- Designer: Joao Quintela Martins
- Publisher: artgames
- Players: 2-4
- Age: 7+
- Time: 30 minutes
- Played with review copy provided by publisher/designer
Vidrado is a game that might look familiar to you – it is all about manufacturing typical Portuguese tiles – a theme made popular by Azul. This little card game is like an Adlung game on steroids – the game is comprised on 102 cards, all packaged in a double thick card box.
In the game, players are workers at a small craft tile factory; each aspiring to become the plant manager. In order to get this promotion, players must show proficiency at the four stages of tile manufacturer: modeling, glazing, drawing and painting. Each of these four stages of tile production has its own “deck” of cards, denoted by a different colored back. The Brown deck symbolizes clay, the basic form of the tile. The white deck is the ceramic glaze. The Grey deck symbolizes the charcoal used to draw the design onto the tile, and the Blue deck represents the paint used to finish the illustration of the tile. To start the game setup, each of these four decks is shuffled separately and the placed face up – with space for a discard pile beneath.
Then, under this, you set up the production line of the tile factory.- essentially a 3×3 grid of spaces for tile production – there will be one row for modeling, glazing and drawing. (Players will do the final stage, painting, in front of themselves). There are reminder cards for each of the four steps which are put nearby. Elsewhere on the table, the order cards and bonus cards are placed. Each player also needs their own workspace, where they place the Level 1/ 2 cards of the four stages – all set to Level 1. Yeah – though the game comes in a card box, you’re gonna need essentially as much table space as a regular game!
The turn structure is pretty simple. On a turn, the active player either draws a card or plays one from their hand. Then the next player goes. This continues until the game end.
When drawing a card, a player takes a resource cards from any of the 4 available decks and puts it in his hand. If you draw the special certification card, it goes into your play area, not into your hand. If the last card of a deck is drawn, flip over the discard pile of that deck to become the new deck. In the extreme case that there is no discard pile when a new deck is needed; ALL players must return all their cards of that color – these cards are shuffled to form the new deck.
If you play a card; the action depends on the type of card played. Most of the cards allow you to do the specified action once, though each deck has a card that allows the action to be done twice. If you play the card with the double action, you could instead choose to advance your level in that skill. If you move to the highest skill level, you will be able to gain victory points on special cards.
If you play a brown card, a new tile card is placed onto a free space of the modeling row on the factory floor. Remember, there are only 3 spaces in this row, so there must be a space available.
If you play a white card, you now glaze one of the previously modeled tiles. Flip a brown model tile card over to the white side and then slide it down into the glazing row of the factory. Again, there must be a vacant slot amongst the three of the allotment in the glazing row.
IF you play a grey card, you take a white card from the display, and then place a grey tile in the row beneath it. Guess what – there has to be an available space to do this. These grey cards are lettered A thru H, and each has a selection of colored blobs on it to show which paint colors are needed to paint it correctly.
If you play blue cards, you play any number of cards from your hand in order to paint up to 2 drawn-on tiles. Each blue cards comes with the capability of painting one or more colors of paint, and you must play enough cards to meet the color needs of your tiles. Once tiles are painted, the player should check if he is able to fulfill one of the order cards – if so they discard the painted tiles and take the more valuable order tile into their area.
If you have a card with Master Alfredo on it, you can use it to call him to your area. It costs an action to call Master Alfredo, but it does not cost an action to use him On your turn, if you have a Master Alfredo card, you can also use that card to take an additional production turn (i.e. virtually play one of the types of cards). . You cannot use Master Alfredo on the turn you play a card to get him. When you play Master Alfredo, you pass it to the player on your right.
If you have a certification card, you place it in your playing area; for the rest of the game, when you draw a card matching your certification type, you can discard the top (visible) card on that deck and take the one below it.
If you have an Inspection card, you can remove 1 or 2 unfinished cards (brown, white, grey) from the factory area and return them to their draw piles. In this way, you creat space in the production area for new cards to be played. If you choose not to play these cards, they are worth VPs at the end of the game.
The game continues until either the bonus point stack is depleted or the grey tile deck is depleted (i.e. most of them have been turned into painted tiles). At this point, the painting bonus card is given to the player with the most painted tiles, and each player sums the VPs on their cards. Additionally, each group of 3 different resource cards in hand is worth 5 points. The player with the most points wins.
