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I first saw Blueprints in an FLGS, but I couldn't make up my mind and ended up not buying it. It stuck in my mind though, as I love dice and dice games, and I'm an engineer so the subject matter was interesting to me. I read reviews and watched videos and decided that the next time I had the opportunity, I would make the purchase. When I travel, I like to find FLGSs in the area I'm visiting and go check them out. Last week I had the opportunity to go to New York with my wife, but I would have one evening to be on my own. I checked and luckily, one of the stores in the area was having a Magic: The Gathering Commander night that night! I rolled in a little early, and browsed the relatively small store. There it was, Blueprints! It was their only copy and I immediately grabbed it! I opened it up, examined the components, and read through the rules while I waited for more Magic players to show up. I packed it away, played Commander, and then finally after a couple days of being home, had the chance to play for the first time!
Blueprints is a game in which you draft dice representing different building materials (wood, glass, stone, and recycled) and use them to construct buildings, ostensibly based on a blueprint that you receive at the beginning of the round. Once each player has drafted six dice and constructed their buildings, each building is scored and awards are handed out to the players with the highest scoring buildings, as well as to players whose buildings meet various criteria. There are only two rules that you must adhere to while building. The first is that you can not place a die on one of the scratched out spaces on our blueprint card. The other is that you may only place a die on top of another die if its number is equal to or greater than the die beneath it. Otherwise, you may build however you like.
Each material in your building is scored in a different manner. Wood cares about being surrounded and scores 2 points for each other die it is touching via one of the faces. Recycled materials care about how mush of your building is made with recycled materials, and scores based on your whole quantity of recycled. Stone cares about how high up in the building it is, and each die is scored separately (i.e. a die on the 1st level is worth 2 points where a die on the 5th level is worth 8 points.) Finally, glass is scored based on the value showing on the die. The other way to get points for your building is to follow your blueprint. If you do, then you get 6 points added to your building's score!
Aside from the gold, silver, and bronze awards given out based on the score of your building, you can also earn awards depending on if your building meets certain criteria; if four of your dice have the same number, if five of your dice are the same material, if you have a building that is a height of five or more, or if you have a straight (i.e. your numbers are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.) If you meet one or more of the criteria, then you get an award for 2 victory points per criteria! So if you have a tower of 6 black dice with the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, then you would receive three of the four available awards.
After three rounds each player counts up the victory points that they have received in the form of gold, silver, bronze, and special awards, and the one with the most points is the winner!
I first brought this game to the table with my regular game group which this night consisted of David, Eric, and myself. I found it a little odd that you have more dice in the draft pool than in a 2 or a 4 player game, but after doing some reading in the forums, I understand the reasoning behind it now. I wish that I had a better memory, as I would have more details, but it is a very light game and the rounds don't last very long at all. There are definitely some choices to be made, primarily in determining which die out of the current lot will 1)be worth the most points now, and 2)set up future dice for the maximum value. There is certainly opportunity for AP if people in your group are prone to that sort of thing, and I found myself falling into that mode a couple of times which I don't usually do. It wasn't too bad, and our highly AP prone player didn't really get too wrapped up in it. Eric, David, and I played two rounds; I believe I won the first round, and I know that David won the second. The only thing that really came up as an issue was one round where both Eric and I went after the same bonus award (straight I think) and we both got it. It then came down to the tie-breaker to determine who actually received it. He ended up with the award, but commented that it wasn't a good feeling to have worked for the award only to be shut-out due to tie-breakers. I think it adds to the game and makes you watch what the other players are taking that much more closely.
My second time getting this to the table was with my friends Emily and Adam, and my wife Jan. It was a very interesting experience in that three of the four of us are engineers, so the structural integrity of buildings was brought up quite often. We played only one round, but it was quite fun. Nobody had any issues with game play aside from with the first blueprint where Emily tried to build a tower. She had a black six on top of the tower, but I knew that the last die she took was a black three! It turns out she had been slipping dice in-between other dice in order to meet building requirements. But we explained it again and there were no further issues. In the end Adam won the game with 9 points to the next highest 7 (held by both Jan and myself). Adam did comment on the fact that the die-value building rule does seem to be counter-intuitive, as you would expect the strongest elements (i.e. highest numbers) at the base of a building rather than the top, but it's a small issue that doesn't really affect the game.
I have really liked Blueprints thus far. It is a little lighter than I had hoped, but for what it is, it is a lot of fun... particularly when cracking jokes about how glass on the lower level can support stone at the top of the building, etc... The components are of a decent quality, though I have found that the dice are not all uniform, and in one case I have a "1" pip on one die that is quite far off-center. It's a minor issue however, and not something that bothers me that much.
At this time I rate the game a 6. I like it but it is a little lighter than I expected.
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"Behold, a treasure more valuable than gold."
Man. I've been playing it wrong for a while now. We ignore the number value rule and it didn't seem to harm the game's balance in any sort of way.
I think I'm going to leave it out as a house rule for now. Excellent session report/review. I echo your statements that it was a little lighter than expected, but it's still a unique way to play with die.