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Subject: A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: Arguably the best gamers' game of 2010 rss

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Introducing Troyes



Troyes made a big splash when it debuted at Essen 2010. It came in second beyond 7 Wonders in the final standings of the Fairplay list (see the results here), and was arguably the darling of gamers at the show, its success surprising many who had never heard of it previously. In some ways the unheralded Troyes emerged from nowhere, given that it was the first game from new publisher Pearl Games, and coming from a trio of relatively unknown Belgian designers, Sébastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges, and Alain Orban. Xavier Georges is the most well-known of the three, having designed Royal Palace and Carson City, but aside from that there's not a lot of pedigree here. Clearly the game's positive reception was the result of just one thing: it had the qualities of a great game.

The popularity of Troyes has continued to surge, and with an edition to be published by ZMan Games in North America around March 2011, there's good reason to see it make a serious run up the rankings when it gets a wider release. As far as gamers are concerned, it's perhaps the best medium-weight game for euro gamers that emerged in 2010 (see the Top 100 games from 2010 arranged by current ranking here), with Dominant Species perhaps being the only serious competition, and trailed by other games like Age of Industry and Alien Frontiers. So why is it such a good game? Let's open up the box and find out!




COMPONENTS

Game box

You only need to look at the box cover to already feel something different about Troyes. The artwork has a distinctly medieval period flavour, and this is evident throughout the game. The artwork is by Alexandre Roche, whose work is also featured in successful titles like Carson City, Jaipur, and Rattus. I've decided that I really like this guy and his work. The artwork on the box, the board, and the cards - tastes may differ, but I find it unique, detailed, and very attractive.



We find more of the artwork on the back of the box, which also features a picture of the gameboard in play.



It also introduces the theme: "In the year 1200, the foundation is laid for the cathedral of Troyes, but it will not be finished until 400 years later, after innumerable incidents. This game invites you to experience four centuries of history by participating in the development of one of the finest medieval cities ever to make its mark on Western culture. Use your military, religious, and civil influence to make your family the most prestigious." Does that remind you of Pillars of the Earth? In this game players represent different families that recruit and use citizens to help build up the city of Troyes - and yes, that includes building a cathedral! Ah, but this is no Pillars of the Earth, this has dice! Yes, that's right, dice - look right here in the box!



Serious gamers can sometimes scoff at the use of dice, perhaps tolerating it in games like Kingsburg and Alien Frontiers - which despite their popularity are still often regarded as `second class' euros, and only just a step or two from gateway games. But Troyes is a serious gamers game ... with dice?! Clearly we need to do some more detective work to find out how this can be!

Component list

Here's what you all get in the box:
● game board
● 24 dice (in 4 colours)
● 56 citizen meeples (in 4 player colours, plus a neutral colour)
● 90 cubes (in 4 player colours, plus a neutral colour)
● 8 influence & district markers (in 4 player colours)
● money tokens
● victory point tokens
● deck of cards
● rulebook & appendix



There's a lot to look at here, so let's walk through the components, and explain what you get, and what everything is for.

Game board

The game board is a well constructed mounted board that folds into quarters. It pictures the city of Troyes, and once again the beautiful artwork of Alexandre Roche is worth admiring.



You'll immediately notice three main colours, which will return on the dice and on the cards: red (representing the military domain), white (representing the religious domain), and yellow (representing the civil domain). The benefits of each domain varies: "The military permits you to fight with greater efficacy against invasions. The clergy focuses on completion of the cathedral, and education of the peasants and the military. The peasants toil to fill your coffers." There are three main buildings on the board that correspond to these three domains: Palace (red = military), Bishopric (white = religious), and City Hall (yellow = civil). These buildings will contain the player's citizens, and each has associated with it three spaces for Activity cards. There are 9 such cards in each colour, but only three of each will be used (randomly) each game, so that keeps the game fresh and different each time. So here are the three principal buildings which your citizens will inhabit:

The Palace (for military citizens)



The Bishopric (for religious citizens)



The City Hall (for civil citizens)



The basic concept of the game is that the citizens (meeples) of the players that are placed in these three buildings will provide a workforce used to build up the city of Troyes. This workforce is represented by dice, which are used to perform various activities (e.g activities by labourers, building the cathedral, countering negative events, or recruiting new citizens). The citizens of the players in the game are placed in the three main buildings, and will generate dice that can be used by that player. The dice generated by your citizens will be placed in your district, from where you'll use them to perform various actions. Note how the center of the board features a City Square which is divided into 5 districts - one for each player (as well as a neutral gray player).


photo by Henk Rolleman

Finally, at the top of the board is the Influence track. Influence can be earned during game-play, and `spent' to do things like re-rolling or modifying dice, or adding a citizen to your personal supply.
The bottom of the board has an Event track on which Event cards will be placed. The first event (Marauding), is already printed on the board.



Dice

Yes, there are dice - 24 of them in fact! There are six in four different colours: red dice representing the military workforce, white dice representing the religious workforce, yellow dice representing the civil workforce, and black dice representing enemies.



