This is the perfect game for a group of three to five players if you have about an hour to play a game that will keep you engrossed in it the whole time. The whole idea of this game is to hire different professions to create “works” for you. After creating works that will generate money for you which you can use to buy prestige points or objects that will help you earn more points in future rounds. In the end the big question everyone has to decide is what do they think is the ideal strategy to earn the most points. The great thing about this game is there is no “perfect strategy” to win, it all depends on your cards and your opponents.
Unlike some of my games reviews in which I go over all the rules, instead with this one I will give you an overview of how the game is played. The part that will drive your strategy the most is your professions cards. These cards tell you how many points any “work” they make is worth based on the other objects you have. Some of these objects you must buy, some you must build, and others are based on the cards that you hold.
The first way of buying items are in the auction. There are seven rounds in the game and each starts with the auction segment. In the auction you may only win one of the following items so you need to strategize accordingly. There is a group of three items known as landscapes. These are composed of forests, lakes, and parks. Each different profession prefers a different setting to use as an inspiration for their work. You will notice on your cards which of these landscapes will benefit your card holding the most. Jesters will always increase your work by your profession by two work value points. You can also bid on a builder, builders come in hand in the action phase as you then build buildings at a reduced rate (or even free!) and these add points to your works. Did you see your opponent play a profession card you really want? Well then bid on a recruiting card as you can use it to claim a profession card already played by your opponent. Finally, want an easy way to get prestige points? Buy a prestige card, this will give you a goal and if you meet it you get six points!
After the auction phase, there is the action phase. In this phase everyone gets to do one of five actions. The first is the key to earning money. That is you get to complete one of your works. You play the profession card and score your work based on the values you own that are listed on the card. Keep in mind though your work must be worth at least the minimum for that round if you want to consider it a completed work. When you complete a work you get 100 florins (money) for each point it is worth. With that money you can purchase prestige points if you wish or save the money for later. If you decide that money though you can’t use it to buy prestige points in later rounds.
Another option in the action phase is to build buildings. As you can see on your professions cards, certain buildings make the works for certain professions worth more. Keep in mind though you only have a limited area on your playing board to place your buildings. Did you win a builder in an auction? Great, this will help you build for less, put buildings next to each other, or even build for free depending on how many you own. Each building you build is worth three prestige points as well!
Other actions you can choose from include buying a profession card if you wish to add to the profession cards you have in your hand, buying a freedom, or buying a bonus card. Freedoms as you will notice on your professions again increase the value of the completed work they make. Bonus cards will add special values to your completed works based on what you have in your playing area.
Have you caught onto a theme here yet? Yes, the whole idea is to make your completed works worth as much as you can. At the end of the action phase of each round, everyone’s completed works from that round are compared. The person with the highest value gets three prestige points. After that is completed the round marker is moved, which will also increase the minimum value a work must have to be played as completed. You then start the next round with the auction phase again. After seven rounds you add up everyone’s points and a winner is declared.
I did not list all the costs for each of the actions, but that is part of the trick of this game, you must decide what you wish to spend that will benefit you the most each round. Remember you can only win one item in auction each round, and do two actions. This restriction makes the game very interesting from a strategy aspect. Obviously if you had unlimited actions each round everyone would play a completed work and buy items to make future completed works worth more. Yet, with the restrictions you are sort of pin-holed into making one of those strategic plans.
One of the things I like the most about this game is for a game with a complicated strategy it is very basic to learn. If you can understand the concepts above, all you really have to factor in are a couple decisions. The decision of when to buy prestige points, and what to do in your action rounds. The rules in the game go into more detail, but again this article will give you enough of a basic understanding of the game to try it out. The cost is in the $20 to $25 range which is a moderate price for games, but I think it’s definitely worth the cost. It’s sort of a intermediate step between games that require limited amounts of strategizing and ones that take hours due to the strategies involved.