Livingstone - Board Game Box Shot

Livingstone

| Published: 2009
22 2

Africa, 1855...The Scottish missionary, Dr. David Livingstone, has been researching African tribes and the flora and fauna of the area.

As part of the Livingstone expedition, strategically set up tents in various regions while collecting gemstones found along the Zambezi River bank. Gain the most victory points and the favor of Queen Victoria to win!

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The Gold Heart
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32 of 35 gamers found this helpful
“A Dandy Euro/Family Game... without the Malaria!”

AFRICA! Untamed, unexplored! Well it was in 1855 anyway. And Dr. David Livingstone, probably bored in Scotland (which WAS tamed and explored) travels at the request of Queen Victoria to explore the continent. Along the way, he discovered all sorts of things: natives, artifacts, flora, fauna and malaria.

This game doesn’t do any of that. (Hey it’s more fun than Malaria!) In Livingstone, players explore Africa along the banks of the Zambezi River. The game board depicts the Zambezi, and the surrounding landscape. Players will travel along in a steamboat for ten turns, (ten spaces from left to right) during which player pitch tents, mine for gems, and make donations to Queen Victoria. After ten turns, when all the players reach Victoria Falls, the player with the most Victory Points wins – with a surprise twist!

Game play: (Choices.. Choices)
Dice dice dice, they are all the rage these days. And Livingstone utilizes them in a unique way. Each turn begins by the first player rolling all of the dice. (two dice are used for each player). The dice are then arranged by numerical value. During their turn, each player chooses only one of the dice and takes an action. The actions are: Take Coins, Dig in the Mine, Draw an Action Card, or Pitch a Tent. The player uses the number on their chosen dice for the action taken.

Let’s use the number 4 for the following choices of player actions:

1. Take Coins – (The Player takes 4 pounds worth of coins.)

2. Dig in the Mine – (The player reaches into a bag and pulls out 4 stones). There are five colors of stones 3 of which are gems! Red, Blue and clear stones are Gems and are worth coins. The black stone is worth nothing, and the white gem makes payer throw all their collected gems back in the bag.

3. Draw a Card – (the die number makes no difference here, the player draws one Action card.) Action cards have all sorts off affects: some good, some not.

4. Place a Tent (The player pays an expedition cost, and a tent in the player’s color is placed on the #4 square directly above the Steamboat.

Of the four actions, placing a tent will give you Victory Points in two ways, as you will see in a moment.

Now, after each of the players has taken one die and one turn, they must then take a second die if they are able. The only stipulation is that it must be higher in value than the first die thy took. This provides some very unique player interactions, taking a die so your opponents don’t get it, and sometimes creating a situation where your opponent will be unable to take another die.

After all players have taken turns based on their chosen dice, points are scored for all the tents placed in the column above the Steamboat. Then the steamboat moves on to the next river space, and the game continues.

When the last space of the river is reached, players again total their points and a final scoring round takes place. Players score points for the tents they placed during the game, but only if they have the most tents in a row of the map. In addition points are scored for Gems that have kept from the mine. Then there’s the twist…

During the game, a player may at anytime during their turn, place coins in a small treasure chest. These donations are hidden from the other players. At the end of the game, after the points are totaled, all players reveal the coins in their treasure chest, and the player who has the least… is out of the game.

This last aspect if the endgame may seem unfair and a little random, and frankly, I don’t love the mechanic. But it does provide a tense, unknown element all during game play. It really works for this game.

Style/Components: (Brilliant!)
The game board illustration is quite striking. The art on the Action cards is also of high quality and give this game a mature, but friendly feel. The dice, stones, wooden tokens, small cardboard treasure chests and coins all work well with the theme of the game and paint a striking tabletop for game night.

Value: (Jolly Good!)
The game goes for around $25 nowadays and is a great deal – mostly because it plays well with many different groups. The game play is unpredictable but also allows for a lot of variance from game to game. You can do a lot worse for $25 bucks

Audience: (All Explorers wanted!)
Family , Strategy, Casual, and Avid players will all enjoy Livingstone for different reasons. It’s a good gateway game for new players, and provides some interesting choices during game play. It’s not specifically a social game, but could be in the right circles. Power gamers beware! The random elements and end-game twist may just feel like a bad case of yellow fever!

Instructions (Pip, pip!)
Well written and with good illustrations. All the action cards’ effects are explained in detail as well.

Overall Review: (I say, Smashing good time!)
When you first look at this game, it doesn’t seem like much. The colored stones and little treasure chests are enough to peak some gamers’ interest. But after playing, what a smashing good time!

Yes, the dice provide a random element, but you get to choose what dice you use to an extent. There are some great blocking strategies that can be employed, when dice are chosen and you must balance each turn with several game play choices. Mine for gems and gain coins, grab a card that gives you special abilities, or pay costs and place tents for points. All the while, Queen Elizabeth is awaiting her donation. The game is filled with decision making that makes a great family friendly experience, but can also challenge other gamer types. The game is great fun…and you don’t need vaccinations.

Finally, judging from the number of Boardgaming.com members who own this game (3) and the number of members who have actually played it (0?), this is an amazing game experience that lies waiting to be discovered! A gem of a game!

 

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