Radio Review #13 – Guildhall

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(2012  AEG)

 

“It seems that all my bridges have been burnt…”

 

Set collection is nothing new to board gaming, with titles like 7 Wonders and Ticket to Ride being the most notable games to use this mechanic in the last several years. The goal of which is collecting sets of items in order to gain some sort of benefit or Victory Points. This can easily describe the base mechanic around which designer Hope S. Hwang developed Guildhall. But while on the surface, Guildhall might seem like a simple card game of collecting sets in order to gain Victory Points, Hwang uses a clever interaction of bonus abilities with each card, that not only affect opponent’s sets of cards, but also increase their powers over the course of the game. It’s this unique mixture of player interaction and special bonus effects that separates Guildhall from many standard set-collecting card games.

 

 

 

Components:

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– Profession Cards (Assassins, Farmers, Traders, Dancers, Historians, and Weavers)
in 5 different colors (yellow, blue, red, green, and purple)

 

 

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– Victory Point Cards

 

 

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– Victory Point tokens

 

 

 

In Guildhall, players will attempt to build the most successful guild hall by completing sets of Professions (called Chapters) and using these completed Chapters to purchase Victory Points from the central play area. The first player to reach 20 Victory Points wins the game. While the game mechanics are quite simple, it’s the interaction of special bonuses provided by each Profession that adds a variety of depth and strategy to the game.

A player’s guild hall can contain 6 different Chapters (1 Chapter per Profession) at any given time, and can never have duplicate Chapters at the same time. (So for instance, a player can never have 2 separate Farmer Chapters in their guild hall). A completed Chapter is made up of the 5 different colored Cards of a particular Profession. A Chapter can also never contain more than 1 of the same color. So a completed Farmer Chapter would contain a yellow, blue, red, green, and purple Farmer. As noted on each Card, the more cards that are already in a particular Chapter in the guild hall when a similar card is played, the more powerful of a bonus that player earns (which I’ll discuss in just a bit).

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– (The Historian Chapter is almost complete, having 4 of the
needed 5 Historian Cards in the player’s guild hall)

 

 

After a Chapter has been completed (immediately after placing the 5th card in the Chapter), that particular Chapter is flipped over to its faced-down side. Cards from this Chapter can no longer be manipulated by special bonuses, and the completed Chapter can now be used for buying Victory Point Cards from the central play area during a future action. The top of each Victory Point card with show how many completed Chapters need to be turned in, in order to buy that particular Victory Point card. Some Victory Point cards will also give immediate bonuses to a player when obtained.

 

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-(Immediately after the final Historian Card is played, this Chapter has been completed and
can now be used to purchase a Victory Point Card from the central area)

 

 

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For instance, Player A decides as an action to gain the 2-point Victory Card from the central area. He would need to turn in 1 completed Chapter (as referenced at the top of the Victory Point Card) to gain this Victory Point Card. When gaining it, the 2-point Victory Card provides the special bonus in which Player A may also take 1 Chapter from another player’s guild hall and add it to his own.

 

 

 

Gameplay:

Before we get into how to play the game, let’s discuss how the game is set up. To begin, players will shuffle both the Victory Point Cards and Profession Cards, face down into separate Draw Decks. 9 Profession Cards are then drawn for each player, and players may then in turn order decide to discard any number of these cards and draw back up to 9 cards. After all players have done so, each player will again go in turn order, and this time each player will place 3 of their Cards directly into their guild hall (without playing any special bonuses). These will represent the starting Chapters and Professions of each player’s guild hall. Now player’s are left with 6 cards to begin the game.

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Before the 1st player starts the game, 5 Cards from the Victory Point Draw Deck are laid out in the central play area. These will represent the 5 Victory Point Cards that can be bought at the start of the game. When a Victory Point Card is purchased during the game, the next Card is drawn to replace it.

Players will take turns and can take two actions each turn. There are a total of 3 possible actions that can be taken per turn. A player CAN choose to take the same action twice during his turn, but there are a few stipulations to these actions that players must follow, which I’ll cover as we go through them.

 

Actions

During a player’s turn, he can:

Option 1.) Play 1 Card from his hand. When a player plays a card from his hand, he will play it into his play area, and not into his guild hall. This is important because the special bonus that is provided is based off of the number of Cards of that same profession that are already in that player’s guild hall. So the card that was just played, will not count towards that number. It will however be added to the guildhall after their turn is complete.

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So for instance, if there are 3 Assassins in Player A’s guild hall and he plays a 4th Assassin Card, he will only get a bonus based off of having 3 Assassins in his Chapter, not 4. After their full turn is taken however, the 4th Assassin will be placed alongside the other 3, in the Assassin’s Chapter of the guild hall.

A player can never play the same profession twice during a single turn, and can also never play the same profession/color Card if that same profession/color Card is already in his guild hall. So if a Blue Farmer is already in Player B’s guild hall, he can not play another Blue Farmer. Also, if he has played a Farmer as an action during this turn, he can not play another one, even if it is of a different color.

