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We're learning the game playing two player and the two following questions have come up ...
1. Eight (starting) buildings are displayed for building at the start of the game. If I build one of them, when is that empty building spot filled from the card pile of buildings? Immediately or only during the settlement phase?
Only during the settlement phase.
2. When you take your "workers" (the prior and two lay monks) back into your hand at the start of a turn when you have none available, do they all come back, or do only the two lay monks return? I understand in the final round that only the prior comes back.
They all come back. A key part of the game is having your Prior available when you build a new building, so you can use it immediately upon building it.