Theme Game Days #2 – Worker Placement

27 Dec

Worker Placement day could just as well have been called “Stuff we got for free from CABS day.” We were only able to get to four games this day, and three of them had been gained as gifts from various events in our game club over the years. I think these games tend to get a bad rap in the local game community. There’s a sense that, if a game was free, it must be lousy. After this game day, I feel like we’ve disproved that belief. We also discovered that we have a really loose definition of the term “Worker Placement.”

Game #1 – Castle For All Seasons

A Castle For All Seasons was designed by Inka and Markus Brand. They designed Saint Malo, which I did not care for at all last week. Thankfully, this game was quite a bit better. In Castle, each player starts with an identical hand of worker cards. At the same time, each player chooses a worker card from hand, and then they are revealed at the same time. The worker cards are how players get various resources, and how they get the right to build buildings on the main board. The twist is that once you play a worker, you cannot do that same action again until after you’ve used a turn to play your Master Builder. After building, certain workers give you the right to place Helpers on the board. These helpers will be the main way players score points in the game. This is a truly excellent game. The board is double-sided, with a Winter variant on the back. The board art is some of the best I’ve seen. I really enjoyed this game, and feel like it’s going to replace a few other worker placement games in my collection.

Game #2 – Royal Palace

Royal Palace is almost two games in one. In the first part, players move servants around a 3×3 matrix of cards in order to gain the money and royal seals required to gain control of the nobles that are standing around in the garden. One neat aspect of the game is that nobles begin getting cheaper the more empty spaces are nearby. Getting the nobles around the edge of the board is extremely important since there are special bonuses at the end of the game. I forgot those. I lost. Badly. This game is all about using your servants as efficiently as possible in order to get the maximum out of them. I’m sadly not known for my efficiency. I did quite enjoy this game. Another very pleasant surprise.

Game #3 – Louis XIV

Louis XIV is more of an influence majority game than anything else. Players play influence markers onto nobles (for some reason, old timey Europe seems to be a REALLY popular setting for worker placement games). The goals of the game are to finish as many mission cards as possible by collecting the various favor token gained by having the most influence on certain nobles every turn, and to collect sets of shield tokens, which are gained by finishing said missions. There is a fairly big luck element to this game, thanks to how many points can be gained from collecting sets of completely random shields. This is a perfectly cromulent little game, but in the grand scheme of things I don’t see this as a game that excites me enough to ever request playing it.

Game #4 – Voyages of Marco Polo

Actual worker placement! Also, the only non-free game of the day! As long as you count dice as workers. This game reminds me quite a bit of Kingsburg, another game where you roll dice, and then place them on a board for actions. There’s one big difference between the Voyages of Marco Polo and Kingsburg…I like Marco Polo. It feels like there is more interaction between players with worker placement. I really like the travel aspect of the game as well (it’s also the part of the game I’ve screwed up the most in both of my games). I just think Marco Polo flows better as a game, and it’s definitely one of my favorites of 2015.

I was a little disappointed we didn’t get around to Pillars of the Earth, as it’s one of my favorite worker placement games, but sadly I ran out of time. (I did actually play it 2-player the next day, but it doesn’t work quite as well that way).


Week 3 was Card Game day. Highlights to come soon!


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