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Subject: Did you know that Gnomes are inherently pentagonal? - a mini-review of Belfort rss

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Adam O'Brien
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So one of my gamer buddies was able to snag a copy of Belfort while at Gencon so we decided to break it out last night. I'm not bitter that he got a copy before I got my pre-order copy (grumble grumble) but was excited to play nonetheless. After a tremendous amount of sticker application (not really that tremendous, I have C&C ancients and the first expansion, THAT is a tremendous amount of stickering) we set off to build Belfort.

I won't go into the rules, as they are extremely easy to follow and available in the files section.

Components -

Pros:

-Colorful and eye-catching; people walking by WILL say "Hey, what's that?"

-Tons of wooden bits, as with homesteaders the resources are very nice quality

-The board itself (5 sections) is a very nice glossy thick cardboard that seems durable and unlikely to warp.

Neutrals:

-The board and card art is almost identical to that of Revolution! so if you like or dislike that art, you will feel the same for this one.

-The stickering takes awhile, and I found it slightly annoying that there are only "master" stickers for 5 of each set of 7 workers. I realize this is because the theoretical max of masters you can have with the existing buildings is 5 (5 Gardens and 5 Pubs), but why not print the extra 20 stickers to make all the pieces uniform?

Cons:

-The cards are extremely chintzy. Upon seeing them we immediately bought sleeves as they look like they'd shred within a few shuffles.


Gameplay/Mechanics -

Pros:

-A lot of interesting if "small" decisions to make, and even after one play it is obvious that there are lots of both strategic and tactical paths to take in this game.

-Easy to follow game progression, complete with very helpful player aids printed right on the player boards.

-I foresee nice replayability given the mix of Guild tiles. We did not play with the "Interactive" guilds, but I imagine they stir the pot considerably!

-There is constant player interaction between fighting for Guild spots, trying for the resource bonuses, and the area control aspect of the city.

Neutrals:

-Although it plays 2-5, I think 3-4 is going to be the sweet spot. 5 players was too much down time, and too much board-state parsing for building placement (If I go here, it's worth 2 points, if I go there, I knock him down 2 points and gain 1, etc.)

-Guild tiles may or may not be well-balanced (in terms of power/value). After one play I don't want to make a unilateral judgement on this, but for example the 2 metal guild seems WAY better than the 3 gold guild.

Cons:

-High susceptibility to AP. Because the game has tons of micro-decisions (do I put all 5 dwarves in the stone mine or risk losing the bonus and drop one in the gold mine...?) a slow or AP-prone player has potential to drag the game out considerably.

-Subject to poor decision making by other players impacting who wins (inadvertent king-making). By this I mean that people mis-reading the game state could accidentally determine the winner by placing their buildings somewhere that gain them nothing but screw someone else over.

-I have a slight concern that because some buildings are much better the earlier you get them, that the initial deal of cards could give someone a large advantage/disadvantage. But again, that is after only one play.

Overall -

I feel like Tasty Minstrel has delivered big again (I am a huge fan of Homesteaders). If you are a fan of worker placement and/or area control, I feel like this is one you should definitely seek out. I am definitely looking forward to my copy showing up...eventually...

Hope that was helpful!




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Andy Andersen
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Very helpful. Thanks.
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Kevin Seachrist
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You've confirmed both my fears (AP and the impact of bad decision-makers) and hopes (just about everything else) for this game. Thanks for the review! I will definitely be picking this one up once my gaming coffer refills (and after the game actually hits shelves).

The online rulebook for this was just a joy to read.

One quick note about "inadvertent king-making": I think once you establish a group of players who are all decent or better at Belfort, the capacity for bad decisions to set up the winner will transform nicely into being able to make aggressive moves to clip the wings of the leader. Belfort's not unique in that someone who plays stupid is easily capable of dragging one or more opponents down with him, but those same mechanics can easily make a better game for better gamers.
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Kristie M
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Thanks for the review! I am waiting on a preorder copy as well, but I don't mind...I get to practice being patient.

