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New Game Round-up: Stefan Feld Times Two for Spiel 2012 (Maybe) & Troyes Welcomes the Ladies

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game Publisher: alea
• In what must be a complete non-surprise to gamers – or on the other hand a surprise worthy of a slap on the head – German publisher alea and designer Stefan Feld will continue their hand-in-hand progress through the field of highly-ranked games with the forthcoming release of Bora Bora, which will possibly be available for purchase at Spiel 2012 but more likely playable in a near-finished pre-production version. Here's a summary of what's going on in the game:

From the rough descriptions of the Bora Bora prototype that has been shown at some German gatherings, the game sounds like the usual mix of semi-complex and innovative Feld-ian game mechanisms – including another way to use dice to choose actions – as players try to find the balance necessary to build their village, add more people to it, and otherwise find ways to score points over six rounds.

The heart of the game appears to be its action resolution system in which 5-7 actions are available each round, the exact number depending on the number of players. Each player rolls three dice at the start of the round, then they take turns placing one die at a time on one action. Place a high number on an action, and you'll generally get a better version of that action: more money, more choices of people to take, better positions in the village council, and so on. Place a low number and you'll get a worse action – but you'll possibly block other players from taking the action at all as in order to take an action you must place a die on it with a lower number than any die already on the action.

Three task cards in play provide some direction as to what players might want to do, while god tiles allow for special actions and rule-breaking, as gods are wont to do.
And an image from the German branch of, which included the game in a report about an event sponsored by publisher/distributor Heidelberger Spieleverlag:

External image

Board Game Publisher: Pegasus Spiele
This makes two titles from Feld due out by Spiel 2012 or soon afterwards, with the other being Rialto from Pegasus Spiele, with H@ll Games' Ralph Bruhn providing the development. As Bruhn has noted on BGG, "it's one of the lighter games of Stefan. I'd say the weight/depth is comparable to Strasbourg. So please don't compare it with Luna, Trajan, Burgundy... Nevertheless you have a lot of small decisions to make, but it usually doesn't take long to make them. I think it's one of the games where the winner claims that he had the best strategy/tactics and the others complain about bad luck." As for how to play, here's a long overview:

In the card-driven board game Rialto, the goal is to earn the most victory points (VPs), which are awarded for a variety of things. The game board displays the six districts of Venice, and players earn VPs for placing council members into these, for building bridges and placing gondolas to connect the districts with one another, and for building advantageous buildings.

The game is played over six rounds, with each round consisting of three phases:

1. Acquire cards: Each player takes a set of cards.
2. Play cards: Players use cards to perform certain actions.
3. Activate buildings: Players may take advantage of their buildings and use their powers.

In phase 1, sets of eight cards are displayed (with six cards face-up and two face-down). Each player takes one set, then reduces his hand to seven cards. A card shows one of six specific characters (Architect, Merchant, etc.) or is a wild card.

Phase 2 consists of six sub-phases in a fixed order, one for each character. In each sub-phase, players choose whether or not to play one or more cards of that specific character. Each card allows them to perfom that character's action, for example:

-----• Take one piece of gold for each Merchant card you play.
-----• Place one council member into the current district for each Council card you play.
-----• Take a building with a value equal to or lower than the number of Architect cards played. The higher its value, the better its function.

Whoever plays the most cards in each such sub-phase receives a bonus of one free action of that type. In case of a tie, whoever is farthest along the "Doge" bar gets the bonus – and of course to advance on the Doge bar, players need to play Doge cards.

Finally, in phase 3, players may take advantage of their buildings. For each piece of gold paid, a player may use one of his building's ability.

Players collect VPs both during the game – from special buildings and by building bridges between districts – and at the end of it – for majorities of council members in each district. The value of each district evolves during the game: Each district is adjacent to four other ones, and at the end of the game, they will be connected either via bridges or gondolas. A bridge increases the value of the adjacent districts by 3-6 victory points, whereas a gondola increases this value by 1 point. The player with the most council members in a district earns VPs equal to the district's total value, the player with the secondmost council members earns half this value, and so on. While it's important to establish majorities in the districts, it's also crucial to control their values by cleverly placing those bridges and gondolas.
Board Game: Troyes
• Also of interest in that TricTrac report is mention of a Troyes expansion from Belgian publisher Pearl Games, presumably due out at Spiel 2012, that adds a number of modules to the game. Here's a short description of Les Dames de Troyes:

In Les Dames de Troyes, the ladies of Troyes make an appearance in the form of three new Character cards that you can include in your games. A new action allows players to move their guard along the ramparts in order to access one of 16 new activities outside the city. Each player is represented by a new purple die (representing the head of the family), which cannot be bought by other players. The head of the family can carry out civil, military, or religious actions — your choice!

Les Dames de Troyes also includes 27 new Activity cards and six Event cards to add still more variety to the game!
Co-designer/co-publisher Sébastien Dujardin has noted on BGG that "Each module can be play separately. The rules of each module are very easy to learn and you can win by using it or not. I hope that you enjoy it like us!" Z-Man Games will release The Ladies of Troyes in English, and artist Alexander Roche returns to offer his stylin' graphics:

Board Game: Troyes: The Ladies of Troyes
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