result of the co-production by Kosmos, Ubisoft and Martin Wallace is now on the table and is exceptionally good.
1800 was the time when industrialization was beginning in a big way and the topic of this strategic development game is exactly this industrialization. Players continuously develop and expand their own industries on their home island.
Fleets of ships are used by players to extend their area of influence by accessing and exploring new islands, islands that are located in the New World as well as in the Old World.
As in the computer game, players must cleverly plan their production chains and to take into account the special effects and abilities of their population and their factories and production buildings.
But enough of those general remarks. When we open the box, we find a large number of components, which leads one to expect an extremely complicated and complex game.
When we take a look at the rules, we find many different action options, however, each player can only implement one action in his turn. Therefore, after a few turns, the implementation of the individual action is no longer difficult and has been mastered.
The complexity of the game obviously is in the planning and in the selection of your production building, as you can always build or acquire only one of the building tiles in your current turn. Another difficulty with that is, that each of the building tiles is only available twice.
Therefore, again, it needs clever and exact planning of when to choose which action option.
The fact that only certain groups of population can build certain types of buildings or make use of the building abilities, is remarkably close to the computer game and demands that you also plan your population very carefully.
The set-up of the game takes some time, especially the distribution of the building tiles on the respective slots on the board.
Each player receives one home island, two trading plates which he puts on his pre-printed trade ships, and one exploration tile which is placed on the exploration ship.
There are five different groups of population in the game:
Each player begins with four farmers, three workers and two craftsmen whom he places into the corresponding housing districts of his home island. Furthermore, each player receives seven farmer/worker cards and two craftsmen/engineer/investor cards as his starting hand.
All other components are sorted by type and set out for later use.
On the board, you place the shuffled population cards face-down into their respective slots. You also shuffle the cards for New World and the expedition cards and place them face-down on the board.
Finally, you shuffle the task cards and display five of them openly next to the board, the remaining task cards are set aside unchecked, they are not in play for the current game.
In his game, each player can now implement one of the following action options:
Play and activate population card
Interchange population cards
Enhance work power
Expand Old World
Explore New World
Take expedition cards
Celebrate a City Festival
Within each of those action options, you can, in addition - even multiple times - resolve the actions of trading and end-of-shift, which are not deemed to be separate actions and can be used with nearly all of the action options.
This action is used to build production buildings, shipyards and/or ships.
Players can build over pre-printed or already built production buildings or place buildings on empty building slots.
Please note: You can only own one production building of a kind. Building tiles, you need a different population group for the production of the same item, are NOT a building of the same kind.
Each player can have and build as many ships and shipyards of the same capacity or type as he wants.
If you acquire new ships, you receive new trading tiles for trading ships and new exploration tiles for exploration ships.
In this game, payment is always done by producing the necessary resources.
At the start of the game and during the game, the various population cubes are situated in the respective housing districts of the home island. You can only use population cubes from housing districts for producing resources. To produce a resource, you place one of your population cubes on the respective production building.
Please note: Goods cannot be stored, goods that are produced are used immediately.
Play and activate a population card
By playing a population card, you receive various once-only effects of the cards; the playing and resulting immediate activation of the cards also always yields victory points.
There are two types of population cards - Farmer/Worker cards and Craftsmen/Engineer/Investor cards.
To play a card, you must pay the price stated in the top line of the card.
Interchange population cards
You can swap up to three population cards from your hand for population cards of the same type from the stack. The cards that you discard are placed underneath the respective stack of cards.
Enhance work power
If you produce the necessary costs, you can acquire up to three population cubes.
You draw one population card for each of the new population cubes.
At this point I want to mention that the symbols for costs, abilities, resources etc. are really well-placed on the board, the home islands, on cards and on building tiles, and offer excellent support for players.
You can upgrade up to three population cubes and thus move them up into the next group of higher value. You can distribute the upgrade between one and three population cubes and can also upgrade population cubes already placed on a production building and thus being already in use.
Please note: It can happen, therefore, that there are population cubes of a higher-value group on a production building than would be necessary
Expand Old World
With this action option, you expand your home island and need exploration tiles to do so. For your first new Old World Island, you need one exploration tile. For each additional Old World Island, you need as many exploration tiles as you will own Old World Islands after the expansion. You cannot own more than four Old World Islands.
