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Board Game Review – Guildhall

2013 August 7

Review copy kindly provided by Alderac Entertainment Group.

Some people have trouble holding down a job. And it’s just as hard in Guildhall, by Alderac Entertainment Group.

Guildhall by Alderac Entertainment Group

Guildhall by Alderac Entertainment Group

Designer: Hope S. Hwang

Number of players: 4

Age: 12+

Time: 45 minutes

What’s the game about?

A description from the publisher…

Guildhall is a card game for 2-4 players from Alderac Entertainment Group. Designed by Hope S. Hwang, Guildhall features intricate play using a simple set of cards. Each player gathers medieval professionals into his or her guildhall. The more members of one profession a player collects into a chapter, the more powerful they become. When a player collects five of one kind, they band together to claim victory!

With colorful art, easy rules, and icon-driven game play, Guildhall is a perfect game for both dedicated gamers and new players!

Basic idea in my own words…

In Guildhall, you are trying to obtain the most points by when the game ends by collecting varying profession cards and of varying colors into your guildhall. Your guildhall is just your tableau or playing area that lies in front of you. The professions have numerous effects on the game and the game ends as soon as somebody gets 20 points. There’s a lot of interaction between players in this game, and at it’s core, the mechanic I would label as set collection with hand management.

Guildhall Professions

Guildhall Professions

How do you play…

After first player is determined, as the first players action, during setup they’ll draw profession cards randomly and then draw 3 more. At this point, they can discard what they want and start their game ending with 6 cards in hand. During setup as well, the player lays down 3 professions of varying professions into their guildhall. You will be cascading your cards by profession into a row of cards in front of you. The professions bundled in the rows are called chapters.

This proceeds around the table for everybody and then starting with the first player, each player resolves their 2 allotted actions a turn. Each player may choose to resolve any acton they wish, repeating them or mixing them as desired, but only 2. Actions are as follows.

  1. Play 1 card into your action area and resolve it
  2. Discard any number of cards from your hand and draw up to 6
  3. Buy 1 VP card from the center row

1. Play 1 card – A player decides what profession they want to play out of their hand and lays it down in their tableau, but off set from the cards or “chapters” already in their guildhall. The player may take an appropriate action of the card. The cards have varying numbers on them. For instance, if on the left of the card, there’s a 2, and you want to take that action, the 2 means you would have to already have 2 of that profession laying down in a chapter. Of course, you can always take a lesser action, if it permits. A 0 action, can always be taken. Leave your profession card that you just played away from a chapter still. They don’t go into a chapter until your turn is done. There are different actions for the different professions. I will go over the professions in a bit. 

2. Discard – You may simply discard any number of cards from your hand and draw up to 6. This is the only way to get new cards into your hand, not through a special action or profession. So when your turn is done, you don’t automatically start with new cards.

3. Buy 1 VP card – This is the action to win you the game. For 1 action, you may turn in a completed chapter to the discard pile and choose a VP card.

Victory point cards and chips

Victory point cards and chips

The obvious large number in the middle of the card is the number of VP’s. The bottom of some cards have bonus actions. When you buy these cards, you can use its special ability. On the top of the card you will see icons of cascaded cards. These are completed chapters. It is the cost to buy the card. Either 1 or 2 chapters. Victory point chips can only be gained by using the farmer’s ability. If you have 20 points after this action, the game has ended.

Professions and their abilities:

I will go over a couple of the professions.

Farmer:

Farmer

Farmer

Having 1 farmer out will give you 1VP coin, 3 out – 2 points.

Trader:

Trader

Trader

0 traders will let you take a card out of your own guildhall and swap it wither another players.

In addition to these professions, there are…

  • Dancer
  • Assassin
  • Historian
  • Weaver

Each profession holds good abilities that I find that I end up using 80% of them at one point during the game.

Game rules:

Now, if you were just collecting professions, it may not be that interesting, so there’s a rule structure the game is build around. The limiting structure is that you can’t place duplicate cards down in your guildhall. There are 5 colors of each profession, so you can’t have down two yellow farmers. So this creates a sense of urgency and chasing down the colored card you want. And this creates a lot of interaction between the players.

Game end:

After a player takes his/her two actions, play proceeds clockwise and once a player earns 20 points, either through the purchase of cards, and or by victory point chips, the game is immediately done. The game can last as little as 20 minutes or as long as about 45 minutes.

Breakdown

Components: 3/5

The cards are of typical, good, Alderac quality, as is the box. The insert also helps, but I wouldn’t want to store the game vertically. The rule book is fully colored and detailed as well.

Theme: 3/5

Medieval-ish themes seem to be my favorite. That or themes baked in history some how. I like the theme, it works well with the game.

Luck Factor: 4/5

Where there’s a card game with random draws, there’s an intense amount of luck. But the game doesn’t last very long, so it shouldn’t be a surprise or anger hard core gamers that want a pure strategy game if they lose.

Strategy: 3/5

There’s good/average amount of strategy in this game. It’s not as random and pure luck game more along the lines of Killer Bunnies, but hey, there’s a lot of random card drawing but you need to play smart. It can seem a bit chaotic though with 4 players. It seems you can’t hold onto a chapter too long without someone taking cards.

Overall Feelings: 4/5

Guildhall has been a great hit among my gaming group! It’s quick to setup and play and it’s not too hard to teach. You just will have to reference the rules for the iconography at first. I just wish the game supported more players. Overall, I would highly recommend Guildhall! This game is a keeper.

 

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