Saturday, October 31, 2009

Game Day: Livingstone Board Game

Livingstone is the newest "gateway game" from Playroom Entertainment. What's a gateway game? Dan Rowen, president of Playroom Entertainment, defines them as "games that provide players with a gateway from traditionally straight-forward family games to a more intricate, strategic Euro-style realm of games. Livingstone follows the winning formula of our other Gateway Games as being family friendly, easy to learn, and only take about 40 minutes to play, but incorporates strategic elements and has the graphically aesthetic Euro-game look and quality."

The Basics (from the Rules):
  • Ages: 8 to Adult

  • Number of players: 2 to 5

  • Approximate playing time: 35 minutes
The Story (from the Rules):
Dr. David Livingstone was a Scottish missionary and explorer in Africa. On behalf of the British government, he went to Africa and thus was the first European to tour this continent. Livingstone commented in detail on the life of the African tribes as well as the flora and fauna. His travel reports and geographic notes enhanced knowledge and understanding of this continent that had until then been largely unknown in Europe. During his expeditions, he spent much time on the Zambezi River. Here, he discovered the great waterfalls that he named in honor of Queen Victoria.

Object of the Game (from the Rules):
Players travel in a steamboat on the Zambezi to the Victoria Falls. They earn victory points while exploring the country and finding gems. The player with the most victory points wins the game.

How the Game Works:
Each player, on his turn, has four options:
  1. Draw an Action Card. With one exception, these cards need not be played immediately, but can be saved and played at any time. The actions include scoring bonus victory points, receiving coins, selling gems, and more.

  2. Take Coins. For example, a player whose die shows a 4 may take 4 coins from the treasury.

  3. Dig in the Mine. A player may choose to draw stones from the bag. The stones are of various colors, which indicate their values.

  4. Place a Tent. Setting up tents is the most common way to earn victory points.
Players may also sell gems at any time during their turns. Throughout the course of the game, players also make donations for the benefit of the Queen. The amount donated remains secret until the end of the game--at which time it becomes very important to the outcome of the game!
At the end of each round (a game consists of ten rounds), points are scored. At the end of the game, another level of scoring takes place to determine the winner.
  • Livingstone is indeed different from most games we've played. There are many choices to be made, and these choices comprise the strategy that wins or loses the game.
  • The artwork on the game board and the cards is just gorgeous.
  • The 30- to 40-minute play time is a good duration for us. It can be difficult to find time to play games that take three hours ... and quick games aren't always challenging enough to be satisfying.
  • My 12-year-old loves this game! He would like to play it every day. We've played it quite a bit, and I think he's won every time. I don't know how he does it, but one of these days I'll win!
Buy it: Livingstone is available from retailers including and Target.
Disclosure: I received Livingstone, at no cost to me, for review purposes.


  1. Sounds like a fun game. I bet it would be good for our youth group at church. They love to get together and playing new and fun games. I'm going to have to check it out!!

  2. Thanks for this great review. I had never heard of this game before but think my kids would love it. I will look for it.