Looking for a nice filler game to start an evening of board games or perhaps one to fill that little notch of time you have in your day? Then The Builders: Middle Ages might be right up your alley. Comprised almost entirely of cards (the game also includes some plastic coins) it comes in a cute little tin with some fun art. Personally, I tend to lean towards more complicated games when I get to pick which one our group plays so I tend to steer away from games that are overly simple. However, this game maintains a level of simplicity to make it approachable by anyone while still allowing some strategy and level of complexity.
Each players turn is comprised of just three actions of four different possibilities. Those four choices are grabbing craftsman, grabbing building plans, putting your craftsman to work, and lastly taking some money if you have run out. While there seems to be only a few simple choices for your turns the game develops some level of complexity with the fact that craftsman have different skills and the building plans require certain skills in order to be completed. There are four different “resources” that the craftsman can provide; Stone, Wood, Knowledge, and Tiles. Every craftsman has a different combination and depending on the power of the craftsman they have more total skills compared to others. Even some of the building plans are for machines to help you create more – after completion they wind up acting just like a craftsman although free to use.
Most of the game revolves around getting the craftsman to complete the buildings of your choice as well as getting buildings that complement the craftsman you already have. At any given time there are only 5 of each to choose from which makes the game have a large amount of replayability as each game is going to have different cards coming up. The game ends when one of the players reaches 17 points in their completed buildings – although everyone gets the same number of turns. Since everyone gets the same number of turns and coins can be added towards your points at the end the player that ends the game might not wind up being the winner!
Overall, I think this is a great filler game. There is however a large chance of the game being a bit of a brain burner as you attempt to figure out what skills you need to complete each building and when to try to spend extra actions to try to finish some buildings rapidly. The random nature of the draw piles mitigates this problem by limiting the player’s choices and creating an environment where your local math whiz doesn’t have that much of a leg up.
Overall, 3 out of 4 Platypus Flippers.