The Quest for El Dorado is a deck-building adventure game by Reiner Knizia where players race through the jungle to the finish line.
Open the box, and you’ll find large terrain tiles, wooden figures, and several types of cards.
Many different layouts are possible. The six hexagon jungle tiles can be rotated, and they are double-sided.
There is a starting tile that is also double-sided.
The setup guide suggests six other ways to set up the game, with varying amounts of difficulty.
Blockades are randomly placed between the terrain tiles. Blockades are terrain that must be overcome like any other terrain space, but once a player has done so, they remove the blockade and place it in front of them. These blockades will serve as a tie-breaker in the event of a tie. The additional hex strips are optional, but add to the possibilities when creating the board.
Even the ending tile is double-sided, shown here with the starting player token.
Each player has a starting set of cards. The symbol in the lower right is in the player’s color.
There are also 54 expedition cards that are displayed in a marketplace. The starting 18 cards (6 types with 3 cards of each type) have a circle in the bottom corner of the card.
There are 36 additional cards (12 types with 3 cards of each type).
A strip for the marketplace cards is provided, shown here with the expedition boards for the players. The cards with the circles start on the market board, which has a circle on it to serve as a reminder.
A card sorter can be handy, if you have one. The starting cards are in the front row, with the other cards in the two rows behind.
There are eight wooden figures, two in each player color. The second player piece is for two-player games.
36 cave tokens are also included, for the Caves Variant.
Cave tokens let you move onto terrain, buy cards, or perform special actions.
Playing The Quest for El Dorado
The starting tile, ending tile, and terrain hexes are laid out, with random blockades placed between them.
The tiles are labeled with letters in the center to aid players during setup.
Each player takes their starting deck and expedition board, and places their wooden figure on a starting space. The marketplace cards are laid out in a grid.
Players start each turn with four cards in their hand. The expedition cards will help you move through the jungle or buy more cards to add to your deck. The top of the card shows what it can do.
Players advance by playing cards that match the strength and type of terrain.
Yellow cards are have a coin value that help you to buy additional cards, but all cards can be used as half of a coin instead of their displayed action.
Each player plays cards to move through the jungle or buy new cards, and then refills their hand to four cards. Once their draw pile is empty, they shuffle their discard pile and create a new draw pile.
Players race across the jungle to be the first to reach El Dorado. If two players arrive during the same round, the blockades are used as a tie-breaker. In a two-player game, both of a player’s pieces must make it to El Dorado in order to win.
Comparing The Quest for El Dorado
The Quest for El Dorado is a family-friendly game that plays in under an hour. It can also provide challenges to more advanced players by using a more difficult terrain setup. The box is a Ticket to Ride-sized square that fits easily among other common games.
In box size and play time, The Quest for El Dorado is similar to the classic deck-builder, Dominion, but The Quest for El Dorado has the colorful board and wooden meeples that give it a different feel.
Discoveries: The Journals of Lewis & Clark is another 2-4 player exploration game that plays in about an hour, and is in a similar price range, but Discoveries uses dice for actions, while The Quest for El Dorado uses cards.
The variability and quality of the components really goes above and beyond what one might expect at this price-point. The rule book is clear and easy to follow. With Reiner Knizia, Franz Vohwinkel, and Ravensburger on the box, you know it will be done right.