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Subject: A Late To The Party Review: The Gallerist for One rss

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Evan
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Solo plays before review: three


I've been a lurker here for a couple years before registering for BGG in August. Since then I have been a bit of a prolific poster, but have yet to write anything of substance. To date, I've only written two session reports and no reviews. But I have been inspired by what others have done before me, so I figured I would give this a shot. I research/review things for a living, so I hope this is well received. Let me know what you think. I'm calling my reviews "Late To The Party" because I seem to be most interested in games that are a bit older. The "Cult of the New" is not a disease that afflicts me all that much, so most of my reviews may be games that have been in circulation a while and/or have multiple reviews already on file.

I have been a fan of Vital Lacerda's games from afar for a while now. I learned about a year ago that the games I preferred were heavier euros and his games seemed to be a good mix of simple mechanics, but layered and complex decision-making. As I gravitated my game group from lighter weight titles into heavier fare, I figured one of his games would break our heavy-euro virginity. In order to prepare our group for a game of this magnitude, I decided to play it solo a few times to grasp the rules. Hense, this review was born.

Overview of The Gallerist


In a multiplayer game of The Gallerist, players run an individual art gallery and attempt to have the most prestigious, most lucrative gallery in the business. To do this, gallerists must buy and sell art, participate in international auctions, lure visitors (VIPs, Collectors and Investors) to their gallery, and discover and promote new artists. However, the solo game is a bit different as there is only one dummy opponent representing Lacerda. In a solo game, winning conditions are presented to the player that consist of goals focusing on money, reputation, meeting curator and dealer goals and acquiring at least one masterpiece. This makes the solo game a bit of a race as you have a limited amount of tickets in the inventory and every time you bump Lacerda (the dummy player) from his spot, you have to remove a ticket from the game (more on this later). Therefore, it always feels like Lacerda is trying to speed things up when you are trying to slow things down. When all three ticket stacks are gone, the game ends and you add up your accomplishments. This makes move efficiency a key element in the solo game.

Theme and Components


There has been a lot said of the component quality of Lacerda's recent releases, published by Eagle Gryphon Games. The 2017 release of Lisboa looks amazing in this regard, and The Gallerist is no different. The pieces are all heavy cardboard, especially the art tiles and the artist tiles. The game board is well laid out with easy to view iconography that not only tells you how to score things, but what you need to do after completing certain actions (like removing visitors from your gallery or lobby). The individual player boards also help out in this regard. There are also player reference cards that explain what actions you can take and what bonus benefits are associated with various icons. I especially like the player boards because once you start displaying various works of art, the theme starts to shine through. The way the tiles are depicted as hanging on the wall is an especially nice touch. The player tokens are robust, but the meeples are merely meeples. The art easels to display the international market works of art are a nice touch, however.

If I have some critiques, while the board is functional and very instructive with how to score various actions, the color palate is a bit muted and I think the board would have worked better if the colors were a bit more vibrant. There is also a TON of iconography on the board. New players will reference the rule book frequently to understand what certain tokens do. Even seasoned players will need to regularly review the back of the rule book to see what the reputation titles in the international market do for end game scoring purposes. I don't see a better way to implement this so it's not really a critique. It's more of an observation.


Initial board setup for solo play



Individual player boards (reputation tile is placed in the third art gallery spot at the top of the board once the player chooses their initial starting location


My biggest critique, however, is that the reputation and artist bonus tiles are fairly close in color. The reputation tiles are a light grey while the artist bonus tiles are white. As a result, in my first two solo games, I got the tiles confused and would often put the artist bonus tile on my individual player board instead of taking the immediate benefit and removing it from the game. I think this would have been better implemented if the colors were dynamically opposite. Also, this would make setting the game up easier as it is often difficult to distinguish the two types when pulling them from the box. I have heard complaints that the artist pictures are silhouettes instead of actual artist pictures, especially given that the art on the tiles are real works of art. In my opinion, this is not a big deal at all. As you play the game, the player typically just looks at the artist tiles to see where he/she is on the fame track and looks at the art tiles simply to see which of the four types of art the tile represents. Unfortunately, when playing the game, I rarely look at the art on the tile itself, which is unfortunate because I know these are real works of art that were chosen with care specifically for this game.

