- Designer: Stefan Feld
- Publisher: alea / Ravensburger
- Players: 1 – 4
- Ages: 12 and Up
- Time: 30-60 Minutes
- Times Played: 3
A Card Game Version of Stefan Feld’s 2011 Hit
This year marks the fifth anniversary of Stefan Feld’s The Castles of Burgundy, a modern classic in the hobby that still reigns as a top 10 game on BGG. The Castles of Burgundy is one of my favorites, so I was excited to try its card game spinoff.
The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game was recently released in Germany, but a U.S. release isn’t expected for at least a few more weeks, so I imported a German copy and asked the publisher for the English rules. What follows is my review of the game, complete with a quick rules summary. I’ve only played three times, but so far I’m enjoying the game, which has many of the joys of its predecessor in a streamlined format.
For a great video overview, I recommend Eric Martin’s preview at Spielwarenmesse 2016.
The Components and the Set Up
The first big difference I noticed between The Castles of Burgundy and the card game is the setup time. Castles of Burgundy is a bit of a challenge to set up, whereas the card game is a breeze.
The game comes with 114 “action cards” and 126 other cards, all of which are the same mini Euro size. All of the components (other than the rule book) are cards, and they are easily sorted by their backs.
The action cards take the place of both the tiles and the dice in the main game. These all get shuffled together, each player gets 6 per round (which they put face down on the table), and then a number are flipped up for the display depending on the number of players: 7 per round with two players, 10 per round with three players, and 13 per round with four players. The first 6 (12 in the four-player game) are placed going downward without regard to their dice number. The remaining card (or remaining four cards in the three player game) are placed according to their dice number.
The following picture shows a sample display for 4 players:
Each player receives one “project” card, one “estate” card, one “storage” card, one “good” (randomly picked), one “animal” (randomly picked), and one “silver.” The below display shows an estate in progress: two projects under the project card, some triplets forming under the estate card (plus a worker), and a silver and a sheep under the storage card.
The “silver” and “worker” cards are placed at the edge of the display. The animal and goods cards are shuffled and placed into two piles each (i.e. four total piles) alongside the silver and worker cards. The bonus, victory point, and round cards are all also placed near the board.
The youngest player goes first. The two players to his left each receive an extra worker, and the last player (in a four player game) receives two extra workers.
The game is played over five rounds (A-E), with six turns per round. The player with the most points at the end wins. As this is a Stefan Feld design, there is a feeling of point salad, with multiple paths to victory.
Everybody flips up the top two action cards from their set of six. The start player then takes his turn by discarding one of the action cards. A player has six possible actions on his or her turn:
- Take a card from the display and put it under your project card. The dice number on your discarded action card indicates which row you take from. You may modify this using workers. You can only ever have three cards under your project card.
- Take a card from under your project card and put it in your estate. The dice number from your discarded action card must match the card you’re seeking to take from under your project card. The goal at the end of the game is to form triplets: having three cards of the same type earns the victory points at the bottom of the cards. Players get immediate bonuses (as described below) for putting goods in your estate.
- Sell goods. The dice number indicates the type of goods you can sell. You can modify with workers. There are light, medium, and dark goods. The sold goods are moved to indicate that victory points have been received for them, and a player takes a silver for each good card sold. The player also takes the start player card (which won’t apply until next round).
- Restock workers to two cards. Die number does not matter. If you have no workers, you take two. If you have one, you take one. If you have two or more, you take none.
- Take one silver. Die number does not matter.
- Convert workers and/or silver into victory points. Dice number does not matter. Put any number of cards into the supply, divide the number put back by three, and take that many victory points.
In addition to your normal turn, you can buy three additional action cards for three silver cards. This can be done before, during, or after your normal action. You choose only one of these new cards to either put under your project card or use the dice value as an action (immediately). The other two go in the discard pile.
As described above, when you put a card into your estate, you get a bonus action depending on the card type:
- 12 Castles (Dark Green). Take a free action with any dice number.
- 12 Mines (Grey). Take two silver from the supply.
- 18 Knowledge (Yellow). Take two workers from the supply (regardless of how many you already have).
- 18 Ships (Blue). Take one good card from one of the two decks.
- 18 Pastures (Green). Take one animal card from one of the two decks.
- 12 Cloisters (Violet). Cloisters can count as a wild for forming triplets (they are placed with the other cards immediately), or they are worth more victory points than normal if they form their own triplet, but they otherwise have no immediate bonus.
- 24 Buildings (Brown). The action taken depends on the type of building: there are eight types.
There are the eight types of buildings:
- Carpenter’s Workshop: Take a building card or a knowledge card.
- Church: Take a cloisters, castle, or mine.
- Market: Take a pasture or a ship.
- Watchtower: Take a victory point.
- Bank. Take three silver.
- Boarding House. Take one good or one animal from one of the decks.
- Warehouse. Sell one type of good.
- City Hall. Immediately place one additional project.
Once cards are in your estate you may not move them again.
Most of the points in the game come from forming triplets. There are bonuses for being the first player to complete a type of triplet. A triplet also awards bonuses based on what round it is, with better bonuses being available in earlier rounds. Lastly, there is a bonus for having all seven types of cards, with more bonus points being awarded to the players that accomplish it first.
A round ends when all players have used all of their action cards. A new round begins: discard cards from the display and deal and put out new action cards. The game lasts five rounds.
Points are awarded at the end of the game for:
- Bonuses (either for being the first player to complete a type of triplet, or for having all seven types of cards).
- Victory point cards.
- Sold goods.
- Animals. Having four different types earns 4 points, three types earns 2 points, and two types earns 1 point. You can earn multiple sets.
Highest score wins!
My Thoughts on the Game
Castles of Burgundy is among my favorite games (and it is easily my favorite Stefan Feld design), so it high praise when I say that Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game has a similar feel to its predecessor. Everything I love about Castles of Burgundy is here: the fun combos, the interesting choices, the rewards for clever planning, and the multiple paths to victory. In short, if you enjoy Castles of Burgundy, you’ll probably like this card game, which features a lot of value for its price point. (I paid about 11,49 Euro, the equivalent of about $13.00.)
Fans of the original will have no problem learning this game quickly. Many of the original mechanics are still here. But even the previously-unexposed can learn the game in ten-to-fifteen minutes. The rule book is well-written, with reminders printed in the margins. The symbols on the cards make the game language-independent and intuitive. The cards are an appropriate size: full size cards may have been nice, but the game is already a bit hard on the table space. (It takes approximately the same amount of space as a game of 7 Wonders.)
Gameplay is fast — certainly faster than the original — and the total game, including setup and takedown, took us about 30-45 minutes. Castles of Burgundy has sometimes felt too long for me, but this so far has felt about right. As mentioned above, this is far easier to prepare for play than the original, since the cards are quite easy to sort.
Is it as deep as the original? No, but I don’t think it is meant to be. Rather, this is a fast-paced card version with the feel of the original. Part of the fun of Castles of Burgundy is figuring where on your board to put a tile and balancing when to complete regions, and that is entirely missing here. That depth isn’t replaced. But the mechanics are still smooth, and this is more of a “filler plus” version of Castles of Burgundy. I especially liked the addition of the Cloisters, which make for interesting decisions.
There may be slightly less depth, but the game also moves faster — and is more approachable — so there’s certainly a niche that this game fills. I’ll happily keep it on my game shelf in the years to come, knowing that I can satisfy my Castles of Burgundy cravings with its card-game equivalent.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it!
- I like it. Chris W.
- Not for me…