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Board Game Review – Toledo

2012 February 19

I don’t think sword makers and Alcazars reign in Toledo, Ohio…we’re talking about getting the most victory points by delivering swords in, Toledo, Spain, in Martin Wallace’s board game, Toledo.

Toledo by Martin Wallace

Toledo by Martin Wallace

Designer: Martin Wallace

Number of players: 4

Age: 10+

Time: 60 minutes

What’s the game about?

A description from the publisher…

In Toledo players try to forge magnificent swords and bring them into the fortress of the city, the “Alcazar”.

Each player can send his five helpers on the map and on to the roads of Toledo, in order to acquire steel and jewels from dealers. Thus they get swords manufactured at the most famous armorer in the city. Afterwards those swords are to be delivered to Alcazar.

In addition there are two taverns (at which one “refuels” cards) as well as a place where the works of art of the resident painter, El Greco, are available.

There is a lot to discover in Toledo.

Basic idea in my own words…

In Toledo, you are racing against other players to deliver the highest value swords to the Alcazar. You do this by moving your 5 pawns around the board and collecting gems or diamonds and steel bars then stopping by the sword smith to turn those resources in to collect a sword. I really enjoy this game. I’d say in my Martin Wallace game experiences, it’s the lightest in weight and complexity, but that doesn’t mean the decisions are simple. The decisions are tough and will make you think. That’s a key to a great game, in my opinion. Games like this – that are very simple, yet decisions that are tough – based on a framework of rules and integration of theme – make a great game.

The games movement is where the bulk of the game lies. I’ll explain the movement a bit later but you are using cards to move your pawns, and not only that, you can stop movement of one pawn and move with more in one turn. In addition, you will start the game with business tiles that you place around the board to get resources and make swords.

A game of Toledo in progress

A game of Toledo in progress

How do you play…

The game is based on 1 of 4 actions you can take on your turn. The actions are…

  • Take 2 cards – as your action, you may take the top 2 cards off the movement deck. These cards are how you move in the game.
  • Move – You may lay down a movement card (numbered 1-6) down in front of you to move that many locations. You must end up on a tavern. El Greco, the Alcazar or on a business tile.
  • Move back to the cathedral – As one action, you may move one of your pawns back to the start of the board, which is the cathedral. This is a rarely used move but the purpose of it is when you have passed all the other good business tiles and can’t really do much else.
  • Place a business tile – you start the game with a handful of business tiles, which will represent where you may land during movement. As your action, you may place one business tile on an empty spot.
Pawns on a business tile

Pawns on a business tile

More on game play:

As mentioned above, the game is somewhat a race, to gather higher valued swords than your opponents, and manage to deliver them to the Alcazar. The board is a linear board in the respect that you start at the cathedral and make your way towards the alcazar, in one direction. So what you want to do, is try to land on business tiles (preferably yours) to gather resources, then turn those resources in to a sword smith and then deliver those swords to the Alcazar, who’s at the very end of the board.

So when you start the game, most people will be laying all their business tiles down that they can. Then its natural after that, that players will start collecting movement cards and   moving. You start the game with 5 movement cards. So as an example if the 3rd space on the board has the steel business tile, and you want to land there, you may throw down a 3 card – move your pawn and then do business. Doing business is not required. When you do business at a tile, you are resolving the action, such as collecting something or getting a sword, etc. If you do business at your own tile, there is no cost, but if you land on an opponent’s business tile, you must pay the required cost to them.

Toledo Board

Toledo Board

If you land on a business tile of an opponent and you want to do business there, you must pay the owner of the tile a movement card of at least 1/3/5. The number you pay depends on the level on the road you are in. You also don’t get change. Now, if you wish to continue moving, you can, but you must have a card with the same as the card that you initially laid. If you lay this 2nd card, you may move the same pawn again, or move another pawn. Then you may do business at a new tile as long as you can land on a open spot on the tile.

Some business tiles have two open spots, some one. you don’t count these individual spots when counting movement, but count the tile space. A mistake I made when I first played. As long as the tile has an open spot, you may land there. If there’s not an open spot, you may immediately play another card of the same value to continue moving on, or you may duel!

Dueling: when you want to duel someone, you choose the players pawn that you wish to duel, then start turning over 3 of the top cards in the movement deck, one at a time. The dueler’s are going to have a battle by seeing who will win best out of 3.  There’s the attacker (the person who initiated the duel) and the defender (the person who’s pawn is sitting in the location who’s being attacked).