My thoughts on the game
Well, as I mentioned earlier, when I first got the game, I jokingly remarked that it was an Adlung game on steroids due to the bigger box. However, after playing a few times, it’s a pretty good description. Though all the components are cards, there is a game here that could merit a big box – if in included a board to place cards on a well as individual player mats for organization, etc. As it stands, you just use your imagination and table space for these things…
When you first look at the game, it seems like most of the points come from finishing tiles and then using the finished tiles to fill orders. However, after playing the game a few times, there are definitely other ways to score. Getting the bonus points for getting to Level 4 in any of the four skills is quite rewarding as well.
There is an interesting competitive cooperation here – all players work on the first three phases on tiles in a common workshop. Normally, you don’t want to help out your opponents, but in Vidrado, you must – but at least you are rewarded for it. Each time that you do an action into the common workshop, you draw new cards as a reward; this is the way that you get the ability to do more things. Also, by keeping an eye out for what cards are likely in the deck (or possibly visible on top of the stack) – you can try to get the cards you want into your hand. Further, if you get the double action card, you can use it to advance your skill level – again with the goal being to possibly get bonus points upon reaching level 4.
One note about the card decks; on my next play, I’d change the rules up a bit to avoid the “Bruges problem”. The decks are placed face up as players are supposed to be able to see the top card of each deck. However, if the cards are not perfectly faced, you can sometimes get a glimpse of the next card down, and this brings all sorts of unintentional strategery into the game. Now, you may not choose a particular stack because you don’t want to knowingly give the 2x card to the next player, etc. I think I would recommend putting the decks face down and simply flipping up the top card. That seems to be an easy fix to the problem.
Anyways, back to the game, so here, you cycle through the actions, doing things in the common workshop to get you more cards to let you do further actions. What you do with those actions is up to you. Perhaps you focus on just modeling at first in order to get the first Level 4 promotion. Maybe you try to just cherry pick the drawn tiles as they get produced and then paint them as soon as possible. It will pay off with lots of short term points, and possibly best chance to fill orders, but you may not have as much flexibility in what else you can do. Also, you need to try to leverage your chances to use Master Alfredo so that you can double up on your actions by setting yourself up with the first action to take the second.
Be prepared for luck (or inadvertent card exposures) to play a big role in the game. You can always see the top card of each deck, but for the most part, it comes down to luck as far as what cards are available for you to draw each turn. If you’re lucky enough to have more 2X cards or inspection cards when its your turn to draw, you’ll likely do better. The variance for luck is high, but the game itself tends to be short (30 minutes or so) – so I don’t mind as much – but you should be aware and prepared for lucky draws to have a fairly large effect on the end result.
The rules are OK. In another Adlung comparison, the English translation is much better than regular Adlungese, but there are still a few rough spots – some possibly translation based, and some just less complete rules than I would like. It really took us a few rounds to really figure out how things work. The rules are smooshed onto 7 double sided cards, and due to the small surface area, I think some necessary elaborations and illustrative examples could not be included. Thus, there were a number of points in the game where we kinda had to work through the situation we found in our game and read/re-read the two sentences about it to figure out how the game works. I am fairly certain that we play the game as the designer intends, but a fuller set of rules could be helpful in that regard.
But, even with those caveats, there is an interesting game in this little box, and that increases my interest in the game. The game is deeper than I thought it would be, and I’ve enjoyed experimenting with the different strategies. Thus far, it does seem like you need to paint at least a few tiles to get enough points to win, but you certainly do not have to focus on that to do well. I’m always looking for big games in small packages, and Vidrado delivers in that regard. I look forward to getting this to the table again, and I see that he has a game about Gelato, and that’s a theme I’m always looking to explore as well – so I may hopefully try that one out soon as well!
Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers:
Mark Jackson: Making and painting Portuguese ceramic tiles… a multi-step process that now has its own game. There are a lot of cards here – nearly two decks worth – but it feels like the old single box Adlung Spiele games in using cards in very different ways. I think (at first glance) that painting and shipping tiles is the way to victory… but I’d like to be convinced otherwise. (Note: I’ve only played once… but I beat Dale, so that makes me the expert.)
Until your next appointment
The Gaming Doctor