They are slightly smaller in size than regular dice.

Citizens

There's a huge pile of meeples and cubes that comes with the game. So what's all in the pile?



Firstly there are 12 citizen meeples in each of the four player colours (natural, blue, green, orange), as well as 8 gray neutral citizens.



You'll place these in the three main buildings (Palace, Bishopric, City Hall), and these are what will generate your dice or workforce, which will allow you to perform various actions. The choice of colours is interesting, but I find it quite pleasant, and a refreshing change from the primary colours used in most euro games. My only complaint is that the neutral gray is sometimes hard to distinguish from the natural coloured bits.

Cubes

There are 20 cubes in each of the four player colours, as well as 10 in the neutral gray.



These will be used for various actions, such as being placed on events to earn victory points, or to help build the cathedral.

Influence & District markers

There are two wooden discs in each of the four player colours. One is used as a marker on the influence track on the top of the game board, while the other is used to mark which district in the City Square belongs to that player.



Money tokens

The money consists of nice cardboard chits.



These represent denominations of 10, 5 and 1 deniers.



Victory Point tokens

What's a euro game without victory points?



These are made out of square cardboard, and come in values of 10, 5, 3 and 1.



Activity cards

There's a lot of different cards used in the game, so it's worth walking you through each of the different types of cards. Again I can't say enough about the artwork and graphic design of these cards - it's immensely pleasing to look at, and there's something about it that just breathes quality and distinction. Here's the deck of cards in shrinkwrap:



First of all there are 27 Activity cards, 9 in each of the three types (military, religious, civil). Only three of each will be used in each game, so this helps enhance replayability. The cards are numbered I, II and III on the back, indicating the turn that they enter play. I love the way these look, so let's show you one of each type.

Military (red) Activity card: Captain



Religious (white) Activity card: Glassblower



Civil (yellow) Activity card: Sculptor



Players will get the opportunity to trigger the benefits of these cards (multiple times even!) as an action during their turn, by activating dice to do so, and also ensuring that they have a craftsman (represented by a cube) on the card.

Event cards

There are a total 16 Event cards: 8 red (military), 4 white (religious), and 4 yellow (civil), and once again not all of these will be used in each game, which helps give each game a varied flavour. These will appear during one of the phases of game play and be placed on the Event track on the bottom of the board for players to deal with. Just like the Activity cards, events in the three different domains have different coloured artwork on the back.



The 8 military events are: Normans Attack, Skirmishes (2x), Brigands (3x), Succession Conflict, and War
The 4 religious events are: Interruption of Work, Theological Conflict, Heresy, and Migrant Workers
The 4 civil events are: Support, Wayfarers, Civil War, and Drought

Here's a sample of one of each:



Cards which picture black dice represent enemy attacks, and players will need to `sacrifice' part of their workforce (dice) to deal with these.

Character cards

There are 6 Character cards. Players will get one of these randomly at the start of the game, and keep them secret.



Basically they function as secret objectives which will earn additional VPs at the end of the game. For example, the count pictured here will earn bonus VPs for accumulating money - 1 VP if you have 6 to 11 deniers, 3 VPs if you have 12 to 17 deniers, and 6 VPs if you have 18 or more deniers.



Unlike most other games with secret objectives, at the end of Troyes all players will get earn VPs as a result of the Character cards selected randomly by all players at the start of the game.

Start Player card

This card is used to designate the starting player for each round - this rotates in a clockwise direction from round to round.



Reference cards

There are several double-sized player aids, which serve as a useful reference to remind players about the different phases of gameplay, and about the costs for `buying' dice.



Rules

The rulebook for the international edition consists of 24 pages, but that's because it provides rules in three different languages. So the rules themselves only take up 8 pages, of which only 5 pages are needed for describing the gameplay. Considering that this is regarded as a relatively complex game, it means that the rules are concise and streamlined, and much of the complexity lies in the decision making, rather than the rules themselves - in fact you can read through the rules fairly rapidly.



I was impressed with the rulebook: it's clearly laid out, pleasant to read, and contains some excellent examples of gameplay that all help make learning how the game works so much easier.



Appendix

Finally, there's also a double sided appendix page, which serves as a reference to explain the event cards, character cards, and activity cards.



Both the English rules and the appendix can be downloaded from the publisher's website (here and here), or from the BGG files section (here and here).

GAME-PLAY

Set-up

Distribute player items. Each player starts the game with 5 deniers, some citizen meeples (4 with 4 players, 5 with 3 players, 6 with 2 players) and 20 cubes in their chosen colour, and a random Character card which they may look at but must keep secret until the end of the game.



Each player also puts an influence marker in their colour on space 4 of the track, and a district marker in their colour in one of the districts of the City Square, to mark that district as theirs.

