Anno 1800 Review

Anno 1800 Review

Anno 1800 is a release that hit stores at the end of 2020 and flew under my radar. This hand and resource management game from designer Martin Wallace is a game that’s regularly on the top of my mind. As the population of your island grows and you develop new industries, the needs of your people become more lavish. Players are working on shedding cards by meeting needs and always working toward more advanced resources.

The Needs of the People

Each player has an island board with a set number of inhabitants to start the game. Your population is made up of farmers, workers, artisans, engineers and investors. At the start, farmers, workers and a couple artisans are available and unlocking the other classes will bring new industrial opportunities to the island.

Anno 1800 player board

Anno 1800 starts slow by giving everyone basic resources like wheat, lumber, pigs, crates and other goods. Players are given a hand of population cards that can be activated by paying the cost at the top. You’ll receive a reward at the bottom of the card along with end game victory points.

Players are trying to activate these cards to end the game and also score more points than their opponents. Get rid of 9 cards to end the game? Piece of cake!

Anno 1800 population cards

It’s only after the first couple turns when reality sets in. Solving some of these cards will bring new people to your island, which brings more cards into your hand, which pushes you further from the end of the game.

This game is all about being efficient with the resources you have and trading with your opponents to complete cards. Most turns are spent sending your different classes of workers onto industry tiles to build or solve a population card. When you’ve done as much as you can with your population, you can “celebrate a festival” and bring all your cubes back home. This resets your workers and sets you up for your next turn.

Anno 1800 central board

A Titan of Industry

Anno 1800 drops players into the Industrial Revolution and it’s up to the player to decide where they place their resources. In the center of the table, there are an overwhelming number of construction tiles available to players. Each tile gives you the resources that must be used before adding them to you board. There are only 2 of each construction tile available which means players need to decide which industries are the most necessary for their growth.

Anno 1800 tiles

Trade tokens are massively important and are used to access resources that are owned by other players. Players start with two low level ships giving you 2 trade tokens. As you construct new ships and higher level ships, you’ll get more trade tokens. When you use a trade token to use another players resource, they get gold from the supply.

Most players immediately try to build everything they can before realizing the power of trade. Anno 1800 presses players to constantly grow but trade is the cornerstone of any good strategy.

Anno 1800 trade token

Fantasy Island

As players work to shed the cards in their hand, there’s a nice ramp up that you normally find in engine building games like Fantastic Factories and Wingspan. Turns become more lucrative and your access to resources open up as you explore further into your island and open up “new world” resources. Building higher level ships unlocks even more potential as you play the game.

Martin Wallace is a designer with a catalogue of excellent games dating back to the 90’s. While I’ve only played half a dozen of these, Anno 1800 is easily my favorite. It’s easy to look at all the tiles and become overwhelmed, but it’s a game that’s far more accessible than you would think.

Anno 1800 presses players to constantly grow but trade is the cornerstone of any good strategy.

Players are constantly working to be more efficient and find synergies between population cards. Even with 4 players, the game never feels like your at odds with the other players. Developing your island becomes your focus. The other players become necessary when you need a single resource that you’re unwilling to invest in.

Anno 1800 expedition cards

Anno 1800 is an excellent pick for players looking for a mid-weight Euro game. You’re first game at 2 or 3 players will be a 2+ hour endeavor but it absolutely didn’t feel like it. Subsequent plays with players who know the mechanics can push this game to just under an hour and a half.

The game ends when a player empties their hand of cards. Scores are based on all the population cards you activate, filled spaces on Expedition cards, gold and points from global objective cards. Every game I’ve played looks slightly different as you focus on different industries and end game objectives are variable each time.

At every player count, Anno 1800 is a game that I’ll always say “yes” to.

You can purchase Anno 1800 at your local game store or purchase the game through Amazon today.

This game was provided to us by the publisher for review. Read more about our review policies at One Board Family.

Highs

  • Fantastic mid-weight Euro game
  • Other players are not your enemy, but trading partners
  • Loads of options and replayability

Lows

  • Players who struggle with AP can make this game drag
  • Setup and breakdown take some time with so many tiles

Complexity

3.5 out of 5

Time Commitment

4 out of 5

Replayability

4 out of 5

Ryan Gutowski

I'm a huge fan of strategy games and pretty much anything that involves "city building". My love of board games goes back to my childhood and passion for building relationships with others.

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