Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Wolfgang Kramer &
Michael Kiesling


No. of Players:
2 - 4



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Over the last years Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling have provided us with many excellent, often perfectly designed family games. Their newest game Die Paläste von Carrara is published by HANS IM GLÜCK, and from first view it seems to follow the successful line. After Pantheon in in 2011, it is the second game from HANS IM GLÜCK that comes in the new huge rectangular box. The title reminds a bit of Der Palast von Alhambra or Der Palast von Eschnapur, and indeed we can find some similarities to these two games, especially concerning the building mechanisms.

Die Paläste von Carrara lets us participate in a building boom of an emerging Italy sometime in the late Middle Ages. As heads of princely families we are asked to build up magnificent buildings in different towns of Italy and enrich them with special objects. The rules let us know that the King himself will inspect the progress to encourage the hard-working and reward the efficient heads. Not that Die Paläste von Carrara is a historical game or tells us much about the background story. There is only a very short passage about this in the rules, the rest of the story must be made up by the players (if needed). But at least the theme fits to the mechanics. And so the nice graphics of the boards and the building cards helps us to develop the story further.

[IMAGE]Now let us have a closer look at the rules and the game mechanisms. Our turn starts with the choice of one of the following three actions:

The first action we can take and surely the main attraction of the game is the buying of building blocks from a market wheel. If we choose this action a wheel that is arranged on the board at the beginning of each game is rotated by one section. The result is that the price for all building blocks already on the wheel is reduced by one. For this the wheel is divided into six sections. After each rotation, new blocks are put into section one. In this section the costs for the building blocks are highest. So, for example the cheap black blocks begin with a cost of one in section one and can be taken for free in all other sections. On the other hand, the white blocks are treated differently. These expensive building materials begin with a cost of six, and this is reduced one by one until the final cost of one in section six. After a rotation a player may buy as many blocks as he likes, but he may only chose from one section. So he often must choose between only one or two blocks in a cheap section or several blocks in a more expensive section. The reason is that all cheap blocks normally are taken in one of the first sections and only the expensive building blocks remain on the wheel until they reach a section in the last third. With four players it is very risky to speculate on the outlay of the next round, but with fewer players this is worth consideration.

Now that we have equipped us with building materials, we surely want to use them and are anxious to construct buildings. This is our second possible action. We can choose the available buildings from a 3x3 outlay on the main board. Every building has its own costs and belongs to a building type, as is indicated by the graphics and a text. Additionally the building tiles show us which object is associated to this type of building. The building costs simply tell us how many building blocks we must pay to take one of the building tiles and put it to one of our own cities. Our individual player boards show us six different cities (same cities for every player) where we can place the buildings. Three of the cities will bring us money in a scoring, the other half is necessary for getting victory points. But first we have to bring the buildings to the cities. For this each city tells us which kind of building blocks we may use to construct the buildings in this city. In Lerici you can use all blocks, but in Pisa only yellow and white blocks (the two most expensive ones) are allowed. On the other hand buildings in Pisa count triple in a scoring. In many cases it is wise to wait until you have enough of the expensive building blocks to construct a building in a more important city. But on the other hand all depends on the actions of the other players. First they could snatch our dream building away and then they could score a city before we do it as we will see in the next passage. And finally, the velocity of the gameplay also depends from other players, so there might not be enough time left to build an expansive building in an important city to score it.

This brings us to the final action: Each player has six scoring markers, either for a scoring of a specific building type or a scoring of all buildings in one city. In the first scoring a player multiplies the building costs for each building of the chosen type with the value of the city it stands in to get the amount of money or the number of victory points he gets. The same applies to the scoring of a city, only that now each building in this city contributes to the income. While the scoring of a building type can be chosen by every player independently of the other players' choice, a city scoring can only be chosen once for every city. So it is always risky not to score a city, if you already have some buildings there, because if another player scores here first, there is no chance left to score the city anymore. Additionally, with the scoring we also get an object for every building that was scored. In the basic game the type of the object does not matter, we only get three additional victory points for every object in the final scoring.

Other with the advanced rules. As a nice touch of the authors, a closed envelope waits to be opened by the players after the first two or three rounds of Die Paläste von Carrara. In this envelope we will find six particularly valuable buildings that can upgrade the cities and two new scoring markers. These two novelties give the game a much more strategic touch. But what really alters the gameplay are the new victory conditions. In the light game variant you can end a game if you have scored at least 4 times, have collected a given number of objects and have built buildings with given costs. When using the expansion, the conditions for ending the game are drawn at the beginning of each new game, and in addition the victory points for the final scoring are determined by the drawn cards. Now the types of collected objects are extremely important, so for example there could be a condition to collect 2 times 3 of the same object for ending the game and players will get 7 VPs for each set of three same objects. In my opinion the expansion is clearly a MUST for experienced players. It is these few changes which turn Die Paläste von Carrara from an interesting game into a very good game.

With Die Paläste von Carrara Kramer and Kiesling once again have proven their exceptional position as game designers. A very good family game in the standard version becomes also a game for the experienced players when the expansion is used. As I already pointed out, I think the expansion is obligatory for everyone who likes strategic gameplay and I think it is possible to start with these complex rules as long as you only have experienced players around the table. Beginners often make the mistake to concentrate on buildings in cities that contribute to their income or cities that give them victory points. But in reality it is the right balance between these two types of cities which is needed to win the game. Money is important to be able to act on the market wheel - it is the requirement to get valuable building materials to build in the more important cities. But in the end only the victory points decide about winning or loosing, so too much money can be counterproductive.

As we are used from HANS IM GLÜCK, Die Paläste von Carrara comes with understandable and well illustrated rules that have answers to all question that may arise. Also, the game is equipped with excellent game materials. All illustrations are well done and meet the requirements of a game of a modern-age game. So, there is no excuse not to meet the wishes of the king...

[Gamebox Index]

Google Custom Search

Impressum / Contact Info / Disclaimer


Copyright © 2013 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany