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The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A Fun Filler Game (and An Addictive Solo Game) rss

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Tony
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Tempe
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INTRO:

I have to admit I picked up the game with much skepticism, and only because it had "Castles of Burgundy" in the name and was co-designed by Stefan Feld. But, after 17 games, I have to say I'm enjoying it quite a bit (especially as a solo game, but also as a nice filler game with my wife).

GAME PLAY:

At the start of the game players select one of the four duchies. Then each player chose one of the four castles on that duchy, and obtains the corresponding bonus (see more on bonuses below). All players use the same duchy, but may chose a different starting castle. In fact, castles should be selected independently and without knowledge of your opponent's choice (though there are some variations to these recommendations).

After that, the game is played over 3 phases. Each phase lasts between 5 and 10 rounds. Rounds are quick, and each round generally proceeds as follows:

d10-1 One player rolls the five dice (2 have pips, 2 have colors, and 1 has hourglasses).
d10-2 Player(s) check off the box(es) in the current phase's time column based on the number of hourglasses rolled (1 or 2).
d10-3 All players use one pip and one color from the rolled dice to mark one hex in their duchy (the newly marked hex must be adjacent to a previously marked hex).
d10-4 If you complete an area of a given color (which contain between 1 and 4 hexes each), you score it and gain the corresponding bonus.
d10-5 Repeat until all boxes are checked in all time columns.

That's pretty much it in terms of the general mechanic, except to note that you should calculate your score at the end of each phase, and calculate your final score at the end of the game.

But, none of this is what makes the game interesting. What makes the game interesting are the options for combining pips and colors, and the bonuses for completing each type of area. A discussion of each follows:

First, you are only allowed to mix and match pips and colors in certain ways. So:

Purple monastery hexes can only be marked with 1s and 2s.
Silver mine hexes can only be marked with 3s and 4s.
Blue river hexes can only be marked with 5s and 6s.
Orange city hexes can be marked with any number, as long as it is NOT the same as a number on another hex in that city.
Yellow pasture (Yellow pasture) hexes can be marked with any number, as long as it is the same as a number on another hex in that pasture.
Green castles can be marked with any number, as long as it is the same as a number on any adjacent hex.

Second, in addition to scoring points for completing an area of a given color, you also get the following bonus (though you can only use one bonus per round):

Purple monasteries grant a monk that can be used to change the COLOR of a die to ANY color.
Silver mines grant a silver that let you mark TWO hexes in a round (subject to certain conditions that I'll not go into here).
Blue rivers grant a commodity that can be sold for 2 points each + a silver (see more on silver above).
Orange cities grant a worker that can be used to change the NUMBER on a die to ANY number.
Yellow pasture (Yellow pasture) score double (so, if the completed area would normally worth 4 points, it would instead be worth 8 points).
Green castles grant the bonus specific to that castle (monk, silver, commodity, or worker).

IMPRESSIONS:

With all this in mind, here are some of the things I really liked.

1 I appreciate the links the designers made to the original game. Some things are a bit of a stretch, but most work pretty well. For example: (1) you can only check/build connected hexes; (2) the earlier you complete a contiguous section, the more points you get; (3) you get bonus points if you are the first or second person to complete all hexes of a given color; (4) the hex colors/types are similar to those used in the original game; and (5) the bonuses for completing each of the five types of areas generally related -- at least as much as possible -- to those from the original game. There are probably other similarities as well, but these are some that really stood out.

2 I like that there are 4 different duchies (A, B, C, & D). Each one offers interesting initial castle selection options, and has a very different feel to it. This will add a lot or replayabity to the game. Here are images of the 4 different duchies included in the game.


3 It's a dice game, so there will obviously be a good amount of luck involved. But, the luck can be mitigated a fair amount by the choices you make and the bonuses you get (i.e., being able to change the number or color on a dice can completely mitigate luck for a given roll, and being able to check off two hexes in a single round by spending a silver adds an interesting strategic element).

4 It's small. The box is the same size as the Castles of Burgundy card game box (so it will be easy to carry when traveling), and you can easily play it with a fairly small place... like on a airplane (a major plus to us, and something that is not possible with the main game or the card game).

5 It's quick. Most solo games take 15-20 minutes. Most games with my wife took 20-25 minutes. I expect time to play will be even less as we get more and more familiar with everything.

6 It's inexpensive ($15 at my LGS, or $11 at some OGSs). And given there are 100 double sided sheets (or 50 copies of each of duchies A, B, C, & D), you can play 200 solo games, 100 2-player games, etc., all for one low price. I plan on buying another copy after that as I'm not a huge fan of laminated pages. But, lamination is also a good option for those who don't mind that route.

So, what don't I like? First, the included pencils don't have erasures (not a huge deal, but not ideal either). Second, everything is so small, and the pencil marks blend in with the background so well, it can sometimes be hard to see what you have marked (we've especially struggled with the castles, and the bonuses we have available or have completed).

CONCLUSION:

In sum, my wife and I enjoyed the game (I'd give it a 4 out of 5 star "I Like It" rating). We feel was worth the time and money every time we play. I've especially found the solo game quite addictive as I try to beat my high score on each of the duchies. The Castles of Burgundy theme was probably not 100% necessary, but it is there (i.e., familiarity with the main game probably makes it a little easier to remember a few of the dice game rules). So, if you like Castles of Burgundy and this sort of dice game, I think you'll find it worth giving this one a try.



NOTE: Special thanks to the BGGers who posted the images used in this review. See original image for full photo credit.
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paul sitko
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We've printed copies of full page maps and laminated them, then we use fine point wet erase markers. I couldn't handle the small pads and the pencils. It made the game borderline unplayable for me. The full size laminated pages with the wet-erase markers are make it so much less frustrating.
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Marcus Bartlett
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pahool wrote:
We've printed copies of full page maps and laminated them, then we use fine point wet erase markers. I couldn't handle the small pads and the pencils. It made the game borderline unplayable for me. The full size laminated pages with the wet-erase markers are make it so much less frustrating.


Where did you get the full size maps? Did you scan them and resize? Or find online?
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Joe Parmon
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This game looks like a lot of fun with mechanics similar to the board game. How come it doesn't get more love on these forums?
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Joe Parmon
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I should add that I played the board game version at a friend's house, and found it a bit too complicated and lengthy for my taste. I was looking to pick up either the card or dice game as a less complex, faster-playing version. Any input on which is the better game would be appreciated.
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Francois LC
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JP349 wrote:
I should add that I played the board game version at a friend's house, and found it a bit too complicated and lengthy for my taste. I was looking to pick up either the card or dice game as a less complex, faster-playing version. Any input on which is the better game would be appreciated.


For someone who love the original board game, I find the Dice game version better than the Card game version. The card game is essentially the same game, but the Dice game offer a nice twist to the game and makes a great travel game.
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Joe Parmon
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Thanks. The dice game looks like a lot fun. I think I'll give it a shot.
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Joe Parmon
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I made the mistake of getting the card game. Couldn't figure out the rules and it took up way too much space. I will get the dice game as originally planned and hope for a better experience!

 
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Kamiko
Poland
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Now I really wanna buy this Thanks for sharing your opinion - I was extremely skeptical too!
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