Born among the wealthy, with a silver spoon in my mouth, I was made for a game about the aristocracy. These are my people, so of course I had to play Aristocracy by Dr. Reiner Knizia and Tasty Minstrel Games. The secret is, I’m not really part of the aristocracy, but what they don’t know won’t hurt them. Join with me to take the place of the aristocracy and con your way in among the elite of society.
What is Aristocracy like?
Players take on the role of characters who want to establish themselves as aristocrats to replace the suddenly vanished nobles. In order to do this, the players need to assert their dominance and influence in different regions by placing their player tokens in those areas. The players can also show they belong to the aristocracy by procuring resources found on the board. The player who claims the most victory points will con their way into the aristocracy and win the game.
Aristocracy is very easy to learn and consists of fast turns with limited options. The board consists of 8 different colored areas full of spaces that are covered with tokens. A player’s turn consists of turning over any three tokens on the board and then selecting one of them. Each token is one of 8 different types and the player selects, then collects all the tokens on the board of that type.
If the player selects a resource token (corn, sheep or wood) they collect each resource token of that type and their turn is over. The collected resources are used in end of game scoring. Players can earn bonus points for every set of 9 resources they acquire during the game.
Selecting a building token (village, church or castle) allows the player to replace each token of that same building type with their player markers. If the players place their pieces near a fish token they receive the token and it serves as a wild resource for end game scoring. Players can also earn bonus points in several different ways when placing their player markers. If the players connect two towns they receive a bonus token from each town (max of 1 per town). Placing their 3rd or 5th marker in one color will earn them region dominance tiles. Players can earn multi-region bonus tiles for every set of markers they have in all of the regions.
Selecting a royalty token (king or queen) the player is able to place one player marker per removed royalty token on any empty space on the board. Those placed markers can earn the player the same rewards as when they take building tokens.
The game ends when a player count-dependent number of both king and queen tokens have been removed from the board.
Aristocracy is a solid game that plays quickly and works well for players well under the suggested age of 14+. The initial set-up of the game is annoying as each of the 100+ locations on the board have to have a token on them. Beyond that, though, teaching the game is quick and players can get playing faster than a lot of other games which makes it great for newer gamers as well as families.
What I really enjoy about the game is that at first there are not many tokens turned over so the choices are pretty easy to make. Once the game gets going, more and more tokens are revealed and the choices get more difficult. Sometimes what you thought you wanted, you don’t select because something amazing appears like revealing 3 of the same resource when another 3 have already been revealed. Can you leave those for your opponent in order to place only one player marker? That’s where the decisions get really good.
I also like the wide variety of ways you can score. Players who want to hoard resources can get a good amount of points from the resource bonus and sets while another player can concentrate on connecting all of the towns to get those bonuses before others do.
My favorite part
My favorite part, though, is the end-game trigger. Kings and queens are revealed throughout the game and while they provide a strong turn some players do not want to select them because they don’t want the game to end too soon. The game can end quicker if the kings and queens turn over early, but if they don’t get revealed until some of the last tokens then the game is closer to the estimated 45 minutes. Selecting the royals provides some of the best choices of the game.
- Each turn is simple, but not devoid of good choices
- Plays well at all player counts
- Great component quality
- Set-up is pretty annoying due to of all of the pieces that go on the board
- In low light some of the colored areas look similar (red/orange, light green/dark green and blue/purple)
- Players: 2 – 4
- Playing time: 45 minutes
- Suggested age: 14+
A review copy of Aristocracy was supplied by Tasty Minstrel Games.
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