The Castles Of Burgundy Review
A Rich Burgundian Pleasure
The Castles of Burgundy is a dice-rolling and tile-laying game based on rival Duchies competing for prestige in mediaeval France. Players have their own individual boards representing their Duchy with their castle in the middle. Around this castle they build a town of Castles, Buildings, Monastries, Mines, Ships and Farm land by means of rolling dice. They may also trade in goods as one of the many ways to garner Victory Points.
The Castles of Burgundy is played over 5 rounds with each round having 5 phases. Each player has 2 dice of their respective colour and there is an additional neutral White die. All these dice are rolled simultaneously each phase and are left on show. The White die shows in which of the depots the 1st trade good will be put and each player takes actions dependant on the numbers rolled on their dice. They also have a number of Workers that can be used to modify the die roll. The actions will be to take various hex tiles and put them in their Key holding areas where they can be moved on to their Duchy as a later action. Some of these tiles can be bought with coin. Also goods can be collected by Ships and later sold for coin and VPs. Finally you could hire 2 more workers.
All these actions depend on the number on your dice. As the dice are on display when rolled, this means that early players in the turn order not only get the best choices from the limited tiles on offer but can see what the later players are able to do. As you build up your Duchy each tile will have a specific effect either gaining some special buff or awarding Victory Points now or at game end. After each player has taken their Actions a new phase begins and the dice re-rolled. After 5 Phases the next round begins with all the tiles in the depots being refreshed and a new set of Trade Goods to work through. After 5 complete Rounds the final VPs are tallied and the grandest Duke or Duchess declared!
As well as the standard game you get a lot of different player Duchies to use and there are various extensions with further tiles and the use of optional Shields.
Give The Dog A Beaune
Whilst The Castles of Burgundy is a delight, once you get to grips with it, I had a few little gripes. I found some of the set up rules a bit hard to follow, particularly with respect to the turn order bridge. To clarify, all the players start tokens are placed in a stack at the right hand end of the bridge i.e. furthest from the town centre with the 1st player on the top of the stack and so on down to the last player at the bottom. On all turns, play order is determined by this stack and as tokens move towards the town as the result of a “Ship” tile they will move up the order of play.
The other thing that seemed counterintuitive was to stack the bonus tiles with the bigger one on top of the smaller. Whilst this is OK and is done to get the bigger reward available first, it did offend my slight OCD!
My final small niggle is the smallness of some of the images and, in particular, the numbers on the monastery tiles making them almost illegible. As you need these numbers to reference the effects it would make life a lot easier to have used a larger typeface.
The Castles of Burgundy is a golden treasure, straight forward to play (with some looking up of tile effects) quick turn time and plenty of player interaction. The two-sided main board and the many different player mats plus the various extensions give it a lot of replayability. The luck of the dice can be frustrating at times though this is mitigated by the clever use of the Workers. Either way you usually finish a game wanting to go again to try to do it better next time.
This blog was written by Pete Bartlam