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Chris Baylis
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ROKOKO is a boardgame for 2-5 players aged 12+ . It is designed by Lousi Malz, Stefan Malz and Matthias Cramer, and is a joint production by PEGASUS SPIELE and EGGERTSPIEL.

We all know that there are several things that determine whether we, as games players, are drawn to a game. One is the cover art of the box - if it is eye-candy for us then we are halfway towards buying it
and are already mentally playing it. Then there is the cost. However unless it is stupidly expensive and prices itself out of our wallets/credit cards then money is probably the last on the list. Chrome: If the game is themed around some- thing that interests us then it is already on its way to the checkout. Publishing Company and Designer(s) - companies give us the expectance of component quality whilst designers are to us as gamers as musicians and singers are to our ears.

So let's take a look at those possibilities for wanting to purchase and play ROKOKO

The Cover art shows a scene from a Louis XV court Ball. It has a beautifully dressed Lady with a dreamy look in her eyes. It's a strong and vibrantly coloured box cover but perhaps a little too feminine for some male gamers to immediately take to. Apologies if that sounds sexist but it is a rather girly cover.

The Cost is extremely agreeable, under £35.00 in the UK (Leisure games), which is very good for a game that has had to be shipped in from Europe.

The Chrome - aka the theme. The theme is again girly in a way; it's about dress-making - not my strongest skill - I have trouble threading a needle to sew on a button, let alone creating and making an elegant dress or dress suit.

The Designers: Matthias Cramer: Der Millionen-Coup (Ravensburger). Lancaster - Henry V. (Queen Games) Lancaster - The new Laws (Queen
Games). Helvetia (Kosmos). Lancaster (Queen Games) Mieses Karma (Kosmos) and Glen More (Alea)

The Designers: Louis Malz & Stefan Malz: EDO: and EDO Expansion (Queen Games) - with Wolfgang Panning

If you trust the designer(s) and the publisher(s) then you are over 50% of the way to buying a good game.
The Publishing Companies: Both EGGERTSPIELE and PEGASUS SPIELE are exceptional in my book when it comes to publishing games. The rules are always well written and laid out in sensible fashion (well almost always, I am sure that sometime in the past I may have had a minor issue with something that I have now forgotten and thus it couldn't have been as bad as I maybe thought it was then - whenever then was) and the components are always good strong and quality.

It may be a game about dressing the King and his Court in 18th Century France, but it is really about resource management and work resourcing - it is a cleverly devised game.

Each player is looking to gain Prestige (aka Victory Points/VPs) by making dresses or dress-suits and renting them in the court to the Ladies and Gentlemen of the King's acquaintance. Of course to be able to make and place these dresses the dressmaker requires fine silks, laces and cottons (yarns), plus patterns. To get these there is of course a need for money (in this case Coins) to be able to purchase these resources.

The game board is a wonderful represenation of the Palace, with its beautiful statues, superb decorations, fantastic balconys,
exceptional musicians and grandious decor. The components are plentiful, sturdy and colourful, excellent art representations
and more to the point, clear and apparent as to what they are epitomising - with the possible exception of the wooden blocks
that equate to Lace (white square) and Yarn (grey hex) if you want to be pedantic. However if you represented Lace and Yarn with pieces of cloth and cotton/fibre then you'd soon have a mess on your hands.

ROKOKO really works on all levels, and I mean that literally. On the board there are many levels. The lowest is where the dress
Patterns are displayed, with their current purchase price directly above them. Each round after every player has had their turn the
board is reset and remaining Patterns become less expensive or are removed from the game entirely, obviously unsuitable for the
clientele, and new Patterns and Resources are introduced.

Each player has a set of 5 Employee cards, these being Master Dressmaker x2, Apprentice x1 and Journeyman x2. Each of these has
their own special abilities, basically the Master can do any of the Actions available, the Journeyman can do most and the Apprentice
is fairly limited but necessary. Players can purchase additional Employees as one of their Actions, they can also purchase the Queen's
Favour (1st Player) Token to be start player next turn. Being SP can be an advantage but of course buying it is a trade-off as you have
to spend a valuable Action to gain it; only the Master and Journeyman can claim the Queen's Favour.

