So, after some deliberation over what to blog about next, I decided to start a series about board games that pack a lot of punch for their price point. I'll do an in-depth review and a recommendation. Not sure how often these will come out, but the first one begins with my Number 3 game of all time, The Castles of Burgundy.
Designed by: Stefan Feld
Art by: Julian Delval and Herald Lieske
Released: 2011 from alea and Ravensburger
Primary mechanisms: Dice rolling, Dice activation, Tile placement
Components Review: This is not a pretty game. But don't let that stop you. The aesthetics, I suppose, could work for some people, but to me it's irrelevant as the mechanisms are superb. The art is a bit drab, and the wooden bits are functional, but there's nothing special, here. I'll say that, once you learn the symbols, the graphic design is pretty solid.
Theme Review: It's super dry...Building up an estate in Medieval France to be the most prosperous. Yawn. But, again, that might work for some. For me, it's just meh.
Weight Review: This game is firmly a middle-weight game. It's a bit more complicated than your standard gateway game, and there are a BUNCH of bits, but it's not overly complicated to the point of being hard to teach, but each turn has quality decision points on each dice roll. I have to say that this might be, if I'm being so bold, the quintessential middle-weight euro game.
Mechanisms Review: Each turn, you roll two or three dice depending on player order. One of the goods on display goes into one of the six depots, depending on the roll of the "neutral" white die. The other two dice in your player color are then used to do one of the following: select tiles from one of the six depots to place in your storage area; place a tile from your storage area onto your player board; sell goods from your player board; or gain workers (which can be used to manipulate die results later on). It's really that simple at its core. Each tile has its own special ability, but the iconography is pretty straightforward, and the decision points are simply delicious as you choose how to most efficiently chain tile placement actions to gain extra actions throughout the game.
Re-playability and Price Review: Considering how many tiles come with this game, I can't imagine that this game would ever play the same twice. We've gotten it to the table dozens of times, and it's fresh every time we play it. I've played it solo, a TON at two, and some at both three and four players, and everyone I've ever taught it to adores this game and wants to own it. In terms of value, if I had $100 to spend on a game collection for the rest of my life, I'd EASILY spend nearly half of that on this game alone. $45 is worth every single penny. As it happens, this is the only game in my collection that I've ever upgraded components for or bought an expansion for.
Overall rating: 9.5/10
So, that's the first in the series. The Castles of Burgundy, everyone.
Credit: All images come from Boardgamegeek