Arrange Activity & Event cards. Of the 9 Activity cards in each colour, randomly choose one for each of the first three rounds, and place them face down on the board. Also make three Event decks for each of the colours - the number of red cards will determine the number of rounds (6 for 4 players, 5 for 3 players, 4 for 2 players).



Initial citizen placement. In turns, players get to make their initial placement of citizens in the three main buildings on the board. Players go around the table placing their first citizen, and then back the other way (i.e. in reverse order) placing their second citizen. This process is repeated until all citizens are placed, after which gray (neutral) citizens are placed in the remaining empty building spaces.



Flow of Play

Rounds consist of the following phases, which are conveniently summarized on the player aid:



Phase 0: Reveal Activity cards

This phase only happens in the first three rounds of the game. Reveal the Activity card (in each colour) corresponding to that round of the game. So after Round 3, all three Activity cards in each colour will be available to the players.

Phase 1: Income and salaries

Each player gets an income of 10 deniers, but must pay the costs of his citizen's salaries: 2 for each citizen in the Palace and 1 for each citizen in the Bishopric. Running an army apparently is more costly than running a church, which in turn is more expensive than managing civil servants in City Hall! Has anything changed over the last 800 years?

Phase 2: Assemble workforce

Players get one die for each citizen they have in the different buildings - a red die for each in the Palace, a white die for each in the Bishopric, and a yellow die for each in the City Hall. You roll your dice, and place them in your district in City Square. The same is done for the citizens of the neutral (gray) district. In the example below, the orange player gets one red die, one white die, and two yellow dice, because he has one citizen in the Palace (red), one in the Bishopric (white), and two in the City Hall (yellow).



Phase 3: Events

Reveal two new Events. Two new events cards are revealed each round. A red Event is revealed first, and this card will have a symbol which dictates whether the second event to be revealed is white or yellow.
Resolve Events. All events take effect from left to right, beginning with Marauding. The Religious events and Civil events all have different effects that are explained in detail in the Appendix reference sheet. For example, they will cause players to lose money or influence, or the placement or removal of cubes or citizens. Players lose 2VPs if they can't execute the event.
Roll and counter the black dice. Most of the five different military events picture black dice that reflect a military threat to Troyes. After the events have been resolved, the black dice are rolled (the number is dictated by the total number of them pictured on the face up event cards). Beginning with the start player, each player in turn must sacrifice dice equal to or greater than the highest-valued black dice. Red dice - representing the military - count as double their value for this purpose. Just as with other events, players lose 2VPs if they're unable to defeat the highest value die - on the other hand they gain 1 influence for each black die they counter.



Phase 4: Actions

In turns, players now get to use their workforce (dice) to carry out one action, which continues around the circle until all players pass. You must use 1 to 3 dice for each action you perform - but the neat thing here is that you aren't restricted to using your own dice! Here's how it works:

Choose and pay for dice. Actions require using a group of 1 to 3 dice of the same colour, but you can use dice from other players towards this - at a cost. The cost depends on the total amount of dice you're using for your action: if the total amount of dice you're using is just one, you pay 2 deniers for the die you're `purchasing' from another player; if the total is two dice, you pay 4 deniers for each die you purchase; if the total is three dice, you pay 6 deniers for each die you purchase. Other players cannot refuse this purchase, but in compensation they do get to keep the money generated by this (money paid for dice belonging to the gray neutral player goes to the bank). Thematically here, the concept is that you're paying another family to use part of their workforce for a particular project. This is a brilliant concept, and works very well, and prevents players from being completely screwed by unlucky rolls. There are other ways to mitigate bad rolls as well, such as by using influence - you can spend an influence point to reroll any of your dice, and you can spend four influence points to even turn over between 1 and 3 of your dice! (you may also do this before countering a black die during the Event phase). Here's an example from the rules illustrating how selecting dice works:



Perform action. You can use your dice selected in the manner described above to do one of the following actions:
1. Activate one Activity card from the city
2. Construct the Cathedral
3. Combat the Events
4. Place a citizen on a principal building
5. Use agriculture
6. Pass
The action phase is the most important part of the game, so we'll devote a separate section below to explaining how each of these different actions work.

Phase 5: End of round

After all players have passed (or all dice in the city square used), the round is over. If you passed earlier in the round, you'll have deniers in your district that you can collect and take into your supply. Expelled citizens on buildings are retrieved and go to your personal supply, while dice that weren't used go back to the general supply. The next player in clockwise order becomes the start player, and begins the next round.

Actions

Let's now explain what each of the different possible actions are, along with some examples.

Activate an Activity card from the city

Up to nine activities will be available, starting with three in the first round (one in each domain). Another three Activity cards will be revealed in the second round, and three more in the third round - all nine will remain available for the rest of the game.



To be activated, you'll need dice of a certain value. The card will be activated a certain number of times by this formula: the number of dice pictured, divided by the number below that, rounded down. To activate a card you also need to have a tradesman on the card - if you don't have one, you hire one by paying the cost listed on the card and place one of your citizens on the card (from your personal supply, or hire one by spending two influence) - your tradesman will also earn you the VPs listed on the card. Cards either have an immediate effect (e.g. earning VPs, influence, or gold), or a delayed effect (e.g. changing the colour or value of dice - cards with a delayed effect are marked with an hour-glass icon).



