Recently I was given the opportunity to preview an upcoming new game that will soon be available to back on Kickstarter. I received a prototype copy of the game and rules. These are my thoughts and opinions on the presented materials. Enjoy!
Town Builder: Coevorden is a game by Eric Raué, published by First Fish Games. It is for 1-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of the lead architect for a noble family, tasked with building the best town district for a fierce town building competition. They will need to gather the necessary resources and choose the right buildings if they hope to impress the judges and win the best awards. In the end, the player that can harness their town building skills the best and thus earn the most points, will be declared the winner.
To begin, the Town cards are shuffled together to form a deck which is then placed face down in the middle of the play area. The top 5 cards of the deck are then placed face up in a row beside the deck. This is the initial card row. The Judge cards are then shuffled together. Three cards are then drawn from this deck. The first card is placed face up above the card row. The second is placed in approximately the middle of the Town card deck. The third card is placed at the bottom of the same deck. The Award cards are shuffled together next. The top 2 cards of this deck are drawn and placed face up above the card row next to the Judge card. Any unused Judge and Award cards are then set aside in a face down pile. A number of Player Crest cards are taken equal to the number of players, including the one marked, “First Player”. These cards are shuffled and dealt out, one to a player. Any of these cards that are unused are placed back into the box. Whichever player receives the First Player card will begin the game. Each player will then place their Player Crest card face up in front of themself. This area is the player’s district. Once this is done, play now begins.
This game is played in a series of turns, with each player taking a turn consisting of 2 steps. In the first step, the player will refill the card row back to 5 cards, drawing cards from the deck to replace any empty spots with. If a Judge card is revealed, it is placed face up above the card row along with the other Judge card(s). Any remaining empty holes in the card row are then filled. Once the deck is empty, the discard pile is shuffled together to create a new facedown deck.
The second step of a player’s turn is to take two actions. There are 3 types of actions that a player is able to take. The player is allowed to take the same action twice or take two different actions. The actions are start a foundation, gain a resource and store a gold. The first action is to start a foundation. To start a foundation, the player simply takes one of the cards from the card row and places it sideways in front of themself in their district. It should be noted that if a foundation has a gold cost, this must be paid before the player can choose to start this particular card as a foundation. The player will need to discard gold cards stored under their quest equal to the chosen card’s cost. It should also be noted that foundations do not count towards claiming awards or scoring judges as they are not built buildings yet. The next action is to gain a resource. To do this, the player will take a card from the card row and place it behind a foundation in their district that requires the specific resource that is printed on the bottom of the card. The card is placed so that the resource end of the card is showing. It should be noted that a resource can not be placed behind a foundation that does not require the specific resource located on the card. The final action is to store a gold. To do this, the player will choose a card from the card row that shows a gold coin at the bottom of the card. This card is then placed behind the player’s crest with the gold end showing. One thing should be noted, once a foundation has all of it’s resource costs satisfied, it must be built. All the resources behind the card are discarded and the foundation card is then turned upright and become a building. If a foundation has only a gold cost, then it is immediately built without needing to acquire any resources. It should be noted that some buildings will have a build ability that may be used once during the turn that the foundation was built. Other buildings may provide abilities that score points at the end of the game, or a special ability that may be used once per turn. One last thing of note, a player may only use 1 special ability per turn. These special abilities are noted with a star.
One final thing that I haven’t mentioned is awards. These are cards that require certain things and will score points at the end of the game. To claim one of these, the player must first be able to meet the requirements of the award. When they do, the will take the award and place it in their district. Until the first player’s next turn, other players may also share in claiming awards. If the player is able to meet the requirements for an award, they will then take an unused award face down in it’s place.
Each time the deck runs out, the discard pile is shuffled to create a new deck. Once the deck runs out a set number of times, dependent on the number of players, the game end is triggered. When the deck runs out for the last time, the discard pile is shuffled once more. Players will continue to take turns until it is the first player’s turn. Each player will then take 1 last turn. If the deck runs out after the end game is triggered, the discard pile is shuffled again as needed. Once the game ends, scoring occurs. Any incomplete foundations, along with the resources stored behind them, are discarded. Players will then check to see if they have any scoring abilities that may affect Judge scoring. These are then activated in turn order. The player that has the most buildings of a judge’s preference will then claim that particular judge. Players will then add up their points from their buildings, awards and judges, as well as for any scoring abilities. The player with the most points is the winner.
The version of the game that I received is a prototype copy. With that in mind, be aware that some things about this game may change before being published. As it is now, the game consists of only a stack of cards. There are 60 town cards, 6 judges, 8 awards and 4 player crest cards. The town cards have these really nice designs with huge pieces of art surrounded by some iconography that is fairly simple to understand. At the moment, none of the judge cards have faces on them. I’m assuming that this will be an option for backers of the Kickstarter campaign to be able to put their face into the game. I think these will look really cool once they’re completed. The awards cards are a little bland, with only a trophy on them along with the requirements to collect one. However I’m sure these will also be upgraded to look much better when the game goes into production. The player crest cards are really nice. On the backs of these is a really unique coat of arms. The front side of these contains a player reference, along with the turn sequence, special icons and even a special ability that may be used during the game. Overall I really like the look of the game. The town card are gorgeous. I’m hoping that this beautiful artwork will also make it’s way onto the awards cards as well. Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to seeing how this game turns out once it’s finally put into print. If what I’ve seen is any indication of how good it’ll look, I’m sure it’s going to be amazing.