The theme is great and relatively unique. I don't have the extensive history of gaming like others have on this site, but I know of very few games using this theme. For me, a game has to have a great theme for me to really gravitate to it and not only is this theme unique, but it's very well integrated into the game.

Gameplay


The Gallerist, at its core, is a worker placement game where you have just one worker and there are only four places on the board where you can put that worker. That's it. The goal is to make as much money as possible. Everything you do in the game is a means to that end. You can participate in international auctions to acquire art and/or reputation, which can earn you money directly or indirectly. You can buy and sell art. You can promote artists to increase their fame so you can sell their art at higher prices than what you paid for it. You can lure visitors into your gallery and achieve monetary or reputation bonuses for doing so. Everything works together seamlessly. In the game, there are four locations that you can move to to take actions and each space allows you the choice of two actions. In addition, once your regular turn is over, players are allowed to take an "Executive action", which is essentially a bonus action consisting of one of four additional choices. Let's review these in detail.

Artist Colony




The Artist's Colony allows you to discover an artist and claim a commission from that artist that you can buy later, or buy a work of art from a previously discovered artist to hang in your gallery. In the former scenario, you flip over the artist tile to reveal his/her fame track, take the commission token for your player board, and get the one time benefit of whatever is shown on the artist discovery token. If you discover a red artist, you also bring the collector sitting on that tile into the Plaza. When buying art, you pay the cost of the art that is revealed by the fame track for that artist, place the art in your gallery, increase the fame of the artist you bought the work of art from depending on the art itself and how many collectors you have in your gallery, and then the ticket benefit(s) revealed on the card. Finally, you take the visitors that were sitting on the tile and bring them to the plaza. The idea is that with more artists discovered and/or more works of art sold, this generates interest in art collecting, which is what leads to more visitors in the Plaza. In my opinion, the Artist Colony is the most important area of the game, as what you buy and when is critical to your ability to generate money in the game, which opens up the ability to do other things in other locations.


Discovered artist tile and fame track


Sales Office




The Sales Office allows you to a) take a contract or b) sell a work of art. Whenever you take a contract, you place it on your player board and receive the one-time benefit of whatever color ticket is revealed on that spot. You can only have three contracts on your board at one time. Each contract has a bonus spot on the card for you to place an assistant for an additional one-time benefit (more on Assistants later). When you sell a work of art, you receive the price of that art (based on the the fame track for that artist). You take one visitor from your gallery and put them back in the Plaza, you return the signature token to the board, place the work of art next to your player board, move the remaining pieces of art to the left side of your board and flip the contract face down. If you had an assistant on a contract, when you flip the contract, you get that assistant back for future use. You also open up additional one-time bonuses on the other side of the card that you can use for either additional reputation or additional money (depending on which visitor you removed from your gallery). In order to sell a work of art, the icon on the contract card has to match the icon on the work of art. That signifies that you have a buyer waiting for you to secure that particular work of art.


Contract cards in the open market



Media Center




The Media Center is where you go to a) promote an artist or b) hire assistants. In the former, you pay influence (represented on the track below) to raise the level of fame for one particular artist by one plus the number of collectors in your gallery. You also get a one time benefit listed above the fame token (seen in the picture below). For example, if you wanted to raise the fame of an artist from 1 to 2, you would pay 2 reputation points, but would receive the benefit of +2 reputation for every VIP in your gallery and +1 reputation for every collector. In many cases, this more than negate the cost of the initial transaction depending on how many visitors you have in your gallery.



The other action you can take here is to promote assistants. This allows you to leave your assistants on previous locations you have traveled or place them for bonus actions on contract cards, or put them in the International Market (more on that later). The cost of the worker is next to their slot on your player board and you can purchase as many workers as you wish with one transaction, assuming you have the money. However, you can only hire as many assistants as you have open desk spots on your board. Any assistant sitting on a location spot or on a contract card can be returned to you, so make sure you have enough spots to put them if they come back, otherwise they are out of the game. Assistants placed in the International Market stay there for the remainder of the game.

International Market

The International Market has an element of area control to it. You want to place your assistants in these spots to gain both immediate reputation benefits and to allow you to bid on renown works of art at the end of the game.



