Roux Dat #48: Project L, Architects of the West Kingdom, and 7 Wonders: Architects

Hey board gamers, how was your holiday season? My collection did not expand as much as my waistline, thankfully. My godchild gave me Groundhog Day, a co-op game based on one of my favorite all time movies, and one of my nephews gave me The Chameleon, a game I’ve always wanted to play! My wife bought me some new equipment for The Gumbo Pot, keeping with our tradition of upgrading something in the game room each month.

But what about games played? Here is our first impression of three games we played this past month, but I would love to hear what you played! Hit us up on Twitter @boardgamegumbo or leave a comment on Facebook or right here.

Enough blather, let’s get to those three games! This month, we are taking a look at Project L, Architects of the West Kingdom, and 7 Wonders: Architects.

Taking The L To Victory

For many years now, I’ve tried to pick out a board game Christmas gift for my wife. Sure, it’s not completely altruistic — if I can find a game she likes, we both win! I’ve had some good success in years past, games like New York 1901, Heaven & Ale, Reef, and others have all been hits. (Pandemic Legacy was not, sadly, and I’m still paying for that one.)

When Dave taught me Project L at BGG Con, my eyes lit up. Now here’s a game my wife will like! Project L is a quick playing, engine builder that will have familiar looking pieces to most board gamers. Players start out with two small pieces (a tiny square and a line) made of plastic, with piles of polynomial shapes waiting to be grabbed. A market of recessed tiles shows different shapes that can be made with those pieces, and completing those cards can give you points but always gives you a new piece from the supply.

There are two different decks, worth different points, and once the black sided deck runs out, the game ends after players get a few chances to score more points.

On your turn, players can grab those tiles, or upgrade the pieces in their inventory, or put pieces down. That’s the basic actions, and you can take three of those each turn. But you can also — once per turn — take what we called the Masterpiece action (but I think is actually the master builder action?) where you can place ONE piece on every card on your player board. Chaining up the right cards and pieces and putting four down at one time is so much fun and makes you feel so clever!

Roux Dat Says: This game is addicting. It’s got that breezy pace of play a la Kingdomino, but has an engine building quality reminiscent of Gizmos or Potion Explosion yet even more satisfying. We’ve played it a bunch since Christmas, and for fans of casual, puzzly games, I can recommend this very highly. It is published by Boardcubator (a publisher from the Czech Republic that I am not familiar), but we bought our copy at Anubis, our FLGS, so it should be available everywhere.

Architects, Part Un

While I was underwhelmed by the initial series of directional kingdom games, Jerod and I have had a lot of fun exploring the West Kingdom series. Viscounts seemed the most intriguing, with its rondel action and 3D castle, and we’ve played it a ton. But I’ve never gotten to try Architects of the West Kingdom until Jerod got it for Christmas this year.

We decided we would play all three games (Architects, Paladins, and Viscounts) in one game night, an ambitious thing to start at 7p (and a goal we did not reach, I might add.) Architects is definitely the most unique of the three. Players get a metric ton of meeples waiting to be put out on a boards with tons of action spaces. Yep, it’s a worker placement game, but this time, the more workers you have in a spot means the stronger your action gets.

I’ve always loved that mechanic, but wondered about the powerfulness of just hammering one site. Architects fixes that by giving players the chance to “arrest” (I think?) any player’s workers and send them to the castle. Turning them in can give players money, but it the real reason is that it prevents any one player from getting too good at any one action. (I should’ve paid more attention to that rule in our game, because Jerod took two turns in a row, got a ton of stone, and then hammered the big cathedral build for tons of points.)

As is typical for Garphill Games, the production is in a smaller box and stuffed to the gills with awesome bits and pieces. The artwork is The Mico’s usual cast of zany, exaggerated characters, and there are lots of chunky wooden pieces representing the multitude of resources. If there’s one nibbling complaint, it sure felt like there were one two many resources to deal with in what is relatively a simple game to play.

Roux Dat Says: After just one play, I’m not ready to say that I like Architects as much as Paladins or Viscounts, and I’m not sure two is the perfect play count. But, I will say that I liked it enough to explore it more. I find that the West Kingdom games are like that — the first game is exploratory and then after that, they become more intriguing as you wind through the paths of the games, finding little combos or strategies that reward strategic play.

Architects, Part Deux

7 Wonders has been one of our most played games over the years, more so online on BGA than in person for some reason. We’ve enjoyed exploring all the expansions (I”ll give the nod to Armada as my favorite) and then exploring 7 Wonders Duel, too. I was excited to see that a new version was coming out, ostensibly a gateway version.

For me, 7 Wonders was just a little bit too overbearing to teach as a gateway – believe me, I’ve tried, and the multitude of symbols on the cards just overwhelms new gamers. Much easier to teach Sushi Go instead.

We learned 7 Wonders Architects at BGG con, and had a good time although it was late in the night and I was just basically top decking the entire time. Instead of a card drafting system (pick and pass style), 7 Wonders Architects uses a three deck system: each player has a deck to the left and right of them that they share with those connected players.

On their turn, they can work on building up the wonder in front of them (which requires the same or different types of resources to be turned in) or getting science symbols or blue knowledge points or military might. To do that, they choose a face up card from one of the two decks OR choose a face down card from a central deck that all players can access.

Ah, you can see the delicious decisions already. Race to build your wonder? Get a science boost first and then build? Grab all the blue points or red military might? Snag all the resources (especially the ‘wild’ coins) and starve your opponents? Plus, you have to keep an eye on the two players next to you to make sure you are inadvertently giving them resources they need to complete their own wonders!

But all those are micro-decisions, that take just a second to make. We have not yet found a copy locally, so we’ve been playing the game on the excellent implementation of BGA until it gets stocked here. This is a must buy for my collection. We’ve really enjoyed the strategy of figuring out what color combos seem stronger, or how fast to work on the wonders.

Roux Dat Says: 7 Wonders Architects is truly a gateway version of 7 Wonders. It both feels like, and feels distinct from, 7 Wonders at the same time. I’ve heard that this was a different themed game that the company grafted into the 7 Wonders world, and that’s okay because the mechanics are just similar enough to 7 Wonders that it will familiar to 7W fans, but new enough to be refreshing.

THE WRAP UP:

So that’s it for our recent plays. Roux Dat will be back for more early looks at recent plays, especially in this uncertain time when it is tough to get a group of gamers together for a more proper review. Is there a game out there that you or your friends are curious about? Hit us up with a tweet @boardgamegumbo and we will see if we can get our hands on the game!

Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

— BJ @boardgamegumbo

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