I found The Builders: The Middle Ages near the front of my FLGS, near boxes of several different iterations of Fluxx and different Timeline tins. On impulse, I purchased it—remembering a friend saying it was “sort of like Splendor.” Some people may be put off by the game coming in a tin box, but don’t let that deter you. This 2-4 people game has plenty of depth to keep you thinking, but is light enough to keep gameplay relaxed.
What’s In The Box?
42 Worker Cards
42 Building Cards (including 8 Machine Cards)
15 Gold Plastic Tokens
25 Silver Plastic Tokens
Players score points by completing buildings, and they must pay money to place workers and machines on construction sites. Each of the building cards has four requirements: wood, stone, tile, and knowledge, and each requirement has a level between 0 and 5. The workers have the same stats and the same levels. To complete the construction of a building, you must add enough workers and machines to cover the characteristics required on the building card.
You start the game with ten money units and an apprentice card. Five buildings and five workers are placed face up on the table, and the others are set aside in their respective decks. On your turn, you can take three free actions. Any extra actions will cost you some cash. Your actions include Selecting a Site (picking one of the five available buildings), Recruiting a Worker (picking one of the five available workers), Assigning a Worker to a Building (paying the cost of the worker and placing him on the building. When the building’s requirements are met, you earn points and coins and get to flip the card over to show the completed building. The workers then get to return to your labor pool), and Getting Money (you can skip one, two, or all three actions and earn 1, 3, or six money units).
Some of the buildings you can complete include machines that can be used to complete future buildings. These machines have their own stats that contribute toward a building’s need for wood, stone, tile, and knowledge, and they can be VERY handy down the line.
Play continues until one player reaches 17 points, then all players finish their round so everyone has the same number of turns. When tallying points, each completed building has a point value, and each ten money units adds one additional point. The player with the most points is, of course, the winner.
The Builders: The Middle Ages is a very fun, very engaging little game. It’s true that fans of Splendor will be familiar with the basic mechanics of the game, but the rules are simple enough for anyone to pick up. It’s portable enough and has a small enough footprint that my wife and I played it at a mall food court. A terrific bargain at around $15!
We love The Builders as an easy, winding down on Sunday evening family game.
The play isn't terribly complex and you can maintain a normal conversation while playing.
I tend to just play without being very competitive while Kate is highly competitive.
My daughter and daughter-in-law play slightly competitive and it works great in this "mixed" intensity of play. =)