How To Play: Santa Maria

Getting the hang of 'How To Play Santa Maria' is a blast with the right crew. Between laughing over dice drafts, mastering tile combos, and sweating the end-game scores, my game nights turned into a strategic battleground. Trust me, balancing efficiency with a bit of cheeky luck is the secret sauce.


Welcome to our juicy guide on Santa Maria! Here, not only will we walk you through the game rules, but we’ll also spill the beans on the best strategies to crush your friends and claim victory. So, grab your dice and get ready to explore the New World, as we dive deep into making your colony the envy of the Americas. Let’s get those ships sailing and your cities booming!

What’s in the box

  • 1 Game board
  • 4 Player boards
  • 55 Coins
  • 24 Dice (6 in each of the 4 colors)
  • 68 Wooden resources (17 in each of the 4 types)
  • 1 First-player marker
  • 4 Overview tiles
  • 90 Building tiles
  • 48 Colonist meeples
  • 1 Ship token
  • 18 Scholar tokens
  • 18 Missionary tokens
  • 10 Ship tiles
  • 32 Conquistador tokens
  • 1 Scoring pad
  • 1 Rulebook

How To Play Santa Maria: Rules Summary


  1. Lay out the game board in the center of the table.
  2. Each player picks a color and takes the corresponding colony board, ships, and pieces.
  3. Shuffle the building tiles and place them in their designated spots on the game board.
  4. Place the dice next to the game board.
  5. Deal resource tiles and blueprints to each player randomly.


  1. Players take turns drafting dice from the pool to activate rows or columns on their colony board.
  2. You can also use your colonists to activate additional buildings.
  3. Throughout the game, you’ll acquire resources, expand your colony, and score points.
  4. Remember to use your ships and buildings’ special abilities to maximize your strategy.


  1. The game ends after the third round.
  2. Add up points from buildings, completed missions, and remaining resources.
  3. The player with the most points becomes the most prosperous colony and wins the game.

Special Rules & Conditions

  1. Conquistador track – moving up this track gives you points and benefits.
  2. Church missions – completing these grants special abilities and points.
  3. End-of-round bonuses – fulfill certain conditions to earn extra points or resources.

If you’ve never played Santa Maria before, these rules give you a solid starting point. Remember, the key to winning is not just in how efficiently you use your dice and build your colony, but also in how you adapt to your opponents’ strategies. Have fun exploring and mastering the intricacies of Santa Maria!

Best Santa Maria Strategies

Mastering Dice Drafting in Santa Maria

When playing Santa Maria, dice drafting turns into an art form. It’s all about making the most out of what you roll. Let me walk you through some strategies.

Prioritize Your Needs

  1. Always assess your current board state. Need resources? Grab a die that gives you the most bang for your buck.
  2. Plan ahead. Think about what tiles or actions you’ll need next round and pick dice that align with those goals.

Blocking Opponents

  1. Keep an eye on what your opponents are aiming for. Sometimes, taking a die they need is more beneficial than grabbing one for yourself.

Flexibility Is Key

  1. Don’t get too hung up on a single strategy. Be ready to pivot based on the dice available.
  2. Use your turn order to your advantage. Being last isn’t always bad, as it means more dice choices for you.

The Ultimate Guide to Dominating With Building Tile Combos in Santa Maria

To win at Santa Maria, mastering building tile combos is key. First, always plan your moves. Think ahead to maximize every action. Next, diversify your buildings to cover all resource types. This way, you’re never stuck. Also, watch your opponents. If they’re aiming for a building you need, snatch it first!

Strategic Planning

  1. Anticipate your needs for the next rounds.
  2. Adjust your strategy based on available tiles.

Diversification Is Key

  1. Collect a mix of resource-producing and action tiles.
  2. Balance your building types to stay flexible.

Keep an Eye on the Competition

  1. Block critical tiles from opponents when possible.
  2. Adapt your strategy to the game flow.

The Ultimate Guide to Winning Santa Maria: End-Game Scoring Mastery

Maximizing Your Conquistador Track Position

Firstly, always keep an eye on the Conquistador track. Moving up this track not only grants you immediate benefits but also massive end-game points. So, make sure you’re advancing here whenever possible.

Focus on Completing Missions

Next, completing missions is key. Choose missions early that align with your game plan and work towards fulfilling them. They can offer a significant point boost that’s often underestimated.

Building a Diverse Colony

Lastly, diversify your colony. Having a variety of buildings will score you points from different sources, making your end-game score harder to beat. Focus on building a balanced set-up that compliments your strategy throughout the game.

  1. Advance on the Conquistador track for both immediate benefits and end-game points.
  2. Choose and complete missions that align with your overall strategy.
  3. Diversify your colony’s buildings to maximize scoring from various sources.

## Sealing the Deal: Your Path to Victory in Santa Maria
As we wrap up this strategy guide, remember that the key to winning Santa Maria isn’t just in mastering one aspect; it’s about balancing efficiency, foresight, and adaptability. Whether you’re drafting dice with the precision of a chess master, combining building tiles like a puzzle pro, or mapping out your path on the Conquistador track, keep your end goals in sight and stay one step ahead of your competitors. And never forget, the true beauty of Santa Maria lies in the joy of the game and the laughter shared with friends. May your cities flourish and your points tally high!

Want to know what we think of Santa Maria? Read our detailed review of Santa Maria here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.