Review – Camelot: the Build from Wotan Games
Designer: Julian Musgrave
Artwork: Ed Dovey, Dan Peterson, David Powell
I remember Wotan Games. Yeah you know, they published a few historical games based on the Arthurian legend such as Excaliber, King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table and others like Sorcerer King, Robin Hood and Merlin. Old skool games that attracted those of us who were into war games and historical games. They went out of business unfortunately as has happened to so many other publishers.
2013 and rising from the proverbial ashes like a phoenix, Wotan Games is back and with a new game, Camelot: the Build. This is a fast-playing tile-laying board game for 2-8 players (recommended 3-5) where you are laying out tiles to build the legendary seat of Arthur’s power, Camelot.
From the Wotan Games website –
A game of medieval interior design with all sorts of dubious stratagems, dirty tricks and subtle ploys designed to challenge all ages and types of players.
Designer’s Comments: having only three rules, a playing time of a half-hour, and bright, humorous graphics — it is the first title in “The Camelot Chronicles”, a series of easy-to-play games with a target of three rules, maximum playing time of one hour, and universal playability and appeal.
Camelot: The Build comes with the following components –
Game board showing the proposed layout of the foundations of Camelot
80 tiles depicting walls, buildings, gardens and grounds which you will be laying out on the board as you build Camelot. The art has a very nice Medieval look and feel which is understated but suits the game well. You also get a nice cloth bag for your tiles and scoring markers.
The rulebook is nicely laid out and easy to follow with a number of useful illustrations. The production quality is very good and will stand up to many plays. A nice package altogether.
The rules for Camelot: the Build are relatively short. In fact there are 3 rules…
Set-up is slightly different depending on the number of players. Each player then starts with 10 tiles.
1. Turns: A player in his turn may place up to three tiles onto the plan. At the end of his turn a player draws tiles to make up to 10, until the bag is empty. A player may keep up to 3 tiles face down (hidden) and the rest must be face up. The game ends when all squares have been covered by tiles.
2. Laying tiles: Tiles may be laid on on any square on the plan provided and black walls on the plan match those on the tile. If there are no black walls on a tile it may be laid on any plan square with no black walls with the exception of the 2 fireplace tiles which can only placed in a particular location. You may place 1-3 tiles in a turn.
3. Scoring: Players score in a number of ways each turn.
– the point values on the tiles plus the point values of adjacent tile (not diagonally)
– laying three tiles in a row, column or L-shape doubles the total scored that turn
– Garden tiles score diagonally as well only on the turns placed
– The score from the final tile placed by the player is doubled and then subtracted from his total
Its that simple, but the challenge is not finding the highest score alone but in thinking about when and where to place tiles. There are a number of blank tiles which can be used to cut down on you r opponents options, making it more challenging for them. So you will need to think about placement defensively as well.
The gameplay moves along nicely, the system is very solid and if you are familiar with other tile-lying games like Carcassonne, you will get into it quickly.
Did I enjoy Camelot: the Build?
This is a very solid game which is simple, yet challenging. It is attractive looking without going over the top and has a nice feel. The system will appeal to those who like tile-laying games and a much broader audience. In fact, I would definitely recommend Camelot: the Build as an excellent game to introduce to non-gamers as you will be up and running in 10 minutes. The fact that you will want to keep 3 tiles hidden from your opponents is neat as you will be trying to assess what your opponents have left to play as the board builds up and this may give you ideas on how you might limit their opportunities. So there is a nice element of “gotcha” which adds to the tension.
Most importantly, this is a fun game not a dry exercise that will lead to analysis paralysis. You will enjoying trying to outwit each other in making the best tile placements and confounding your opponent’s opportunities. Having the castle design may seem like it limits your placement and on the one hand it does, but the other players are also constricted and so rather than a free wheeling tile-placement game, you have here a slightly more linear one which may very well come down to the final play or a key play and that make the game interesting.
There is a growing desire for simple, fast-playing games with friends and family and Camelot: the Build fits nicely into this arena.
For more information go to – http://www.wotangames.com/