Archipelago board game
Archipelago board game


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Overall Rank: #360 | Trending Rank: #820
Archipelago combines exploration, resource management, optimization, cooperation, strategy, negotiation, corruption, commerce, suspicion, alliances and betrayals, even a hint of investigation.

Each player takes on the role of an explorer and their team, mandated by a European nation to discover, colonize and profit from the archipelagos. These missions are supposed to happen diplomatically, by answering the needs of the local population as much as the regular demands from the continent.

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User Ratings & Reviews

  • Such a smart combination of mechanics. This game has ruined me for a lot of other games in the genre.
  • I often feel that this is my version of the ideal board game. However, like any ideal it often struggles when faced with reality and I think this is often why this game doesn't review so well. It is a game that requires people to get on board with what the game wants: it is at its core a passive aggressive negotiation game. Often when I play it with a group for the first time, everyone tries to acquire all the resources they need by themselves and so ends up a pretty slow game with limited interaction: I think this comes from the complexity of the game and so 'gamers' go into eurogame mode and get lost in their own engine. However, whenever I have managed to convince a group that negotiation is at its heart OR whenever I have played with the same group more than once this game really starts to come to life. People are trading and negotiating, building flimsy alliances and making convoluted deals and it is dynamic and hilarious in equal part. Someone will throw in some goods to the collective pool to fix a crisis and then play the poor, put-upon martyr for the rest of the game to avoid any pressure over all the unrest they are creating. Someone creates a bunch of towns all over the map and starts extorting the other players until everyone agrees to effectively unionise to cut them off (once with a little revolutionary sing along, ironically) However, I fully appreciate that if this kind of magic doesn't happen around your table then it is a somewhat messy euro that will drag. I guess this lack of accessibility (needing a group to get on board) could be considered a flaw, but for me I have always admired the designer's ambition with this game. On the theme, I absolutely agree that it comes across as tone deaf. I always make a point of highlighting that we are in fact the villians in this game. This often leads to some really interesting discussion of how awful colonialism was as the game goes on which I think is a pretty healthy thing rather than just not playing the game on that basis and therefore potentially never having discussions about it. (However, would have absolutely appreciated the game doing this itself) Anywho, I adore this game, when it works it has produced some of the best times around a table (or often the floor as it is a big game) that I have had.
  • Have only played with Benefactor Trend, and 3 of the 4 games without the Pacifist and Separatist Trend cards. Probably a little too much negotiation for me to really appreciate.
  • Eager to try again. The colony is more fragile than it appears. [EDIT] Yeah, the economy that this game posits is interesting, but the way you interact with it is just so stodgy, incremental, and dull. Random card pulls force sweeping economic changes that cannot be countered without devoting many, many actions; and that's even assuming that everyone can convince themselves to adopt the game's weird semi-coop mindset. More interesting than good.
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Thanks! Couldn't agree more with the huge amounts of games out there. Sometimes it can get a little overwhelming but there's definitely something for everyone. 

Despite your best efforts to explain why your group didn't click with#Archipelago, it does sound real interesting hahaha. This post has officially backfired!

Good topic!  It's great that our hobby is so diverse.  There's games for everyone.  Sometimes a game is good but something else is better.

And of course, the most important the game going to actually get played?

Sticking with the same vein as your post here are games I used to own that you might have heard of:

  • #Archipelago: This game was my first "designer" purchase.  You get to build a map (I love building maps!) it's economic, it's in an odd semi-coop space.  What's not to like?  Well two big things for my group: 1) The game always seemed to end just as you got things going.  We played the short, the medium and the long games and never felt satisfied and 2) The semi co-op aspect just didn't work for my group.  Someone ended up keeping the game goiing while someone else just plowed ahead or no one could/would handle crisis and we'd get overwhelmed.  A LOT of potential there that didn't quite work for us.  
  • #Arkham Horror: The Card Game: Another popular game and for good reason.  However, I'm not a massive solo player and the game play just didn't quite grab me as much as #Mansions of Madness: Second Edition which I really enjoy with the app.  I only really want one Cthulu style game in my collection as I find them all quite similar.
  • #Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition): My group has so many games that there is only room for one epic dungeon quest and #Gloomhaven is it.  (Yes, I know they aren't the same but they are in the same general game play area.)
  • #Love Letter: Premium: I love Love Letter. #Love Letter (2019 Edition) is my favourite implementation of it.  Love Letter Premium is a text book case of taking a simple game and expanding on it until you lose what was great about it.  I could pull out the original love letter at work during lunch, do a 5 minute teach and we're off.  Love Letter premium doubled the roles and complicated the game.  I traded it for #Keyflower and feel like I came out way ahead.
  • #Rajas of the Ganges: It's a good game but despite my best efforts I found it quite unbalanced towards one side of the equation.  Again, with all of the other games my group has to play it only makes sense for me to give a limited amount of time to making a game work for me.
  • #Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island: A much beloved game I know but it didn't do it for me.  I didn't like the core gameplay loop and the story wasn't enough to draw me back.


#CO₂ for $25? That does seem to be a fairly good deal. And, #Archipelago for $45..... These are both games I really need to give a try. I have wanted to play them for quite a while, and have never gotten around to getting them to play.

I think #Archipelago and #Not Alone are probably my two. Both are ranked in mid-low 60s but would place them much much higher.

I think Archipelago ranks lower as it looks like it is a euro game when in reality it is a negotiation and trading game.

Not alone I am less sure, I have seen 'serious' gamers not enjoy it so much because they feel like it is just luck. Whereas for me you are trying to second guess your opponent/s and while it's not super heavy it plays up to 7 and everyone is engaged the whole time.