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Renegade Game Studios Renegade Game Studio | Architects of the West Kingdom | Board Game | Ages 12+ | 1 to 5 Players | 60 to 80 Minutes Playing Time

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The ability to capture workers adds depth to the game as does the Virtue balancing act (both for VP at the end of the game as well as the ability to do certain actions in-game). How many times do you need to visit the same resource location before you have enough or someone might capture your workers? What I usually notice is that I have a certain play style that pops up if I’m not being nudged in certain directions. There are so few euro games at all, let alone worker-placement games, that play up to six, so it’s a fantastic option if you have a bigger group.

You just score points like in a normal game (cathedral progress, building points, virtue track position, petty cash for leftover resources, and minus points for unpaid debts). These aren’t just about developing the perfect strategy and playing it out, you also have to react to what’s happening in the game.But this is a story with a happy ending – Architects of the West Kingdom is not only a very different game to Raiders of the North Sea but it’s a better game too. I really like games on the heavier end of the complexity scale, and because I’d played Paladins and Viscounts first, I was worried that Architects might feel a bit too light for me to really enjoy. This unusual blend of mechanics makes it an ideal gateway into worker placement Eurogames, or a great game in its own right when you’re not looking for something too heavy or lengthy. Note that in that final round, players can still take the Guildhall action even though all the spaces are filled.

The spots in the Guildhall are not filled quickly at the start of the game as players are working to collect resources and build an engine of sorts to maximize their actions. Or, if that doesn’t appeal, it’s for anyone who wants to steal everyone else’s tax money and blow the cash on a giant cathedral. The traditional worker placement mechanics have been spiced up with constant acceleration and an aggressive aspect not usually seen in these games.When the owner places a worker at the Wonder’s location, that worker either counts as two workers or they gain one Influence, the owner’s choice.

There are parts of the game where you might feel like a dog chewing on an expensive but delicious pair of shoes. Architects of the West Kingdom takes a typical Eurogame and gives it a shot of red-blooded Americana. Accumulate your workers at a location over the game, and the strength of the action it provides tends to heighten, too. Be too disingenuous and you will be refused access to building the cathedral, while too much piety will leave you unable to access the resources of the Black Market. Everything else happens so quickly, especially with the acceleration from putting more pieces on the same space, that the additional actions spent don’t feel like they drag the game down.It might feel awesome to say ‘I go to the quarry and get six stone’, but that’s something people are going to notice. That though offered a far more manipulatable system – you could construct meaningful, precise engines with the right arrangement of cards. Pushing your luck to grab three or four of a particular resource isn’t unheard of, and if nobody feels the need to capture your workers you can often press the advantage enough to not need that spot for the rest of the game. Competitive American games tend to be the opposite: Dice-rolling messes where you aren’t just trying to do better than your opponents, you’re actively attacking or working against each other.

In addition to including components for an extra player, Age of Artisans adds the new Craft Cards, a dual-layered Guildhall Board, two new Player Boards and a variety of new Apprentices and Buildings. Architects of the West Kingdom, by Garphill Games, is the first game in a new trilogy following the North Sea saga (which included Shipwrights of the North Sea, Raiders of the North Sea and Explorers of the North Sea). There aren’t any reference cards in the box (come on, why the hell not) and the first thing you do in play is draft your hand of buildings. One of the big questions for any board game is how replayable it is, and this is another place where Architects of the West Kingdom shines.While some apprentices spend time learning new skills, others adorn the city’s buildings with everything from golden tapestries, to stained glass windows. I’m with Alan on this… Calculating when to make your move with regards to capturing your own and other players ‘ meeples, sending those to prison for money and then triggering a Black Market Reset is part and parcel of the fun here… That said, with higher player numbers the building count can go up very quickly, meaning it feels like the game has stopped too soon and the interplay of prison interaction never really gets a chance to do more than scratch a surface itch. The Town Centre allows you to choose a space on the board, and to capture all of one player’s workers on that spot, moving them to your player board. If you just let them go, you might find they’re gathering an absurd amount of resources and very quickly outbuilding you.

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