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Merchants of Amsterdam

Merchants of Amsterdam

Amsterdam in 1600 was a booming town for trade and exploration. Dutch merchants traveled the world looking for valuable goods. The game features a special auction clock to support the use of the traditional Dutch auction. Author: Reiner Knizia,. Players: 3-5 aged 10 and up, Length: 90 minutes



The theme is the rise of the Dutch trading consortia, and the three areas of potential investment— Amsterdam, the colonies, and the commodity market— reflect this nicely. Each of these areas works a little differently, but they’re all divided into four parts and players generally seek majorities in these parts. The areas available for expansion are determined by the mayor, a privilege which rotates each turn. The mayor flips up three cards, each card allowing its owner to carry out an expansion somewhere on the board. The mayor discards one of the three cards, and keeps another at no charge as payment for his term of office. The third is auctioned using the aforementioned Dutch system. The puzzle for the mayor is that these cards are flipped one at a time, and the mayor must decide a card’s fate without knowing what will come after it. This is a great little mechanism, giving the mayor a tidy dilemma of just the right difficulty. The decision feels important, but is not so overwhelming as to grind the game to a halt. One of the charms of Merchants of Amsterdam, in fact, is the speed with which it charges forward. There are plenty of decision points and many valid avenues to pursue, but no single juncture feels so critical that it must be overanalyzed. The game is fluid enough that players can switch gears easily, freeing them to rely on instinct rather than intense scrutiny.

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