When I first heard about Conquistador Game’s The New Science, I was very curious. Instead of heroes and magic, or horrible monsters or aliens, you get to play as one of five of the most influential scientists of the 17th century, and race to publish new discoveries before your opponents do in order to earn the title of President of the Royal Society.
If you don’t know what that means, it entails kicking ass with people like Issac Newton and Galileo.
The New Science
Designed by Dirk Knemeyer / Published by Conquistador Games
3 -5 Players (Competitive)
Playtime: 1 – 2 hours
You can get it here.
The New Science is a worker placement game, which tasks players with placing figures on the game board in order to collect resources. The object of the game is to publish discoveries and gain the most prestige, but in order to do that you got to use energy. And that is where the complexity of the game lies.
There are three things that must be done (in order) to successfully publish a new technology: research, experiment and publish. Researching is simple, as all you have to do is expend energy, while experimenting is more luck based, as you roll a die and add to you scientist’s experiment modifier. Publishing, however, requires both energy and influence in other matters in order to get it done.
Each player has three energy cubes that they can freely distribute on the action side of the board, provided it is their turn. There’s the rest track, that reassigns turn order and grants players rest points that can be redeemed to add points to research, experimenting, or publishing; happenings, which are cards that can help players or hinder opponents; the influence track, which allows players to improve their standings in stuff like religion, government, science and enterprise, and finally the discovery actions, where you can research, experiment and publish. The key to being successful here is to manage your resources smartly, as most of these things will help you out, but not serve your current mission.
For example, in order to research the circulation of blood, I would first need 2 points of research. If my scientist only had one (each scientist comes with their own initial stats), I would first have to secure a rest spot to add that point to the research total. Then I would use an energy cube to secure a research spot, and bam, come resolution time, I would successfully research the topic. Publishing a paper on the subject, however, requires some religion points, so I would also have to expend energy on that if I wanted to publish it and get the prestige.
That’s where the real challenge of the game lies, as there are only so many spots for all the players. Players can miss out on publishing if they don’t claim a spot quick enough, or can lose the first turn in a flash. Sometimes players might even get a penalty if they fall on the remaining discovery actions, as these can halve the prestige gained or more. Claiming spots on the action side is both defensive and offensive, and it can get surprisingly complex and strategic.
There’s also some strategy when it comes to publishing papers. Publishing isn’t always a good idea in The New Science, as other players can build off it and continue researching up the Discovery Tree, the main portion of the game board. Sure, you might get some points off of the lower discoveries from the five branches of science, but that means that other players can then pick up where you left off and get a larger amount of points on the next stage of discoveries. To prevent this, scientists can research and experiment, ignore publishing, keep the results to themselves, and then move up the tree in an attempt to build up and publish discoveries en masse later on. It’s a tricky strategy, but one that can pay off nicely.
At first, the game may seem somewhat complicated, due to the fact that the instruction manual has some trouble explaining what exactly you have to do. But once you set up the beautifully minimalistic game board, assign scientist cards, and start playing, that’s when the real fun begins. The game is simple enough for anyone to get into, and yet surprisingly complex enough for it to be played over and over again as you develop new techniques and strategies. It’s a game that’s meant to be played many times, and I can easily see myself doing this for a long, long time. You should definitively check it out.
David Matos: The New Science is definitely a unique entry in the world of tabletop games. The setting alone sets this game apart from the myriad of other fantasy-based tabletop adventures that dominate the market. That aspect isn’t merely esthetic; it also had a real effect on the gameplay. Your ability to reach the next level is limited by either the knowledge you earn in- game, or the knowledge made available by what others choose to publish. Not only was this game mechanic clever, it adds a whole world of strategies and counter strategies which can be (and in my experience really did create) a fun and dynamic experience.
As far as setting it up, it was straightforward and easy once we got going, although on the onset it was somewhat intimidating and the rulebook alone left us a bit confused. It did take some inferring from our most experienced player. Game time was pretty short, about an hour and a half to two hours, which is great as it allows for multiple game sessions in one night and adds even more to the competitive back and forth amongst friends. Overall, The New Science has been of the most light and fun adventures I’ve had.
Javier Bernal: The New Science is a different kind of board game. Here, gaming and science collide.
At first the instructions were complicated, but after we started playing it all started to click. The game’s objective was pretty straightforward: the one who does the most publishing wins (usually, at least).
When the game began I focused on my own thing, but when the turns passed, I noticed that I could also mess with the other players’ plans. You can change the player order, for example, which helps you achieve things before others. I also found out that there were a myriad of ways to take on the objective of publishing. Since actions resolve from top to bottom and left to right, you can use this to your advantage.
When there’s only one turn left in the game, things get even more enjoyable as you see how people start launching direct attacks, trying to score more points while lowering their opponent’s chances of getting extra points in the end.
All in all, it’s a great game, and one that with each play session reveals more and more layers of strategy.