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A Castle for All Seasons» Forums » Reviews

Subject: a brief review of a really fun game rss

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Dan Poole
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Game Overview
Castle for all Seasons is a 2-4 player game that is about building a castle. Each player uses his characters (in the form of cards) to accumulate money and resources. Money allows the placement of helpers, which at the end of the game, will score victory points (VP's). Helpers also help players accumulate resources. Resources are used to build certain sections of the castle. When a section is constructed, the building player receives either VP's or money, depending on what character was used to build that particular section. Once a section has been built, players can place their helpers in (limited) spaces within those constructed sections. Here the helpers will stay until the end of the game. These helpers will then score the owning players additional VP's

The Game Board

The game board is divided into to 2 main sections. The first and largest section is a beautiful depiction of the castle itself. Upon this depiction of the castle, 23 tiles representing various structures are placed. These tiles will be taken by the player that constructs that particular structure. These structures have a varying number of spots (1-3) that helpers may be placed. Each tile has a resource cost and VP value. Note there are 2 structures that are already built at the beginning of the game (the forge and market) and hence have no associated construction tile.

The second part of the board takes place outside of the front gate. Here, there are 5 areas where resources are placed: sand, wood, brick, stone and silver. These resources are acquired mainly for the purpose of castle construction.

There is actually a very small part of the board called the defense tower just outside the castle wall. Resources are placed here as well and can be acquired by the use of a certain character.

The Game turn
This is very simple. Each player has a small deck of 8 different character cards. At the beginning of a turn, each player secretly selects a character. Then they are simultaneously revealed. If any worker characters are revealed, then the resources depicted on the each worker card are placed on those cards. Next each character is resolved in hierarchal order as outlined below. If the same characters are played by different players, then they are resolved clockwise from the start player. After all this is done, the start player token passes clockwise. 12 turns are played with 2 and 4 players, 15 turns are played with 3 players. Note with a 2 player game, each player plays 2 characters.

The Characters (listed in order of resolution)

1. Messenger- collect 8 talers.
2. Trader - The player places a helper on one of the 5 resource carts (can only place on silver if the others are taken). May also displace other players helper if all spots are full (there is 1 spot for each resource cart). Next all players who have a helper next to a cart collect the allotted number of resources. Note one of these resources is placed in the defense tower.
3. Bricklayer - player may take all of 1 resource from the defense tower. Then up to 2 castle sections may be constructed. Note the player gets talers equal to the number of resource pieces used to construct the section. However VP's are not awarded. Then up to 2 helpers may be placed (see below) as long as at least one structure was build.
4. Stonemason - 1 resource may be purchased from another player's worker card for 1 taler. Then up to 2 structures may be constructed. Unlike with the bricklayer, VP's (not talers) are awarded. Then up to 2 helpers may be placed, as long as at least one structure was constructed.
5. Worker - The owning player takes any resources from the worker card that were not just purchased by the stonemason(s). Then up to 2 structures may be constructed, but the player only receives ½ of the VP value of the structure(s) built. Note each player has 3 different worker cards in his deck.
6. Master Builder - The player gets all his played character cards back. 5 VP’s are awarded to the owning player for all structures built this turn by other players.

Building Structures
To build a castle structure, a player must play the bricklayer, stonemason or one of his worker cards. This in turn will reward the building player with talers, VP’s or ½ VP’s respectively. Every structure has a building cost. Every resource has a value: stone 5, brick 4, wood 2, sand 1, silver is wild. To build a structure, a combination of resources must be used that exactly equals the building cost. Furthermore, at least 3 different resources must be used.

Placing Helpers
As mentioned above, playing the Trader character allows players to place helpers by the resource carts, which in turn enable that player to collect resources every time any player plays the trader. However, helpers may be placed into constructed structures of the castle whenever the bricklayer or stonemason is played. Note these helpers are locked into place and unlike the resource spots, these helpers cannot be moved for the rest of the game. Since players only get 6 helpers (7 in a 2 player game) these helpers must be placed very judiciously. To place a helper, a certain number of talers must be paid. At the end of the game, these helpers will earn the owning players extra VP’s.

The Castle Structures (and their end game functions)

1. Towers x9 - no helpers can be placed here (but see gates)
2. Houses x6 - no helpers can be placed here (but see stable)
3. Well - no helpers can be placed here
4. Keep - VP’s are awarded for the number of helpers in the castle proper
5. Tavern - VP’s are awarded for the number of empty helper spaces in constructed structures
6. Gates (1 big, 1 small) - VP’s are awarded for the number of towers built
7. Stable - VP’s are awarded for the number of houses built
8. Servants House - VP’s are awarded for each unbuilt structure
9. Market - Talers are converted to VP’s at the game end
10. Palace - Resources are converted to VP’s at the game end
11. Forge - Silver placed here awards VP’s. Note every time silver is used as a resource in the game, it is permanently placed into the forge for this purpose

As mentioned above players gain these VP bonuses only by having helpers placed within these structures. Some spots are cheaper and/or more desirable within each structure. For example, one helper space in the forge allows the player to receive 1 VP per silver present while the other space earns 1 VP per 2 silver present. Nonetheless, it is cheaper to place a worker in this latter space.

