A Deckbuilding Look at The Quest for El Dorado

The Quest for El Dorado (2017) is exciting because it’s an entrant in the deckbuilding field by master designer Reiner Knizia. It’s also exciting because it’s one of the scant games that uses deckbuilding as an engine to drive play on a gameboard, with Trains (2012), Tyrants of the Underdark (2016), Automobiles (2016), and several wargames being among the few prior releases that did so to this same depth, and at this same level of quality.

The Game

The Quest for El Dorado (2017) is a racing game, and in fact it’s the game that encouraged me to write my current series of articles on racing games, in large part because it’s a pretty great one. The object of the game is to travel across several tiles to be the first to get to El Dorado. Each of those tiles is filled with hexes of a variety of terrain types, with the most important ones being green jungles, blue waters, and yellow villages. Players will actually get to choose their route across the tiles, strategically selecting between long but easy routes and short but difficult ones. Continue reading

The Anatomy of Racing Games: What Makes a Great Race

Racing games are the least common denominator of board games. Candyland (1949) certainly isn’t a well-respected game nor are other roll-and-move games. However, there are also plenty of modern racing eurogames which are great. I’ve got quite a few of them in my permanent collection, including Around the World in 80 Days (2004), Cartagena (2000), Fast Flowing Forest Fellers (2008)The Quest for El Dorado (2017), and Snow Tails (2008).

So what makes the difference?

I think six different attributes contribute to great racing game play — elements that have largely appeared since the eurogame explosion of the ’90s. I’ve listed them here in decreasing order of importance. Great racing games don’t usually have all of them; in fact, that’d probably be too much! But the really good racing games tend to feature several of these attributes, particularly the higher ranked ones. Continue reading