For Kosmos Verlag, the board game for Anno 1800 was one of those titles that showed you had a good hand. Experience with the brand was already available, after all, the Stuttgart publishing house had already adapted the 1701 and 1503 offshoots from Ubisoft's video game series as analog games. Something has changed, however: Klaus Teuber was no longer responsible for the implementation, but Martin Wallace. Also a legendary author and expert in business and business board games. So good conditions for a successful, entertaining board game adaptation - and indeed: Anno 1800 is convincing.


The “Anno” series, whose year numbers always form the cross sum nine, was able to establish itself as early as the 1602s, at that time with Anno 2007, which came from Max Design and thus from Austria. The two German developer studios Related Design and Blue Byte later took over - the publisher is also different today than it was back then: Ubisoft replaced Sunflowers in 1800. There were no such changes with analogue equivalents: Verlag Kosmos has always been responsible for the implementation as board games and card games. Only the author who was responsible for the design of Anno XNUMX is new. Martin Wallace has been brought on board for this: experienced as a game designer, experienced as a designer of commercial and business games and also an effective advertising legend. Could it still go wrong? Yes. Is that it? No. 

Anno 1800 in the test: like the video game

The relationship to the video game template is already visually obvious: Similar packaging, graphics from the digital original, same setting. A board game adaptation can hardly be more precisely tailored. Martin Wallace and Kosmos did not experiment, but consistently reworked an already existing concept as a functioning table game. This will especially please those fans who have already enjoyed the PC game series. Everyone else probably doesn't care about the visual similarity, they playfully expect quality. And that is also convincing. 

As in the template, players start with little more than a few basic elements to get their economic cycle going. Four farmers, three workers and two artisans - there is nothing more for the two to four players who set out to become an economic power in the age of industrialization. The idea is well known: goods are produced, among other things depending on the different population categories. 

There is a lot on the table, cards, tokens, boards, blocks - keeping an overview is a challenge in itself. Photo: Volkmann

There is a lot on the table, cards, tokens, boards, blocks - keeping an overview is a challenge in itself. Photo: Volkmann

The success of the board game variant of Anno 1800 is of course much more mechanical: There are bonuses and victory points for successes. Overall, the board game is based very closely on the template. In the course of the game, new elements come into play again and again - new unit types, for example, or goods. Instead of producing yourself, you can also trade with other players or do what pioneers do: discover the world, for example, because that is also worthwhile. Again and again, the game principle urges interim decisions: tokens and units can be retrieved, but you suspend or pay for them. With currency that you generate by trading with your opponents. The board game for Anno 1800 relies on various synergies that are thematically coherent and also playfully interwoven. 

Similarly to video games, players can also let off steam on the respective game boards - in the building land, so to speak. With the help of ships, more space is created in order to discover new islands. All of this sounds suspiciously like Anno 1800 on the PC and it also feels like it as a board game as far as possible. Martin Wallace has succeeded in creating a game principle that does not have to be hoarded indiscriminately, but instead has to be managed sensibly. You produce according to your needs, so you use the strength of your workers as efficiently as possible - and you also expand your workforce in line with your productivity.

A lot revolves around trading tokens in Anno 1800: Interactions with other players are forced because it sometimes brings (too) strong advantages. Photo: Volkmann

A lot revolves around trading tokens in Anno 1800: Interactions with other players are forced because it sometimes brings (too) strong advantages. Photo: Volkmann

Instead of using the AI, you trade with the other players in the Anno 1800 board game, and this is also excellent because it is implemented without creating barriers. Anno 1800 is basically interactive, sometimes enforces it, but does not require the players to make any major preparations: If trade markers are available, goods can also be moved. At the same time, however, you also notice that you can lose yourself in these repetitive actions - this is at the expense of playing time. At around two hours, it is not particularly short anyway, but it gets longer the less players want to bring the game to an end.

Just no city festival ...

On the other hand, it is fun to optimize your supply chain, make the production landscape as efficient as possible and delay the city festival. Collect gold and bonuses, use the currencies for workers - in this case without having to let your own game stall - and repeatedly weigh up between several options: this is how the core task of the player can be roughly described. The board game for Anno 1800 does not include any gigantic machinery, but uses comparatively few, but the elements of the digital template that are particularly suitable for a board game. 

