If you haven’t played Architects (for short) then this is the spiritual successor to the North Sea series from Renegade. Not played that? Well don’t worry because this is a really good entry level / intermediate level game that is well crafted and feels streamlined to perfection. Enjoy the robust game play, and if you are struggling to get a win, well here are my initial thoughts…
During the Game:
Worker Stacking; This is a game about gathering resources and the more workers in one place the better the gain from that location. At first you might feel like spreading out the workers and that’s fair. However, after a while someone seeking income will want to sweep up another player’s pieces. As you get to 2-3 in one location, be quick to get a fourth one and not have to go back to that spot for a while! If you’re building the Cathedral a fifth worker in one of stone / wood may even be justified!
Avoiding the Town Vigilante;As just suggested though, once you have a few pieces in one space you are a target. At least at first therefore, I try and spread my pieces for 2-3 turns and then stay at least 1 piece behind the highest concentration from another player. That way other players are more likely to sweep him / her up than me (for the first one anyway!). This workers less well with 5 players though as there might be two hits before it gets back to you!
Building the Cathedral; As with most such games don’t do things by halves – you get a lot more points for the latter levels of the cathedral, but if you have decided that’s what you are going for then it might be wise to use the black market and get the gold / marble resources that are essential for the mid tier levels. From their you can roll with the bonuses of the Cathedral itself (including regaining our virtue) and the resources are more easily collected up.
Virtue Penalties; Again nothing by halves here – either you want to gain benefits from virtue or get the benefits from vice. If you drop into the punishments then I find you want to either get out quickly or embrace it and go deep into the negatives (using the tax benefit!). Early game losing virtue can help to get certain cards or go to the black market, but be careful as the biggest penalty here isn’t the points, it’s the inability to build the Cathedral. I think this is sufficiently punishing that you should try and stay above that level throughout – especially if you are a newer player.
Black Market Penalties; The biggest issue with the black market is not the loss of virtue or the cost, its the potential take on of debt or further virtue loss when the black market reset occurs. That reset triggers players in prison to suffer meaningful penalties and being the player to take debt can make the difference as a swing of four points is usually pretty significant at the game end!
Early Vigilante; I talked earlier about avoiding the town vigilante, but there’s also a good opportunity to become the vigilante and gain some income. I tend to think it’s worth going once you can sweep up 3-4 people. That’s earlier than I have seen others, but I think it’s better to be proactive on this. Not only are you gaining coins but you are capping the other players ability to gather large amounts of resources.
Too Many!; You can take too many pieces when being the vigilante – why? Well because there is a way for players to release pieces from the player’s board and if you are about to get a lot of money from this, then it really tempts the other player into taking debt / paying money to stop you gaining the bonus!
Advisor / Building; This is a personal thing, but I generally advocate making the most of the “per 2 workers” spaces and so I would say that on the slot for advisors and buildings you will generally alternate such that every time you have a new two workers in that space you get the bonus of the extra building card. Same is true at the mines – alternating between clay and gold can be a very efficient way to gain resources.
End Game; Look carefully at all your buildings as there is a lot to think about. For the bonus end game scoring – how many points will that realistically get you? I have found a lot of situations where more buildings and more instant bonuses have out played end game scoring bonuses – not always true but it’s worth thinking hard before you pay into an end game scoring that scores you less than a basic building with a resource bonus!