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Jenn Bartlett
United States
Connecticut
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Ancient artifacts and locations have always fascinated me so when I heard about Order of the Gilded Compass, I was intrigued. Then I heard it was based on a game called Alea Iacta Est but since that game had been out of print for some time, I never was able to play it. Thankfully, this game has a stronger theme which translates well for me instead of the Roman Empire. While I enjoy history overall, the concept of discovering artifacts was a larger draw to me, on top of the “secret society” feel this one had. And so I plunged into this adventure of locations and dice with full excitement.

If I have a preference for any type of game, it is dice placement. There is just something about the mechanics of it which is a draw and immediately garners my attention. One of the nice things about this game was that the dice placement felt different in the fact that there are many combinations which the game can take form. First, I’ll go over the basics of the game and the different locations, then I’ll give you my thoughts on the game as a whole.

What happens on your turn:

When your turn starts, you will roll all eight of your dice. Then, you will place them on any of the boards in front of you. Once you have placed one set of dice on the boards, the next player will roll their dice and place them as well. At the beginning of every turn, you will roll your remaining dice. Once one player has placed all of their dice, the round is complete. Once the round is complete, the buildings are resolved. This gains players points, abilities, locations, and people in order to aid them for the rest of the game. Once the buildings have been resolved, a new round starts with players taking their dice back and first player is passed clockwise. This goes on for five rounds with four or five players, or six with two or three players. Then all the points are scored. Whoever has the most points wins.

That is a basic overview of the game, but how to you gain the points? How do the locations work? Here, now, is what you actually do with your dice.

Locations: “A” Buildings

“A” buildings are always in every game of Order of the Gilded Compass.

The Archives

At the beginning of every round, you will take four map tiles and place them to the side of the Archives tile. These are the maps in play for players to choose from. The only way to gain these maps are to place dice on the tile in sets. You can place single dice (1 of any number), doubles ( 2 of any number), and so forth. When the building resolves, the player with the largest set gains one map from the four tiles on the side of the archives. This means that even five 1s are going to outrank two 6s. If there are still dice sets left on the archives after the building resolves, the players remaining get nothing.

Map tiles are locations where you can send workers from the university out towards. If, by the end of the game, you do not have a worker on the map tile, you score the lower value. But if you have at least one worker on the tile, you gain the higher number.

The University

The University is where you get those workers. At the beginning of the round, you will place worker tiles equal to the number of players, plus two. (A three player game gets five tiles: 3 players plus 2) When placing your dice there, you have two options: any die value can go on the open spaces, or any two dice equaling 5. By placing the two dice equaling 5, you take up more of the space in the university. When the building is resolved, the player with the leftmost dice on the board gets the first pick of the workers. However, you must have a map for the workers to go or else you will lose them. Once you choose the worker, they head for the map tile corresponding to their color. For example, green workers can only go to green map tiles. If you are not sure if the color matches the tile, there is a symbol on the top right corner of the map tile which corresponds to the symbol on the worker.

The Library

The Library is the last building to score. When placing dice, any die face can go to the library. When the building resolves, the player gains one knowledge token for each dice placed there. Knowledge tokens are good for re-rolling a dice. If you have knowledge tokens left over at the end of the game, two tokens are worth one gold.

Locations: “B” Buildings

In every game of Order of the Gilded Compass, there will be a possibility of one of two “B” buildings.

The Treasure Hunter’s Guild

At the Treasure Hunter’s Guild, the players will vie for Mission tiles which gains them extra points at the end of the game as long as they have met the conditions. Players will assign dice in numerical order (1,2,3). You can place multiple sequences on the board as long as they are not duplicates of what was just placed. You may also add to your sequence or even have a sequence of one die. When the building resolves, they player with the longest sequence will draw three mission tiles, select one, and hand the other two to the player next in rank. They will choose one tile and place the remaining tile on the bottom of the stack. The rest of the players there get nothing.