Explore New World
To explore a New World Island, you also need exploration tiles, again as many exploration tiles as you will own New World Islands at the end of the current turn. For exploring a New World Island, you receive also three additional New World cards. The New World Islands provide three special types of resources which you can now produce; to produce such a resource, you place a trade tile into your exhaustion stock. Those resources cannot be acquired by other players. Again, the rule is that nobody can own more than four New World islands.
Take Expedition Cards
By discarding two exploration tiles, a player can acquire three expedition cards.
Expedition cards show an animal symbol on the left side and an artifact on the right side and yield victory points at the end of the game if you can place population cubes on them of the same color at is shown at the background of the card symbols. This does not require a separate game turn at the end of the game; when the game has ended and the standard scoring has been resolved, each player can place all his population cubes on those expedition cards and then the resulting victory points are scored.
Celebrate a City Festival
By celebrating a city festival, you take back all your population cubes placed into production buildings and put them back into the housing districts and you also take back all your trade tiles and exploration tiles and all your population cubes from the exhaustion stock.
Instead of producing a resource yourself, you can let the resource be produced by another player who owns the respective production building; you discard a trade tile for this option. The owner of the production building cannot refuse the trade, he receives, however, one gold from general stock for this trade action.
Depending on the population group who produces the respective resource, the active player wishing to trade must discard one trade tile for farmers and workers, two trade tiles for craftsmen and three trade tiles for engineers into his exhaustion stock. Trade tiles, exploration tiles or population cubes that are sitting in the exhaustion stock are not available for use in action while in the exhaustion stock.
End of Shift
Population cubes on production buildings use for production are not available to a player while there. Two population cubes on any production building block the building and the resource cannot be produced at the moment.
Anytime in your turn, any player can spend gold to put used population cubes back into their respective housing districts.
This taking back from production buildings costs one gold for each farmer, and for any other population group always one gold more that you would have to pay for the next-lower group - for instance, two gold for a craftsman, five gold for an investor.
Population cubes thus returned to housing districts can be used immediately again.
Martin Wallace and Kosmos have produced an outstanding transposition of the computer game. The board game has been excellently matched to the computer game as regards to the main game principle - lively trade and development of new technologies and industries. Contrary to the games of Anno 1503 and 1701, which both have been good board game, but, in my opinion, hat a lot less in common with their computer game predecessors.
The individual game turns in themselves are not complicated, but due to the many action options the game is rather complex, whereby the complexity is not in the individual actions, but comes from the limitation of only being able to resolve one action per turn and therefore one is forces to select actions in order to achieve certain situations or possibilities over several rounds.
The setting-up of production chains, first and foremost, and the decision about which resources, goods, and items I will have produced by other players, are different in every game and demand strategic decisions and exact planning, spanning several rounds.
To master the individual elements of the game is surely possible for less experienced or gifted players, but due to the many action options and the fine-tuning of those options over several rounds would make it rather hard for them to win against more experienced players.
I would also like to mention that the five task cards randomly determined at the start of the game can sometimes have an interesting and unexpected influence on your planning of the game.
Task cards yield different amounts of additional victory points at the end of the game for different achievements - for instance, for the explored New Worlds, famer/worker cards or expedition cards.
The game has been implemented very atmospheric and harmonious and simulates the period of around 1800 very nicely. The graphic design is excellent and the symbols used on board, cards and other items are nicely helpful for understanding and resolving the individual actions.
Anno 1800 is a marvelous game for experts, due to its complex strategy options.
Martin Wallace has previously developed many good games, but Anno 1800 could have the potential to be one of his outstanding game designs.
A felicitous game design and an excellent transformation of the computer game into a board game, which should be one of the games that a games expert should own.
Designer: Martin Wallace
Artist: Fiore GmbH
Price: ca. 49 Euro
Publisher: Kosmos Verlag 2020
Users: For experts
Rules: de en
In-game text: no
Complex strategy options
Thorough planning is necessary
Implementation of turns is quickly mastered
Lots of components
NEOM, Lookout Games
My rating: 7
Complex, highly strategic and, as I said, a felicitous transposition of the PC game, which should be in the collection of all expert games players.
Chance (pink): 1
Tactic (turquoise): 3
Strategy (blue): 3
Creativity (dark blue): 0
Knowledge (yellow): 0
Memory (orange): 0
Communication (red): 1
Interaction (brown): 2
Dexterity (green): 0
Action (dark green): 0