Santa Maria by designers Eilif Svensson and Kristian Amundsen Østby is a well regarded dice drafting and tile laying game from 2017, and now the designers along with publisher Aporta Games have started a Kickstarter Campaign for the first expansion, American Kingdoms. Briefly, in Santa Maria, 1-4 players draft dice, and slide them down or across the associated row or column on their personal board, activating every building the die moves over. However, the last building activated in this manner holds the die, effectively shutting that building down for the round. Players can also buy new tiles for their board, adding buildings, and individual buildings can be activated using money instead of dice. The game emphasizes the timing of when to draft dice, what order to activate rows, and the puzzle solving nature of designing the perfect engine. Santa Maria combines resource collection, racing down tracks for points and bonuses, end game goals with scholars and bishops, and set collection via shipping tiles.
American Kingdoms adds a couple new features, and 4 new modules that modify play. Cacao is a new resource in the game, used for new expensive shipping tiles, but mostly for modifying the dice. New scholars and bishops provide abilities and end game scoring. New 3×1 building tiles can be purchased for player boards, but come with a prohibitive 4 coin cost.
The Governor Module adds a… governor to each player’s board. The governor starts in the upper left corner of the player board, and moves one space whenever a die is used. Governors activate buildings, gaining resources when they land on buildings, but can move back off later, opening the building up again. Players lose points at game end if the governor has not moved far enough, and gain points if he makes it to the lower right of the board.
The Specialists module adds specialist tiles, which are randomly associated with dice. When the dice are drafted, the player can buy the specialist, gaining resources or buildings, but at a cost. Upgraded buildings are expensive, but players get a discount if they replace another building.
The Ambassador Module changes the dice mechanic of the game slightly. Players start with less dice, but there are 2 ambassador dice available each round, one white and one blue. These special dice can be drafted, but all players will be able to use the number when one player drafts. The drafting player is the only one able to modify the die number.
The Mayan Module is by far the most involved. With this addition, the game can play up to 5 players, with one player taking on the role of the native Mayans. The Mayan City has curving roads for each drafted die, rather than the regimented grid of the standard player boards. Mayans have several changes to their game play, and their main goal is to use resources to build multi-level pyramids. The higher the pyramid (up to 3 levels) the more points they earn. Additionally, the Mayan player has a hand of cards for trading with players, changing resources, and generally getting their monuments built. The game even changes the conquistador track, adding a back and forth of Mayans gaining gold and conquistadors stealing the gold from the Mayan player.
Finally, the Kickstarter Campaign also contains a mini-expansion for the original game, the Exploration deck. This deck provides 5 nationalities with varied starting resources for each player, and 21 achievement cards with secret player goals.
The Kickstarter Campaign for Santa Maria: American Kingdoms is set to continue through November 11, and the game should deliver in March 2019.