On Saturday 18th I played a game of Navegador at the games club Beyond Monopoly. It was introduced to me as the new game (published in 2010) in the ‘rondel’ series of games. Taken from the description of the game on Geekdo – Players take actions such as contracting men, acquiring ships and buildings, sailing the seas, establishing colonies in discovered lands, trading goods on the market, and getting privileges describes the game theme quite well. On your turn you can perform one action (like build ships, hire workers, sail ships, form colonies, construct buildings (shipyards, churches and factories), and go to market) which are are segment spaces in the windrose (the rondel). You have a marker on one segment (the action you performed last turn) and can move 1,2, or 3 spaces clockwise and perform that action on your turn (you can move more by “burning ships”, i.e. taking them off the board, but that wasn’t advised as useful until possibly in the end game). This is quite good as it limits what actions are available to you each turn, but but can also influence what action you choose to take (by considering what action you may want to do next turn). There is no limit to how many players can be on an action segment, nor any space on the board – this is an economic not war game.
Each action appears once in the rondel, except the Market which appears twice. The market is quite good – there are market scales for the three commodities (sugar, gold, and spice) plus one for refined goods, though the current price markers only go on the three commodities. When you go to market if you have colonies you can sell unrefined goods from them at the current price, but the market price will then fall. So if the player before you has 3 salt colonies, you really don’t also want salt colonies and follow them to market. This is where factories come in – the price for refined goods from factories goes in the opposite direction, so when the market for unrefined goods fall the refined goods from factories rise. So having salt factories and following a player to market who has salt colonies can be quite good. In our game this seemed to be a problem in that one player felt that he was almost forced to mirror the player before him to ensure he went to market straight afterwards to get the best prices, and so the action he went on was dependent on what the player before him did. This could well be just a first game glitch though and tactics may be different on subsequent plays (“misjudgements” in the first turns allowed one player to monopolise in gold colonies).
There is also the Navegador card issued initially to the last player, but it then proceeds round the table that allows the player to perform a sail action on one of their turns. once you have been passed the card you have up to one full progression round the rondel to use it or you lose it – this means one player can’t hold onto it forever. Quite a nice aspect to the game and does allow you to move ahead quickly.
I enjoyed playing the game, though I was cash strapped for the first half of the game that severely crippled me. This was probably because I was last to market because the player after me had the opposite commodities to the rest of us. I’m sure this game will improve on subsequent plays and I hope to play it again next month at another Beyond Monopoly.