Review crossposted from VGG.

Initially released in 1989, Gold of the Americas was released at the height of SSG’s run as a major strategy computer game developer. Today, it is little remembered next to their signature classics like Warlords and Reach for the Stars, or their lines of historical wargames like the Panzer Battles series.

Like most computer games of the era, it came out for a variety of systems, though the only one I have ever encountered was the PC-DOS version with EGA graphics and primitive mouse control. (I believe this is the first game SSG did with mouse support, and the game will always ask at the very beginning “Do you wish to play with your mouse?” I’m not sure if there is any sort of driver auto-detection going on, as I’ve never played it on a system without a mouse….)

The general idea of the game is the conquest and colonization of the New World, covering 300 years in 30 turns of a decade each (from AD 1501-1800). With only 30 turns, and as a very simple game, it plays very quickly, even for a computer strategy game of its era. This makes the hotseat option very manageable, and worth the effort.


The game has four players (Spain, Portugal, France and England), each of which can be human controlled, or set to one of three AI difficulty levels. There are options to set the New World and Europe to being historical or random. The New World will look the same in every game, but randomizing it will change all details of each province. Each turn, each player can get a certain amount of help from his king back in Europe. If it is randomized, each player will get a small amount of random help each turn; if it is set to be historical, then the Spanish and Portugese players will get a lot of help at the beginning of the game, only to have it dry up in the ending stages, while the English and French will get no help at the beginning, but it will ramp up sharply in the later stages.

Once the Start Game selection is chosen, the bulk of the New World map blanks out, and the setup options are replaced with buttons for the four powers, and a ‘file’ button for saving games and the like.


I’ve played a number of ‘colonize the New World’ games, and many of them take a very modern viewpoint on events. Sid Meier’s Colonization, for example, has declaring independence from the mother country and winning a war of independence as the final hurdle for victory in the game. This does make for a good way to focus players on the actual development of their colonies in the game, but it was not a goal of anyone actually colonizing the New World (nor was it even a goal of the Continental Congress at the time the War of Independence started).

Instead, Gold of the Americas puts you in the position of the King’s viceroy, where you must balance the arbitrary demands of Europe against the needs of the New World colonies. Victory is gained by having well developed colonies—1 VP is awarded per development level in each colony, so maxed-out level 7 colony is just as good as seven level 1 colonies, and is a lot easier to protect.

However, as colonies become developed, their loyalty goes down, so well developed colonies can become a source of trouble. Independent colonies are not earning you gold, nor giving you VPs! Also, they are automatically considered ‘at war’ with everyone, so not only is your job to defeat them and bring them back to the mother country, but to do so before any other European power decides to do so.


At the beginning of the game, only about three territories are explored and open for colonization. The rest of the map must be explored through expeditions led by explorers that are automatically (and randomly) provided to each country each turn. A successful expedition will bring back gold to fill your coffers, and open the territory up to colonization… by anyone.

A just-opened territory will have a number of different statistics: The number of natives in the region, the amount of gold and gems available to mine, the general climate type (tropical, temperate, desert and mountainous), and the maximum development level.

There are a number of resources to distribute each turn. Some may be provided by the King (especially if you paid your taxes), and more can be bought by you. Colonies are started by (of course) colonists, and can be aided with the use of slaves. Armies can protect colonies, both from Indians, and from raids and invasions from other powers; as well, they aid conquistadors while exploring or raiding foreign colonies. Trade ships earn money at sea (which generally goes down during the game), warships protect your trade ships, and privateers raid other power’s trade ships (hopefully; the manual points out that most privateers could not read their own letters of marque, and may attack your vessels as well).

At the beginning of each turn, there is a report on each colony as well as the trading ventures. Population earns money dependent on the development level of the colony. Additional money is earned for mineral wealth in the colony (which will slowly deplete over time). You can set colonies to reinvest some of their earnings into the colony to try to raise the development level faster, or to try to prevent the loyalty rating from dropping, but neither is totally effective. Alternatively, you can attempt to squeeze more money out of the colony, which has the best returns from any Indians or slaves present, but that makes an uprising very likely.

This will happen

Once all the reports are done, the King demands his cut of the proceeds. This is a fairly high percentage of income and will likely nearly drain the treasury without recourse. However, a small portion of your money is not reported, and goes into a separate secret fund which can also be used to purchase extra items. The really evil thing in the game is that the King is really taxing you off of your projected income—that is, last turn’s income increased by a certain percentage, under the assumption that your income will have expanded this turn. This is easy to manage early on, but sooner or later you will have a bad turn, or two, and your income will not be sufficient to satisfy the King’s hunger for gold from the Americas.

If there is sufficient gold in the secret fund, you can make up the difference no questions asked, and therefore receive the normal amount of help from the mother country. A final threat to your finances is the occasional visit from the King’s auditors, which will discover the bulk of your secret stash.


As mentioned before, Victory Points are granted for each development level of each colony you control. The ending stages of the game can get exciting as the richer a colony is, the more likely it is for the loyalty to go down, and once it reaches zero, it becomes independent. Also complicating the end game is that all four countries are automatically considered at war with each other for the last four turns, allowing for the threat of invasions to any exposed colonies.

The conquistadors used for exploration also serve as leaders for raids and invasions of other player’s colonies. During the game, nations will ally with, or be at war with, each other. Unless allied, you can always send a leader (and armies) into another power’s colony to raid it, which if successful will loot half of that turn’s income to your coffers. If a colony belongs to a power you are at war with, and it is adjacent to one of your colonies, you can invade that colony.

Successfully invading a colony requires a great deal of success (random, but influenced by the quality of the leader, and the number of armies on each side), a lower degree of success is just treated as a successful raid (which can also lower loyalty). A conquered colony starts with a loyalty of four (instead of the normal seven). If you manage to gain one in the mid-game, this can become a real problem by the end of the game.

Each turn that a colony changes hands, the game highlights it at the beginning of the turn, and plays a… low quality MIDI of the appropriate anthem. This includes colonies going independent, with appropriate regional national symbols.


Gold of the Americas is a good game that holds up well because its simplicity makes the game just about the right length. It is not as good as some other SSG games of the era, and does not stand up to endless plays, but there’s still a lot of play here, and I give it a 7.

I also wish to mention here again that in some ways this simple little game is one of the most historical colonize the New World games I have run across. Usually any game with an emphasis on the New World assumes that independence is not only good, but the entire goal of the endeavor. GotA gives the player a much more accurate outlook on colonization, while independence is still likely to happen… unfortunately.