Placing an assistant in the top four spaces of each column allows you to take a reputation tile for the work of art shown at the left. You have to have either a) displayed or b) sold a work of that type to qualify and you also have to have the requisite number of visitors in your lobby (not your gallery) to place an assistant here. If you meet those qualifications, you take the tile and place it on your personal board, taking the immediate benefit of whatever you decide to cover up on the board (whatever is shown on the tile itself is used for end game scoring). If you do this action, you get the reputation benefit shown above (either +1 or +3). The second column is not used for solitare or two-player games. If you place an assistant on the bottom three spaces of each column, you do not get the reputation benefit. Instead, you pay whatever currency is shown at the left hand side and receive the immediate benefit shown by the space in the market. Placing assistants near the bottom costs more, but gives you greater priority later in the game to stake claim to the art of international renown that is placed on the easel to the left of the board. In a four player game, three works of art will be shown, but in a solitare or two player game, only one piece will be available to the player(s). At the end of the game, the most assistants of one color get a monetary benefit shown at the bottom of each column. If two players tie for a spot, the two figures are averaged together and rounded down. In a solitare game, every time Lacerda comes to the International Market (or every time you kick him out of this location), he places an assistant in a predetermined spot. Your ability to lay claim to the auctioned artwork or get the reputation tile benefits will be dependent on how fast you can buy art of various types, get visitors to your lobby, and how often Lacerda comes to this spot on the board.

So What's That Black Spot on the Board at each Location? (Kicked Out Executive Actions)


Unlike traditional worker placement games, when an opponent goes to a location you want to go to, you aren't blocked out. In The Gallerist, you can "kick out" your opponent and take the action from that location. This happens when either the player token or one of his/her assistants is kicked out. When you leave a location, you can leave behind one of your assistants to allow yourself to get kicked out. If a player gets kicked out of a location with their main pawn, they return to their gallery. If an assistant gets kicked out, then that assistant gets returned to the player board, assuming there is an empty desk available for the assistant to return to. In order to take the full benefit of the location, the kicked out player has to spend a variable amount of reputation to drop down the reputation track to the next available pink spot. Doing so allows that player to take the location action as if it is his turn. If the player chooses not to do this, they can take an Executive Action, which consists of using tickets to move visitors throughout the board (tickets are colored to represent which visitors you can move), or to place an assistant on a contract card for a one-time bonus. Executive actions are also available to every player on their normal turn either BEFORE or after they take the location action. For example, taking an Executive Action BEFORE your location action would allow you to place an assistant on a contract tile for a one-time bonus that gives you additional money based on visitors in your gallery, money that you can spend buying art or hiring more assistants in the various locations.


Tickets are used to move visitors around the board, the reputation track and pink spaces are shown at the bottom


Considerations When Playing Solo


In a solitary game, Lacerda starts in the opposite location of where you choose to start and moves clockwise to the adjacent location throughout the game leaving an assistant behind him wherever he travels. Every time you kick him out of a location, a ticket is removed from the game from the stack with the most remaining tickets. In a solo playthrough, you start with 10 tickets of each color. The game ends when no tickets are remaining. In addition, every time Lacerda makes it to the International Market (or you kick out one of his assistants from there), he also places an assistant in the market, holding a spot for the remainder of the game. As I said earlier, this makes the game a bit of a race as you are trying to get as much accomplished on each turn without kicking him out so that the "clock" doesn't move faster towards the end game. Often, you may choose a less than ideal spot to travel to simply because neither Lacerda nor his assistants are there, therefore it feels like a "free" action. This is a dynamic that you need to consider and is probably absent a multi-player game.

Final Thoughts


If you had told me a year ago that I would be posting my debut review on BGG for a game that I have only played SOLO, I would have told you that you were crazy. I had never played a game solo until a couple weeks back (when I received Lewis & Clark in trade). Playing this game, and others, has opened me up to the world of solo play and I am better for it. I have been very fulfilled by my solo gaming experiences and if every single player experience is as good as The Gallerist, I have a ton of great gaming ahead of me, even when I can't regularly get a gaming group together.

