Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Quick Review: The Builders: Middle Ages by Frédéric Henry and Sabrina Miramon

TLDR: If you want a quick, fun little game (literally little, the game box is smaller than a store-bought package of hummus) that incorporates card drafting, worker placement and resource management while still being kid friendly, The Builders is probably for you!

The first thing you'll notice about The Builders is how small the game is; in a world of boxes that seem to get bigger and bigger (I think I could beat up an intruder with the box to Marvel Legendary!) it's a figurative breath of fresh air to find a game you can fit in your pocket (though it should be noted that the game comes in a tin box, which some people don't like, but I have no problem with).

The second thing you'll notice is the quality of components; the cards for workers and buildings are sturdy and pass the "feel good test" and the game actually comes with coins for money, as opposed to more cards (like Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Cracy [review forthcoming!]).  The art on both the box and components comes in satisfyingly somewhere in the middle between cartoony and realistic.  The text is clear and easy to read and should pose no problems to small children or adults with vision issues (like yours truly).

The point of The Builders is to, well, build!  Each turn a player has three actions (and the ability to buy more actions) and can choose from the following:
  • Draft a worker card from the worker market (no cost)
  • Draft a building card form the building market (no cost)
  • Put a worker to work on a building (cost determined by the worker)
  • Get Money (by not using 1-3 of the actions)
If the worker satisfies the resource requirements for the building in question, then the building is completed (and flipped over to reveal the completed artwork) and the player gains the victory points and coins/resources that come from the completed building.

That's really it.  The game is over when a player gets to 17 victory points (though any players left who haven't taken a turn that round get to take one last turn) and all the victory points are added up (with an extra victory point for each 10 coins that the player has).  The most victory points wins.

The Builders plays fast, and appeals to gamers who have kids, and gamers who enjoy something like 7 Wonders, but would prefer something with less setup/tear down time.  Like 7 Wonders, The Builders can feel a little like multiplayer solitaire, but unlike 7 Wonders the game is light and breezy enough that you can amend that somewhat with a healthy dose of table chatter.  Plus, the game can be set up and run through so fast that you could feasibly get 3-4 games of The Builders complete in the time it takes to count up the scores of a 7 Wonders game.

John H. C. Staton is a software developer and holy crap hasn't posted a review in forever. He still has a website found at FancypantsMonkey.com.  It's still not a whole lot to look at.  He also tweets occasionally at @johnhcstaton though RunKeeper tends to tweet more often there than he does.

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