Coimbra: Explore Portugal’s Age of Discovery

Spikey Bits

Posted by Spikey Bits on Sep 27, 2018

Looking for a period game that will keep you busy for a while? Try out Coimbra the Portuguese age of discovery board game by Eggertspiele Games.

A typical game of Coimbra plays in about 90-120 minutes so it tends to lean on the longer side time-wise, but it’s very satisfying and worthwhile, so you won’t generally notice how long you’ve been playing. Plus the game has a finite game timer of four rounds as opposed to an endgame trigger.

Coimbra is a 2-4 player game designed by Flaminia Brasini and Virginia Gigli, with illustrations by Chris Quilliams.

In Coimbra, you will play as the head of one of the oldest houses in the Portuguese city of Coimbra. You are trying to seek prestige by visiting local monasteries, and funding voyages of discovery. You must gain the favor of the most influential citizens from the four different factions. You can do this by paying them with coins or guards depending on what symbol they have and will gain the influence of their faction.

Each round of Coimbra consists of six phases. The first thing that happens is the dice are rolled and drafted based on player order. The dice that are chosen are then placed in one of four city districts. The castle section is where you gain castle tokens with various bonuses and abilities. Each of the city districts are where you will gain various citizens in order to gain abilities that will help you gain influence and victory points in order to win.

The value of the dice will determine how many guards or coins you pay to gain that card so the balance of higher dice which costs more but will let you get first pick, must be weighed. The color of the dice determines the income you gain from the matching faction. Gray will gain guards, Orange will gain coins, purple will let your pilgrim travel to monasteries, and green will gain victory points. The higher on the track you are the more income you gain. Plus, there are bonus points for being the highest on each track as well. You can also invest in a voyage for more end game points.

The thing I like most about Coimbra is there is so much going on without being overwhelming. It feels like a larger game with multiple mini-games happening during each different phase. The dice drafting, the pilgrim exploration, funding voyages, and all the various citizens you can recruit all weave together in order to work your way to victory. The fact that some choices you make can gain you crowns which will alter the player order is also a nice touch and can make the difference between winning and losing.

I will admit the board looks busy and intimidating, but once you get a round under your belt, everything falls into place. The randomized voyage cards and monastery tiles also make each game feel different and change what strategy you will use. The replay value is very high with this one. The component quality is fantastic, my favorite mechanism has to be the little castle dice holders in which you clip the die in to show which dice are yours. That’s very unique and innovative, definitely like nothing I’ve seen before.

If you’re into mid-weight to heavy Euros, I definitely recommend this game. Upon hearing all the hype at Origins Game Fair and missing out I was curious enough to make this my first purchase at Gencon. After playing, I am pleasantly surprised and not disappointed. Hope you get a chance to check this one out.