With Terra Nova, Kosmos is releasing a lighter connoisseur's version of the popular expert game Terra Mystica from Tierra del Fuego, and that's exactly what it looks like at first glance to the untrained eye. All of the players we tested the game with have never played Terra Mystica themselves. Therefore, the first work by the author Andreas Faul represented a completely new experience for all players. In the following review you can find out how well the game works for frequent and occasional gamers as well as for children.

In Terra Nova, 2-4 peoples spread out over five rounds on the game board. To do this, they build buildings and found cities. Before that, however, the land must be made habitable. Therefore, diligent terraforming or foreign lands are transformed into their own. When spreading out over the game board you collect victory points depending on the action focus of the round. In addition, the nation with the largest contiguous area at the end of the game is rewarded. The nation with the most victory points wins.

Diligent terraforming and spreading

The five rounds each consist of three phases. Income, actions and the end of the round: In the first phase, as the name suggests, we receive income in the form of money and power. This multiplies depending on how many and which buildings we have built. In addition, we receive additional income from the advantage tile, which we always choose at the end of the round. In phase two we carry out an action clockwise turn by turn until all players have passed and in phase three the game is prepared for the next round.

During the action phase we can make landscapes habitable. To do this we need spades. Depending on the race, a different number of spades (max. 2) is required to convert a certain landscape shape. For example, while the forest-dwelling fairies need 2 spades to transform the desert, the fire-loving Ifrit only need XNUMX spade to transform this landform. If a land is habitable, we can build a house directly on it. In a further action, we can upgrade houses to counting houses and then to palaces. In addition, by improving our shipping and building bridges, we can increase our range to be able to build new houses in a larger radius from our areas. All these actions cost us money.

The player tableau is nicely laid out and easy to understand with symbols.

The player tableau is nicely laid out and easy to understand with symbols. Below left we have the overview of how many spades we need to terraform a landscape. The more spades between our home landscape (above) and the other landscapes determines whether we need one or two spades. Image: Sven Karsten

With the second resource called power, we can perform power actions or power swaps. While power swapping exchanges one power for one gold, power actions largely replace the money-based actions above.

Rotate and tact

We gain power in the income phase and whenever an opposing nation builds or upgrades a house adjacent to it. This power is contained in three bowls numbered with the Roman numerals I - III. While we can only pay for power actions with power from bowl III, the power from bowls I and II must first be charged. When you gain power, you must first move all power from bowl I to bowl II. If the first bowl is empty, the power from bowl II can then be pushed into bowl III and used again as payment.

This rotation makes it harder to obtain power than money. Therefore, in our eyes, this was often seen as a currency for nice bonus promotions. However, they also offered room to diligently plan your next turn, since you naturally wanted to have as much power as possible available for the next turn in order to be able to create more on the board.

In general, Terra Nova is a game that has no element of luck. No dice are rolled or cards drawn. Everything has to be well thought out and the smallest mistakes can be punished with missing points at the end of the game.

Not a game for everyone

However, this also means that Terra Nova is not a game for all types of players. Gamers who want less thinking and embrace a luck component in games will not have fun. Still, Terra Nova is comparatively easy for a fully tactical connoisseur game. It's quick to set up, explain and play, which is great for small groups. So Terra Nova can also be spontaneously unpacked and played. That's great! Not many games that focus solely on tactics can be completed in an hour.

End of a two player game.

End of a two player game. Overall, Terra Nova works well with all player counts. However, it was most fun with three players. Image: Sven Karsten

However, this is also due to the fact that Terra Nova hardly gives any room for interaction with its competitors. Although opponents gain power if you build or upgrade a house on a neighboring field, and you can block something from your opponents or steal power actions, you build mostly alone and hardly pay attention to the others. Accordingly, there is hardly any exchange. This was often perceived as boring, since competitive play should involve more interaction.

But a game for children?

Terra Nova was specially created to make Terra Mystica feel more accessible to families, and in fact it's great to play with kids too. Children who like to play board games a lot will quickly understand Terra Nova and be able to play tactically just like adults. In our round of tests with a thirteen-year-old person who has also played more complicated games such as Spirit Island, Terra Nova ran very smoothly. The rules and the goal of the game were quickly understood and just as quickly tactics were formed on how to expand your living space most efficiently.

However, the mother also pointed out that the game could be too complicated for her soon to be twelve-year-old child, since it requires a lot of tactical thinking and, in particular, concentration. Nevertheless, Terra Nova was rated quite well in our opinion with the age indication "from 12 years". Due to the comparatively low level of difficulty and the short playing time for a connoisseur game, it is also a perfect introduction to games that could use a little more brain power and time.

In addition, it should be mentioned that Terra Nova is all about symbols. This is particularly helpful in understanding the game, as Terra Nova doesn't need any text to explain itself very well. This makes it ideal for children with reading and spelling difficulties.

quality of the material

The game material is worth mentioning positively. Even if the buildings look quite drab, they feel particularly good and of high quality. This is because these are made of wood. The player boards and all cardboard markers also feel well made. The game board is also of high quality and has a pleasantly small size. As a result, Terra Nova does not take up as much space as many other board games.

Information about Terra Nova

Number of players: 2 to 4
Age: from 12 years
Playing time: 60 - 90 minutes
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: medium
Classification: Kennerspiel

Author Andrew Faul
Illustrations: Loïc Billiau, Inga Keutmann, Lukas Siegmon, Christof Tisch
Publisher: Kosmos
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2022
Language: German
Cost: 49,99 €


Terra Nova is a nice introductory game for families who are interested in looking beyond family games and want to get a first glimpse of the world of connoisseur and expert games. But Terra Nova also offers a quick tactical experience for experienced players. The game is particularly suitable for short rounds. However, many gamers could be bothered by the lack of interaction and the rather monotonous game design. Everything has been seen and experienced somewhere before. As a result, after a game of Terra Nova you can sometimes think that you could have put your time into a more varied game.

Personally, however, I really liked Terra Nova and made me want more. Again and again I like to dive into the game and want to make my people as big as possible. The fact that all ten races have different abilities makes it all the more fun to explore these possibilities. In any case, it will remain in my games collection and who knows, maybe its great role model will join it.

Preview Product Rating Price
Cosmos Terra Nova Cosmos Terra Nova * 36,99 EUR

Last updated on 8.03.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API