Construct the Cathedral

You can use white dice to build the cathedral, which consists of three levels.



You must build the lower levels first, and can place a cube for each die result that you have. You gain 1VP and 1 influence for each cube you place (with an extra influence for each cube in spaces 4, 5 or 6). Failing to help build the cathedral will also cost you VPs at the end of the game.



Fight against the events

You can combat the events currently displayed in order to gain influence or VPs. Each event card has a number of banners on which players can place cubes.



The amount of cubes that can be placed is prescribed by the card (the formula is: number of dice pictured, divided by the number below that, rounded down). You get one influence for each cube you place, and once all banners have cubes on them, the event is considered countered and the players who placed the most and second-most cubes earn the VPs specified on the card. The player who placed the most cubes also gets to take the Event card, which could help earn extra VPs at the end of the game.



Place a citizen on a principal building

You can place a citizen in one of the three principal buildings, thus expelling the citizen worker of another player.


photo by Carsten Wesel

To do this action you use a single die, and replace the citizen on the numbered location that corresponds to the value of your die roll in the building that corresponds to the colour of your die. This will result in another citizen being ejected - it is removed and placed on the building (from where it will be moved to that player's personal supply at the end of the round - it is important that it remains visible in the mean time, since only one citizen per player can be ejected from a particular building each round).



Use agriculture

This lets you use yellow dice (peasants) to earn money. The amount gained is half the total value of the dice (rounded down).



Pass

If you decide to pass when you still have dice available, you may not take any more actions that round. However, you do get to place 2 deniers in your district (which you'll gain at the end of the round), and you add 1 more denier to this each time the turn comes back around to you the same round.

Scoring

Scoring takes place at the end of the last round, which is indicated by the final red event card entering the game. The winner is - not surprisingly - the player with the most VPs, which is calculated as follows:
● VP tokens you earned during the game
● 1 VP for each un-countered Event on which you have a presence
● VPs for the spaces occupied by your citizens on the Activity cards
● -2VPs for each cathedral level that has none of your cubes
● bonus VPs arising from character cards

For this last part, players reveal their character cards to determine the amount of bonus points awarded. These cards will award bonus VPs in proportion to the amount of items you have, such as the influence, money or Event cards earned, or the number of cubes you have on the cathedral, tradesmen on Activity cards, or citizens in the principal buildings. An interesting feature of Troyes is that all players get these bonuses - so if you can figure out what character card another player has, you might want to modify your strategy in a similar direction to maximize bonus points. Of course, your opponent could also be bluffing, and lead you on a trail that consists of red herrings!


photo by Paulo Soledade

CONCLUSIONS

What do I think?

It is beautiful. Let's start by saying how pretty Troyes looks. I recognize that this is entirely subjective, and some people will dislike the game for the same reason that I like it. But I'm particularly enamoured by the medieval flavour of the artwork on the components. Perhaps it's just because it makes Troyes more distinct from the typical euro - but whatever it is, it works. Although the cards and the board in particular are very attractive, be aware that there is considerable use of iconography on some of the cards. The reference sheet is more than adequate, so nothing is unexplained, but you will need to look things up from time to time in your first few plays. But again: the artwork - very nicely done!

It brings dice management to another level. We've seen plenty of dice management games in recent years, and games like Stone Age, Kingsburg, and Alien Frontiers have shown that games with dice can satisfy gamers if they're done right. Troyes builds on that but takes it in a somewhat new direction, by giving players ways to manipulate the results of dice rolls and even acquire dice from other players. Learning the game may take a bit of work, because although there are aspects that are derivative from other games, there's also some concepts that we haven't seen before. Most people are really going to like the ideas here, because it gives new possibilities for control, even though you're using something that's traditionally regarded as `out of control' in a game: the roll of a die! Yes it's dice, but it's dice done different, and dice done well.

It is very replayable. Normally dice are associated with randomness and lack of control, but as has already been stated, that's not the case here. What the dice will do is introduce fresh and new situations for you to deal with. This is all the more true with the many cards used in different elements of the gameplay. Firstly consider the activity cards - because only 9 of the 27 cards are used each time, each game will offer a new series of possibilities and combinations to work with - some of the card interactions and combos are also quite interesting, and this will vary from game to game. The events are also driven randomly by the card draw. Furthermore, your long-term strategy to some extent will be directed by the secret objective on the character card you draw at the start of the game. Notice a common denominator here? Cards! We saw something similar with Agricola, and although the use of cards in Troyes is slightly different, it certainly enhances the game's case for replayability, without detracting from its identity as a gamer's game. There's luck in both the dice and the cards, and there will be some who find the random elements resulting from the cards somewhat frustrating, but on the whole the many ways to control this will ensure that it remains something that will satisfy most gamers.

