Wednesday, August 31, 2011

#81: Richelieu

  • designer: Michael Schacht
  • publisher: Ravensburger
  • date: 2003
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 791/6.75
  • position on my top 100 in 2005: did not appear
  • age: 12+
  • # of players: 2
  • print status: out of print
  • cost: you can occasionally find copies for sale - but the good news is that the designer has a print & play version of the game available on his website!
I'm not usually a fan of abstract games - but on occasion, I find that an intriguing game mechanic can overcome my aversion... and in some cases, completely win me over. Richelieu is one of those cases.

While there's a (very) thin layer of theme pasted onto the game involving Dumas' The Three Musketeers, the game is actually a reboot of a previous DTP card game by Michael Schacht,
Kardinal & K├Ânig: Das Kartenspiel, which in turn is a reimplementation of Michael's wonderful board game, Web of Power (which you'll see much later here in my Top 100 countdown.) K&K: DsK was a multi-player set collection game with some interesting special powers... a good little game that didn't see much table time due to the lower-end quality of the components.

Michael evidently managed to sell the idea to Ravensburger, who had him monkey with the design a bit to make it fit into their Fun for 2 line... and in the process, created a game I really, really enjoy.

Players take turns picking up tiles that symbolize influence in the Musketeer-era France... you are competing both for shields in a number of different suits as well as three different symbols that are scattered throughout the suits. The tiles are in a tableau with four rows and players are limited to taking tiles from the edges of the display.

There are some hidden special action tokens as well as a tile-claiming mechanic that lets you reserve plays for later in the game... which can still be taken away if the other player is willing to sacrifice.

Typical of Michael Schacht designs, scoring is simple & ingenious: whoever has more shields of a color (or symbols) gets the amount of their shields/symbols as points... and there's a 5 point penalty for a player who doesn't get any of a particular item.

The game is fast, portable... and a lot of fun. (BTW, I recommend playing the "advanced" variant of the game where you simply play until 3 of the 4 rows run out - it shortens the game & makes the endgame much more interesting.)

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