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Subject: Comparison to other Worker Placement Games rss

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Doug Bass
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I was GM'd earlier this week by someone asking for a comparison/contrast of Belfort to other worker placement games. Unfortunately, I only own three or four of the most popular worker placement games, but I thought I'd write up a summary with those games in mind. Hope some will find it helpful.

Workforce
* Like other worker placement games, players can increase their work force in Belfort (as in Agricola and AoE III). Workforce is not increased automatically each turn (as in Carson City). Workers are carried over to next turn
* Easier to increase workforce, as players have several ways to do this: multiple board spaces, a single guild, and player's own property cards
* Belfort has two types of semi-specialized workers, rather than generic workers (specialization is for resource collection only, see below)
* Belfort has additional, specialized worker type (gnome) that is only used to "unlock" player's own property cards. This "worker" (if you can call it that) cannot do anything else.
* Belfort workers can be upgraded to master workers, which are more efficient at resource collection (see below)
* Points awarded based on workforce size, like Agricola
* Workers cannot be held back for following turn (unlike Carson City)

Resource collection:
* Belfort only has four resources (wood, stone, metal, and gold); they are used to build guilds and property cards
* No blocking for resource collection
* Belfort has specialized workers; elves cannot collect stone and dwarves cannot collect wood. Metal must be collected by an elf and dwarf pair, while either can collect money singly.
* Belfort has master workers that collect double resources
* Players place workers in resource collection area after all other placements have been made. Players must place all remaining workers at once.
* Bonuses are awarded to player who has most workers in each collection area (wood, stone, metal, gold)
* Players generally want to collect resources after other players, because of these bonuses
* Players may buy and sell resources, with some restrictions
* Some guilds and property cards award resources more efficiently that resource collection area; one guild offers resource "discounts"

Buildings
* Buildings are represented by property cards and tiles (guilds only)
* Players construct buildings by turning in collected resources (like Le Havre)
* Buildings and guilds allow specialized actions (like Le Havre)
* Five copies of each building, one copy of each guild
* Buildings constructed grant player spaces on the board, allowing them to work towards majorities in the five different areas
* Some building use requires payment, either to bank (unowned guilds and property cards) or to owning player (guilds only)
* Some buildings also generate income each turn, to help with upkeep
* Buildings allow basic actions; enhanced actions are allowed if they are "unlocked" using a gnome

Actions
* Like other worker placement games, actions are limited by number of workers
* Most actions only allow one worker (guilds and player's property cards) but some do not (worker recruitment and turn order areas)
* Players can construct buildings to increase available actions (like Le Havre), but other players cannot use these actions (unlike Le Havre)
* Some actions require payment to the bank or other players, similar to Le Havre
* No dueling for action spaces (unlike Carson City)
* Action resolution occurs player-by-player in turn order, which can be important because of interactive guilds and placements in city districts (players may want to be first to resolve actions but last to place buildings, but this is not possible)

Turn Order
* Belfort has turn order swapping; players place workers to have their choice of turn order for the next turn
* Turn order changes mid-turn, after resource collection but before action resolution (see above)

Player Interaction
* Little interaction beyond worker placement and turn order swapping unless interactive guilds are in play
* When interactive guilds are in play, players can steal resources or cards from one another and can be quite nasty

Upkeep
* Belfort has an upkeep phase that requires players to pay taxes (like Agricola and Le Havre, but unlike Carson City and AoE III)
* Amount owed is not fixed; rather directly correlated to how well the player is doing (number of points)
* Penalty for not meeting upkeep requirement is lost points (like Agricola and Le Havre), which cannot be regained
* Upkeep penalty can result in fewer taxes being owed the following turn
* Upkeep does not begin until start of fourth turn and is required at the start of the turn, rather than the end
* Players can earn passive income each turn to help with upkeep

Scoring
* Scoring is quite simple and transparent (majority control of board districts, majority of each worker type)
* Scoring is done during game, after 3rd, 5th, and 7th turns (like AoE III); scoring is the same each time
* No special scoring (i.e. unlike AoE III) and no end game bonuses or penalties
* Score affects upkeep during game (see above)

