It’s Friday, which means it’s Board Game Review day! Today I’m reviewing Belfort by Tasty Minstrel Games, which currently has an awesome expansion available on Kickstarter (KS link) for only $20. So since the Kickstarter campaign is live I figured now is as good a time as ever to post this review!
In Belfort players take on the role of a builder who has been hired to build the castle Belfort. Unfortunately, other builders were also hired in a mix-up. So you are tasked with being the best builder of the castle. To do that you have to make effective use your elves and dwarves with a worker placement mechanic in various spots throughout the city. Leftover elves and dwarves can be used to claim wood, stone, metal, or gold. Decisions in this game get tough and heavy. But that makes it awesome. The other part of the game involves building the buildings of the castle to claim a majority of a district. That’s how players can obtain points, which are needed for victory. When you’re ready to visit the Pub for some Master Dwarf action, or the Blacksmith to get some metal, then grab your friends and sit down for a game of Belfort!
Here’s a look at all of the awesomeness that is Belfort (image from BoardGameGeek.com):
I’ve played this game a bunch and I totally love it. But the real question is who can find the Ton Ton from Hoth on the game board first?
- ARTWORK: I must start with the artwork. This game is so visually stunning that I sometimes set it up just to stare at it (not true). It just looks so good that I must give a shout out to artist Joshua Cappel! Excellent work!
- STRATEGY: This game looks too fun to be a heavy strategy game, but that’s exactly what this is! There is a lot of strategy behind each decision from the first turn throughout the whole game. Players have to optimize their workers capabilities and then optimize which building to build and where to build it. There’s a lot to think about in this game!
- THEME: The theme of building a castle with your hired elves and dwarves is a lot of fun.It is easy to get immersed in this game and feel like you are really putting your elves and dwarves to work. And everything works together thematically, which always makes a game better!
- ANALYSIS PARALYSIS PRONE: While I am a player that enjoys heavy strategy and tough decisions, there are some players that I play games with that would struggle mightily with indecision throughout this game. There would be times where they wouldn’t know what to do or why they are doing it. Beware that this can lead to long games.
- SETUP TIME: This game has a ton of components. Thus, it requires a higher than average setup time. If you know you’re playing this game during your board game night perhaps you should set it up beforehand!
Designer Perspective – What I Would Change:
Belfort is a brilliantly designed game of worker placement and area control. The upcoming expansion looks like it will enhance the game greatly, so I won’t offer anything that the expansion is already doing (or at least that I know of it doing). If I were to change anything I think I’d add the ability of players to swap buildings between districts. This would add a huge “screw-you” factor to the game, but might also unbalance the game. By being able to swap my Inn in district 1 with you Inn in District 2 I could gain the majority in both! Bonus!
I would normally pair this game with a heavy beer since the game is a heavy game. However, I just can’t imagine the worker elves and dwarves sipping a heavy, gentlemen’s beer after a hard day of work on the castle. So my preferred beer pairing is one that drinks easily, tastes great, and would work perfectly in the hands of elves and dwarves. And that beer is New Glarus‘ Cabin Fever Honey Bock. It is a very tasty beer brewed with clover honey, but not too much. And it goes great with brats, BBQ, and Belfort!
This was at the top of my Christmas list a couple year’s ago and it has lived up to that! Belfort is a great game that is a ton of fun to play. There is deep strategy, awesome artwork, and a lot of tense decisions. I can’t wait for the expansion to come out! I will rate Belfort 9 out of 10 on the BoardGameGeek rating system!