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Subject: The Gallerist: A Game of Art, Assistants and Auctions rss

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Brian Schwartz
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The Gallerist: A Game of Art, Assistants and Auctions

A Game for 2-4

I can safely say that I’ve become a Vital Lacerda fanboy. I own the Gallerist, CO2, Vinhos and Kanban. I’ve never Kickstarted a game, and I still haven’t so I anxiously monitored this game, hoping I would be able to snag a retail copy. When I saw it was available on CoolStuff, I immediately created a new order that had to contain this game.
The Gallerist is a worker placement game of sorts, although some may argue it to be an action selection game. The actual choices of where you can go on a turn is very simple: you have a choice of one of four different actions. But from there, the game takes a very different and complex turn as you have two options per space, as well as several smaller actions can you choose from.

Was this game worth creating an order for?

Is it pretty? (Art and Iconography)

The game is about art. So one would hope that the game is attractive and the game delivers on all level. The game contains artwork which is made by real life artists. These are pieces used on the various artworks that you can purchase to add to your gallery. Each of the artwork is certainly modern in nature; you won’t see Mona Lisa or Starry Night in this game, and if you are not a fan of modern art, you may not appreciate the pieces (but I am, and I sure did).

The artwork on the board is very well done, the spaces are clearly defined, and the player’s gallerys are done very well.
One of the nicer touches I noticed was that the art pieces are double sided. When they are purchased you can flip over the piece and it will look like a painting being displayed, complete with people standing around it, admiring it.

The board contains a lot of iconography and some of it may be a bit confusing, but luckily, the game contains an excellent player aid, as well as a handy reference sheet on the back of the instructions.
Overall, the game has a lot of iconography, some of it intuitive, some of it not so much.

Artwork Score: 9.5/10

What's in the box?

The box is massive and it contains an organizer that reminded me a great deal of Francis Drake’s. There is a plastic insert that will hold the pieces in place. All of the pieces in the game will fit in the box. You may want to use baggies but that isn’t always necessary.
The tiles, the coins, any sort of cardboard are made of super thick cardboard, probably some of the nicest quality I’ve seen in a long time. The tickets are wonderfully made and look like real (thick cardboard) tickets.

The board is very large and sturdy, and the player boards are the same. The game comes with very nice wooden markers that are used to denote the player pieces as well as your standard cubes and discs to track player’s influence.

I also loved the bag that holds the visitors. It’s definitely slightly nicer than your standard velvet bag that we see so often.
Overall, this game has some of the nicer pieces I’ve seen in my collection.

Components Score: 9/10

Teaching/Learning This Game

As you can imagine based on the designer’s previous works, this is a complex game. I watched Rahdo’s runthrough on Youtube. I read the manual. During the first gameplay, I kept looking at the rulebook. I am happy to report however that during my second play, I barely had to glance at the rulebook. The rules actually stuck!
I recently played CO2 and I have to say that I had to relearn a lot of the rules. This may be the case for this game, but having the player aids which give you a step by step process of how to do different actions will definitely help.

Ease of Learning/Teaching (1 being easy, 10 being hard): 8

Setup Time

This game will take a while to setup. There are a lot of pieces that have to be organized in multiple areas of the board. I would compare the setup to be about the same as Kanban, maybe slightly less. If you bag some of the pieces, it may save some time but overall, it’s not the worst setup I’ve ever done but it definitely will take about 5-10 minutes.

Dropping Truth Bombs: The Good and the Bad


Positives:

The Theme

The game is clearly about art and upon playing it, I really do feel like I am running an art gallery. From buying and selling art, hiring assistants and going on the media, you will feel connected to the different artists that you discovered and as you watch them rise to fame.

Deep

The gameplay is extremely deep. You will have a lot of decisions to make and each one will definitely affect how well you do in the game. Do you buy a painting and hold onto it or sell it earlier because you need the money? Do you take that Kicked Out action, knowing that your influence really is getting too low? What color tickets do you want to take? You will have a lot of choices and the gameplay will vary from game to game, especially based on your goal cards.

The game is much more involved than your standard pickup and deliver concept due to the economic nature of the game. You do have to pick up an "order" (contract) for an art piece, but you get to choose when the best time to buy or sell an art piece. If you buy a piece from a newly discovered artist that was discovered by someone else, you can raise their fame, making it beneficial to both you and them as well. This adds a layer of complexity in the game that isn't found in many games. The game does offer a bit of a symbiotic premise; sometimes you and another player will both want a particular artist's fame to raise. If you both are working towards different artists, this is certainly not game breaking. There are many ways to raise a particular artist's fame, whether it is by buying multiple pieces by the same action, or raising your influence higher and using extra influence to boost a particular artist's fame even further when taking a promotion action. The game offers a lot of different decisions that will be interlocking.

The Artwork

I know I mentioned the artwork in the game earlier but I have to give it more praise. I just loved the fact that the game included real life artists instead of clip art or public domain art. It’s just so majorly cool

Kicked Out Actions

I like the fact that when you choose a spot another person has left their pawn on, they get a benefit too. This leads to players questioning whether or not a move is a good one since their opponent could possibly benefit from it.


Negatives

International Market!

My least favorite part of this game was the International Market. I didn’t really care for this area and it felt a bit tacked on. This part is probably the most confusing and least thematic part of the game to explain and there are a lot of little requirements you have to check in order to utilize this area.

