We are proud to have our very first guest post from Alex Pualani. So welcome Alex and thanks for contributing to Club Fantasci!
Publisher: Asmodee Games
Year Published: 2011
Number of Players: 2-6
Playing Time: 45 min
Designers: Bruno Cathala, Serge Laget
Artist: Vincent Dutrait
From the minds that brought us Shadows Over Camelot and Senji comes Mundus Novus, a game about trading commodities collected from the new world.
Yes, this is a theme that may already have been covered by one or two games in the past, but Mundus Novus has risen to the top like the rare Vanilla Planifolia you will be trading with other merchants in the new world. As you and your friends immerse yourselves in the past, you will surely wonder how the designers fit such interesting mechanisms and hard decisions into this small box.
In Mundus Novus, you will be trading commodities, enlisting the aid of famous conquistadors, hiring extra Caravels to carry more goods, building warehouses and more, all with the goal of earning 75 Doubloons or creating the “Perfect Combination,” becoming the best merchant at the table.
Each round starts with players checking out the first of five development cards in line for an event icon. If there is no event icon on the card, then feel free to move on to the next stage worry free. If there is an icon, you may be in for some hard times. Events range from warehouse fires that negate your ability to store cards from round to round, to skirmishes with indigenous people who will significantly cut into your bottom line.
After you determine the event that will affect you greedy merchants this round, you’ll move on to the supply stage, where each player is dealt five goods. The dealer then counts how many caravels are in play and deals one card, face up, to the center of the table for each one. Each player then will choose cards equal to the number of caravels they have increasing your hand size. More caravels = more goods.
The trade step is my favorite part of the of this game. Players will now make two to four cards available for trade. The number of cards being determined by the Trade Master. Did I forget to tell you that not all of you merchants are considered equal in this game? The Trade Master ( the player who secretly offered the highest value of goods this round) rules over all of the other merchants, whether they like it or not. As the Trade Master, you not only get to decide how many cards will be traded, you choose first from the goods offered for trade and decide who will purchase first from the development cards during the progression step (which we will get to soon).
Now that cards are on the table, the Trade Master chooses a card from one of the other merchants and adds it to either his hand or the 3 card market in the middle of the table and adds one of those to his hand. The player who had a card taken from them does the same, taking a card from another player…and so on until all the cards are taken. WARNING! This trading mechanism actually feels like trading!
During the progression step you will be able to purchase from the 5 face up development cards using sets of like cards, and trade in sets of all different cards for coveted doubloons. The cards that come up in the development queue vary from game to game and even from player count to player count. Three of the common (brown) resources will allow you to purchase only the first card in the line, four will let you pick from the first three cards, and five will let you choose from any of the available cards. Three of the uncommon (blue) resources will let you purchase any of the first three cards, while four will let you purchase any of the five development cards. Finally, three of the Rare (green) cards will let you have your choice from all five of the development cards.
Turning in sets of all different cards will net you more doubloons the more cards you turn in. Add a few Incan Relics to the mix and you’ll be swimming in the money. Being able to trade in both like and unlike cards during your turn allows you to vary your strategy based on what cards you were dealt, or were able to pick up during the trade step.
With the help of warehouses allowing to store cards from round to round, and caravels essentially increasing your starting hand size each round, the “Perfect Combination” will become a possibility. The “Perfect Combination” (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, and an Incan Relic) will automatically win you the game, even if another player reaches 75 doubloons on the same turn.
I only have a few problems with this game. One is that this is not a game you’ll want to pull out when your friend with Severe Analysis Paralysis (SAP) shows up. The trading and purchasing of cards can be a bit of a brain burner. Also, the backs of the coins are the same color as the front of the 10 doubloon piece which leads to all kinds of confusion as you turn over coin after coin to find what you are looking for.
This game has become one of the most played in my collection. The variation from game to game in the development cards that show up means that no two games are ever the same. The trading mechanism is very interesting, with the Trade Master role really taking it to the next level. Everyone in my gaming group loves this game and it has become my wife’s favorite game, which means this game will be staying in my collection.
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