Discover Holland with this clever 3-level game
Marco Durieux loves the Netherlands! So crazy, in fact, that he encourages Dutch people (and foreigners) to get to know our villages and towns better with his puzzle tours.
For his company Belduna Marco creates puzzle tours that you can download for free there. But Marco has now gone a step further than a puzzle tour, he has created a board game around tourism in the Netherlands: Discover Holland.
That he himself is an avid board player is evident in this game: it is incredibly tactical and even if you have nothing to do with tulips, it is a game that challenges you to play. The game Discover Holland shows that making a game is a profession. Marco tested it extensively and now has three versions: the family version, the export version and the solo version.
I recently played the family version together with son (13), a gaming friend and with Marco (who obviously knows the game inside out, but therefore did not automatically win! 😁)
The aim of the game is to develop a number of typically Dutch products. For example, you start with a tulip bulb and have to grow it from a tulip to a bouquet of flowers. Or from cow, to cheese machine, to cheese.
At the beginning of the game, each player is given a card with end products. The combination of end products is different for everyone. Everyone has some mills on her card. Can it be more Dutch? And also: can it be more difficult, because it is for the mill that you need the most raw materials.
Fortunately, you get some basics as a starting point, and you can also always cash in two points to grab an extra basic product.
Develop by visiting places
So how do you turn that flower bulb into a tulip? You do that by visiting places. Each player gets a number of cards showing Dutch towns and villages. Each city (or village) has a unique property. For example, in the town Nieuwpoort you can get new cows and in the town Zutphen you can turn clay into stone.
Before you can use that ability, you have to play the card first. You play a card by placing it in front of you. Then, you or your fellow player may activate the card by placing a pawn on it. And this is the strategy of the game! You may only perform one action in your turn. If you place a card that you want, you have to wait and see if your fellow players don’t take it.
Son (13) who played along thought this was one of the nice things about the game:
The fun is that you have to think well ahead and can get in each other’s way tremendously.
If you activate another player’s village or town, you must give that player a card from your own supply. Incidentally, you may also clear cards in front of you. This way, you make sure there is enough flow, but don’t make it too easy for your fellow players.
Collecting points during the game
Sometimes it can be tactical to pass in time. If you are the first to pass, you get a point and you get to start the next round. Very handy if you insist on activating a card.
As soon as someone has made all the products on her card, she shouts: Discover Holland! (or something else of course, as long as you agree beforehand). Then we start counting points: you get points for your final result, but also for all the individual products you have left. As a result, the person who finished first might not win. There may be many surprises in the scoring!
If you want to make Discover Holland a little more difficult, go for the strategic variant. In that variant, you have to make certain routes through the Netherlands. A bit like you know from the game Ticket to Ride. It is an addition to the game that really makes it a lot harder, because now you have to pay attention to two things: developing products and collecting routes. And, oh yes, also make sure your fellow players don’t steal your cities!
Finally, Marco made a solo version of the game. I can’t tell you anything about that one, because I haven’t played it yet. If you have played this variant, please let me know in the comments.
You can tell from everything about Discover Holland that Marco himself is a lover of board games. The game is extremely well put together and has challenging mechanisms. Highly recommended to play!
Want to explore more of the Netherlands! Marco recommended The Nature Game to me, an interactive walking/game in Drenthe. A good tip: we walked (without nagging), gamed a lot and (in between) secretly learned all kinds of things about Dwingelderveld.
General information about Discover Holland
- number of players: 1 – 4
- time: 45 – 90 minutes
- from: 10 year, the game is language-independent.
- price of the basic game: Marco will self-publish this game. A game costs around €65 (update autumn 2022), for which you get a family strategic and solo game in one box! If you want to support this cool game and are up for a tough gaming challenge, go to his website to reserve a copy.
This review is not sponsored. I have played the game several times and am enthusiastic about mechanism and craftsmanship.