I haven't played the game with other humans, but I hope to do so soon. Therefore, it's impossible for me to compare this as a solo experience to that with more people. Still, I have to think this delivers 80-90% of what you would get playing against other people. The reason for this is simple. The choices are still meaty, still difficult to make. I cannot tell you how many times I have sat there and said "I'll just go discover an artist", only to realize I still have a commission I haven't bought yet, therefore I cannot discover a new artist. Or, I want to promote an artist, but I don't have enough reputation to do so. Or, finally, I want to take a contract, but I already have three on my player card. When the obvious choice is readily apparent, but you cannot do it, then what to do instead becomes agonizing because not only are you choosing something sub-optimal, but you are putting yourself in a position on the board that is either a) less likely for you to be kicked out, or b) when you do have the ability to go back to that previous location, chances are Lacerda has already been there or has left an assistant, which means to do that action will shorten the "clock". I imagine the game is more cutthroat with more people because they have the ability to remove visitors from your lobby. Lacerda cannot do this, so I imagine that things get way more competitive with more people. But make no mistake, this is competitive enough as it is. I have now played it three times and I haven't even come close to winning the "Apprentice" level challenge, which consists of $160 money, four reputation tiles, at least one masterpiece in your gallery and satisfying at least one curator and art dealer goal. Given how challenging these goals are and how different each game plays out depending on the artist tiles that are drawn and the contract cards, this game has a ton of replay-ability, even solo.

One thing I will say is that this is a step up in complexity if you are used to games like Stone Age. The mechanisms are simple enough, but the cascading effects are dynamic and not intuitive (at first). Even though the player aids are very good, I often forgot to remove visitors from my gallery when selling art, or remove visitors from my lobby when taking reputation tiles on my first two plays. Also, I there is a TON of end game scoring in this game based on the tiles themselves, the reputation track, the value of the art in your gallery, the International Market, etc. New players are going to be referencing the rules A LOT and the iconography is tough to grasp, even for someone who played the game three times in a five-day span like I did. After a while, some icons became very familiar, but not all.

Finally, set up is a bit of a pain in the ass and will really limit how much this game gets to the table, both solo and multi-player, but especially solo. It took me 20+ minutes just to set up the board and if that's the case, it's going to dissuade players from going at it solo when they can play something else that is easier to set up.

Overall, this game is FANTASTIC. Theme, weighty choices, high quality of components, this game has it all. While there is a bit of a learning curve and it might take you 2-3 plays to really grasp the strategy and end game scoring, this game will reward that effort if you put it in. I can't recommend it enough for solo play and I hope that my first experience with other players just adds to my love for the game.

If you liked or disliked this review, please provide feedback as it will help improve my subsequent efforts.

 8.6   The Gallerist

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Ilse
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Great review!
I played the gallerist about 10 times, always multiplayer.
I do not see a lot (if any) competition in 'stealing' visitors from other players lobby's.
I think it just depends if you play with peacefull players.
What's mainly a though point in the game for me is when the tickets run out and you have no way of getting visitors in the normal way but you have to go through the bonuses to get them to your gallery.
It adds a lot of depth to the game, everything is so well put together and making 1 choice leads to 5 things happening in many cases.

I enjoyed reading this review, and look forward to your next.

BTW: Lewis & Clark is a great solo-experience !
 
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Rudolph van Wyk
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Ilse23 wrote:

What's mainly a though point in the game for me is when the tickets run out and you have no way of getting visitors in the normal way but you have to go through the bonuses to get them to your gallery.



You are still able to gain tickets after the tickets in the box office run out - you just take them from the discard pile. The box office is just a timing mechanism for one of the end game conditions - you aren't ever prohibited from receiving new tickets
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Jonathan Arnold
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Excellent review! I just picked this up a few weeks ago and have been dying to get it to the table solo, but it hasn't made it yet. Maybe over the holiday weekend, after the dining room table frees up.

Be sure to check out the 1 Player guild - lots of fine solo playing folks there! And you've still got time to vote for the People's Choice awards.
 
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Brodie
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Kaspaas88 wrote:
Ilse23 wrote:

What's mainly a though point in the game for me is when the tickets run out and you have no way of getting visitors in the normal way but you have to go through the bonuses to get them to your gallery.



You are still able to gain tickets after the tickets in the box office run out - you just take them from the discard pile. The box office is just a timing mechanism for one of the end game conditions - you aren't ever prohibited from receiving new tickets


Yup...and just make sure you swap out a ticket of your choice from the box office for the color you want from the discard pile...to help keep that timer moving.
 
