I feel human visitors from afar. There are two of them and they think, they are safe here. But I already know about them from the moment they step out of their boat. I was just near the river and I was going to catch fishes, because I’m getting hungry. Among human body odor, sweat and fear, I started to feel something else. Metal. These are not ordinary travelers, these are hunters!
I’m running quickly back to the den, where my pups are resting, but my heels. He heard me. I should he slipped away quietly and they will perhaps miss our shelter. But now, I do not have a choice, I can not go back to cave, because they would kill the young. I have to fight them. Bear turned around and stood at the back and at that moment, he was hit by two bullets. People do not ask twice, what animals think and they do not care about their needs..
Hunting in the seventeenth century was a sport and adventure. And this is topic of board game Columbia, where man from two furmaking companies set out to hunt near the Columbia River. From there comes game’s name, which was done by Phuong and Eric Le Boillaud. They released it in 2013 under their logo ICON Creation.
But the box with the game lies not just anywhere, instead of it its waiting for you to order it. Its in print-on-demand server The Game Crafter. It also allows people with no background of big company to publish their own game and acts as such independent scene. From their production, we’ve already had reviewed Going Places game (review) and soon also a review of Siege.
In the blue box with two men paddling in a canoe, there is major component of the game easily found – first 78 cards in the deck and represent not just canoes, but also traps, barter trade and shops. Together these are called expedition cards. In the upper left corner of each such card, you can find a coin, which specifies a price you must pay for playing it. In the middle of top line, you will find a blue and red symbol expedition to hunt for both of participating companies – blue North West Company and red Hudson’s Bay Company.
Now these hunting companies own each additional dozen of cards with trading points. These cards may have in their upper right corner indicated value of victory points amount for the end of the game. The remaining 36 cards are split by value into two decks of eighteen and are representation of bills with denominations of five and ten pounds.
In addition, you will also find fifty blocks representing animal (while in the trap) or prepared fur (while in canoe) in the box. There is also a house used as an indicator of the current turn. Last undocumented gaming component remains large bag of 25 coins representing each one pound. Basic rules booklet introduces you to a game for two to three players.
At the beginning of the game, you prepare a list of business places in the middle of the table. From shuffled decks of both companies, you draw randomly six cards, which are then compiled into one long red-blue line with these two colors regularly alternating. These cards also represent individual turns, because a house on them will be showing your position in the game. Biggest pile of cards is source to deal five expedition cards to each player from, rest will create drawing deck. Participants will get ten pounds to start with and one river card representing the player’s camp. All cubes and money create bank at the side of the table.
Game consists of twelve classic round plus one opening. All without exception are divided into three phases, but the first round is a little different. In the beginning all players take their five cards and lays them on the table face down. Their order is important for how long they stay in the game, available for you. Then everyone turns their cards and pays their value to the bank. This is the end of preparation, when each player draws four new cards and starting turn continues a classic way.
This means, that players have a chance to perform two different actions of four offered. These include hunting, conveyance, exchange and sale. To catch an animal in a prepared trap, you must have at least one card with trap lined in front of you. You can fill all the traps in one step with cubes (animals), that match color of footprints on the trap card.
Then you’ll want to transport these animals by canoe for sale. If you have already played a canoe in front of you, you can move any number of cubes from traps into boats for another action. In doing so, you must follow rule, that one vessel can carry only animals of the same species. During the turn you can also exchange fur for better. Most important thing for you are selling cards, which allows you to collect a reward in the form of gold (or more valuable bills). At the end of the round, you then discard one new expedition card (the one, that is closest to the river). If there were any cubes on it, you lose them.
Beginning of each subsequent regular turn is slightly different, than the first one. In the beginning, turn indicator moves to the next card in a row and you play a card, first secretly, then you will reveal it together. Most important in this part of the match is round card itself. The aim is to have the best combination of symbols (in the style of poker) from the color of that particular society, ie once blue, next time red. In the game, there are six levels of symbol values, that have fixed order, just like in poker. With your five cards, you can create different known combinations except for a straight.
Game continues with round as long until you get to the last, thirteenth round. Now you need to add up all victory points not only of collected company cards, but also for money. Each gold coin is worth one point. Cubes also convert to money in a ratio of two to one, and only then can be the richest player declared as a winner.
Columbia attracts an interesting combination of business games and mechanisms adopted from poker. Together, you get a strange mix, which offers an interesting and novel gameplay. Known mechanisms of the game are relatively simple to learn, although graphics will not help with that. Above all, we are missing help cards, which would clearly show sequence of poker-like values.
Everything in the game mainly depends on luck. If you get no cards of canoe or traps in your hand, you are out of luck. This fact is particularly important in the first turns, when players get five random cards. Rulebook mentions possibility to replace the whole hand once per game (mulligan), but luck is still strongly present.
While in the meantime, you can focus on getting cards of companies. They are also based on the combination of cards you have in hand, but at the same time, you must also be able to plan well. You can see exactly, which round will be scored in which color. You just need to pay close attention to cards, which lies in front of you. Symbols for evaluation of trade are visible and some cards have more of them. Good planning is essential here.
But equally important is the commercial stage. Overall, the game lets you play on your own turf, because prey is not stolen or fought for, but in each round, you will compete for a valuable card. Yet you can all influence it by playing a new card from your hand just before that happens. For evaluation of five or four characters of the same type, order of the cards does not matter, so they simply must be on the table at that time.
It is good, that rules have two different options: one for two to three and then second for four to five players. This makes the game feel balanced in all numbers. The more opponents you have, the more you msut follow combination of symbols and it also means more difficult position to obtain cards. Therefore better and effective fur trade is gaining importance then.
Most players will like the graphic and the game exudes a very special atmosphere, because of it. Abstract artwork and interesting use of color makes it a bit of a work of art. Add a nice coins and you get a really interesting processing.
Columbia is an enjoyable game, that is good even for beginners after several rounds. It is not an exceptional game, but if you buy it, you will not regret it. Tactic is present in here in roughly the same proportion as coincidence. But thanks to a quick game time, its influence does not matter that much. All that points, we came clearly to conclusion, that Columbia is a good card game.
Columbia is a card game, that takes you into the environment of hunting animals. Although this might be offensive to some of you, its part of American history. You put traps to catch various animals and transport their fur by canoe. If you're lucky, you meet a friend on the river, which could Exchange cheaply some of his furs with you. And then you sell it for a big purse of gold. But in the course of your efforts, you must also think of which company will you favor. It's all a bit random game, but this more or less belongs to collecting symbols on the cards. Overall, it is a simple game, that guarantees entertainment, although someone might like topic, that is not entirely friendly to animals.