It offers many choices. The character cards influence the trajectory of the game by shaping the direction of long term strategies, and this will vary from game to game depending on which character you draw. Personally I love the the potential this offers for bluffing or outguessing my opponents, but even though who don't usually like secret objectives might appreciate the fact that these earn VPs for all players, not just the player with the card (they only generate 6VP at most anyway). But gamers will particularly find much to appreciate about the Action phase of the game, where there's a myriad of choices and possibilities. There is a worker placement feel, but it's not as transparent as it is in games like Stone Age or Alien Frontiers. Interesting choices result from the interaction that is inevitable as dice slowly disappear from the City Square, and your choices begin to dwindle as you try to take maximal advantage of what remains. The possibility of evicting citizens of other players from buildings only enhances this level of interaction. Furthermore, unlike a regular worker placement game, you don't simply have the choice of placing workers, but also need to make decisions about the amount, colour and even value of the dice that you use. These possibilities create new layers of decision making that are sure to please serious gamers. Even those who aren't fans of the current crop of dice games (e.g. Kingsburg, Stone Age), may find themselves liking Troyes.

It is a euro. There is a theme, and it is well integrated with the different mechanics of the game. I particularly like the three domains of the game - military, religious, and civil - and how these are woven into the different aspects of gameplay. But... it's still a euro. There are meeples, and there are cubes, and there is influence, and there are victory points. Sound familiar? I don't consider that to be a weakness, by the way - on the contrary it simply means that Troyes has unmistakable credentials that identify it as a eurogame. This includes the fact that it can easily be played in under two hours. With its identity clearly established, more important is whether or not it's a good eurogame - and both I and many others happen to think that it is a good one. Having said that, the theme does work, and is closely knit to all the mechanics, particularly the Activity cards.

It is hot. Yes, you already knew that, but it's worth saying again. Troyes proved to be immensely popular at Essen, and although the international edition is harder for people in North America to get their hands on, you can be sure that when the ZMan edition arrives in the US it will sell like hot cakes. Popular doesn't always correspond to good, but in the case of medium-heavy eurogames, a high demand and significant hype is often a good indication that a game has good potential. It doesn't always pan out that way, but until now the buzz has nearly all been positive, so that bodes very well for the future success of Troyes.



I haven't played this game a ton of times yet (normally I only post a review of a game after playing it up to a dozen times or more), so the above reflections are initial impressions, but I have good reason to expect that they will be corroborated with further play. Overall, there are some innovative ideas here that come together in a very pleasing way. The level of innovation doesn't quite match what we saw in games like Dominion (which took ideas from MtG and fathered an entire deckbuilding genre) or Caylus (which arguably was the root of many subsequent worker-placement games), but what Troyes does do is build on an existing genre and bring it to a new level, in an interesting and original manner. There's lots of tactical and strategic choices, and the myriad of possible paths to victory will give players much to think about, both during and after gameplay. It all comes together nicely in a system that just works, and works well. Troyes is undoubtedly a strong candidate for being one of the best gamers' games to come out in 2010 (although a comparative debate about what is the best game can be held elsewhere on BGG rather than in this thread). Other 2010 games like 7 Wonders may prove to be more popular, simply because they are less complex and more accessible, but for the serious gamer looking for a heavier eurogame with a more complex choices and a deeper experience, Troyes has to rank as one of the top tier games from this year. It will be interesting to see how it stands up in the long term, but meanwhile gamers can expect to get a lot of mileage and fun out of Troyes while putting it through its paces!


photo by Henk Rolleman

What do others think?

The criticism

There are some critical comments about Troyes, although to be fair it should be mentioned that they are more than outnumbered by the positive ones. Even with the best games, not everyone is going to like everything, sometimes as a result of varying personal tastes. Those who were critical of the game or didn't enjoy it made negative comments about things like: some of the randomness (more so of the cards than the dice); the inter-relation between the different elements of the game (i.e. money, influence VPs); the dryness and lack of strong theme; and the complexity of the rules and an occasional lack of clarity. I'm not persuaded that all these criticisms are warranted as strongly as they are sometimes expressed, although I concede that the large amount of options can prove problematic with AP prone players. But it's worth noting that even many of those who didn't find the gameplay fun for them personally, did concede that Troyes has many great and innovative ideas, and that it's an inherently good game - just perhaps not for them.

