Game Buzz: Guildhall

AEG came into Spiel 2012 with their Tempest games as the big release, but they kept teasing a super secret surprise game.  That game turned out to be

image by BGG user AEGTodd
image by BGG user AEGTodd

Guildhall is a 45-minute, 2-4 player game published by AEG and designed by Hope S. Hwang  It’s a card game where you’ll be playing different cards to try to complete sets and fill your Guildhall.  Each profession has different abilities, and you’ll be racing with your opponents to get your halls filled first.

There’s not a whole lot in the game – 120 profession cards, 30 VP cards, and 52 VP tokens.  The profession cards include 4 sets of 6 different professions – assassin, farmer, historian, trader, dancer, and weaver – in five different colors.  At the start of the game, these are shuffled together into a deck, and 9 are dealt to each player.  From these, you may discard as many as you like, then draw back up to nine.  You’ll put three face up on the table (no duplicate colors or professions) to form your guildhall.  Additionally, five VP cards are dealt face up.

On your turn, you get two actions – play a card, discard and draw, or buy a VP card.  To play a card, you simply take it from your hand and play it face up.  The card can’t be the same color and profession as any card in your guildhall.  Each card has a special ability based on how many cards there are currently in your guildhall:

  • Assassin: This guy allows you to discard cards from one other player’s guildhall.  At level 0, you can discard one card.  If you’re at level 2, you can discard one card each from two different chapters (groups of the same profession).  At level four, you can discard two cards, even from the same chapter.
  • Farmer: At level 1, you earn 1 VP token, and at level 3, you earn 2 VP tokens.
  • Historian: This allows you to take cards from the discard pile and put them into your guildhall (as long as it isn’t a duplicate of a card already there).  At level 0, you take the top card of the discard pile.  Level 2 allows you to look through the discards and take one.  Level 4 allows you to look through the discards and take two.
  • Trader: This allows you to swap cards with another player’s guildhall (as long as the swap does not result in duplicates).  At level zero, you can swap one card.  At level 2, swap two cards.  At level 4, swap an entire chapter consisting of at least one card.  This means you could trade a single card chapter with an almost full one.
  • Dancer: Draw a number of cards equal to the number of dancers in your guildhall, then take another action.
  • Weaver: This allows you to exchange cards between your hand and guildhall.  At level 0, you put one card from your hand into your guildhall.  At level 2, you exchange two cards from your hand with one card from your guildhall.  At level 4, you exchange as many cards from your hand as you want with two from your guildhall.

You can always use a lower level ability if you don’t want to, or can’t use the current level.  If you don’t play a card, you can discard any number of cards, then draw back up to six cards.  You can also choose to turn in completed chapters (with all five colors of one profession represented) to buy VP cards.  (Completed chapters, by the way, can’t be affected by other cards.)

At the end of your turn, move all cards you played to your guildhall.  If you have 20 VP or more at this point, the game is over and you win.  If not, play continues until someone wins.

This game seems very simple and straightforward.  There appears to be lots of “take that” in the game, but some strategy in figuring out how to play your cards.  I’ve been hearing very good things, and it does seem fun.  Not something my wife would like, I’m sure, but I think I would.  I tend to like set collection games, and figuring out the various ways the cards work together should be interesting.  It also adds an interesting take on role selection, which is another mechanism that appeals to me.  So yes, I think this is one to keep my eye on.

With that, I think I’m done looking at the games that came out at Spiel 2012.  And it only took me two months after the fair.  But I got it done before the new year, and I think I’ll take a little break now.  See you January 1!  Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and thanks for reading!

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3 comments

  1. There is very little “take that” in this game actually. The Trader and the Assassin and a couple of the bonus effects from the VP cards leads to some interaction, but it really only comes down to three mechanisms: discard an opponent’s card, steal one of their chapters (which occurs very rarely), and trade which allows you to grab one or two useful cards from your opponent and give them one or two less useful cards from your guild. None of these effects make my wife as angry as Catan’s robber does!

    • Thanks for the comments about the game. It’s good to hear that it’s not as confrontational as it sounds. And my wife dislikes the robber in Catan as well, to the point that she won’t play the game with it. She also hates the Assassin in Citadels, always making us use the Witch instead.

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