Tension
* Like Agricola, actions are limited by the number of workers and other players' placements; you can't do everything in this game either
* Like the others, need to sequence worker placements properly
* Must decide whether to use an elf or dwarf on action spaces, since they are specialized for resource collection; need to keep an eye on which worker types other players are using for this same reason
* Want to save enough workers so you can place more than the other players in one or more resource collection areas to get the bonuses
* Sometimes good to stall before placing workers in collection area last, but the longer you stall the fewer workers you'll have to place
* Jockeying for turn order; want to be early in turn order order for initial placement each turn and if interactive guilds are in play, want to be late for placement of buildings in district, may want to be in the middle to stay "under the radar"
* Money is tight; need it to use guilds (cost 1 gold unless owned), to get extra workers, to use some building benefits, to buy gnomes (normally cost 3 gold!), to buy cards or use trading post, need to save some gold for next turn for taxes and placement
* Deciding which properties to build and when; determining which building benefits are best to have at the moment, when and where to place gnomes to unlock property benefits (also, limited number of gnomes)
* When properties are built, deciding which districts to place markers in to get best scoring advantage (like AoE III). Want to be the last to do this each turn.
* Avoid getting nailed by interactive guilds, or use them yourself

"Feel"
* Goals are easier to accomplish than in Agricola and Le Havre; Belfort does not have a long, drawn out sense of slow progression
* Game has a lot of replayability because of randomly dealt property cards and randomly chosen guilds
* Game is more refined and less complicated than some others (notably Agricola and Le Havre)
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Andy Andersen
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Excellent comparative review. This will help me to differentiate between the game play when Belfort finally arrives.

Thank you
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Randolph Bookman
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That was me and thanks for the email. I already pre-ordered as I'm a sucker for worker placement.

One more question. Where is the tension in the game? With Agricola not only can you be blocked but you want to do 20 things a turn and you only get to do 2. With Age of Empires you're fighting for positioning. With Fresco you're debating whether it's better to go first and risk a tired worker.


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Sean
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Thanks for what is actually a great summary of the game.

dougbass68 wrote:
Scoring is quite simple and opaque (majority control of board districts, majority of each worker type)...

What do you mean by "opaque scoring"? Hard to see through, the opposite of transparent?
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Doug Bass
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Harrelson wrote:
Thanks for what is actually a great summary of the game.

dougbass68 wrote:
Scoring is quite simple and opaque (majority control of board districts, majority of each worker type)...

What do you mean by "opaque scoring"? Hard to see through, the opposite of transparent?

Whoops, definitely meant transparent! I'll fix it... Thanks!

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Sean
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dougbass68 wrote:
Harrelson wrote:
Thanks for what is actually a great summary of the game.

dougbass68 wrote:
Scoring is quite simple and opaque (majority control of board districts, majority of each worker type)...

What do you mean by "opaque scoring"? Hard to see through, the opposite of transparent?

Whoops, definitely meant transparent! I'll fix it... Thanks!



Ah! Thanks for the clarification. I thought it was some technical terminology I wasn't familiar with.
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Doug Bass
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shieldwolf wrote:
One more question. Where is the tension in the game? With Agricola not only can you be blocked but you want to do 20 things a turn and you only get to do 2. With Age of Empires you're fighting for positioning. With Fresco you're debating whether it's better to go first and risk a tired worker.

The game has lots of tension. I edited the original post with some examples.

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Loren Cadelinia
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Great review. I love how you compared to other worker placement games--(my favorite type!)
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Doug Snyder
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I am a big fan of worker placement games, but have lately been thinking I have enough of these types of games. Since I have Agricola, Troyes, Carson City, AOEIII and Leonardo Da Vinci - does Belfort offer enough of something different that it fits into such a collection?
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Krzysztof Budny
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fdoug64 wrote:
Agricola, Troyes, Carson City, AOEIII and Leonardo Da Vinci

One should ask where's your Caylus? :)
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Doug Snyder
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Yes - I have often wondered where my Caylus was as well.

Although, having read many times of the similarities between Carson City and Caylus I have been able to resist.
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David Bridgham
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fdoug64 wrote:
I am a big fan of worker placement games, but have lately been thinking I have enough of these types of games. Since I have Agricola, Troyes, Carson City, AOEIII and Leonardo Da Vinci - does Belfort offer enough of something different that it fits into such a collection?


I've only played one game of Belfort, and haven't played Carson City or Troyes, but I will say that one difference is you are the only person who can use your buildings. This differentiates the different players and their abilities as the game goes along. I thought this gave a feel like a game where you build up your tableau, such as Race for the Galaxy. For me, I found this game more enjoyable than other worker placement games (which I generally dislike) mainly because of that added element. I don't know how significant or desirable that difference would be for you.
 
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