As with the components, the rulebook is also a prototype. That said, the book is pretty impressive. With lots of full color pictures and examples throughout the book, there’s a lot to love here. The contents of the game are found on the first page along with a great look at what the Judge cards may end up looking like with their completed artwork. The next page has a breakdown of a town card, explaining each of the different parts of the card. There’s also a reference of the iconography used on them as well. The next 2 pages consist of explaining the setup, including a minor change for 2 player games. The next several pages go over the steps of a player’s turn, along with the different action which are explained in detail. The last couple of pages include rules for playing the game solo, along with a card appendix that explains a bit more in detail some of the different cards. Overall, I think the book looks great. After reading through it, I found that I understood how to play the game quite well. The rules were simple to read and understand. For the very few times that I found myself looking back at the rulebook, it was very easy to find what I was looking for. Everything is laid out so well that I had no problems. I really like how nice the book looks and am very appreciative of all the great examples scattered throughout the book. They really helped me understand the rules even better. Needless to say, I’m pleased with the current rulebook and can’t wait to see the finished product.
I rather enjoy a good city building game. Computer games like Sim City and Roller Coaster Tycoon were among my favorites growing up. I enjoyed creating something that was completely unique to me. In the board game world, games like Suburbia and Castles of Mad King Ludwig gave me this same feeling and enjoyment that I would get from those old computer games. Town Builder: Coevorden fits in right at home with those other games. I enjoy finding those cards that mesh just right together to get my district humming right along. I really like creating this unique little city of my own design. I like gathering up the materials to be able to turn that foundation upright. There’s something uniquely satisfying about doing that . I really enjoy the look of the game. The cards really help create this lovely town that you will be working to build. I found that once I finished playing the game, I liked to look back at what I’d built and kind of think about what that city might actually look like and what the story behind this particular city might be. I know that’s probably odd and a bit too involved, but that’s one thing that I really enjoyed about this game. It made me feel involved in the city that I was building. Some games I have felt like I was simply dealing with a random bunch of resources and nothing else. This takes some of that same idea, but makes you think sometimes about just what you want to do with them. Do you place that stone and wood card beneath your quarry for the extra stone to help build it, or do you use it to finish off that town castle that will earn you 7 points at the end of the game. That’s one thing about this game, points are tight. What i mean is that in multiplayer games every point matters and can be hard to come by. That’s even more important in the solo game. You will definitely find yourself thinking ahead several moves as you try to get those few points that you’re able to get. Needless to say, I really enjoy this one, both as with other players and as a solo game. As a matter of fact, I probably like the solo game the best. Not that the regular game is bad, because it’s not, it’s just that I honestly haven’t found many games like this that play solo this well. There are a few changes to the solo game from the main game, but it’s mainly just removing a few cards and judges from the game. The solo game is all about scoring as many points as possible. The higher the score, the higher you rank. If you score less than 30 points, you’re an unworthy peasant who should probably get back to the pig farm and leave the city building to the professionals. However if you’re able to score 38 points or more, well you’re just the most noble of nobles and can expect to have the kingdom handed to you on a silver plate at any moment. You lucky dog! Regardless of which way you play, whether solo or multiplayer, this is definitely a game that should appeal to you. I find that fans of games like Suburbia and Castles of Mad King Ludwig should really enjoy this one as well. This is one that is family friendly and not too overly thinky. However the younger players might have a bit of trouble understanding just exactly how to play. I think most preteens and older shouldn’t have any trouble with this one. I really enjoy the game. This is definitely one that I would recommend keeping an eye out for and backing when it comes to Kickstarter. I highly recommend it.
9 out of 10
Town Builder: Coevorden is a city building card game of resource management and strategy. The game isn’t one that takes too long. Most game sessions last around 45 minutes or so. The cards for this game have some really great looking artwork. With this just being a prototype, I can only imagine how much better the game will look once it’s actually produced. The same is also true of the rulebook. As is usually the case with most prototypes, you can probably expect some changes before the game actually makes it to market. That said, I’m very impressed with the overall look and feel of what I’ve seen so far. The game itself is fairly simple to learn but challenging to win, especially as a solo player. It’s really fun. Fans of games like Suburbia and Castles of Mad King Ludwig should enjoy the city building aspects of this game. Solo players will also enjoy this one, especially if they like a beat your own score victory. This is also one that is family friendly, especially with preteens and older. This is one that should just get better when produced. I would highly recommend backing it on Kickstarter. No building license needed.
9 out of 10
For more information about this great game, please check out First Fish Games at their site.
Please check back soon for the Kickstarter link where you can back the game and get your own copy.