The praise

On the other hand, if you are a serious gamer, Troyes probably is for you. For the most part, this game has been the subject of a great deal of hype since Essen 2010, where it generated a significant amount of buzz, and it continues to be the subject of high praise, as enthusiastic comments like these indicate:

"Best dice-worker placement game to date. High replayability because of varied action cards and victory conditions. Avoids most of the AP that hits games like Kingsburg and Alien Frontiers." - Michael Schwerdtfeger
"Really tough decisions and very elegant. A gem!" - Olav Müller
"Wow, really unique, beautiful, has dice, a gamer's game, replayable, plenty of ways to manage your luck, not overly long, intuitive once you get a play under your belt, lots of different avenues to victory...this is a huge winner. I want to play again now." - Lucas Hedgren
"This game takes dice management to the next level. It's a very engaging game with a lot of interaction and some meaty tactical decisions. The dice and their values are used in a variety of ways. One of the better games to come out in 2010. " - John Squires
"Best game of 2010. The design gets a lot of things right at so many different levels that it's difficult for me to succinctly express it all even after 5 plays." - JohnRayJr
"The dice game that doesn't feel like dice game. Hands down the best dice game for gamers. Forget about Kingsburg/ Alien Frontiers!" - Marco Wong
"Xavier Georges is hitting three for three for me. This one is a real beaut. Lots of great tough choices. The game feels really different from other games and deserves a place in my collection. It really takes dice and uses them in a fun new way without feeling gimmicky." - Morgan Dontanville
"Fantastic worker placement game. Again on the eternal medieval backdrop, but it all works so well and is so full of delicious little mechanics, this is a game everyone must discover." - Rafaël Theunis
"Worker placement with dice. Although this is the same mechanic already seen in Kingsburg, this is a whole next level in this genre." - Davide (Bayushi Sezaru)
"Awesome, awesome game. It's been a while since I've been this impressed with a game. The dice mechanic is really well done where they actually generate little luck and there is plenty of player interaction as you acquire other people's dice. I love the hidden victory conditions. Of all the dice games I've ever played, this is by far the best." - Jason Leveille
"This game is incredibly good and knocks off Yspahan as my favorite way to handle dice in games." - Chuck Singer
"Game of 2010 for me! Incredible idea. I hate dices, really, but I do not feel any luck in Troyes. It is deep and you always have a lot of possibilities." - jealouskain
"Excellent mechanics, lots of choices. High replayability." - John Michalski
"There are 1001 ways which lead to win. But when you find one, it is not sure that it will drive you there even next time. A marvel of mechanics!" - Etienne Vienne


Perhaps it's not wise to attach superlatives like "best" to Troyes too quickly, because this kind of language is largely the result of subjectivity and personal taste, and often has the potential to create controversy or disappointment. But while conceding that there will be some gamers for whom Troyes won't push all the right buttons, there does seem to be a clear consensus that the majority of those who like deeper medium-weight euros will consider this to be a top-notch game of the highest calibre.



Recommendation

So is Troyes a game for you? It will probably prove to be THE gamer's game of 2010 - and if not the best, certainly in the top three. So if you're a serious gamer, don't let the fact that there are dice intimidate you. It may use dice, but Troyes is a true strategy game of the highest quality. The combination of great artwork, along with smooth and deep gameplay that features some innovative mechanics is a formula ripe for success. If you consider yourself a fan of medium-heavy eurogames and don't have this already, be sure to pick it up when ZMan Games brings it to North America in March! Recommended.



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mb The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596

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Chris Moore
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Totally agree, great game and highly recommend.
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Cédric Storm
Belgium
Bouge
Namur
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This is a review!
Incredible write and so well illustrated, thumbs up!

I wish everyone so much intense moments with Troyes than I am having on this game.
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Get Funkadelic
United States
West Allis
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EndersGame wrote:
So is Troyes a game for you? It will probably prove to be THE gamer's game of 2010 - and if not the best, certainly in the top three. So if you're a serious gamer, don't let the fact that there are dice intimidate you. It may use dice, but Troyes is a true strategy game of the highest quality. The combination of great artwork, along with smooth and deep gameplay that features some innovative mechanics is a formula ripe for success. If you consider yourself a fan of medium-heavy eurogames and don't have this already, be sure to pick it up when ZMan Games brings it to North America in March! Recommended.


This absolutely sounds like your favorite game of 2010. But I think I'd rather play many others that came out in 2010. Dice are the route of all evil? Is that what THE gamer, whoever that is, thinks? My goodness.

That said. It seems to have a serious fanatic base and more power to those who like it. I consider myself as much of a 'gamer' as most here and I honestly don't like it for a number of reasons including art style, theme, and gameplay. I think that your 'medium-heavy eurogamer' may agree that it is the best gamers game of 2010, but to those outside of that crowd, not so much.

Your overviews continue to be top shelf material, however. I can't argue with the presentation as it is fabulous.
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Mikko Karvonen
Finland
Tampere
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That's truly an impressive review. I especially like the fact that you collect an overview of both criticism and praise to offer an overview of what is being said about the game.

Personally I wasn't too impressed with Troyes, though. It was an alright design, but for me the main problem was that collecting points felt really forced: most of the time I did it because it was what I was supposed to do to get the points, not because it felt like part of the natural flow of the game or the way I was playing it. But then again, I have the same problem with many other popular medium-heavy euros too, so it's likely part of my taste of games.

