Today is the last official day of summer. Bummer. Before we know it snow will be on the ground, the days will be short, and we’ll be freezing. Aye. What a horrible way to start a blog post. Sorry for that.
Let’s cheer you up by covering the Boards & Barley I’ve enjoyed over the past couple weeks!
BARLEY SPOTLIGHT: New Belgium Pumpkick
So Autumnal. So delicious. It has a very nice level of pumpkin flavoring. Much more manageable than the Southern Tier Pumking and Warlock brews. This beer makes me think of Fall, and I like Fall quite a bit, so this is an enjoyable beer for me.
- Southern Tier Warlock
- Spaten Oktoberfest
- Milwaukee Brewing Sasquash
- Deschutes Black Butte
- Brau Brothers Moo Joos Oatmeal Milk Stout
- Ayinger Oktoberfest
BOARDS SPOTLIGHT: Istanbul
This game has such a nice and simple mechanism of movement. It allows for great replayability. It adds interesting and tough decisions. And can allow you to mess with other players without it seeming like a “take-that” kind of game. I’m looking forward to playing this again.
I have made a lot of progress with the prototype for The Grand Illusion. I’m on pace to have it playable for our group’s Board Game Night this week.
I’ve laid out the gameplay foundation, which is quite simple mechanically. I’ve tried to include a system that will provide for some good interaction. And I’m just ready to play it. It will probably be horrible, but at least the logo looks okay! Hopefully I’ll have a report on Playtest #1 later this week.
I’ve had the privilege of playing Guildhall four times now so I figured I’m overdue to review it. So since it’s Friday and I post game reviews on Friday I figured better late than never. Let’s see what I think of the game!
Guildhall by Alderac Entertainment Group is a card game where players try to fill the halls of their guilds (imagine that). To fill a guild you have to have five different colored cards of the same character. There are Farmers, Weavers, Dancers, Historians, Traders, and Assassins. Each character type provides you with some different ability. For example, when you play a dancer you get to draw a number of cards equal to the number of dancers in your guild and you get an extra action. Players have two actions per turn.
This game is played to a certain number of points. Points can be earned in two ways. The Farmer cards allow you to earn points if you have a certain number of Farmers already in your guild. The other option to earn points is by completing a guild hall and turning it in for a card with a point value on it. The winner is the first player to 20 points.
Here’s a look at Guildhall on the table (Image via Trent Hamm via BoardGameGeek.com):
- OPTIONS: So there’s only six different types of cards, how many options can there be? Well, each card does something slightly different based on how many of that card you have in the guild. So 6 cards with 3 categories means 18 options every turn. But it’s even better because you can combo things, which is awesome!
- INTERACTION: This game has a great amount of interaction. You are constantly messing with other players guilds and they are doing the same to you. You are constantly hoping that they won’t mess up the guild that you’ll be able to complete on your next turn. This game definitely has a nice back-stabby layer to it!
- WEIGHT: This game is just a big deck of cards and a few coin chits. But beneath the surface is a pretty deep and tense strategy game. Players can’t plan too far ahead but it’s important to make good plays with at least your next turn in mind. This game is heavier than one would expect. And that’s a good thing!
- QUALITY: I’m sort of a stickler for good quality. In this case it’s not the physical quality that bothers me but rather the visual quality. My problem with it is that in the copy I’ve played there are different shades of the background colors. For example, the green Farmer will be a different green than the more limey green Trader. It just bothers me. This does not affect gameplay though.
- LACK OF CONTROL: Often in the game it feels like you don’t have much control over what’s going to happen to you. If you jump out to an early lead, beware, because they’ll probably all come after you. And there’s nothing you can do about it. That bothers me, but only a little.
- THE BOX/INSERT: The box for Guildhall is ridiculously large. Like I mentioned above, this game is just a deck of cards and coin chits. The box is just oversized for the amount of components you receive. This does not affect gameplay though.
Designer Perspective – What I Would Change:
The only thing I don’t really like about the game is that once you’ve filled a guildhall you basically just turn it into points. And if you’re wise you’ll likely grab the highest valued point card available. As a designer I’d like to see the ability to use the completed guild halls in a more interesting way. My suggestion would be that the face up cards that represent points would require sets of completed guildhalls (like Farmers and Dancers). This could make it more strategic if all the players are really trying to complete the same guild.
This game feels like a light beer but plays like a heavy beer. There’s one beer in particular that fits the bill for me and that’s Guinness, which drinks like a light beer but feels like a heavy beer. (I guess that’s the opposite… oh well) So I’m pairing Guildhall with a classic brew, Guinness Draught. This beer is a very enjoyable beverage that is deeper than one might originally guess. Just like Guildhall.
I didn’t care much for this game when I first played it. That’s due to my lack of understanding of how the cards could really interact with each other. (Maybe I shouldn’t review games after only one play!) But now that I’ve played four times I can really see how well this was designed. Not only is there player to player interaction, but card to card interaction. My favorite combo is to “weaver a dancer” and then play a dancer to get the extra card and action. I’ll rate this game an 8 out of 10 according to the Board Game Geek ratings scale.