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Subject: Scriptorrific! rss

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John Hilla
United States
Ferndale
Michigan
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It took me several months to get Scripts and Scribes to the table, but, once I did, as a late-night "quickie" before people quit and went home, everyone was pleased.

Scripts and Scribes is a fast, tight, quick, little auction card-game that, as other reviewers here have stated, can be learned in 5 minutes and played in about 20. Even as groggy as my group was as I read through the rules aloud (I'm not much of a "game-teacher!"), no one had any problem picking up on its process and its simple but elegant mechanics.

During set-up, 5 dice are placed upon the "Value Board" in the center of the play-area. This board contains representations of each of the 5 set-categories (Illuminators, Scribes, Manuscripts, Scrolls, and Supplies) and an area for each die to be placed on each. The current face-value of each die is the victory point value of that set-category at the end of the game. To begin with, each die is set to "3."

The game-play itself is divided into two phases: the Donation Phase and the Auction Phase.

During the Donation Phase, the "active player" draws a number of cards equal to the number of players + 1 in turn and, with each, decides whether to keep the card in his hand, place it in the auction pile, or place them face-up in the play-area to be selected by the other players in clockwise order and added to their hands. The active player may keep only 1 card for his hand and add only 1 card to the auction pile. When he is finished, the next player, clockwise, becomes the active player, and this process continues until the deck is gone and only an auction pile remains in the play-area.

The cards themslves are divided into several types:

- Section cards: These are cards of varying values divided into several set categories. It is the aim of the players to collect the highest total value of cards in each category in order to win the victory points represented for each category by the dice on the Value Board at the game's end. Over-specialization does not lead to victory!

- Gold cards: These cards, of varying value, are the "currency" players use to bid for Section cards in the Auction Phase.

- Bishop cards: These cards have a special effect ... When they are acquired by a player (i.e., not when placed into the auction pile or otherwise simply revealed), that player may adjust the value of one or more of the dice on the Value Board (a "+1" Bishop allows the Player to adjust the value of 1 die from, say, a "3" to a "4"; a "+2" Bishop allows the Player to adjust the value of 2 dice upward once each ... Negative valued Bishops do the same thing in reverse.). This is known as the "Special Bishop Rule."

During the Auction Phase, when the draw deck has been entirely depleted, each player, in turn, reveals 1 card from the auction pile. In clockwise order, the players then, if it is a Section card, bid for it using the Gold cards in their hand. If it is a Gold card, they bid for it with the Section cards in their hand, the bid amounts being the number of cards being bid (as opposed to the value of the cards in the case of Gold card bidding for Section cards). Bidding proceeds until all players but one have passed. If a Bishop card is won in an auction and acquired by a Player, the Special Bishop Rule is activated.

When the auction pile is depleted, the game is over and each player's cards are scored. As indicated above, whichever player has the greatest total value of cards in each of the 5 categories wins that category's victory points as represented by its associated die on the Value Board.

Simple.

It may not sound like much, but Scripts and Scribes is a perfectly paced game, fast-moving and nicely interactive. The combination of set-collecting and auction mechanics work very well together in this card-game, particularly since it is a challenge to divine what sets the other players are pursuing, exactly, and the total set values are not so great in range as to allow much chance of victory through specialization, near as I can figure. The Bishop cards arise just often enough to move the scoring dice up and down a few points but not enough to allow 1 or 2 set categories to be significantly overvalued as compared to the others (unless more than 1 player is eager for the same set to rise or fall in value).

In short, Scripts and Scribes is a well-balanced and well-considered game from a mechanical standpoint. More importantly, however, the game is also fun. I'm partial to auction games because of the interactive fun involved. To some, auction mechanics qualify as an unacceptably random element in their otherwise flawlessly engineered play. I am not one of these futuristic androids, however. I like bidding and such. In any case, there are auction games that suck, I'm sure, but Scripts and Scribes is not one of them.

Also, although you need a crowbar and six jars of Vaseline to pry the lid off of the little box, the glossy, colorful cards look great (although the print-job is a little dark) and also shuffle well--and are the perfect size, a not-to-be-underestimated quality! The value of the components is very high-quality for a self-published game, in short.

Scripts and Scribes will definitely see repeated plays, if I have anything to say about it. All of the positive reviews I'd read on this site that encouraged me to buy the game did not steer me wrong, and, now that it appears that it will no longer be produced (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/336694), I'm doubly glad I snagged a copy while I could. You could do worse than to take the same opportunity if you can.
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Amit Arnon
Israel
Tel-Aviv
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Nice review but WOW what a bad title.
I really thought you're gonna say it's horrific.
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