Game Buzz: Subdivision of Mad King Ludwig

With Spiel approaching, I’m starting to look to the games that will be coming out there.  Today, I’m going to look at two titles from American publisher Bezier Games – one that came out at GenCon, and one that is coming out at Spiel in October.  We’ll start with the one from GenCon:

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Subdivision is a new game in the Suburbia line.  It was designed by Lucas Hedgren, is for 1-4 players, and takes 45 minutes to play.  While it is thematically tied to Suburbia, the game is actually quite different.  In this one, you’re building a neighborhood instead of a city, and the game features dice rolling as well as drafting and tile placement.

The game comes with four double-sided subdivision boards, 80 hexagonal zone tiles, 24 hexagonal bonus tiles, 47 park tiles, 47 school tiles, 47 lake tiles, 64 sidewalks, 60 coins (in denominations of $1 and $5), a parcel die, and a score pad.  In the beginning, each player gets a board and $2.  The zone tiles are shuffled into four 20-tile stacks, and bonus tile is placed on top of the second, third, and fourth stacks.  Everything else is set aside for later use.

Subdivision lasts for four rounds.  At the beginning of each round, each player draws five tiles from the current round’s stack and puts them into their hand.  Then, one player rolls the parcel die.  Each player may then place a tile from their hand on a space matching that parcel die.  Alternately, you can spend $2 to place a tile anywhere, or not place and discard a tile to get $2.  This is done at the same time.  Once your tile is placed, you activate all zone tiles adjacent to the one you just placed.  This can allow you to place a park, school, lake, road, or sidewalk.

Once your tiles have been activated, pass your remaining tiles to the left.  A round ends when there is only one tile left (four have been placed or discarded).  That last tile is discarded.  At the beginning of the second, third, and fourth rounds, the bonus tile on top of the corresponding stack is evaluated and bonuses are awarded accordingly.  At the end of the fourth round, the game ends.  You score one point per occupied parcel next to a park, points for one of your sidewalks (up to 20), eight points for a school stack that is three tiles high, one point per $2 you have left, and five points per zone tile that has highway access.  If you have any uncovered parcels, you will lose or gain points according to what is printed on the board.  The player with the most points wins.

As I mentioned, this game is thematically tied to Suburbia, though it is very different.  You’re still placing hexagonal tiles, but rather than having a shifting market to buy from, you’re drafting tiles.  This means that you’re not only trying to play the tiles you need, but you’re also trying to prevent your opponents from getting what they need.  It also seems to be a little more abstract than Suburbia.  Still, it looks like fun with lots of avenues to gain points.  I look forward to trying it out sometime.

On to a game that is not part of the Suburbia brand, but has been called Suburbia 2.0:

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Castles of Mad King Ludwig is a game by Bezier Games founder Ted Alspach.  This is a 1-4 player game that takes 90 minutes to play.  The game is about King Ludwig II of Bavaria, a real king who funded the construction of a number of elaborate castles.  In this game, you will be building those castles, trying to build them to the king’s liking and score the most points.

Castles comes with a triangular contract board, two room boards, a corridor board, and a score tower.  These all come together to form the storage area, room market, and score tracker.  You also get 24 King’s favor tiles, 96 coins (denominations of 1000 and 5000), 50 room cards, 27 bonus cards, 6 stairs tiles, 9 hallway tiles, 75 room tiles of various shapes, 4 foyer tiles, 4 player markers, and a master builder token.  In the beginning, the boards are assembled and cards/tiles are all placed in their respective spots.  You’ll reveal one favor tile per player, then draw 5/6/7 cards (for 2/3/4 players).  These will tell you which room shapes to reveal.  These are placed under the board.  Each player gets a foyer, three bonus cards, and 15,000 cash.  One player becomes the Master Builder, and places their score marker on zero, with each subsequent player around the table placing on the next available space.

At the beginning of each round of play, the Master Builder fills in any empty spaces on the market track with rooms determined by room cards.  He then chooses which room is which price (1,000 to 15,000).  Beginning with the player to the left of the Master Builder, each player can then purchase a room or pass.  If you purchase a room, the money goes to the Master Builder (when the Master Builder purchases, money goes to the supply).  If you pass, you get 5,000.  You can also choose to purchase stairs or a hallway for 3,000 (money to the Master Builder).  Any room that was not purchased gets $1,000 placed on it to make it more tempting next time.

Purchased tiles are placed immediately in your castle.  Entrances must line up, and rooms cannot overlap.  Rooms will give you points (or penalize you) based on what is adjacent or present in your castle, as well as a standard base amount of points.  Additionally, rooms have completion bonuses if all entrances connect to other rooms – living rooms allow you to rescuer points, activity rooms give you five bonus points, sleeping rooms allow you to add rooms to the room card stack, outdoor rooms give you 10,000 money, utility rooms give you a bonus card, food rooms give you an extra ten, corridor rooms allow you to place a hallway or stairs at no cost, and downstairs rooms give you access to any of the other rewards.

The game ends when the room cards have run out.  Once that round ends, the game is over and players score bonus points for favors, as well as points for rooms that have been depleted, points from bonus cards, and points for money (1 per 10,000).  The player with the most points wins.

You can definitely see Suburbia’s influence in this game, from the storage board to the placement to the general feel of the game.  However, it is different in many ways.  It is very visually distinctive due to the different room shapes.  The aspect of having the Master Builder determine the price of each room is really intriguing to me – it’s like a reverse auction where the Master Builder decides how much people want what he’s selling.  If he makes them too cheap, he’s not going to get much money.  But if he makes them too expensive, he’s not getting any.  To me, this aspect seems like it will be one of the most interesting parts of the game, and also the part with the most potential for AP  Still, it’s a game I’m looking forward to trying.  I keep hearing great things about it, and I’m excited to see how it does.

Over the years, it’s been nice to see Bezier Games develop from the House That Werewolf Built to a company that is really trying to put out some quality games in different genres.  Both of these look quite solid, and I’m excited to give them a try.  Hopefully, you are too.  Thanks for reading!

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