Game Buzz: Canterbury

It’s been an interesting week for me.  Last Friday, i got a call from a friend that one of the actors in the production of Merchant of Venice he was in had gotten sick, and they needed someone to fill the role.  My friend knew I had done some acting waaaaay in the past, and so he thought I’d ask.  The show was opening in a week, and the role was kind of an important one – Antonio, THE Merchant of Venice.  So I went in and read for it, and got cast.  It’s been a week now, we opened last night, and I actually managed to remember all of my lines.  It hasn’t left a lot of time for blogging, but now that rehearsals are done, I should be able to get back to it.

With that said, I want to say  welcome to anyone who found this blog through my recent appearance on On Board Games.  If you haven’t heard it yet, here’s the link.  They had me talk a little about blogging and dice mechanics in games.  It was a fun experience…I’ve been listening to that show for a long time, and I enjoyed getting to actually interact with them.

Anyway, now that I’m back one of the games I’ve wanted to cover and almost fell through the cracks is

image by BGG user Andrew Parks
image by BGG user Andrew Parks

Canterbury is a new game from designer Andrew Parks and Quixotic Games.  It is currently on Kickstarter, and only has hours left to go.  For a while, it was not certain the game would be funded – they were asking for $50,000 and as of yesterday, they still hadn’t met it.  However, they are over the mark now, so the game should be funded.  If you’re reading this on Saturday, June 1, 2013, and want to participate in the campaign, you have until 11:59 PM EDT.  If it’s June 2 or later, well, maybe you’ll be able to get it in wide release.

Canterbury is a 2-4 player game of medieval city building that takes 90 minutes to play.  It’s a Euro-style game where you are attempting to gain the most prosperity points as you try to build the city of Canterbury into a prosperous capital.  It comes with a board, 55 small structure tokens, 30 medium structure tokens, 6 large structure tokens, 60 Saxon coins, a two-piece structure sideboard, a King’s bonus chart, 4 player boards, 4 reference charts, 4 rank tokens, 4 +100/+200 tokens, 2 two-player expert variant tokens, 201 wooden cubes, a purple city marker, and 3 purple city discs.

At the beginning, each player gets 6 gold, as well as a board and player cubes of a color.  Six of these cubes are placed beside the King’s bonus chart, each next to one of the icons: water, food, religion, defense, commerce, and culture.  Structures are stored on the structure sideboard.  The first player gets rank token 1, and (if you only have two players) each player gets a neutral builder token.  It should be noted that there is an advanced two-player game, but beginners should start with the 3-4 player version.

This game is played in rounds, with each player getting a turn in one round.  In each round, players take one of three actions – levy funds, full build, or tax and build.  In the first round, players must do a full build.  When you take an action, you put your action marker inside the corresponding box on your player board.  Here’s some more detail on the actions:

LEVY FUNDS: Based on the position of the City Marker on the Prosperity Track, you will collect money.  If the marker is at 1-10, you get 5 gold.  If the marker is at 11-20, you get six.  And so on.  The Prosperity Track only goes up to 100, but the +100/200 token will mark when you cross that.  Basically, if the +100 is up, add 10 to the gold, and if the +200 is up, add 20.  So, the more prosperous the city, the more cash you can get.

On the next turn after levying funds, you MUST take a full build action.

FULL BUILD: You can build 1-2 small/medium structures, or you can build 1 large structure.  Small structures take up one space in the city, medium structures take up two spaces, and large structures take up four.  The steps of a full build are as follows:

  • Select structure(s) – Pick your structures.
  • Pay gold – Pay the cost of each structure.
  • Place first structure – Structures must be placed in a district that either already contains a structure, or is orthogonally adjacent to a district with structures.  The game starts with an Old Well in the central district.  There are three other rules: first, the same structure cannot be built in a district that already has it; second, there must be space available in the district to place what you want (you can rearrange and demolish if you need to); third, the preceding services need to already be present.  The order of service icons is water-food-religion-defense-commerce-culture.  So, if you want to place a defense building, water, food, and religion already need to be present.
  • Place service markers – The icon on the building indicates the service marker to be placed.  Small structures place a service marker only in the current district.  Medium structures place service markers in that district and ever orthogonally adjacent district.  Large structures place a service marker in that district, and one in up to five other districts anywhere on the board.  Service markers can never be removed.
  • Place second structure – Do this if applicable.
  • Place service markers – Do this if applicable.
  • Update the King’s bonus chart – Advance your marker on the King’s bonus chart one space for each of the services you provided.
  • Advance the City marker on the Prosperity Track – The building has a number in the lower left corner that tells you how much to advance the Prosperity track.
  • Advance your score marker on the Prosperity Track – In the lower right corner, there is a number of how much to advance your own score marker.  Large structures have three numbers, and you get different points depending on where it is built.
  • Receive Prosperity bonuses – If you get any.  District favors are received when the City Prosperity crosses 100/200/300, as well as the end.  You could also get a Breaking Ground bonus for building in an empty district, or an enrichment bonus for demolishing a structure to make room for a larger structure that provides the same service.

TAX AND BUILD: Your final action choice is to get money and build in the same turn.  Gain half of the gold you would receive by Levying Funds, and build one small, medium, or large structure.

When the District Favor Bonuses have been scored for the third time (when the City Prosperity track reaches 300), the current round is played out, and one more round is played.  You’ll then score District Favor bonuses one more time, and award King’s Bonuses for the people who provided the most of each service.  Each player also gets one more point per 3 gold they have left.  The winner is the player with the most points – ties are broken by the person with the fewest coins.

I’ve  been getting away from Eurogames recently, mostly because of the disconnect with the theme.  I’m finding that theme is more and more important to me as it helps me make sense of what I’m doing.  This one has that same abstracted feel to it with a grid of squares used for tiles, and the ability to rearrange as you please (something you absolutely couldn’t do with a real building).  Still, I always like good mechanisms, and this one looks very solid in that respect.  The service markers serve as a kind of advancement mechanism, and those always fascinate me.  You have to build up to that big culture building, you can’t just hoard money until you can build it.  At the same time, you’ve got to be aware of how you’re potentially helping your opponents because, once a service is present, it’s present for everyone.

Canterbury looks like a very fun game to me, and I’m glad it’s going to be produced.  You have about seven hours from the time of posting to go back it if you’re interested.  Thanks for reading!

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