Quick question: You said that you and your friend sleeved the cards. Which sleeves did you use? I would like to go out and buy some ahead of time, so I can play the game right away.
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Paul
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Good review! I've been grumbling about the pre-orders not being here also. I actually live less than an hour from Indy...Maybe I could have called them and they would have dropped it off?

To be honest, it's frustrating when AP occurs in a game, but when you play with good game players, the occurrence of AP seems to signify a solid game, IMO.
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Adam O'Brien
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orangechick1337 wrote:

Quick question: You said that you and your friend sleeved the cards. Which sleeves did you use? I would like to go out and buy some ahead of time, so I can play the game right away.


I believe the cards are standard game size, so we just used the cheapest Ultra-Pro standard sleeves (That were about $1.25 for 50, the exact number of cards in the game). Any normal Magic size sleeves should be fine.
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A. B. West
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Very helpful. I bought the game at GenCon, did the sticker thing (agree that this is frustrating), read through the rules and hope to play soon.
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Adam O'Brien
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Rykaar wrote:


One quick note about "inadvertent king-making": I think once you establish a group of players who are all decent or better at Belfort, the capacity for bad decisions to set up the winner will transform nicely into being able to make aggressive moves to clip the wings of the leader. Belfort's not unique in that someone who plays stupid is easily capable of dragging one or more opponents down with him, but those same mechanics can easily make a better game for better gamers.


I agree completely with this. However, my game group is both very large and somewhat schizophrenic, so it is extremely rare for me to play any game that has all people that have played before. I teach the rules in roughly 75-80% of all games I am playing. So while I agree that an experienced group may not find this problematic, for those who will play it casually or infrequently, I wanted to mention it as a potential issue.
 
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Jon Bowker
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orangechick1337 wrote:
Thanks for the review! I am waiting on a preorder copy as well, but I don't mind...I get to practice being patient.

Quick question: You said that you and your friend sleeved the cards. Which sleeves did you use? I would like to go out and buy some ahead of time, so I can play the game right away.


Here is what I used to sleeve the game. Sometimes there is a little bit of quality control on the sleeves having all the same length, but nothing that has ever come close to exposing the top of the card. There is always a few mm at the top, just some might have an extra mm or 2. And like last night, sometimes there's a few extra in the pack.

http://www.scifigenre.com/itemDetail.aspx?sid=GLXJ100U0OG2RM...
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Jon Bowker
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3dicebombers wrote:
Cons:
-The cards are extremely chintzy. Upon seeing them we immediately bought sleeves as they look like they'd shred within a few shuffles.


I don't know that this is true. The other player that opened the cards said "no sleeves?" knowing I have a tendency to sleeve most of my cards. I never even touched them outside the plastic wrapping or a sleeve. The cards seemed to look fine from a glance. They aren't linen finished but that doesn't make them chintzy either.
 
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Adam O'Brien
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proclaimed wrote:
3dicebombers wrote:
Cons:
-The cards are extremely chintzy. Upon seeing them we immediately bought sleeves as they look like they'd shred within a few shuffles.


I don't know that this is true. The other player that opened the cards said "no sleeves?" knowing I have a tendency to sleeve most of my cards. I never even touched them outside the plastic wrapping or a sleeve. The cards seemed to look fine from a glance. They aren't linen finished but that doesn't make them chintzy either.


I looked at and touched them pre-sleeving. They look and feel pretty chintzy (a la 7 Wonders).
 
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Randolph Bookman
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Rykaar wrote:
You've confirmed both my fears (AP and the impact of bad decision-makers) and hopes (just about everything else) for this game. Thanks for the review! I will definitely be picking this one up once my gaming coffer refills (and after the game actually hits shelves).

The online rulebook for this was just a joy to read.

One quick note about "inadvertent king-making": I think once you establish a group of players who are all decent or better at Belfort, the capacity for bad decisions to set up the winner will transform nicely into being able to make aggressive moves to clip the wings of the leader. Belfort's not unique in that someone who plays stupid is easily capable of dragging one or more opponents down with him, but those same mechanics can easily make a better game for better gamers.


I don't think you can fault a game for other player's bad decision making. You could say that for just about every game.
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