Movement Cards detailing Duel colors

Movement Cards detailing Duel colors

Above you can see the movement cards, but what’s also on these cards are two men sword fighting under colors in the bottom.

In the game, there’s a business tile that allows you to take a tile to break movement one time a turn or take a dueling tile. These dueling tiles are in colors of purple, orange and brown. These same colors are also on the back of these movement cards, in addition to a neutral color. When these 3 movement cards are turned over, you’ll turn them over one at a time and see what color is on the bottom. If either player has the matching tile of the color in the background of the card, they will win that move/battle…but if both players have that matching color, or neither player has that color, this color scheme won’t count, so then what you do is look at the card detail and see who’s highlighted, the defender, or the attacker. If you’re the defender and the defender is highlighted, you win that one. So play proceeds like this for best out of 3.

If the attacker wins the duel, he can go in the spot of the defending player, as a result, the losing defender must go back to the start (cathedral). Also then, once moving on that spot, you can do business here. If the defender wins, the attacker must go back to start. Dueling is very beneficial when a player is almost at the alcazar and you wish to stop him.  After a duel, you can continue to move using normal rules.

Tavern space: The board also has two pre-printed locations that are taverns. The tavern will allow you to ditch a card equal to the row its in (just like paying someone else), and take 3 cars of the top of the movement deck.

El Greco: The painter, El Greco, has a spot on the board. He provides instant points for getting his paintings. If you land on his space, you can provide a movement card equal or higher than 3 I believe…and you’ll get the top card in the painting stack.

Movement Skill Tile: In addition to the other cards or tiles in the game, there’s a tile that allows you to break movement one time, per move action. This card is extremely powerful but it comes with a cost. At the end of the game, if you still have it, you lose 2 points. How this tile works is, say you move 3 times, with cards with a value of 1. You can now use this ability and choose to move with a card of any other value, but you must now start making other moves this turn with that new value.

To get rid of this tile, you must have all the other dueling tiles (only 1 allowed in each color), then land on the respective business tile again…to be able to take another duel tile (only time allowed) to filter out the special movement tile.

Winning the game: Play in the game continues clockwise until one player lands 3 of his 5 pawns at the alcazar. If you have a sword in front of you and you land a pawn at the alcazar, you place that pawn on top of a sword tile.

Now points are calculated. You’ll receive points that are valued on the sword tile. If you have any swords in your possession and could not deliver them, you’ll still receive points for them, but rounded down and half the value. Also, you’ll receive a point for every two gems you have. Also, you’ll receive points for any El Greco paintings you have, indicated on that card.


Components: 4/5

The quality of this game is great. The steel bars and business tiles are good stock. The gems are multi colored plastic and look really neat. The board is nicely done, a bit cluttered and I don’t care for the color scheme…but hey, this is Spain. The box insert is good too, but the box must be laid horizontally flat or else everything will fall out. Unless you use zip ties and something like hugo’s amazing tape to keep the cards and business tiles together. I know some people like to rip out the inserts but I really don’t like doing that. I think I have only done that in 2 games.

Theme: 3/5

The theme here has more promise than how much its actually applied. Its about swords, right? Well, there’s not a lot of dueling going on. And as a typical Euro…any other theme can be pasted on. But that’s OK. I prefer delivering swords than to say…flowers.

Luck Factor: 3/5

There’s a really good chunk of luck in this. I was almost tempted to raise it to 4 but I won’t. How you move is mostly determined by a random shuffle of the cards.

Strategy: 4/5

I like the level of strategy packed into this game for a game that’s so short. Being efficient with your cards and resisting moving your pawns too much up the road is one of the keys in this game.

Overall Feelings: 4/5

I really enjoy this game. It’s a short game, about 60 minutes that has a good amount of strategy. I love it when you have to think in a game that’s mechanics are simple. The production quality is great, the rules are mostly clear…and well illustrated. It’s a game that my family can play as well as satisfy an itch for a shorter game for heavier gamers like myself. I recommend this game highly.

Notes: Thanks to those who posted photos, of which I have used for this review. I also want to note that I did not have the rulebook in front of me when writing this review. This review is my review and is not meant to be the end all be all as far as a reference for a rule look up. I wrote this entry as a review…not a rules explanation, even though I do give a summary of the rules. There will be mistakes and that is my right, as this is from my blog. Thanks.

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