Review: Anno 1800

Fulfill the wishes of your population by producing ever more luxurious goods.

Review: Anno 1800

Fulfill the wishes of your population by producing ever more luxurious goods.

Designed by Martin Wallace and published by KOSMOS and 999 Games
👤  2-4 players
🧩  Hand Management, Race, Tech Trees
⚖️  Medium


In Anno 1800, a board game based on the popular PC game from Ubisoft, you continuously build up your own industry to develop your home island.

Place population cubes onto the industries on your Home Island to produce resources 


In Anno 1800 players take turns taking 1 action each turn. At the beginning of the game players get dealt a number of population cards based on their starting citizens. Population Cards can be played to gain benefits and once played provide Influence Points at the end of the game. Once a player has no more Population Cards in hand (either played them or discarded them using special abilities) the end game is triggered.

On their turn a player can take 1 out of 9 actions. The first action is the Build action. This action can be used to build new industry tiles onto their Home Island, to build an industry the player must be able to produce (or trade) the required resources using their existing industries. You can also build ships using this action, a ship grants either Trade or Exploration tokens. Trade tokens can be used to trade with other players to gain missing resources (free action). The other player gets gold from the supply in return. As an action you can exchange Exploration tokens to discover the Old World, discover the New World or go on expeditions. Discovering the Old World expands your player board with more building spaces. Discovering the New World grants you access to New World resources, needed to fulfill the wishes of the more advanced Population Cards. Expeditions provides you with Expedition cards that can grant you extra Influence Points at the end of the game (VP).

Play Population Cards to gain Influence Points (VP)

Another action you can take is the Play Population Card action. To do this you need to produce (or trade) the required resources and place the card in front of you. As a free action you can activate a Population Card in front of you to gain its benefits. If you have Population Cards in hand that are hard to fulfill you use an action to Exchange Population Cards. Put up to 3 Population Cards under their respective decks and then draw the same amount (and type) of Population Cards in return.

You can also increase your population by taking the Gain Population Cubes action. Produce (or trade) the required resources as printed on your player board and take a Population cube off that color from the supply. Every time you gain new Population Cubes you also have to draw new Population Cards matching the Population Cubes. Instead of Gaining new Population Cubes you can also use an action to upgrade one of your existing Population Cubes to a higher level. This way you don't have to draw new Population Cards.

The last action you can take is a City Festival Action. This unlocks all your Population Cubes to use them again next turn. Your ships Trade and Exploration tokens also get refreshed so they can be used again. Instead of taking this City Festival Action a player can always spent gold to unlock Population Cubes as a free action.

Once the end game is triggered one final round is played and after that final scoring takes place. The player with the highest Influence Points is declared the winner!


Let me start by saying that I love the Anno 1800 video game and this board game implementation does a good job at capturing that feeling. Build up your little Island to a blossoming island with lots of trade, exploration and progress. Managing your population by providing them with what they ask is implemented in a clever way that feels thematic and true to the video game.

Lets get my largest issue out of the way first. The largest issue I have with Anno 1800 is the luck involved with drawing population cards and Old/New World tiles. When you draw new Population Cards you can either get Population Cards that you can easily fulfil or you are nowhere near fulfilling them. The Old World tiles provide extra building space as well as a one time bonus (for example Population Cubes or pre-build Industries), depending on your game state and game stage (early or late game) this can either benefit or hurt you. The New World tiles provide New World resources that are needed to fulfil the wishes of the advanced population, if you get unlucky the resources you need are not on that tile. These things are not the end of the world of course, because you can take another action to exchange Population Cards or Explore once more. But it does cost you a turn which could be a big difference if your opponents are more efficient with their actions.

The designer recommends you play using an Advanced Variant (which will also be part of the upcoming expansion). This variant fixes some of the draw luck and I think this is a must as it greatly improved my experience with the game. You can find more details on it here:

“Advanced mode” rules for base game | Anno 1800
I have complied the “advanced mode” rules for the base game that will be in the rulebook of the upcoming expansion. Apparently, these rules can be implemented in the base game right away. While reading the Anno 1800 forums, I came across these rules (as confirmed by Stephen Hurn; [user=

Set-up is also a bit of pain because you need to arrange all the industry tiles onto the main board (and there are a lot, and I mean a lot). It would've been really cool to have trays included with the game that you could place onto the main board. Also the Component quality overall is not the greatest I've seen (thin cardboard).

Besides these gripes I really like the gameplay overall. Actions are short, so there is not much down time between turns. The end game trigger is unique and not the standard fixed length games. This way you can't ignore your opponents as you need to watch their hand of population cards closely. You need to constantly balance you hand of cards, do I take extra cards or do I try to get rid of them. The player to first play all of their cards is not always the winner. Trading with other players adds another layer of interaction that I really like.

The mission cards and your starting hand of population cards dictate your starting strategy. But as you play you constantly need to adjust that strategy because of the new Population Cards you gain and also which industries are getting build by you and your opponents.

👍  Familiar gameplay in a tabletop adaption that stays true to its video game sibling
👍  End game trigger is unique and offers interesting decisions
👍  Mission cards offer variety each time you play
👍  Interaction with your opponents via trade

➖  Needs the Advanced Variant to fix some of its flaws
➖  Set-up and teardown takes some time
➖  Quality of the components is not the best out there

Go on expeditions to find rare animals and artifacts

Anno 1800

Anno 1800 is another brilliant design by Martin Wallace. Both fans of the video game and those not familiar with the origin of Anno 1800 will enjoy this game for its smooth gameplay but difficult decisions. The game has some flaws but the designer is willing to admit and fix these flaws by providing an "Advanced" variant.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)
Note: playing without the "Advanced" variant I would rate this 8/10.

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Looking for alternatives or similar games? Have a look at Brass: Birmingham or Brass: Lancashire by the same designer