Just recently got a hold on a copy of this game, and played it 4 times not within a week. Maybe you never heard this game before, since it’s kinda new game, Published by Pearl Games (French / Euro edition) in 2010, which also republished in the same year by Z-Man Games for the international edition, this game was quickly went up in the Board Game Geek rank and popularity (since then it’s called as one of the BGG darlings). Designed by Sebastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges and Alain Orban, this game apparently offers great things and surprises. Being one of the middle box heavy euro, Troyes is stand still the test of challenges. Well, you could see maybe this game was kinda a blind buy for me, since i was instantly fell in love with it when i saw the game setup board including the dice allocation and all the cards in it. So interesting and mind-pulling for me to know more and want it. So i decided to order this game and from around the other games i ordered, this was the one i anticipated the most. And to be honest, based on my 4 times experience, and the game itself, you can say i am pretty great excited and satisfied, in fact it has gone up to the first rank of my best games collection, uprooted The Pillars of The Earth and Thunderstone. So, you might be curious the kind of games Troyes is? So here is my review, read and weep boys.
In the year 1200, the foundation is laid for the cathedral of Troyes, but it will not be finished until 400 years later, after innumerable incidents. This game invites you to experience four centuries of history by participating in the development of one of the finest medieval cities ever to make its mark on Western culture. The society of that day was organized into three orders: the nobility, the clergy, and the peasants. The nobility constituted the military force devoted to justice and to protecting the lands. The clergy were the spiritual guides of the community, contributing to maintaining and developing knowledge and culture. The peasants and artisans, in turn, were given very little consideration, although their hard work was essential to the daily life of the entire populace.
1. The Theme
Actually for the kind of Euro Games, theme aspect is not really matters or important. But in this case, the theme is kinda really stick. Can’t explain why, but somehow the theme really attach to the game quite nice. The game title ‘Troyes’ was pick from the small city with same name in North-central France. The game story is evolve on the building of it’s Cathedral for nearly 400 years since in the year 1200. Players represents one of the the rich noble families from the Champagne region of France, and using their influence to recruit and supervise individuals from 3 different prominent domain (military, religious and civil).
2. The Artworks
The artist Alexandre Roche had really put a great masterpiece with this game, the feel and the styles of the artworks really represent the game and supporting to build the theme of the game. Actually generally i did not really like this kind of style. It looks outdated, classic and so medieval, but in this case it kinda attractive for the game. So, i like it in overall, though the illustrations kinda lame, especially the characters faces.
3. The Game Components
It really surprised me, when i look at the box, it looked bigger than the picture. Quite a big box but not a square box like 7 Wonders, The Pillars of The Earth or Thunderstone. It’s more rectangular shape in a portrait orientation. Nice art on the box, really shows it’s unique theme and style. Inside the box i found 1 plastic bag of dice (24 dice with 6 dice for each four colors, black / white / red / yellow), which were nicely crafted with great material. Also included single punch board of VP and deniers tiles in each denominations, 56 wooden citizens (in each colors plus gray color), 90 wooden cubes (also include the gray cubes), 8 wooden disc 2 for each colors), 1 beautifully drawn game board, 27 activity cards, 16 event cards, 6 character cards, 6 player aid cards (2 for each language) and 1 first player card. I kinda found it interesting that the available colors for players are not common (they use green and blue, which are commonly used, but the white or beige and orange colors are not commonly used in a 4 players games). The components are in a great shaped and they also provide sealed plastic bag to be used when you ant to separate the components in each colors for easier setup. The only little downer is inside the box with just white carton compartment to store the components and hold the board. Well, they could made it with better quality from this one, which they’re not. But i guess it’s just minor and really did not affect my review of the game.
4. The Game Play
Each player choose their colors and set the board (how many players in the game will determine how many citizens each player will get during the initial placement. For 4 players, each get 4 citizens which they have to spend in the 3 principal buildings on the game board. This placement will determine what dice you will get during the round. Put the rest of the citizens in the general supply along with the VP and deniers tiles. Each player get 5 deniers as starting capital and stock his color cubes in his personal supply. Shuffle and randomly draw the activity cards, 1 for each age (the numerical shown on the back of the cards) and put it face down in the board based on each principal colors. Shuffle the event cards (the red event cards are supposed to be 6 cards, as it will determine the rounds, 6 rounds for 4 players). Shuffle and randomly drawn the character cards to each player, this will be a secret to every player. Put the rest of the cards without looking at them to the box.
Each round consist of phases in there order:
- Phase 0 – Reveal the activity cards for each principals (City Hall / yellow, Count’s Palace / red and Bishopric / white) start from the first round (can be identified by it’s number in the back of each card). Start from round 4-6, there will be no activity cards left to revealed, so skip this phase.
- Phase 1 – Income and salaries. Each player will get 10 deniers each round for his income and must pay salaries for his citizens in the principal buildings (2 deniers / citizen in Count’s Palace, 1 denier / citizen in Bishopric and free of charge for citizens in City Hall).Players who cannot pay the salary losses 2 VP.
