Whenever I need to fill up a gaming slot of 30-45 minutes, I try to play The Builders: Middle Ages, a city building game where players collect workers and build buildings for money and victory points. It won a well-deserved “As d’Or” in the 2014 Festival de Cannes.
Players each receive an Apprentice builder and 10 coins. The Builders deck and Buildings deck are shuffled and placed out onto the table. Five of each type of card are dealt out to the table and the game begins.
On their turn, a player is able to take three actions. These can consist of several different types of actions.
1. Pick up a building. When a building is picked up, it is replaced by the top card on the building deck
2. Pick up a worker. When a worker is picked up, it is replaced by the top card on the worker deck.
3. Assign a worker. Players can pay the cost of a worker and then put him to work on a selected building.
4. Take gold. Using up one action, a player collects one gold. Two actions for three and three actions for six.
Players can take the same action twice, however when doing so, it counts as multiple actions. For instance, a player can assign a worker as their first action and then assign another worker on the same building, this is two additional actions. If they assign a third worker, it would take three additional actions. Players may purchase additional actions (beyond their starting three) at 5 gold a piece to extend their turn.
Players are attempting to build buildings. To do this, they must match workers up to the building using the materials on the worker. When a building is completed (by using all the materials needed), it is flipped onto its completed side and the player takes the total coins shown (if any) as well as victory points. Some buildings act as tools and can be used as materials for the rest of the game.
The game will end once a player has reached at least 17 victory points. Players receive one last turn if each player has not received equal turns. Once the game ends, players count up their total scores (players get 1 point for every 10 coins they have), and the player with the most points wins.
The Builders: Middle Ages is a great card game that lasts just long enough and has enough strategy in it to stay interesting. I like that players are able to purchase multiple actions in order to continue their turn. I also like how the game always seems just out of reach for those who lost it. It makes me want to start right over and keep playing to try and win the next one.
If you want to go further, you can also acquire The Builders: Antiquity — a standalone card game based on The Builders: Middle Ages — offers a whole range of challenges to its builders. To face these challenges, you must put on your foreman clothes. Between hiring workers, managing their organization, purchasing slaves or tools, and taking out loans, you’ll have to make the right decisions to fulfill your dream: Becoming the greatest builder the age has ever known.