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A while back we attended a gaming convention (shocking, I know). There were some door and raffle prizes. We entered and won a Board Game that was in German. We weren’t especially enthused (not being German readers/speakers), and set it on a shelf where it gathered dust for a couple months. While we were cleaning house (and getting rid of some games), Chubby Unicorn suggested we toss it, since we didn’t plan to learn German. I told her that we should play it at least once; that the folks on BoardGameGeek probably had a translation and that I would download it and learn the rules.
So I did. I found out that it is an early Worker Placement game with 6 rounds and based on a book. Each round is divided into 3 parts:

  1. Draft resources and/or craftsmen
  2. Master Build Assignment
  3. Board Actions

Step 1 seems to go the fastest, as you generally know what resources you want. At the start of the round there are 2 craftsmen available for purchase, along with several resource (Sand, Stone, and Wood) cards for each player to choose from. Each player gets to pick and pay for a card (either with gold to hire the craftsmen, or workers to go mine the resources), then if there are still cards available, it repeats until both players pass. All remaining workers get sent to the Wool mill (generally resulting in 1 coin per worker sent).

Step 2 takes the longest, because the cost to place a Master Builder (MB) is variable. The first MB pulled out the bag can be placed for 7 gold. If that is your MB and you don’t feel like spending the gold, you can place it on the dial (we’ll come back to that MB in a moment). The next MB to come out would be 6, then 5, then 4, then 3, then 2, then 1. Each player having the same choice of either paying to place the MB, or waiting. Once the 7 slots are filled, any further MBs in the bag are placed for free. Once all MBs in the bag have been placed on the board, the MBs still on the dial are placed, in order they were drawn (meaning the 7, then the 6, etc). So, this means that if you were drawn first and opted not to pay the 7 gold, you still get priority over the other folks who passed.
Once you get to place your Master Builder you have many options to choose from:

  1. Bishop’s Seat: Protection from the upcoming event, or a free resource
  2. Kingsbridge (2 slots): Choose one of two advantage cards
  3. Priory (2 slots): Victory Points
  4. King’s court: Tax Amnesty and the first player here gets a Metal resource (one of the only ways to get metal in the game)
  5. Shiring (2 slots): Choose one of two crafstmen
  6. Shiring Castle: 2 temporary workers (next round only)
  7. Kingsbridge Builders’ market: Buy and Sell building materials and/or sell Metal
  8. Cathedral: Claim the First Player Token

Finally, in Step 3 you do all of the Board Actions, starting with revealing the Event card and ending with placing a piece of the Cathedral and passing the next piece to the next first player.

As I mentioned above, we received the German version of this game. In looking into the game I found out that the English translation is very much a rarity, but that the good folks on BoardGameGeek have English versions of the rules, and translations of all the cards. The translations were necessary for the Advantage and Event Cards, but for everything else (the Craftsmen, Resource Cards, and Board), once you learn the symbols you don’t need the translations.

We’ve really enjoyed playing this game, but when you play it with 2 players, it needs some adjustments. Otherwise, it might as well be a solitaire game. I first found out about the 2 Player Variant while watching a Rahdo Run Through of the game. From there I found the forum post on BoardGameGeek. The short version is: You add a third set of Master Builders to the bag; you take away one spot on all the 2 slot spots on the board (Kingsbridge, Priory, and Shiring); you discard another resource card on each round. This ensures a bit more competition and interaction between the 2 players.

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