At a Glance: The Quest for El Dorado is a jungle race that is always fresh & variable. It always seems to come down to an exciting finish.
The Quest for El Dorado is a game for 2-4 players where the object is to race through the jungles and make it to the legendary golden city of El Dorado. Players must move through the jungle, first and foremost, and the quicker the better. To move, you must play a card that matches or exceeds the strength of the space you want to move into. Some spaces have multiple symbols on them which means that it is more difficult territory to navigate through (think thicker jungle). Other spaces force a player to discard cards or remove them from the game in order to move into them. The route is made of several big hexagonal boards connected by barrier strips. Each time players reach these barriers, the first to cross into it claims it and the race continues. Also, the other major aspect of gameplay is the deck-building. A player may purchase one card and add it to their discard pile. Once the deck is exhausted, players shuffle their discard pile to form their new deck. In this way players “build” their deck as the game goes on. Decks become stronger and more effective as the race intensifies, and players traverse more difficult territory. Whoever crosses into El Dorado first is the winner of the game.
This is another Reiner Knizia-designed game, and not to spoil anything, but this is my favorite from this designer. For being the most prolific designer of all time, this game is surprisingly not very derivative of his previous designs. He has done a lot of re-workings and repackaging of his older games, but this is not one of those. It is fresh, always variable, and the deck-building aspect boosts it quite a bit in my book. I like how you can play as many cards as you want on your turn for movement, but then you may need to save a few to purchase a card from the market to bolster your deck. No matter what, it seems like this game always comes down to an exciting climax, which is such a tough formula to crack in gaming, and this game needs to be commended for that. Lastly, the way the Marketplace is handled is really cool. Whenever a space in the market is empty, the next player who wants to buy something may choose anything from the outside stacks as well, then that card type fills the space moving forward. It’s an ingenious and interesting mechanic to keep items cycling through the marketplace, but that means some cards will probably not be available all game. That and the modular boards help make each game fresh and varied.
This game is so fun. Mix a race with a deck-builder and the results are great apparently! The components are really good too. Ravensburger (the publisher) usually delivers on that front. The fact that the modular boards are also double-sided is wonderful, so there is even more variability with each play. For under $30, this is also a great deal for what you get.
Check it out: https://amzn.to/2U9T6d0