Ring Side Report- Board Game Review of Castles of Burgundy

Game– Castles of Burgundy

Producer– Alee

Cost– ~$40

Set-up/Play/Clean-up-30 min per player (2-4 players)

TL;DR-Theme, instructions, and execution hurt excellent mechanics. 78%


Basics– Time to prove who the best duke is!  In Castles of Burgundy, players take the roles of different dukes trying to develop their land better than their rivals.  The game is divided into rounds and turns.  A round is five turns.  At the start of each round, new tiles are set out.  Tiles represent new places to build onto your kingdom.  At the start of each turn, new goods are delivered by ship to different locations on the main board, and, each player rolls two six sided dice.  Each turn players get to do up to three actions.  Two of these actions are controlled by dice, and, one is controlled by money.  With the dice, a player can get tiles from the main board, place tiles on their own board, sell goods, or get workers.  The main board has six spots for tiles representing different types of locations to develop.  By spending a die you can take a good from the main board in a section on the main board that matches your number and put it in your reserve. You can also spend a die and place a location on a section of your board that matches your die AND the type of location (town, field, castle, shipping, etc).  Thus placing tiles must match color and number.  When locations are placed you get extra effects that range from getting free tiles, placing tiles, points, or getting good from the main board.  The goods also have numbers ranging from one to six, so as an action, you can sell as many goods of the same number as the number you have on a die.  Each good is worth points and money.  The last action you can do with dice is spending them for workers.  Workers can be spent to change the number on a die by one, increasing or decreasing the number as desired.  The dice in this game are looped, so, a increasing a six by one makes the value a 1.  And, decreasing a 2 by two makes the value a 6.  Aside from the dice actions, a player can once per turn, spend two money to get a tile from the center board and place it in his/her supply.  The player can’t place the tile in his/her own board with money though.  After the 5 turns, the land tiles are removed, new tiles put out, and more goods added.  After 25 turns or 5 rounds, the game is over, and the player with the most points wins!


Mechanics– This is a really strange one, but it’s really awesome.  The game is a mix of complex and simple mechanics and ideas.  The game is also a mix of strategy and randomness.  Here’s the really strange thing:  it all “works!”  The workers make the randomness work.  Nothing to do with the dice you have?  Get workers and next time that happens you have options! You can create combos if you plan your tile placements well.  I never felt cheated by options I had or didn’t have because of the randomness or strategy.  Honestly, this game plays well and is a blast to sit down and play. 5/5


Theme-Here things fall a bit flat.  You’re royalty, but I never felt like I was royalty.  I enjoyed the game, but, that was more for the mechanics and less for the theme.  I did feel like I was developing a town and land, but it was a bit divorced from the royalty theme.  Theme is here, but, it’s not that amazingly strong. 3.5/5


Instructions-These instructions are not the best instructions I’ve ever read.  The get the point across, but I don’t think they do it well.  The first game we played, we only played 5 turns, not rounds, because we were all confused.  Some parts of the game the rules don’t do a good job of addressing important issues like how turn order works with shipping and who goes where on the board.  It’s not bad, but it’s not great. 3.5/5


Execution– The execution is fine, but not great.  The player boards are nice and well constructed.  The main board is well laid out.  The box comes with nice sections to divide the different types of tiles.  However, the box doesn’t really help you separate the different types of tiles that need to be separated since they are randomly drawn.  Maybe I think different then the creator, but, I ended up using Ziploc bags to keep that stuff separated.  Also, the tiles are small and somewhat hard to read.  And the iconography is hard to keep track of too.  Making this game a bit larger would have helped make this game that much better. 3.5/5


Summary– I liked this game.  It was fun and made me think in a bunch of different ways.  I played this game a few times with people ranging from 10 to 50 years old, so, the game is easy to play for a variety of ages.  It scales well for different amounts of players.  The major flaws come from a lacking theme, instructions needing a bit of work, and the some problems with execution.  None of those are exceptionally bad, but they are not good either.  But if you can look past those problems, then this will be a fun mix of randomness and strategy. 78%


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