When you buy a resource tile it usually has two parts to it, top and bottom split by a single line. The top part shows the silks that are
available for the manufacture of dresses - these are held until required. The other half of the tile shows the Yarn and/or Lace that can be claimed immediately by discarding the tile and taking the displayed Yarn/Lace from supply.

The mechanic for buying the extra Employee or a Resource Tile are similar, the cost is based on the number of cards/tiles left in situ. When you make a dress/dress coat you can sell it - each dress Pattern has a cost to buy and a price for the finished article - or you can rent it out to a member of the court. If you do the former you simply discard the dress and take the money. If you select to rent it out then you choose a position in the Palais to place it. Of course there is now a choice of where to place it - so many choices and each with a different effect on your quest for victory.

As you buy Employees your personal card deck expands. This is where card management comnes into play. To begin with you select 3 of the 5
cards to be used in your turn. At the start of the next turn you have 2 cards left in your stack, plus you can select one of the 3 played previously.
Once you have added a sixth card you get to choose 3 to play and the following turn you have to use the 3 remaining, so if you want to be able to always have options you need to either not hire any more Employees - this is a really bad move - hire more than one new Employee, or to depute (fire) an Employee (so you always have an odd number of cards available).

Games can take anything from an hour upwards, often closer to two. Don't look at this as being a long game that drags, it most certainly isn't. It is a game that can take a little while to play but that is because it is a game you do not want to rush, it is that good. Some of the spaces on the board are embroidered with gold leaf above them, others give instant rewards, some can only have dresses on them that a Master has made, some give money and some give VPs (Prestige) at the end of the game - there are so many choices and you have to be aware of making the correct one each time, and that is probably not going to happen, not every turn - just another thing that makes this so enjoyable.
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Stefan Malz
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Hello Chris,

Thank you for your well-done review on Rokoko.

There is one thing about the card selection I'd like to add to make sure everybody gets it right: If you hire 1 employee to have a total of 6 employees, you still have a choice which employees to use in each round.

In the first round, you use 3 employees, they are placed face-up onto the discard pile. During that round, you hire a fourth employee which will also be used and placed face-up onto the discard pile.

For the second round, you use the remaining 2 employees from the face-down supply, then make the discard pile (4 employees) your new supply from which you choose one further employee to get a total of 3 employees for the second round.

When planning the third round, you will now have 3 employees on the face-up dicard pile and 3 on the face-down supply. The latter 3 will be used in the third round. Since you already have 3 employees to use in round 3, your discard pile will _not_ be made new supply yet.

When planning the fourth round, all 6 of your employees will be in the face-up discard pile, none in the supply. As a result, you _now_ make those 6 employees your new supply and choose 3 of them for the coming round.

Best regards
Stefan Malz

www.malz-spiele.de
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J M
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Forgive me if I read this wrong, but in this example you have no choice of employees in round three- you must take the three remaining on the face-down pile. With a deck of five or four cards, you will be able to choose one or two employees at least.
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Stefan Malz
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I see.

But to me, that's just a temporal matter: you already chose which employees to use in round three when planning for round two and leaving those 3 guys in the supply for the following round...

Best regards
Stefan Malz

www.malz-spiele.de
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J M
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I guess I don't see (round three) as a choice, but as a requirement. Particularly as you don't know what new employees will be available in round three (whether to hold back a Master to hire them). It's part of the strategy, but it does mean that holding fewer than six cards (or enough comparable employee cards that can substitute for each other), gives you flexibility to react to the new round's possibilities.

I also don't *think* it's guaranteed possible to hire and depute enough to have only new (ie chosen by you, not provided by starting deck) cards by turn three.

I've enjoyed playing the game by controlling my deck size, versus an opponent who hires a lot and holds a lot of cards- they can aim for the deck size payouts in later rounds which can offset the disadvantage of not being able to play "that guy" in the round they'd like. It's all good, and makes for a very flexible game.
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Stephen Sanders
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Chris Baylis wrote:
It's a strong and vibrantly coloured box cover but perhaps a little too feminine for some male gamers to immediately take to. Apologies if that sounds sexist but it is a rather girly cover.

The Chrome - aka the theme. The theme is again girly in a way;


Come on, all the 'employees' are men - they are making the dresses - and suits. It's not a "girly theme," and one great game at that.
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