Saturday, December 8, 2012

BELFORT by Tasty Minstrel Games

Tasty Minstrel Games
2-5 players
1-2 hours

Belfort is a European (no dice!) worker placement game in which players hire workers, aquire materials and construct buildings competing for the title of Master Castellon of Belfort (Captain of the Belfort Castle or Master Architect).

My thoughts:

I love Stone Age and was looking for a game that was similar, but with a little more to it. With Belfort’s emphasis on building your worker force and using resources to acquire properties, I feel it fits the bill perfectly. Belfort has more to think about than Stone Age. The variety of workers with specific assignments, and the need to think about placement of your properties add an extra dimension that Stone Age does not have.

I would call Stone Age a gateway game. I would not say the same of Belfort. Same concept, different theme, more to think about, no dice! I am so thrilled to have discovered this game and if you are a gamer and you like worker placement, you should give it a try.

Components: The workers are easy to distinguish and use, and the wooden resources are varied in color and shape. The board, cards and other objects in the game are a quality product that is holding up well.

Gameplay Overview: Well, this isn't meant to be instructional, but just give you an idea if you will enjoy the game I will give you a rough idea of how to play.

We are reminded how to play a round on the player board:

At the start of the game, our workers consist of

and elves
We take turns placing one worker at a time on planks on the game board, collection board, or our own property cards. As you can see, they will accept a round elf or a square dwarf, and some of these planks require gold to be spent in order to place there.

The planks on the game board or property cards might give a player resources, a building advantage, extra workers, or allow us to manipulate buildings and cards to our advantage. The planks on the collection board hire more workers or change the turn order.

When I don’t want to use any more planks, I pass and send workers to the collection board to gather resources: wood, stone, metal and gold. I check to see how many resources I need to build something (for example, a guild takes 2 wood, 2 stone, and 2 metal) and how much gold I need to pay for taxes on this turn and planks on my next turn.

When all of the players are done placing workers on the collection board, we go through the board collecting the resources, then we collect any gold coming to us from properties and we pay any taxes that we owe. The collection board handily reminds us to do this.

Now it is time to perform actions. Turn order for actions is determined by the turn order crests. On my turn I might use the trading post on the calendar board to buy an extra metal, then pay the needed resources to the bank and build a property, turning the property card face up in front of me and placing my color of property marker on the board on that type of property. Which district I place it in will affect my score. If I have no other cards, I can also build a wall with the rest of my resources and place that property marker on the board. Then I might use 3 gold to hire a gnome from the calendar board and place it on my property card. Now as my last action I can purchase property cards so that I will have more to build on my next turn.

Property Cards with and without gnomes

The game board is made up of 5 districts. The property markers are placed on the symbols (scales for market, flower for gardens, and so on).

The calendar tells us when the time comes to score. First we see who has the majority of property markers in each district. Whoever has the most gets 5 points, second most gets 3 points and third place gets 1 point. Then we see who has the majority of workers. The player with the most dwarves gets 3 points and the player with the second most gets one point. The same occurs respecting elves and gnomes.

When the calendar marker is on a red X it is a scoring round. The game ends after the third scoring phase:
The winner receives the key to the city as the Master Castellan of Belfort!

Reviewed by Carmen Norris

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