What left me much more unimpressed, however, was the fact that in my only game I lost several points (and two positions in the final rankings, I think) to a completely random event at the beginning of the last turn that I couldn't do anything about. After 2,5 hours of a game like that, it sure left a sour taste in my mouth.

EDIT: As for this year's crop of Gamer's games, I'd take Glen More, De Vulgari Eloquentia or Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game over this any day.
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Snowball
Belgium
n/a
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Gender: pot*ato. My opinion is an opinion.
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Amazing review. I hate the textures, but then your review does an excellent job of displaying them
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Manuel Pasi
Switzerland
Zürich
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Gargoyle wrote:

It was an alright design, but for me the main problem was that collecting points felt really forced: most of the time I did it because it was what I was supposed to do to get the points, not because it felt like part of the natural flow of the game or the way I was playing it.

What left me much more unimpressed, however, was the fact that in my only game I lost several points (and two positions in the final rankings, I think) to a completely random event at the beginning of the last turn that I couldn't do anything about. After 2,5 hours of a game like that, it sure left a sour taste in my mouth.


Unfortunately I agree with those two points. Especially the randomness of the events that can leave one player completely unharmed and another one destroyed with no means of preparing for them, is, to me personally, a big dissapointment.
I will definitely give this a few more goes, but I am completely underwhelmed by it...
BTW if anyone cares Florenza is probably my fav 2010 right now...
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Damien Seb. ●leoskyangel●
Malaysia
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I play games not to win, it's the gathering that's important - Thanks for the tip Cate108!
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Hooray!! I love reading your review, and with your take on Troyes, which is on everyone's buylist, it's gonna be splendid!!

Plus, I always enjoy reading long pictorial reviews, it just bring them to a different level.

Big Thanks!!!!!
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Jim Sutherland
United Kingdom
(just) West of London
Middlesex
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I thought I was one of the few who were underwhelmed by this game. Good to read that I am not.

Admittedly I have only played once and although I think that the game play is great, the inability to counter (to almost any level!) some "bad" random events is a real turn-off for me.

My pre-order copy is still in its shrink wrap and I want to play the game again (someone else's copy) once or twice more before I decide to open mine or sell/trade my copy away.

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Steve Kearon
United Kingdom
Cardiff
Wales
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Another fine (& comprehensive) review. Many thanks.

I quite like Troyes, but I still have a few doubts (after 6 plays). In addition to the variability of the effects of events, the other thing that bothers me (a little) is how much planning is possible. Basically ... to what extent is it possible to predict which dice you'll have available next turn when choosing dice this turn.

Without some degree of predictability, the game seems too tactical, but believing that things are predictable can lead to a scary amount of AP.
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Ben
United States
Washington
Dist of Columbia
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Very nice review. I do think the artwork and component quality in this game are two of its strongest selling points (and thus make it a very apt subject for a review of this sort).

As a gamer's game, I tend to think that Troyes falls into roughly the same category as Hansa Teutonica -- a little dry, a little simpler than I'd like, but heavily interactive and always entertaining. While not quite in the class of Dominant Species or Key Market, it is one of 2010's best and is certainly deserving of the attention it has received.
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Seb Glavier
France
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That's a review.
And perhaps the most "objective" one I've read about this amazing game (I'm not that objective myself).

I bought it really soon and always love to play Troyes, even with young players or my wife.
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Jason Reid
United States
Brooklyn
New York
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PasiMax wrote:
Gargoyle wrote:

What left me much more unimpressed, however, was the fact that in my only game I lost several points (and two positions in the final rankings, I think) to a completely random event at the beginning of the last turn that I couldn't do anything about. After 2,5 hours of a game like that, it sure left a sour taste in my mouth.


Unfortunately I agree with those two points. Especially the randomness of the events that can leave one player completely unharmed and another one destroyed with no means of preparing for them, is, to me personally, a big dissapointment.


No way to prepare? End each turn with at least 2 influence and 3 deniers. That's all you need. Now you're "prepared" and can't possibly lose VP next turn, unless you can't counter black dice (and you can easily prepare for those) or have an insanely large workforce (in which case you could conceivably need more gold if drought hits, but I've never seen such a thing).

You can run your resources closer to 0, but that's taking a risk.
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Lance
United States
Moorhead
Minnesota
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chally wrote:
While not quite in the class of Dominant Species...


Great review as always, but Troyes does not even come close to being the best gamer's game when it is compared to Dominant Species.

It is still good, but it really doesn't compare.
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Jeremy Salinas
United States
Carmel
Indiana
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Excellent Review as always Ender....and you pretty much have the exact same consensus as I did with my Components Breakdown Video Review in HD regarding this game. Troyes is most definitely one of the Top 3 games to be released in 2010, I completely agree.

You do such a superb job with these Written/Pictorial Reviews that it's actually quite sickening just how good they are.....let's just say that I am extremely glad that I picked a different Media to do my Reviews, b/c I am not sure I could enhance upon anything that you aren't already doing at this point.

Superb !!

