There are lots of pure auction games that distill gameplay to just a single element. Goa is not one of those games. At its heart it is definitely an auction game since so much rests on accurately pricing the tiles that become available for purchase. But there is so much more than that, as there is an entire action phase where you are building up your trading empire.
There are two ages in the game and at the beginning of one, the board is filled with 25 tiles that will be some of the ones auctioned off to the players. How the group decides which ones are up for auction is an interesting aspect to the game. The start player places the start player flag somewhere around the edge of board. The player following them will select one of the tiles adjacent to the flag to have the second thing up for auction. This goes around until 5 things are up for auction for that round. What you choose has lots of variables. You might be something up for bid because you want to buy it. However, if you selected the tile for bid you get the auction price if someone else buys it. So you might put it up for auction knowing someone else really wants it.
After all of the auctions are resolved, it moves into the action phase where the players use their rather limited number of actions to build up their empire. The different skills on your player board are building ships, harvesting spices, taxing, going on expeditions, or founding colonies. When you start the game all of those skills are fairly inefficient which is why the other action you can do is spend some of your resources to increase the power of your actions. That way you get more bang for your buck on future actions.
After eight rounds the player with the most points wins the game. But since it has lots of depth there are a great many ways to get points. You get points for founding colonies, improving your empire - both specializing and overall, from expeditions, and tiles that just give you points outright. While it can be overwhelming to have so many different ways to get points, I always try to look at the from the bright side of adding lots of replayability as you can try different strategies each time you play.
In the end Goa is a great auction game that added lots of euro game elements to make the auction choices more difficult and thoughtful. It is definitely not a game I would suggest to someone new to board games, or who doesn’t like auction games because that is an important part of the game. However, if auction games are something you enjoy as well as games that take a lot of thought and strategy, you should definitely give number 71 our list a try.