- Phase 2 – Assembling the workforce. Workforce are presented by the dice that players roll, based on citizens they hired just before in the principal buildings. After rolling the dice, each player put his dice in the game board which represent his location district marked by his color marker. These dice will represent citizens and workforces each player has and will be used to execute actions.
- Phase 3 – Events. For the first round, draw the red event card and resolve it’s effect (starting from the left bottom corner, which usually would require players to draw another event card. Then resolve each effect of the event card with roll black dice be the last effect occurred). Roll the black dice as stated in the active event cards and this will present as military event which need to be countered in the beginning of players action starting from the first player. He must counter at least 1 black die with the highest value (up to 2 black dice), with any of his own dice (based on the number) with red dice are doubled when used to counter black dice. After counter the black dice, each player gain 1 influence for each die. If one players cannot counter the black dice, he losses 2 VP.
- Phase 4 – Actions. Beginning from the first player (clockwise) each player can use his dice to do actions. Start by activating the activity cards (by hire citizen and pay the appropriate amount of gold in the card and resolve the dice), allocate his dice to put his citizen in principal buildings, counter event cards, participate in the construction of the Cathedral (3 levels) or use agriculture to gain deniers based on the amount total of his dice result, or pass (which will give him 2 deniers and 1 denier for his next turn that he already passed.
- Phase 5 – End of the round. The round end when every player has passed or there are no dice in the districts.
The game ends after the sixth rounds and the player with the highest VP win the game. VP can be collected by activate a card, counter events, construct the Cathedral, and secretly complete character cards prerequisites. Influence can be used to re-roll one of your die (cost 1 influence), hire citizens from general supply (cost 2 influence), flip up to 3 dice of his own (cost 3 influence). Oh yeah it’s rather kinda late in, but better than never, the most interesting part is, you can use someone’s else dice. Oh yeah you can, with the right amount of money you can get everything they said. If you use 1 die for an action by using someone’s else die, you must pay 2 deniers. If you using 2 dice for an action which 1 of it was someone’s else, you must pay him 4 deniers / die you buy. If you use 3 dice for an action which 1 of it was someone’s else, you must pay 6 deniers / die you buy. There can only be 3 dice in one dice group and commonly with the same color (special case if the cards say otherwise).
5. The Replay Value
Now it’s time, when you say about the replay value, I’ve got 2 words which are ‘OPEN POSSIBILITIES‘. Yeah after 4 plays, i found the game mechanics has led to an open possibilities for players. For start, the cards that came in the game were not all come into play, this is one element that add variant to the game (event, activity, and character cards are not all played) and also the promo cards also add more variant. And the dice mechanic, wait, hold your thoughts. Dice mechanic? 24 dice? 24 dice are a lot amount of dice i admit it. What would one possibly do with 24 dice? Since dice are often associated with luck factor, and i won’t argue with that. This game has a dice allocation mechanic (remember Kingsburg?), which you maybe already thought that it’s a high roller game. Well, you can say that, but being a high roller is not always present the best result for you, and being the opposite (low roller) won’t kick you out of the game. In Troyes, being high roller put you in a dilemma, if you’re not the first player. The unique of the game or this mechanic is, it brings you more possibilities than any other games. When you look at the board, you’re not only see your dice, but all the dice in the board. Why? As i stated before, the game gives you more possibilities. This is the part where the game become interesting. You can ‘steal’ other player’s dice. What? steal? you mean cheating? Well, actually not stealing (at least indirectly literal), i would prefer the word ‘buy’ rather than ‘steal’ but that’s not gonna make it interesting, is it? When it’s your turn, you can use any dice.. if you can, while your impertinent rivals doing voodoo dance behind your back and hope that you make your mistake. So the game really has great replay value (let aside the cards variants which aren’t too many).
My Thought of The Game
Hmm, what words fit the game perfectly, i vote for none. You can’t describe the game with only words. Well if i have to, it would be MARVELOUS, FANTASTIC, FABULOUS, and AWESOME! The game is classic but has a modern touch in it. When i ordered it, it had been my most anticipated games and when i played it for the first time, it emerged as one of the best i have ever tried. It’s a worker placement and dice rolling game that really served in such an interesting way. There are many ways to win the game, and you can use your dice or someone’s else dice to the very least of options. This is the kind of games that forced players to skulking in their seat with eyes focused on the board, thinking hard while their hands hold their deniers tightly and mumbling some ancient chantings, hoping they eventually have an enlightenment of their best move. Yeah, this game is AP (Analysis Paralysis) potential, even for heavy gamers, so if you’re not a heavy gamer, you’re gonna likely end up in AP state.And i just recently noticed the perfect phrase that fit to this game, which is “A STUPID DICE GAME!” Yeah, one of my friends constantly saying it over and over again. Well in a way yes i couldn’t be more agree with him, this is a stupid dice game, The dice you roll make you look stupid or do stupid reactions. So yes this is a stupid dice game. “A stupid dice game! Let’s play again…and again!”.
The artwork is great and the game play is unique. I would say that the rules is simple once you get the hang of it, the difficult thing is your decision. Troyes is the game that will surely often hit the table if i had the chance, and to be honest it worth every penny.
You also can view this review on boardgamegeek.com here.