The Castles of Burgundy
Hexes! Efficiency! Risk Management! Changing Turn Order!
The Castles of Burgundy is a game of constrained actions. On each of your twenty-five turns you will roll two dice, each die will then be used to do one of four things: take a hex tile from the game board and add it to your storage, place a hex tile from your storage unto your estate, sell a trade good for silver, or exchange the die for two worker tiles. The catch is that for the first three actions you are constrained by what is on your dice, the game board has six different zones to take from if your die matches, your estate is a jumble of different values, and the trade goods have numbers one through six. The last action offers us an escape from the cruelty of dice, the worker tile. Each worker tile offers the chance to change a die's value up or down by one (with six and one looping back and forth to each other) so we may change the value that the dice gave us to one that we find more useful. This is nice, but we only get a number of workers equal to our position in the initial player order at the start of the game, and each pair of workers we take represents one of our fifty actions over the course of the game. So how can we maximise our points?
There are six types of six sided tiles in the game: Animals (light green). Buildings (beige), Ship (blue), Mines (grey), Knowledge (yellow), and Castles (dark green). You will start with one castle and have spaces on your board to add twelve buildings, six of each animals, ships, and knowledge, and three of each mines and castles.
The eponymous castles are the most powerful piece in the game, after one is added to your board you may take a bonus action as if you had a die with any value you wanted, this flexibility is unmatched by anything else in the game.
The mine is the simplest of the six tiles, offering you a piece of silver at the end of each phase. The turns are structured such that you will each get five turns in five phases A through E. When a phase ends all of the hex tiles on the game board will be removed and replaced with fresh tiles. In addition to the six areas that have tiles you can take there is a seventh area on the game board with a mix of different tile types that you can purchase for two silver once on your turn.
The other way to get silver is to sell trade goods, when you sell trade goods you receive one silver and the number of points equal to the number of players in the current game per trade good you sell. Each player starts the game with three and twenty five more will be used to track the passage of turns. In addition to the two dice the players roll and the start of each turn the first player will also roll a white die. The result will put the trade tile for the turn into one of the areas numbered one through six. You can take all of the trade goods from an area when you add a ship tile to your board. In addition to giving you more trade goods to sell, adding a ship to your estate will advance you on the turn order tracker. The turn order tracker has seven positions for if you have zero through six ships. When you add a ship you simply add it to the top of the next position on the track, players at the same position will have their turn order go from top to bottom. Advancing in turn order helps avoid seeing the tile you wanted to take get taken by another player.
Animals do one thing, earn you points. When you add an animal tile to your estate you will get points equal to the number of animals it shows plus the number of that animal already in that set of connected light green animal slots on that section of your board. Animal tiles will have two, three, or four of either cows, chickens, pigs, or sheep.
The buildings will be what you can place into a full third of your board, the eight different buildings have different effects and no two of the same may be placed in the group of connected beige slots in your estate. The watchtower earns four points immediately, the boarding house gives you four worker tiles, and the bank gives you two pieces of silver. The warehouse lets you sell a good of any number. The church, market, and carpenter's workshop each allow you to take a tile from the game board, the church for mines, castles, and knowledge, the market for ships and animals, and the carpenter's workshop for buildings. The city hall lets you add a tile from your storage to your estate. A well timed building placement can be as powerful as a castle.
Knowledge tiles change the game for you as soon as they are added to your estate. There are 26 different upgrades that fall into three different broad categories, the ones that give you points, the ones that give you a small bonus for things you may have already wanted to do anyway, and the ones that break the rules. My personal favorite being the one that lets you put as many of the same building into a city.
In these twenty-five turns you will also earn points when you fill all the spaces in your estate that are a connected set of the same color, these will scale with the size of the set as well as reward you for doing it early in the game rather than late.
All of this comes together to create what I believe to be one of the most satisfying four player games available. There exist a variety of strategies and a range of play from risky to flexible. Prove yourself a capable administrator in The Castles of Burgundy.
The Castles of Burgundy and The Castles of Burgundy 20th Anniversary Edition (that comes with expansions) are available now from our webstore.