The Builders: Middle Ages Review

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Overview:

The story:

You could hear the yelling from afar. Two blocks away, a right turn, through the alleyway, and then in the middle of the town square stood three men, arguing.

Without a roof, there’s no building at all! At least no building I want to live in, with all the rain pouring in. I’m definitely the most important builder, the roofer said. No, no, no! I’m most important builder. I’m good with stones you know. I build foundations. You guys stand on my shoulders for decades, boasted the mason.

Sure, you’re the flesh, but I’m the bones. My wooden framework supports everything, it allows buildings to stand tall against the wind. My skill is of the utmost importance, the carpenter shouted, waving his hammer violently over his head.

Shut your pie holes and go to work, the architect bellowed, while he was walking towards the quarrelling men. Without my ingenuity you wouldn’t be able to create such a beauty, his hands pointing at the bell tower of an immense church. This is the work of a genius!

What do you get for your money?

42 Builder cards, 47 Building cards, 40 coins and the rules.

How do you play the game?

In this game you must, the title already says it, build buildings with the help of some burly builders. Every builder in the game has a set of skills; a stone, wood, knowledge, tile value from zero to five. This value corresponds with his ability to work with these resources. The buildings too have a wood, stone, knowledge and tile value, but this value corresponds with the amount of resources you need to build these buildings.

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At the beginning of the game you place five open building cards and five open builders cards on the table. These cards can be obtained during the game. Every player is dealt a random Apprentice card, a builder with little skill, and ten coins. One player becomes the starting player and the game can begin.

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During your turn you have three action points to spend. You can take a building for one action point per building or you can recruit a builder from the supply, also for one action point per builder.

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Once you’ve recruited builders and obtained the construction plans for some buildings, you can start putting your builders to work. Builders, in addition to their skills, have a cost. For one action point, you can put one of your builders to work. You then pay the cost and place it next to an unfinished building. If you want to place another builder next to the same building in the same turn, you have to use another two action points. Use a third one on that same building, another three action points. Builders that work on a building cannot be used for anything else.

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Once the skills of your builders match the requirements of the building, it is completed. When that happens a building immediately generates some coins and some points.

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You can also build machines, these ‘buildings’ don’t generate money, but they do have a resource value and, once they’re finished, can be used to build other buildings. The same as  regular builders. However, they don’t cost you anything to put them to work. After the work is done, the builders return to your own builder pool.

The last thing you can do on your turn is take money. For one action point, one coin, for two action points, three coins and for three action points, six coins.

Once you’ve used up all your action points, your turn ends. Although you can always buy extra action points. Five coins per point.

At the moment that one player has seventeen points from buildings only, the round is completed and the game ends. Add up all your building points, plus one point for every ten coins you have and then the player with most points wins.

 

Review:

Gameplay:

The basic concepts of game are incredibly simple. To build a building you need certain resources and the builders can give you these resources. Add builders until all the building requirements are met and then you gain points and coins. Everybody can understand that, it’s just basic mathematics. Two must equal two. So The Builders is easy to learn and easy to teach.

The most interesting part of this game, and the only slightly difficult part, is the fact that you have to build the most efficient engine. Recruit just enough workers and let them work constantly for you. A turn in which you haven’t put a builder to work is a wasted turn. Action points used to get money are wasted action points. Money must be gained by finishing buildings. Money must be used to put builders to work. And builders will complete buildings once you have enough of them. The circle of life.

Later in the game, money can and probably must be spend to buy additional action points. It’s expensive, but at some point the benefits exceed the costs. Coins are only worth one point per ten of them. So money must be spend. Especially at that time when the game could end at any moment.

Theme:

There’s no real theme here. It’s basically a numbers game with some nice illustrations. The game is called the Builders, but I never felt like I was really building something. I’m just counting, one plus one plus two is four, I’m done.

Looks:

The illustration are very nice, especially the buildings and the machines. The plastics coins look good too, but I will never understand why you wouldn’t print the values on the coins themselves, it’s much clearer that way.

I do think that the resource values on the cards could and should have been more prominent. Now you sometimes have to check twice to see if a building is complete or not.

Quality of the game parts:

The cards are nice and have a good quality. The coins are plastic. I’m not a fan of plastic coins myself, they feel a little fragile. They aren’t. They can probably withstand more rolling, sliding and grasping by greasy hands than cardboard ones, but they just feel less sturdy. It’s just something personal.

And the game comes in a tin. If all tins had the same size, there would be no problem. Just stack them, high, up to the ceiling. However, they are not. *Sigh*

Fun:

The Builders is a very fun filler. It’s quick and easy to explain. It’s also easy to play, but there’s enough to think about. Which buildings match my workforce, how can I spend my action points as efficient as possible. Do I build a lot of smaller buildings or do go for the big cathedral that scores a lot of points. But it also takes a while to build, which means builders are working there for a couple of turns. Ooooh, the choice that I have to make…

You do have keep in mind that there’s no interaction at all in this game. OK, sometimes your opponent will take a builder before you can, but that’s about it. Very multi-player solitaire.

Nonetheless, a very fun little engine building game.

 

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One thought on “The Builders: Middle Ages Review”

  1. It is not a success. The different bonuses feel very artificial and convoluted. We played it twice and never again. Yes the quality is nice and “french” in style, but it lacks soul and everything is +1 point here -1 point there. We used to put the education, slave, and tool cards in the bottom up placed top of the box, but still for a card game it takes up too much space.
    Finally it is hard to keep track of which worker did what on your play area.

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