Sunday, November 23, 2014

Merchants of Amsterdam

Is a darn fun game.  And semi-educational too.  I say semi-educational because in fairness, most educational games are just that, semi-educational.

The game has no dice.  It has a time tracker that moves through various years of the 17th century that mark certain events in the fortunes of Amsterdam, when that city was a center of trade and commerce.  In the rules, it gives a bullet point about what happened in that particular year to make it worthy of note.

The rest of the game is a strange combination of strategy and pure luck.  You open markets around the world, build warehouses in Amsterdam (noted for such building in its day), and speculate on the commodities market.  Through a bizarre combination of factoring and figuring, you can rake in the money or lose everything.  The one with the most money at the end wins.

As "historical" games go, it's somewhat light even when you think semi-educational.  But compared to most video games (computer games being another issue), it soars.  It got my kids to realize there was this place that occupies a footnote or a few sentences in most history books that really was, for quite a while, a major player in world events.

As for the game play, it's not easy.  Sometimes it goes fast, other times it drags.  Long term strategies work better than fly by the seat of your pants.  Figuring what to focus on - worldwide markets, warehouse building or commodities exchange - is one of the keys.  And the high point each round is the Auction, which includes a rather bizarre timer.  Who hits the timer first gets the purchase for the price the timer indicates.  That's where it's every man for himself. For the record, I came in 3rd last night.  My wife won, being the non-man in the room.


  1. See that's another reason I wanted to run into you guys while ya'll were in Louisville. So I could introduce ya'll to "Yedo", my favorite board game (plus, it has Catholics!) and I think your flock would quite enjoy it too.

  2. Hopefully someday when we have money and time. But Yedo? I'm not familiar.

  3. It's a worker placement game that takes place in ye olde japan.

    Love it. My favorite board game of all time (plus absolutely BEAUTIFUL).

  4. Looks mysteriously awesome. Japanese history is a weaker spot in my studies, but things like this can sometimes be good launching points.


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