Skip to content

Board Game Review – Sail to India

2014 July 23

Who would have thought sailing to India can be done with so little, and so quickly?

Sail to India

Sail to India

Designer: Hisashi Hayashi

Number of players: 3-4

Age: 12+

Time: 60 minutes

What’s the game about?

A description from the publisher…

With the Mediterranean under Osman Turkish control, the Portuguese are looking for alternative routes to the East Indies, moved by the trade of gold, spices and other goods. Better ships and general centralization of power help push the Portuguese out into the Atlantic, and explorers like Prince Henry, Bartolomeu Dias and Vasco da Gama took to the sea.

In Sail to India, players take on the role of a powerful noble and supply expeditions in search of lucrative trade routes. Players gain victory points by discovering new coastal towns, selling trade goods and constructing buildings. Players can also acquire technologies, which grant powerful abilities during the game. Discover the route to India and seize the greatest wealth and prestige!

Basic idea in my own words…

Sail to India is without a doubt a micro-euro game. But there’s nothing micro about it in strategy. I was pleasantly surprised by this game. I would absolutely call this game elegant in design. For receiving not many components in the game, there’s a lot to think about.

In Sail to India, large cards represent locations up to and including India. You and your opponents are nobles on supply expeditions trying to obtain the most victory points through trading goods, constructing buildings and purchasing technology.

How do you play?


Give each player a historian card, domain card and reference card. The historian cards denotes victory points.

Historian Card

Historian Card

Line up the 3 technology cards so all players have access to them.

One of the technology cards

One of the technology cards

Shuffle and lay down the coastal town cards in a row. Place the Lisboa card on the very left. Place the rest of the cards to the right of Lisboa. If playing with 3 players, reveal and put away the last 3 cards. Turn over the first 3 coastal town cards. If playing for the first time, locate the cards with an indicator on the lower left. It is advised that these are the first 3 town cards.

Coastal Town Card

Coastal Town Card

A domain card is the players main tableau, of sorts. Also give each player cubes in one color and places them aside as a general stock. Then take 5 cubes and place 1 of those on the Lisboa card and another on the “1” ship speed space.

Domain Card

Domain Card

Determine the starting player. Then give each player takes 2,2,3,4 wealth respectively, with player order. Wealth and VP’s are represented by tokens and moved around the player cards (domain and historian). Take your initial wealth marker from your general stock.

The Game:

The goal of the game, like I said previously, is to get the most VP’s. This is done through your player actions. On your turn you receive two action points. You may do any action more than once on a turn, except for turning over a coastal town card, which is part of ship movement. The actions are as follows…

  • Employ Marker – if you choose the employ marker action, you may take one cube from your general stock and place it on Lisboa. This action costs 1 coin.
  • Move Ships – move ships allows you to move all of your ships, no matter where they are, the number of ship speed points. You can move your ships either forward or backwards. When you move a marker to a undiscovered location, you may flip the card over for a point. If you do this, your move ship action ends. As part of the move ship action you can place your markers on any open trade good space.
  • Sell Trade Goods – selling trade goods is how you make money in this game. What you want to do is be able to place your markers on a number of different markers. Having markers on the same trade good and selling will do you no good.  Your reference sheet gives you info on what you’ll receive when you trade goods. Trading goods gives you points and money. When you trade goods, those markers are placed back on Lisboa.
  • Build building – You may build a building when you have a marker below a coastal town available to place on a building on the card above the marker. To build a building you pay 2 coins. You place your marker on that building and it stays there for the entire game, unless you decide to abandon it. Once a building has a marker on it, no other markers can be placed there.
  • Acquire technology – For the cost on the specific technology, you may place 1 of the 3 markers on your technology space on a technology space on one of the cards. Only 1 marker may be on a technology space. These markers remain here for the remainder of the game, unless abandoned.
  • Increase ship speed – For the cost indicated on the domain card, you may move your ship speed marker up 1 spot. You may not pay in one fell swoop to do this from 1 to 3. You must make full payment and two actions to get from speed 1 to 3. Doing this enables your ships to move farther along the coastal towns.


Stronghold – A stronghold gives the player points at the end of the game, in addition, when doing the move ship action, you may instantly move your ships to any of your strongholds and continue normal ship movement. The strongholds act as a teleport for the ships. This is very advantageous in the game.

Church – A church will give you 2 points at the end of the game.

Marketplace – The marketplace gives the respective player the illustrated trade good. When you go to sell trade goods you do not have to move the player marker back to Lisboa. You also receive 1 VP at the end of the game.

Game end and my thoughts: The game ends when at least 2 players have no more markers in their general stock, or when a player reaches India by turning over the final card. The player who triggered game end takes his final turn and each other player receives a turn. Players then add up their VP from buildings, technology, and the current status of their historian card.

I enjoy Sail to India tremendously. For such a portable package you receive a lot to think about. I’m amazed at how elegant the designer has made this game.


Components: 3/5

The components are good quality. I like the big cards. The biggest complaint though is there is not enough info on costs on the reference card. My friend ended up having to print his own cards out.

Theme: 2/5

The theme is one of those dry, euro themes, but like I always say, they are universally acceptable to most people. And won’t hurt anyone’s sensitivities. I don’t know how many games I’ve played about sailing to someplace, but it’s the mechanics where it really counts.

Luck Factor: 1/5

I don’t think there’s a tremendous amount of luck in this game. The only random element is the flipping of the coastal towns and even so, its how you play where it really matters.

Strategy: 4/5

Strategy is where this game shines. There’s a lot of cost-benefit decisions to make in this game. And since there’s not a tremendous amount of paths to take in the game, your opponents are all vying for a small set of things to do. The game is very cut throat in my opinion and I really like it.

Overall Feelings: 4/5

I can’t say enough good things about Sail to India. I absolutely recommend you go out and buy it!

Review copy kindly provided by Alderac Entertainment Group.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

Visit Practical Technology Courses to Get WordPress Training