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Evan
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Ilse23 wrote:
Great review!
I played the gallerist about 10 times, always multiplayer.
I do not see a lot (if any) competition in 'stealing' visitors from other players lobby's.
I think it just depends if you play with peacefull players.
What's mainly a though point in the game for me is when the tickets run out and you have no way of getting visitors in the normal way but you have to go through the bonuses to get them to your gallery.
It adds a lot of depth to the game, everything is so well put together and making 1 choice leads to 5 things happening in many cases.

I enjoyed reading this review, and look forward to your next.

BTW: Lewis & Clark is a great solo-experience !


Thank you for your comments! I agree with you on Lewis and Clark. That might be my next review. That or Scythe.
 
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Evan
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jdarnold wrote:
Excellent review! I just picked this up a few weeks ago and have been dying to get it to the table solo, but it hasn't made it yet. Maybe over the holiday weekend, after the dining room table frees up.

Be sure to check out the 1 Player guild - lots of fine solo playing folks there! And you've still got time to vote for the People's Choice awards.


Thanks for the suggestion. Will do!
 
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calvin chow
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Great review! I've really enjoyed this game solo as well... Hopefully getting to play it with my group this weekend...

One of things I like so much about the solo is how easy it is to manage the AI and how much of the game stays the same... Obviously there's a difference between the clockwork movement of Lacerda and other players pursuing their own goals, but it's been such a great way to learn the game... Since there's so little AI overhead, it's easy to focus on the core gameplay mechanics and get those locked in... Also, since Lacerda is predictable, it helps you understand the power of positioning and the knock-out action...

Set-up seemed convoluted the first time I took it out of the box, but takes me almost no time anymore--it's all second nature now... I really appreciated the setup/game aid from John Priebe the first few games, and I've made copies for 4 players--it's really important for the players to not have confusion about reputation tiles...
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Evan
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calvinc71 wrote:
Great review! I've really enjoyed this game solo as well... Hopefully getting to play it with my group this weekend...

One of things I like so much about the solo is how easy it is to manage the AI and how much of the game stays the same... Obviously there's a difference between the clockwork movement of Lacerda and other players pursuing their own goals, but it's been such a great way to learn the game... Since there's so little AI overhead, it's easy to focus on the core gameplay mechanics and get those locked in... Also, since Lacerda is predictable, it helps you understand the power of positioning and the knock-out action...

Set-up seemed convoluted the first time I took it out of the box, but takes me almost no time anymore--it's all second nature now... I really appreciated the setup/game aid from John Priebe the first few games, and I've made copies for 4 players--it's really important for the players to not have confusion about reputation tiles...

That player aid is awesome. I didn't know that existed. I'm going to print four copies and laminate them for when I introduce this to my gaming group. The player aid that comes with the game is good, but not this good.

Thanks!
 
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Ilse
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Kaspaas88 wrote:
Ilse23 wrote:

What's mainly a though point in the game for me is when the tickets run out and you have no way of getting visitors in the normal way but you have to go through the bonuses to get them to your gallery.



You are still able to gain tickets after the tickets in the box office run out - you just take them from the discard pile. The box office is just a timing mechanism for one of the end game conditions - you aren't ever prohibited from receiving new tickets


Oh no that will change the game tremendously !
I've been playing wrong all this time
 
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Michael Cabral
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Ilse23 wrote:
Kaspaas88 wrote:
Ilse23 wrote:

What's mainly a though point in the game for me is when the tickets run out and you have no way of getting visitors in the normal way but you have to go through the bonuses to get them to your gallery.



You are still able to gain tickets after the tickets in the box office run out - you just take them from the discard pile. The box office is just a timing mechanism for one of the end game conditions - you aren't ever prohibited from receiving new tickets


Oh no that will change the game tremendously !
I've been playing wrong all this time


The answer is: It depends.

In solo and multiplayer games:
If a Player gains a ticket of a color and there are no more of that type of ticket in the box office, the Player instead removes one of any other type of ticket from the box office (if any), places it in the discard pile, and then takes one ticket of the correct color from the discard pile.

Multiplayer only (if there are still visitors in the bag AND 2 or more artists are NOT Celebrities):
Once the box office is empty of all tickets, Players take any tickets gained from the discard pile.

Solo only:
Once the last ticket from box office is taken you get one more action at a different location to the one you are currently in and the main game ends. The End Game Scoring begins.
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