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We traded for Castle for All Seasons at Gen Con in 2011. Sadly, with all of the games that we got in math trades last year there is a small list of game that we have never gotten around to playing. I really dislike that fact, and ensuring that we take care of that list is one my big motivators for playing through all of our games. We have only played this game once, so is it a game for all seasons or is it a game we will be trading quickly?
A Castle for all Seasons is a role selection and resource management game. Each turn players will pick a role. There are 8 types of a role cards that a player has available to them, and once they use a role they can not use it again until they are able to take it back into their hand. These roles resolve each round in a specific order. First is messenger which gives a player eight money. Next is Trader. The trader allows a player to place one of their helper pawns in a trader location. Then everyone who currently has a trader pawn in play will collect resources. How many resources collected depends on the type. Sand comes in greater quantities than stone for example. One of the collected resources is collected as a tax and put in the tower. The next two roles are roles that allow for building. The bricklayer gives players all of one type of resource from the tower, allows them to build two buildings, and then place two helpers in buildings. Each building has a cost. Different resources have different values bricks for example are worth four while sand is worth one. To build a building, a player must pay the cost and use at least three different types of resources. When building with the bricklayer the player gets money for each resource used. The final action is placing helpers. Some buildings have spots to place helpers. These spots have a cost, and they provide end game points. For example, the two gates will give end game points for the number of towers built The stonesmith is similar, only this role allows a player to build buildings for points. Each building has a point value listed on it. Next there are three different types of workers. The workers give resources, and they can be used to build buildings at half the listed points. The final role is Master Builder. This role will give a player all of their role cards back. The master builder will also earn a player five points for every building that other players built this round.
The game is played for a predetermined amount of rounds (12 in a two or four player game, 15 in a three player game). Once the last round is played, end game points from helpers placed on spots in the castle are calculated. Whichever player gets the most points wins.
The Game We Played
Keep in mind this was our first time to play, so there is a fairly high chance that we did something wrong. We both began by placing helpers in trading locations. I started with stone and my wife started with hay. We both pursued different strategies. My wife focused much more on getting money and using the money to place helpers in the castle. She was able to get helpers in place at both gates as well as several other places. She also eventually got a trader helper in place for silver, and then got a helper in at the blacksmith to get bonus points for all of the silver that got used. I focused on a different approach. I used the high value stone to build the bigger buildings for points. This gave me a rather large point gap between my wife and I. However, she was going to be getting a lot of end game points. With her helpers in place by the last couple of rounds, she focused on building some of the remaining smaller buildings and close the point gap.
After the 12th round we totaled up the bonus points. My wife got well over 50+ points at the end of the game, but with the smaller amount of end game points I accumulated it was not enough to overcome me. I won with a final score of 153 to 147.
My Rating: 4 (like it)
My Thoughts: I tend to really like role selection games because often there is a benefit to being able to read the game and deduce what an opponent might be picking. This game gives that, combines the role selection with resource management. It is kind of hard to tell from the one play, but it also feels like there are multiple ways to play and win.
Her Rating: 4 (like it)
Her Thoughts: This seems like a great game with a lot of different options to pursue. Collecting and using resources in this game works well. I also like that this game is fairly competitive with out being in your face or having a lot if “take that”.
Combined Rating: 8
While we have only played this game once, it is a game that we really enjoyed. Only repeated plays will reveal if this game holds up in being fun, or if it wears out its welcome. For now though, this is a game that we like and we are both looking forward to playing again.