The Castle in the Winter

The flip side of the game board depicts the castle in the winter. This game is played just like the regular game, but the 6 Winter Event cards are used. At the beginning of the indicated turns, draw and resolve an Event card. Some incur something bad, while others open up a new structure to place helpers (i.e. the granary).

My Overall Impressions

Theme 7: Building a castle; not much else to say

Mechanics 8: This is more of a character selection game rather than a worker placement game. I like the different structures and the unique ways characters serve multiple functions. I like how the stonemason can by resources from opponent’s worker cards for cheap and how the master builder earns VP’s for other players building endeavors. This allows for a lot of second guessing.

Strategy 8: A lot of careful planning must be made with regards t owhen to build, who to build with, when and where to place workers. Do you build for money (bricklayer)? Or do you build for VP’s (stonemason/workers)? You can only use your character cards once until you collect them back with your master builder.

Rule Book 8.5: Easy to understand

Aesthetics/components 9: The game board is really pretty. The pieces are of good quality. The cards are nice, though I would recommend sleeving them

Overall Fun Factor 8.5

First of all, I see people likening this to The Pillars of the Earth. This is NOT a worker placement game. Yes helpers are placed mainly to score VP’s and collect resources. However, you do not have a pool of workers that are used each turn then collected up to be used next turn. This is more of a character selection game like Citadels and Mission: Red Planet. I think this is a rather unique game in the way these mechanics are blended together. Though the rules are fairly easy and the game time is shorter than many resource management games, I find this to be a pleasant brain burner with lots of tough decisions. It plays very well with 2 players and the optional winter cards are fun. So in my mind this game is nobody’s "little brother". It stands alone and shines on its own merit. In fact, I like this better than Pillars of the Earth, which is also a great game IMO.





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Anders Olin
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Nice review!

One problem that may happen it two player games is that one player get to control both the towers and the houses due to erecting both the primary buildings. Of course erecting the houses and towers gets you an surplus of some victory points but I felt that it somewhat paralyzes the game when that particular scenario occours. Have anyone experienced something similiar and found an antidote (except getting the buildings yourself)?
 
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Chris Linneman
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You can't place two helpers in the same building with the same character. So a good way of defending against this is to have enough money to take the second spot, e.g., opponent builds Stable and places in 3VP/house spot, you place in 2VP/house spot on your next turn. Now your opponent doesn't have much incentive to build houses anymore, and spent $4 more than you did (not to mention the resources to build the Stable).
 
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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QBert80 wrote:
You can't place two helpers in the same building with the same character. So a good way of defending against this is to have enough money to take the second spot, e.g., opponent builds Stable and places in 3VP/house spot, you place in 2VP/house spot on your next turn. Now your opponent doesn't have much incentive to build houses anymore, and spent $4 more than you did (not to mention the resources to build the Stable).


Just to be clear, you can have two helpers in the same building with the same character, just not in the same turn. So if someone built both gates, he or she could put a helper in both of the towers on that turn because they are different buildings. But if they build the Stable, they can only put one helper in the Stable that turn.
 
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EJ Holleman
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Nice review of a great game.

I got this one around the same time I got Stone Age. Although there are lots of similarities, the games are different enough to be both great!
The thing I like about CfaS is that there are lots of mechanics put into one game. You see some Stone age, a bit Citadels, some Agricola, some Puerto Rico. And even though the game uses all these mechanics, it never gets confusing. It's a very logical, easy game.
 
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Chris Linneman
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Yes, that's what I meant. I'm not actually certain what the OP was concerned about. I can't imagine a situation where an opponent would have enough money to occupy all the house and tower spaces without you being able to intervene. So unless he has some rules confused (maybe he thinks you can only place a helper on a building you constructed yourself?) I don't see the problem. Generally one player will go towers, the other houses; or they will be split; or someone will do something else altogether. Never have I seen one player on both house and tower spots. I don't think you have enough turns to build all the towers and houses yourself.
 
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Aswin Agastya
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I'm wondering why no one made comparison about this game to Cuba regarding to worker placement in timing instead of in places.
 
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Jason Curtis
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QBert80 wrote:
You can't place two helpers in the same building with the same character. So a good way of defending against this is to have enough money to take the second spot, e.g., opponent builds Stable and places in 3VP/house spot, you place in 2VP/house spot on your next turn. Now your opponent doesn't have much incentive to build houses anymore, and spent $4 more than you did (not to mention the resources to build the Stable).


Its quite possible to get both spots if you're first player next turn. I just started playing this game, and I used this strategy to great effect. I build last and place my guy in that new building (building last means no one else can place thier worker in that new spot), then next turn use the other card and build first and plop one of my workers in the second spot. I used it for houses. (or play Master builder with your builder in the first place, then replay it...).
 
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