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Subject: A two-player hidden gem - first play with impressions rss

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Kendahl Johnson
United States
Syracuse
Utah
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My mom came to town and she likes to play and learn games so it’s a chance for me to get some unplayed games to the table. Since it’s often just the two of us (hard to get my dad or wife to join), I look to some that will play two player. As I was perusing the shelf I noticed Basilica.

Learning the rules well enough to teach the game took less than 30 minutes. It took about 10 minutes to explain but I think I could get that down even further. The only thing that takes a little bit is explaining the iconography on the tiles.

The game plays in three rounds. You are constructing a cathedral, a theme that is quickly forgotten as you start playing. On your turn you must take three actions: place a tile, place a builder (can only be done immediately after placing a tile), and take an action. You have three tiles to choose from and three actions, but when you place tile, the action above it slides down and becomes the replacement tile so you must plan your turn accordingly. Also, you are limited to five builders so, as in Carcassone, deciding when to place one is pretty important. There are also simple rules you must follow when placing tiles.

Ours was a game of back and forth. I took a healthy lead in the first round, and my mom caught up in the second. The third round saw us jockeying for a high scoring set as it was clear whoever controlled the set would win. I ended up winning the game by about 10 points because I was able to utilize the actions to get an advantage in the big set. I had more one more upgrade (you have four) and an extra builder (don’t be the first to run out) in the very end game that ended up making the difference.

In the end, I thought this was an excellent two player game, one I’m glad to have in my collection. If I was to rate it after one play, I’d give it an 8. If it holds up with further plays, that could go up. The game is a real brain burner for such a simple game. The game played in about an hour, and it was taxing mentally the entire time which I enjoy. It’s a tense "if I do this, she’ll do this, so I better should do this instead" type of feeling, which might create some AP among players, but I didn’t think it was too bad with us, even as first time players.

I’d highly recommend this game to anyone looking for a strategic two player game.
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meepleonboard
United Kingdom
Somerset/London
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Agree with you about this little gem. I picked it up on my first ever game-buying bonanza, and, although I need to play it more, it has retained its place in my collection.

The mechanics are slightly similar to Carcassonne, but I find it closer in some ways to Glen More, in that a player can move their tokens around. What makes it more cutthroat than either of those two games, though, is the ability to interfere with your opponent's plans, and that is something which has gradually become more important as I've become familiar with the game. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the expansion might become available at some point...
 
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Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
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FWIW Basilica's notion of connected overlapping groups, with a given tile able to be in 2 different connected groups, appears also in the Decktet game Jacynth.
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