The Auction House

At the Auction House, players will fight for tiles specifying which artifacts will bring them the most money. If you are using the Auction House, at the beginning of the game, each player will gain a “private collection” tile designating which artifacts will bring them the most money. Dice placement works the same as the Treasure Hunter’s Guild. When the building resolves, the player with the longest sequence picks three artifact tiles and chooses two. Keep in mind, you get more points when you can match the drawn artifacts with your “private collection” tile. The player with the second longest sequence takes two artifact tiles and picks one to keep. All other players on the tile get nothing.

Locations: “C” Buildings

“C” Buildings have the most variation in the game with four different options.

Treasure Tower

At the beginning of the game, you will set up the treasure tiles, tiles with a grail on the back of them, and place them next to the Treasure Tower. The tiles on the top will be the golden backed tiles, the middle will be silver backed, and the lowest level will be the bronze backed. When placing dice, you may assign any dice, or two dice equaling 7. Dice with pips from 1-3 are placed on the left of the tower while dice with pips 4-6 are on the right of the tower. The dice advance in the tower if another player places dice there, pushing them up the tower. There can only be a maximum of six dice on the tower. When the building resolves, players gain tiles depending on where they are on the tower. For example, if the orange player has two dice on the top level, they get two golden tiles. If the green player has one die on the lower level and purple has one die on the lower level, they each get one bronze tile. Each tile has a numerical value on the back and will be used to score at the end of the game.

Hidden Temple

When you set up the game, and Hidden Temple is in play, you will draw magical item tiles at the beginning of the round depending on the players, laying them on the side of the tile in the places marked for players. When placing dice, each magical item has specific dice listed on the back of the tile. Once the dice are placed, players may not be bumped off. When the building resolves, the players collect the tiles and the magical items are kept secret until the end of the game for scoring. If there are magical item tiles with no dice assigned to them, they are tossed from the game and new tiles are placed for the second round. When the game ends, you place either the compass for the cartographer, or the pickaxe for the excavator on a location matching the color or symbol. The magical item multiplies the value of the worker by two.

The Illuminati

When the game sets up, the ability tiles will be placed next to the building. At the start of every round, there will be three tiles drawn and placed next to the building. Players assign dice according to the previous placement. For example, the first player will place a five down on the building. The next player will have to place a five, and then another dice of their choice, let’s say a three. The third player would have to place a five, three, and then another dice of their choice. When the building resolves, the two players with the most dice on the board will gain the abilities. The player with the most will choose first while the player with the second will choose next. The third tile is removed from the game and all other players on the board get nothing. The special abilities can be played at any time. “A Little Help” can be played to gain two extra dice during the round, the two black dice in the game. Only one player per round can use this power and is determined by the start player and then going clockwise. Whoever is first to play the power gets to use it. “The Will to Win” allows you to place an identical set of dice as your opponent which creates a tie. You must then send one of your opponents dice to the library. “A Timely Gift” allows you to gain an additional turn after the round ends in case you are left with dice you did not place. “A Compelling Power” allows you to set two of your dice to whatever result you want. If you do not use these powers by the end of the game, they are worth one gold each.

The Sunken Galleon

When setting up the game, if the Sunken Galleon is in play, place the galleon tiles near the building. When placing dice, the first player to go here places one dice of any value and takes a tile, then placing it in front of him. The next player on the board must place two dice, but they must have a higher value than the first dice. They then take two tiles and place them in front of them. Every set of dice must increase by one dice and must be of a greater value. You always take tiles in the amount of dice you placed. When the building resolves, the player who has the most tiles chooses two of the tiles, places them face up in their area, and puts the rest face up near the galleon. The rest of the players choose one tile from what they acquired and places the other near the board face up. When the pile of galleon tiles runs out, you shuffle the face up pile near the board and start again. Each tile is worth anywhere between one and three gold at the end of the game.

Once all the rounds are over, the players add up their points and complete their secret missions. Whoever has the most “gold”/points, wins the game.

