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Author: Jean du Poel

Publisher: Kosmos 1998

Awards: none



With this game finally the first game from Jean du Poelīs historical Games has found itīs way to one of the bigger games-publishers. It has been a long way for Jean, since he has done many games for the last 10 years but he always produced his games only in low circulation numbers.

Wettstreit der Baumeister is a game about the building of medieval towns. Up to four architects were called to a contest in order to find out who is able to build the most valueable city....

The main part of the game is concerned with the auctioning of single buildings for the cities of the architects. In the game, 5 different kinds of building cards exist (each category having buildings of different values):

  • Corner-Towers
  • Towers
  • Gates
  • Town Halls
  • Chruches
At the beginning of the game, all these cards are mixed and then distibuted equally into two stacks at the middle of the table, one stack open und one stack face-down. These cards form the stockpiles from which the players may auction buildings.

At the beginning each player has coins worth 10 Taler, and with these he must try to build and expand a city. During his turn, a player first collects his income, depending on the roll of a die plus 1 Taler for each coin-symbol on a Gate which he has placed in his city. If the player doesnīt roll a number but a round symbol while rolling for income, he gets one of the five saboteur-markers which he places with his money. After collecting his income, the player must auction a building. He may decide whether he wants to auction the uppermost building from the open pile or from the face-down pile. If he decides for the face-down pile, the player (and only HIMSELF) may have a look at this building before starting the auction. After having decided which building to auction, the player starts the auction by bidding a free amount of Taler for the building. Now the other players can join in, going over the bid of the starting player or dropping out of the auction. If finally all but one players have dropped from the auction, this player must pay the amount of Taler he has bid to the bank and then he may take the building to his hand of buildings. To end his round, the current player now decides whether he wants to build one of the buildings he has at hand or if he wants to play a saboteur (if he has a saboteur-token).

If a player build buildings for the first time, he must place at least 3 buildings from his hand to build the start of his new town. Later a player may build single buildings and place them next to buildings he has already played. For building new buildings, a player has to follow certain rules. Most important, the player has to place each building next to at least one other building so that he will get a continuing city. A player may only build one city, and this city may only contain one Town Hall. Furthermore, no two buildings of one kind may be placed next to each other. At both ends a city has to be finished with Corner-Towers, but the 2nd tower (which "closes" a city) may only be placed in the final round.

If a player decides to use a saboteur, he must try sabotage with the player whose city offers the lowest number of Shield-Symbols on Towers. The sender of the saboteur may chose a building in this city and then roll a dice: If he rolls a saboteur-symbol, the sbatage was successful and the building was destroyed. Otherwise the sabotage is unsuccessful and perhaps the attacked player even gets some additional funds. If a player has more than 4 building-cards at his hand, the saboteur may also chose to sabotage this hand of cards. One of these cards is drawn randomly and is discarded (without rolling the dice !).

After the last building has been auctioned, this player may complete his turn and then the game goes to one final round. In this round each player may play up to 3 of the buildings he still has at hand, and after this the game ends. The values of each city are found out by the following criteria:

  • Each building counts for its printed value.
  • If a city is complete, i.e. it has both Corner Towers and no building is missing in between, additional points may be gained:
    • Is the Town-Hall exactly in the center of the Town, the player gets 10 additional Victory Points.
    • Is there exactly the same number of churches on both sides of the Town Hall, 5 additional Points are awarded.
    • Have the Corner Towers on both sides the same value, the player gets again 5 additional Points.
The Player with the highest score has won the game.

Exspecially if played with 4 players "Wettstreit der Baumeister" offers a fine start into a boardgames-meeting due to its short duration of about 40 minutes. Jean du Poel has succeeded in bringing much charm into the business of building, and he has added a good amount of competition between the players. This interaction between the players is the real spice of the game. Players may try to outbid other players for buildings, or they may try to bluff during an auction in order to push up the price for a building to an enormous amount. And, if all auctions go wrong and nothing helps, there still is the soothing possibility to see another playerīs careful constructed town go up in flames...

"Wettstreit der Baumeister" is a fine game and itīs certainly more than worth its low price. Hopefully more of Jeanīs games will be published by bigger companies like Kosmos someday.

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany