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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Game Review: The Castles of Burgundy

I have another historical themed (albeit only slightly) game review to share with you today.  Our collection at home is growing!


    Title:  The Castles of Burgundy
    # of players:  2-4
    Play time:  30-90 minutes
    Age range:  12+





In 15th century medieval France, players take on the role of wealthy aristocrats trying to improve their lands and holdings.  By clever use of dice rolls and workers, players accrue mines, castles, pastures, cities, and establish shipping routes.

The Castles of Burgundy is a "Euro" style board game, which means that players start on equal ground and only minimally interact with one another.  Each player rolls two dice during his or her turn, and use those dice to either buy or build:

1) Castles, which give additional actions
2) City buildings, which allow for efficient use of future actions
3) Pastures, which allow players to collect many points depending on the animals they choose to care for
4) Silver mines, which provide money each round
5) Ships, which allow players to buy and sell goods
6) "New Rules", which open up additional ways to score points

The large central board serves as a market place and a score tracker.

Literally everything you do in the game gives you victory points, and the player that obtains the most points by the end of the game wins.  There are multiple strategies that you can employ (some better than others), and there is always something to do.  As I said earlier, there is very little interaction between players.  As such, it feels more like a single player game that all players play at once, and then they compare their scores at the end.  There is a lot of strategy to consider, but there is also a lot of luck.  Because the actions you can take are at least partially dependent on the dice results you roll, there may be times when you simply can't do what you want, and your momentum slows down.

The theme of the game, though potentially interesting, just doesn't show through the poor quality of the components of the game.  The cardboard pieces feel very cheap (akin to puzzle pieces) and the art on the game board is terribly boring.  The concept only vaguely represents the workings of a duchy.

The smaller player boards provide rule summaries, as well as a map that the player places their buildings and ships.

Even with it's flaws, The Castles of Burgundy is a lot of fun.  There is a perfect mix of strategy and chance which allows anyone to quickly learn the rules and play.  Heather loves this one, and for good reason.  She beats me nearly every time we play!

If you're looking for a game that evokes the feel of 15th century France, you won't be pleased with The Castles of Burgundy.  However, if you want a great family game, give it a try!


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