Gameplay Score: 8.5/10

Replayability

The game has a fair amount of replayability. There are a lot of art pieces and you most likely will not see them all in one game. Each art form has two different artists that correspond to each color, and only one will actually make it into the game, making the gameplay varied. I would have loved to see more art pieces. (Expansion?)

Score: 8/10

Value

I got this game on Coolstuffinc for 60 dollars. This is a lot for any game, but you definitely get what you pay for.

Scalability:

I played this with 2 and 3 players. There are a lot more kicked out actions with the three player game, and I can imagine there being even more with the four. I felt like things moved slightly faster with two players, but this is the case with almost any game.

Strategic Notes

After just two plays, there are a few things I noticed especially since I lost the first game and won the second.

1) It is extremely important to attract visitors to your gallery. There are so many in game bonuses that benefit from having certain colored visitors and if you don't spend enough time doing this, you will miss out on getting some boosts in your money, your influence and your fame.

2) It's also important to know when to buy or sell an art piece. Not having a full understanding of the game can lead to some poor decisions. One of my family members bought a work of art for 6 and then the next turn sold it for 7. This isn't the best move, it's best to let the piece at least rise in price a little bit.

3) The International Market is important, in particular the auction portion. Having those extra pieces at the end allows you fulfill your endgame goals a little bit better.

4) Pay attention to your end game goals: if you don't, you will miss out on a lot of points. It's almost impossible to get all of them on both cards. I won a game where i was able to get one or two on each card. Pick a focus and make your gameplay about getting those pieces necessary.

Final Thoughts

I came into this game with very high hopes and they were met. I’m actually excited to play this game again, and try a few different strategies. Based on the two plays I’ve had so far, I realized after my first play that I wasn’t spending enough time getting tickets and had very few visitors in my gallery, which led to my loss.
There are a lot of little things that can be easily overlooked so be prepared to make mistakes in gameplay. One thing I keep forgetting is the option to leave an assistant behind when I move from one space to another.
I would recommend you buy this game if you are a fan of heavy Euros with a lot of theme. I played this with my mother who is an artist but not a fan of heavy games. By the end, she understood it, but about 75 percent of the game, she was extremely confused. Expect this game to be one that your fellow players will not fully grasp until the end. But that’s not a bad thing because maybe you will get a chance to play it again!

Overall Score: 8.5/10
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John H
United States
Ravenna
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Thanks a lot for taking the time to review this.

It would be great if you could expound a little bit more on how the game actually played for you. Over half the review was on components and theme, and while that is important to a lot of people (especially for this game) a lot of us care mainly about the gameplay.

I am most curious about your assertion that the game is "deep." I have read the rules and The Gallerist certainly seems complex and requires a lot of decisions, but complexity does not necessarily equal depth.

On astute commenter noted this is in many ways a pickup and deliver game. Are all the convoluted means to "pickup" and "deliver" things (artwork/visitors) worth it in depth of decision-making and playtime?

Also, some commenters claimed that if other players don't "cooperate" with you to some degree and jointly increase artists' fame, it is tough to win, so your control over your own destiny is suspect. Is that viewpoint justified or is the competition/cooperation a vital interaction component of the game?

The International Market seems hugely important in game end scoring, yet you said you disliked it. Is that a big hurdle to enjoying the game? Or just a minor annoyance?

Amount of strategy and tactics involved? It seems like strategy is necessary to fulfill your secret game-end bonus cards and get assistants onto that tricky International market, but it seems players are often at the mercy of tactical considerations based on the resources they have and the bonuses available to them

Just curious as to more specific gameplay impressions from you, who enjoyed the game a lot it seems. I really appreciate your review. Purchasing a game like this requires some serious thought :-).

Thanks.
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Brian Schwartz
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I amended the review a bit and added a bit more. Tell me what you think!
 
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Vital Lacerda
Portugal
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2010 - Vinhos, 2012 - CO2, 2014 - kanban, 2015 - The Gallerist, 2016 - Vinhos Deluxe, 2017 - Lisboa, 2018 - Escape Plan, CO2 Second Chance and Dragon Keepers - Maybe: 2019 - ROTW Portugal and On Mars, 2020 - Kanban Deluxe Edition
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Quote:
One of my family members bought a work of art for 6 and then the next turn sold it for 7. This isn't the best move, it's best to let the piece at least rise in price a little bit.


Hi Brian,
This is not that linear. Doing it just for scoring parties and mettings early on the game as executive action, and following a colector strategy, is a very valid path in the game. Not easy but powerfull.

Thank you for your review. Glad you enjoyed the game.
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Craig Hallstrom
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I have in my one play also been in a situation where I sold a work of art for very little money.

The benefits of this are:
1) Art now in your sold tableau and can meet an end-game criteria
2) You get back the money you spent plus a slight bit more (it is never less than you spent (nice art market in this world)
3) The assistant you put on the contract to get that bonus you get back - this is the reason I did this. I was assistant poor at that time
4) It opens another assistant bonus spot to give you a little boost of influence or money.
5) It allows you to increase the number of collectors in your gallery.

In my game I did it for reasons 2 & 3 and stumbled into a windfall reason 5.
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Brian Schwartz
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I am excited to hear that! I would imagine that the more you play this, the more you discover different strategies!
 
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