Jeremy D. Salinas
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Manuel Pasi
Switzerland
Zürich
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jasonwocky wrote:
PasiMax wrote:
Gargoyle wrote:

What left me much more unimpressed, however, was the fact that in my only game I lost several points (and two positions in the final rankings, I think) to a completely random event at the beginning of the last turn that I couldn't do anything about. After 2,5 hours of a game like that, it sure left a sour taste in my mouth.


Unfortunately I agree with those two points. Especially the randomness of the events that can leave one player completely unharmed and another one destroyed with no means of preparing for them, is, to me personally, a big dissapointment.


No way to prepare? End each turn with at least 2 influence and 3 deniers. That's all you need. Now you're "prepared" and can't possibly lose VP next turn.


Granted I may have not chosen my wording carefully, but what you describe is to be prepared for every single thing that could possibly happen. This is in stark contrast to be able to counter a given event or prepare for it. While I enjoyed that push your luck-element in it left me with a unsatisfactory feeling. I'm not saying it's a design fault, but just something that I didn't like.
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John Earles
Canada
Toronto
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UndeadViking wrote:
chally wrote:
While not quite in the class of Dominant Species...


Great review as always, but Troyes does not even come close to being the best gamer's game when it is compared to Dominant Species.

It is still good, but it really doesn't compare.


Fight! Fight!! Fight!!! laugh

Only time shall tell. The other game that seems to be getting some "gamer's game" buzz is Vinhos. Fast forward to this time next year, and we'll see where they all shake out.
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Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -Jack Handey
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Great review. I'm really looking forward to this game as it sounds interesting and I loved both George's and Roche's work on Carson City. Too bad I can't get this in the US currently.

One point I do disagree with is the rules. You praised them but I thought they were poorly written. It's the sort of game that really isn't clear as you're reading it. You have to just keep reading and it starts to make sense later (which means you have to go back and re-read the earlier sections).
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Ben
United States
Washington
Dist of Columbia
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Dormammu wrote:
Too bad I can't get this in the US currently.

You can get the Pearl Games version imported for about $70 (including shipping). I expect most people to wait until they can buy a less expesive reprint, but I thought I'd point out that the game is not exactly cost-prohibitive.
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Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -Jack Handey
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chally wrote:
Dormammu wrote:
Too bad I can't get this in the US currently.

You can get the Pearl Games version imported for about $70 (including shipping). I expect most people to wait until they can buy a less expesive reprint, but I thought I'd point out that the game is not exactly cost-prohibitive.

My Geek-fu is poor in this arena. I've never researched or learned about good ways to import games.
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Steve Duff
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
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jasonwocky wrote:
No way to prepare? End each turn with at least 2 influence and 3 deniers. That's all you need. Now you're "prepared" and can't possibly lose VP next turn, unless you can't counter black dice (and you can easily prepare for those) or have an insanely large workforce (in which case you could conceivably need more gold if drought hits, but I've never seen such a thing).


Drought only hits the yellow building, so even that is almost impossible to lose points on.

To be pedantic though, I have to point out that Interruption of Work can cost you points, and saving up influence or money won't prevent it.

For that one, you must remember that until that card is gone, owning the upper right most cube on the Cathedral is dangerous (and perhaps that's why you're still occupying it, and your opponents aren't playing to the right and above you yet) cool
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Alain Orban
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What else can we say after that excellent review ? thumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsup
What a great job !!!
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Justus
United States
Las Vegas
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Ender, as always a great review! Just saying thanks for the quick posting and thanks to your comprehensive over view of the comments, I'm not going to hold my breath for it! Given its hotness, I'm pretty sure someone else in my group will get it and given its heaviness, I'll save this for a try before buy category.

Now back to work with a calm peace no longer suffering from a gnawing sense of emptiness in life due to lacking a box full of cardboard, wood, and plastic.
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Doug Bass
United States
Winston-Salem
North Carolina
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someotherguy wrote:
I saw no mention of the biggest complaint I have seen yet of this game: that turn order might have too great an effect on the game, especially with four players. From your description, it sounds like having your dice bought away from you, especially the ones you most wanted to use, can really suck, and there's nothing you can do about it. Does the OP care to weigh in on this point?

Edit: BTW, really useful review. In my reviews I just try to do a hatchet job opinion piece and run off snickering.

I believe this is the biggest theoretical complaint. In other words, I have seen threads where people suggest that it could be a problem, not that it actually is based on real play. For example, read many of the replies in this thread. And regardless of the number of players, every player will get exactly one turn as the start player once all three activity cards have been revealed. Anyway, I personally haven't seen it to be an issue at all in any of the games I've played (almost all of them 4-p). But perhaps the OP will weigh in, too.

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Patiently waiting for the zombie apocalypse...
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Colorado Springs
Colorado
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Awesome review as always Ender!

However, this review did not temper my want for this game. Gamer's game that is getting the positive reviews Troyes is garnering is a game for me.

It is on the must have list!

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