The seabed has already been colonized successfully several times. According to the BGG ranking, Underwater Cities, which is now five years old, does this best. The novelty "New Eden" from Schmidt Spiele takes the players back to the bottom of the sea. Once again a new homeland must be built for mankind as the earth will be swallowed up by the seas in the year 2442.

In New Eden it is the task of the players to build up an underwater city within three years (rounds). This was built on top of a white smoker. In each round, the players buy modules in order to expand their own station with them.
You have to keep track of both progress and damage. If your own station has suffered more damage than it can withstand, you do not get any further points in the final evaluation.

Build "New Eden"

The centerpiece for everyone is their own station. Here the total of six card types can be placed on the corresponding "arms". In the middle is the power plant (the station is on a white smoker), which can produce resources (coins) at any time as a free action.

In the middle of the station the damage is recorded. For this, everyone has a damage marker and a damage pointer. The pointer indicates how much damage the station can take at the end of the game.

Each of the three rounds in New Eden has the same structure and consists of four phases.

For the development phase (A), the A card deck corresponding to the round is revealed on the central tableau. Three cards from each deck are out of play in a game.

Each row has a different cost ranging from 10 coins to 1 coin. The expensive rows also allow you to repair your own station.

The first phase of the game takes place on the A side of the central tableau. Image: Jonas Dahmen

In turn, the players can now buy cards from this display. If a row is empty, all the cards above it slide down a row and become cheaper.

Alternatively, in phase A you have the choice to send out Deeple and thus activate modules. To do this, you turn over one of the oxygen cards. Now you can move as many Deeple as there were oxygen tanks on the flipped card. The Deeple can be moved as many steps on the station's arms as the numbers on the oxygen cylinders specify as the maximum value.

If you have enough Deeple on a module to activate it, you place the previous Deeple on the module's action spaces and receive the corresponding bonus (victory points, repairs or coins).

When everyone has passed, the phase is over. Whoever passes first gets three victory points and the nautilus marker (starting player marker).

The central tableau turns…

... for the rest of the round. In phase B (black market phase) everyone receives three cards face down from the B pile corresponding to the round.
You can keep as many of these as you want. The more you choose, the more expensive the cards are and they deal more damage. The unchosen cards are placed in a row on the central tableau. In the following auction phase (C) these rows are auctioned. If only two or three people are playing, two or a row of three face-down cards are filled accordingly.

The black market and the auction take place on the "back" of the tableau. Image: Jonas Dahmen

The person with the nautilus token decides which row to bid on first. Bids are then placed in turn until a highest bid is determined.

The auctioned cards are immediately placed in the appropriate places in your own station. If there were any empty spaces in the auctioned row, you can also use Deeple according to the rules from phase A (thus empty rows also have a value). For a damage you can carry out another deeple action. This is always possible after acquiring cards.

When all rows have been auctioned, the round scoring phase (D) follows. Here it is counted how many cards are present at the individual stations that are indicated on the bonus cards drawn for each round. There is either one coin or two victory points for each such card. Then the next round is prepared.

Which station will withstand the damage?

After Phase D of the third round, the final scoring follows.

First, here is a look at whether all stations can withstand the damage they have taken. If the damage marker is above the pointer, no points are scored in the final scoring.

If you have kept a good balance of damage, there are now the points that are indicated on the modules attached to your own station. In addition, there is one point for five coins. Whoever has the most points wins.

After being placed, the Deeple literally remain on the modules until the end of the round. Image: Jonas Dahmen

Solo mode introduces opponent Deep Thought 4200. The solo mode does not bring big changes. The decisions for the solo opponent are made quickly. In Phase A, he takes the rightmost (and bottommost) card and grows it. If the display is empty, Deep Thought activates all modules.

In phase B he does not act. For phase C, the human is allowed to exclude two rows from the auction. The remaining rows are resolved from top to bottom. Deep Thought always bids half of its coins.

The rest of the gameplay does not change.

Information about New Eden

Number of people: 1-4
Age: from 10 years
Playing time: 45 to 60 minutes
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: moderate
Classification: worker placement, auction, tableau building

Author: Benjamin Schwer
Illustrations: Dennis Lohausen
Publisher: Schmidt Spiele
Official Website: New Eden
Year of publication: 2023
Language: German
Cost: 37 Euro


New Eden combines well-known mechanisms without really offering anything new. A selection mechanism like in phase A has been seen elsewhere and in most cases it is more exciting there. There's little incentive (unless you need money) to use the Deeple right at the start of the phase, thereby missing the chance of certain cards in the display. So phase A is almost divided again.

Many other games have already shown that auctions with small numbers of people do not work New Eden manages to prove this fact. This is particularly unfortunate because mechanically it is the most surprising part of the game. If there were 3-4 people on the box, it would certainly reflect the reality of the game more clearly. So the game has to prove itself with these numbers of people.

The game idea and the topic are not new and everything remains very abstract in the graphic implementation. Of course, it sounds cool when the station and power plant stand on top of a white smoker that blows 300-degree hot water into the sea. The fact that coins are then produced here does not really want to stimulate the topic.

The station gets very sprawling over time. Photo Jonas Dahmen

The station and its expansion is another shortcoming: it simply takes up too much space. It looks really nice to see the station growing in photos and early in the game, but by round two at least one of the arms is struggling and running out of space. The cards could have been designed better here, so that a staggered and space-saving creation is possible. Thus, if the cards are laid out as intended, the game will take up more space than most tables should have.

The game material is not particularly stable or of high quality, but without being really bad. Only the screens are not stable at all and sometimes fall apart when you take out the coins. With an RRP of 37, you could expect something better, especially with the cards. What struck everyone as odd in the test games is that you have to flip the cards over the long edge, which was unintuitive for everyone given the chosen layout.

However, since the game is already available in stores from €28, it has a very good price/performance ratio.

Shaky affair: The screen. Image: Jonas Dahmen

The rulebook is ok, even if some of it is a bit too cumbersome. The explanation of the Deeple action takes up a whole page without really getting to the point. In the auction phase, there is no rule on how to deal with bluff bids (bid more than you own) or whether it is forbidden. However, this is difficult to follow as the money is behind the screens all the time.

The adjustments for 3 and 2 people are kept very simple, but reinforce the feeling that the game was actually only intended for 4 or at least 3 people and had to be scaled down afterwards.

The individual phases are very rigid one after the other and do not really want to fit together thematically and make sense. It remains unclear why one should now be the black market. A nice game flow does not come up.

Solo mode is very simple in terms of additional rules. But there is nothing more positive to say about this. Like the multi-player game, the luck factor, which cards are where in the display or come into hand from the B-deck, is very high. In the test games, it was no challenge for Deep Thought to buy away the "good" cards or simply let him go. Unsurprisingly, the auction phase doesn't work at all in solo mode either.

In the first game in which I learned the game, Deep Thought didn't even make the 50-point hurdle, but had countless oxygen tanks and shipyard cards in its display, for which there were never points or coins via the bonus cards gave. Here you notice very strongly that the solo mode was subsequently forced on the game.

As a shallow connoisseur game likes New Eden It might enable one or the other to enter the world of connoisseur games, but in the long term it cannot score with a high level of replay appeal. You always do the same actions and also the "variety" caused by the different three cards that are not used by each deck in a game and the new arrangement in the display do not create any incentives to bring the game back to the table .

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