At some point a game of Anno 1800 will come to an end: when all cards have been played. Annoyingly, that's literally in the hands of the players themselves. Those who brood and hesitate a lot put the other players to the test of their patience, because there's not much to do unless it's your turn. So you usually wait, in the “worst case”, many minutes per move, which can add up to a playing time well over the two hours set. The reverse is better: players have experience, play follow-up games and know what is important. Then Anno 1800 is crisp, but demanding - and then especially entertaining.

Ultimately, everyone optimizes their island world for themselves. Sounds boring? It is not, however! Photo: Volkmann

Ultimately, everyone optimizes their island world for themselves. Sounds boring? It is not, however! Photo: Volkmann

It follows from this: Even with two players, the board game works excellently and the risk of delaying it is low. So one formula doesn't work: The board game for Anno 1800 is not automatically more fun with more players. This is not only due to the playing time, but to the mechanics. Apart from retail, it is designed for self-optimization. You reach into the office opposite, but that's it again. Anno 1800 is convincing as a pair, is outstanding as a team of three, but is not recommended in a full line-up with four players. 

A real brake on motivation, however, is a lack of luck when drawing cards. This can quickly turn out to be fatal for your own strategy, which sometimes has balancing reasons. The compensation options are small due to the linear game principle. This becomes noticeable with increasing experience. Then moves feel the same, you work on a strategy rather than thinking up a new one. You should therefore not do without a game of Anno 1800, because going through the rather solitary actions is a lot of fun in a strange way. In the end, this is exactly due to the aforementioned linear game principle: The process in Anno 1800 ripples smoothly and unobtrusively, but you still have to think, but rarely to a tiring degree. Much more concentration is required, however, to keep track of the tangled material on the table. You get used to it, but it's an inhibition threshold. 

Infobox

Number of players: 2 to 4 players
Age: from 12 years
Playing time: 90 to 180 minutes
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: medium

Publisher: Kosmos
Website: Link
Year of publication: 2020
Author: Martin Wallace
Language: German
Cost: around 50 euros

Summary

One thing is obvious: the board game for Anno 1800 is not a “licensed cucumber”. On the contrary: Martin Wallace's trading game is one of the best works in the Kosmos Verlag portfolio to date. This is mainly due to the faithful implementation and the resulting Anno flair, and the catchy, but still motivating gameplay simply works perfectly. Even if in the end it's “just” pushing tiles, that's exactly the fun factor. You act a lot, also with other players, but on a level where you rarely get in each other's way.

There is a lot more to do with expanding your islands as efficiently as possible, rethinking your production chains, and directing your workers. You have to accept that Anno 1800 sometimes feels mechanical as a result. In return, the board game offers no-frills games around resource management, usually with a manageable amount of time. Depending on the number of players, you have to rethink and adapt your tactics, that's a good thing. Ultimately, this board game does not want to be an epic trading simulation, but an optimization game in which players at best work towards a goal and do not let themselves drift. You play with or against each other, but the real strengths lie in the solitaire game - the fact that a solo set of rules is in development is therefore not surprising, but rather consistent in view of the game principle.

With increasing gaming experience, stronger game elements emerge that give you an advantage. There are also some inaccuracies in the trade in goods, which can have a negative effect on the course of the game. Nevertheless, all in all, the thought-up gameplay works and Wallace's concept of converting the core plot from Anno into a board game works. 

This does not necessarily apply to the optics. Functional and sober, this is how the board game presents itself in Anno 1800 and thus exactly the opposite of the wonderful video game. Yes, graphics from the game were taken over - and that's a good thing - but Anno is rather conservative on the table. In any case, a real feast for the eyes looks different. On the other hand, the sobriety provides an overview - and that is necessary, even on the passive trains. You always follow what your opponent is doing. That is essential, but also a blessing and a curse. 

Overall, the board game for Anno 1800 is not only a surprisingly good, but an all-round successful title. The board game does not necessarily score points for its complexity, but for the clever use of synergies. You always choose between several alternative courses of action, the more you play, the better you get. Anno 1800 has a noticeable learning curve, which ends abruptly at some point: then subsequent games feel more uniform. Before that happens, however, it takes a lot of laps.  


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Last updated on 27.09.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API