This Eurogame didn't seem appealing to me at first, but now it's perhaps my favorite in my collection. The Castles of Burgundy is a title from popular game designer Stefan Feld. It utilizes dice, apparently like the rest of his titles, but it doesn't seem like luck is that much of a factor. You are a lord of an estate in Burgundy in years past (your player board), attempting to develop it sooner and better than your opponents, utilizing a massive amount of hexagonal tiles that can be obtained from the main game board. The roll of your two dice gives you two actions per turn out of a possible four:
- Purchase a tile from the main board's depot and put it in your player board's holding area.
- Place a tile onto your estate.
- Take two "worker tiles" that are used to augment dice rolls.
- Sell goods that earn you victory points and silverling, the game's currency.
There is one additional, optional action. A black market depot sits in the middle where tiles can be purchased for two silverling. This can be chosen once per turn.
Each estate is made up of several different types of tiles that have different effects when played. Victory points are earned by completing sections. In addition, as those different types of tiles are grouped in different places on the board, you can seize additional victory points from your opponents by completing all of a certain type of tile first. The game has a built-in timer. Five stacks of five goods tiles that are progressively taken off, placed on the board, and eventually obtained by players (by placing ship tiles) serve to countdown the game to its completion. The different types of tiles work together and build upon each other, adding levels of strategy and complexity to the experience.
There is so much more that could be said. The game has much strategy and quite a lot of depth. However, it's simple enough to grasp that my nine-year-old can understand and even compete. As with most Eurogames, the biggest challenge is mastering the rules. Once one person does that, he or she can easily teach them and include others. I now see why The Castles of Burgundy is ranked #19 at BoardGameGeek.com. It's a satisfying game. I'm ready to take it on about any time. My only gripe with the game is that the components are cheaply made. However, that's why the price point is so low. I think this is one of those games that will eventually result in a deluxe or anniversary edition. Until then, I'll probably wear out a few copies.