Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Orleans: Deluxe Edition - a review

I got my deluxe kickstarter copy of Orleans by TMG a while ago, but hadn't had a chance to get it to the table.  But, now that we are settling into our house, Amy and I had Nathan and Jody over for dinner and a board game.  I pulled out my copy of Orleans and started punching out tokens.


The artwork in this game is great.  I really like the look of everything and it all fits well together.

Component Quality

The basic game comes with cardboard tokens for the workers, money, resources, and citizens.  However, I got the deluxe game via Kickstarter and this upgrades the workers to wooden tokens with stickers, the resources to wooden shapes that match the item, and metal money.

The basic components are very nice, but the deluxe components are very impressive.  Everyone that played this was especially impressed by the metal coins.  They are fantastic.  I want more games with metal coins.  (I actually backed the kickstarter of the new edition of Colosseum because of the metal coins.)

I have to say that I'm sure you will be happy with the components of either edition that you get.

Game Play

This game looks very complicated, but it is really pretty simple.  That isn't to say it isn't fun or that you don't have a lot of options.

Each turn an hourglass tile is flipped showing one of a variety of special events.  Some events are good, others not so good.  Most of the events are dealt with at the end of the turn so each player has a chance to prepare for the event over the course of the turn.

Each player then draws a number of worker tiles from their bag (based on how many knights they have).  The more workers you can draw and the more possible tasks you can complete.  Each player then assigns their workers to various tasks.  These tasks vary from getting more workers of specific kinds to traveling, to building market places in new cities.

There are 7 types of workers available during the game and 10 actions on each player board.  In addition to that, additional building (many with an action space) can be added to your options through the game.  You can see, there are many different choices that you will need to make during the game.

Once everyone has assigned their workers, then players start taking the actions they have assigned workers to.  Each player can only complete one action at a time and then play passes to the next player.  Play moves around the table until everyone has completed all their tasks and everyone has passed.

Players then resolve the event and pass the starting player token.

Points are earned for resources that are collected during the game (wheat, wine, cheese, money, etc) and by the citizens and markets built.  The value of the citizens and markets varies (between 1 and 6) depending on how far up the development track you have moved.  The development level effectively counts as a points multiplier.

Overall Thoughts

As I was setting this game up, there was some concern around the table about how complicated the game looked; after all, there are a lot of parts.  After only a round or two into the game, I think everyone had a solid grasp of how things worked and were more worried about where to place their workers than the game mechanics.

While there are lots of moving parts and lots of decisions to make, I don't think most people will run into analysis paralysis.  We played the game in about 2 hours, but I'm certain our next play will take much less time.

There are many short-term decisions to make, but many need to be taken with your long term plan in mind.

I think you can take several different paths to victory in this game.  There doesn't seem to be a single clear path that you need to take to win.

If you like strategy games with a "deck-building" mechanic, this would be a good fit.  I'd suggest this game to most groups.

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