Thoughts


Order of the Gilded Compass is a highly enjoyable game with any of the player count. The dice placement mechanic of this game always keeps you on your toes, wondering what your opponent is going to do. The combination of buildings is what keeps the game fresh each and every time. While I did find that some of the locations had popped up again, the other buildings were never in play for each game. With the exception of the “A” buildings, the combinations I had with the other buildings were different each time. Overall, the buildings had different dice placement options and seemed to have a good feel about them. I really enjoy the theme on this game as it gives you a great treasure hunter feeling. Lastly, I will say that I was concerned about downtime here, but I have to say that the turns went by fast and when we reached the resolution, all players were involved.

On the surface, it may seem like there is little strategy in this game, but in all truth, there is a great deal of planning. You can only take the workers if you have a tile which matches them. If you’re sending dice to the university hoping to get the map tile for those working there, it is a chance which may not happen for you and in the end, dice have been wasted. And if the Hidden Temple is in play, you want to make sure you have a location and workers which match with the tiles you are drawing from there. There is more thinking in this game then it seems.

Overall, I was quite pleased with Order of the Gilded Compass. From the perspective of Board Gaming in the Library, this one is appropriate. I recommend this game for libraries to use and I also recommend this as a good game for your collection.

Jenn Bartlett - The Board Game Librarian
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Randy Espinoza
United States
Chicago
Illinois
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Thanks for the review!
Quote:
If I have a preference for any type of game, it is dice placement. There is just something about the mechanics of it which is a draw and immediately garners my attention.
Would you mind giving a quick assessment of this game compared to other dice placement games of similar weight, specially compared to your favorites?

I've been looking into adding (a not too heavy) one to my collection. I was looking into this one, Discoveries and maybe even Kingsburg. Are there others worth looking into? Thanks!
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Jenn Bartlett
United States
Connecticut
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Hello!
Thanks for your read and comment.
I have not played Discoveries, but Kingsburg is in our personal collection. Kingsburg is one of our favorites, and it is very easy to learn and play, but sometimes replayability ability can be a problem with some limited options. There is not a huge variety in the game (it comes with the monsters you fight at the end of the turn), and how you build your kingdom. I've heard the expansion is very good and almost essential, but we have not gotten it (yet).
Along the same weight is Dice City by AEG, which was a huge hit at my library game group. You have your own player board and can build your city as you like here as well, but you can attack someone else's board or the bandits (depending on how confrontational you want the game to be). Dice City to me is best at 2 players- with 4 it can get really long and player interaction can be limited. They've added 2 expansions which from what I've heard add more depth to the game.
We also recently got Covert by Renegade Game Studio, which I have only played once through. Love the spy theme, but we started it too late and the conditions for victory (6 completed missions- we house-ruled it at 3) made it a bit long. Covert is medium weight with great components and a different theme.
My personal favorite, which is a heavier dice placement, is The Voyages of Marco Polo by Z-Man Games. The character abilities are what make this game so awesome (as soon as I played it, it went in my Top 10). But there a lot of options and variations on what you can do and paths to victory. It's perhaps the most thematic of the bunch. It's a game you'll want to play again right away.
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Randy Espinoza
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Thanks!

I'm seriously looking into this one, Kingsburg and Discoveries (from what I've seen it seems solid, shorter and not too heavy).

I am enamored with The Voyages of Marco Polo after all the reviews and gameplays I've watched (never played it) but I'm afraid it isn't family friendly enough and might then not get to the table much.
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Will Plante
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Espinoza wrote:
Thanks!

I'm seriously looking into this one, Kingsburg and Discoveries (from what I've seen it seems solid, shorter and not too heavy).

I am enamored with The Voyages of Marco Polo after all the reviews and gameplays I've watched (never played it) but I'm afraid it isn't family friendly enough and might then not get to the table much.

I wouldn't suggest Kingsburg because there isn't any hidden scoring which lead to many of our plays having already been decided in the fourth round with zero chance of a comeback in the fifth and final round.

Discoveries is a great family weight game, plays well at all player counts and wraps up in an hour or less.

I'm planning on picking up Order of the... once it comes out.
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