 

Option 2.) Discard any number of Cards from your hand and Draw up to 6 cards. This is one of the only ways that players can draw new cards into their hand. Because the rule states that a player can discard “any” number of Cards, this applies to players that have 0 cards in their hand. So if a player ever runs out of cards, he may take this action and Draw 6 cards from the Profession Draw Deck.

Since players are not allowed two of the same color of Professions in their guild hall, this is a good way of getting rid of duplicates that you may have in your hand, and gaining a whole new set of Cards.

 

Option 3.) Buy 1 Victory Point Card. As an action, a player may turn in completed Chapters in order to purchase 1 Victory Point Card. Most Victory Point Cards will only cost 1 Chapter, but there are a few that cost 2 completed Chapters. These Victory Point Cards are added to your guild hall, and some will give an immediate bonus action when doing so.

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– (Victory Card that costs 1 completed Chapter vs. a Victory Card that costs 2,
as noted by the icons on the top of each Card)

After a player takes both of their actions (and any additional actions that are given per special bonuses), and have resolved all abilities given by these actions, it will be the next player’s turn. If a player has earned 20 total Victory Points by the end of their turn, the game is over and that player wins.

 

Professions

The Assassin

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– the Assassin can be used to remove and discard Cards from Opponent’s guild halls

 

 

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Special Bonuses:

– When played, if NO other Assassins are in your guild hall, this Assassin can discard 1 card from an opponent’s guild hall.

– When played, if at least 2 other Assassins are in your guild hall, this Assassin can discard 1 card from 2 different Chapters in other opponents guild halls.

– When played, if 4 Assassins are in your guild hall, this Assassin can discard any 2 cards from other opponents guild halls.

 

 

 

The Farmer

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– the Farmer can be used to earn Victory Point tokens. Victory Point tokens are placed in a separate pile to the side of the play area at the beginning of the game. Each token is worth 1 Victory Point that can be totaled alongside the Victory Point Cards.

 

 

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Special Bonuses:

– When played, if 1 other Farmer is in your guild hall, this Farmer collects 1 Victory Point.

– When played, if 3 or more Farmers are in your guild hall, this Farmers collects 2 Victory Points.

 

 

 

The Trader

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– the Trader can be used to swap cards from your guild hall,
with cards from an opponent’s guild hall

 

 

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Special Bonuses:

– When played, if NO other Traders are in your guild hall, this Trader can swap 1 card from your guild hall with 1 card from another player’s guild hall.

– When played, if at least 2 Traders are in your guild hall, this Trader can swap 2 cards from your guild hall with 2 cards from opponent’s guild hall.

– When played, if 4 Traders are in your guild hall, this Traders can swap one of your chapters with another player’s chapter. (Note that the chapters that are swapped do not have to have the same number of cards, but must at least have 1 card each).

Also, note that when swapping cards, you are not allowed to place a card into the chapter of another player if it already contains that same color.

 

 

 

The Dancer

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– the Dancer can be used to draw additional cards, without expending an action

 

 

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Special Bonuses:

– When played, this Dancer will draw cards equal to the number of Dancers already in a player’s guild hall. It also gives the player 1 additional action, therefore no action is expended to play a Dancer. (Since a player can draw cards equal to the number of Dancers already in their guild hall, if this is the 1st Dancer played, 0 cards will be drawn).

 

 

 

The Historian

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– the Historian can be used to take cards from the community
discard pile and immediately place them into your guild hall

 

 

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Special Bonuses:

– When played, if NO other Historians are in your guild hall, this Historian can place the top card of the community discard pile into his guild hall.

– When played, if at least 2 Historians are in your guild hall, this Historian can look through the entire community discard pile and immediately place 1 card into his guild hall.

– When played, if 4 Historians are in your guild hall, this Historian can look through the entire community discard pile and immediately place 2 cards into your guild hall.

 

 

 

The Weaver
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– the Weaver can be used to swap cards from your hand with cards from your guild hall

 

 

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Special Bonuses:

– When played, if NO other Weavers are in you guild hall, this Weaver can place 1 card from your hand into your guild hall.

– When played, if at least 2 Weavers are in your guild hall, this Weaver can exchange 1 card from your guild hall, with 2 cards from your hand.

– When played, if 4 Weavers are in your guild hall, this Weaver can exchange 2 cards from your guild hall with any number of cards from your hand.

 

While set collection is key to purchasing Victory Points in the game, the manipulation of each Profession’s special bonuses are a player’s path to success. Each Profession provides players with a unique set of abilities that can interact not only with their own guild hall, but more importantly with their opponent’s as well.

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Thoughts:

Guildhall is built around a strong set collection mechanic, however success in the game relies heavily among a player’s hand management mixed with combining Card manipulation bonuses. Because of how all of the special bonuses interact and feed off one another, Guildhall provides a wide range of strategies and depth from game to game. Yet, the game is extremely simple and teachable. Take two actions each turn (out of a possible three) and resolve these actions. Special bonuses for each profession are easy to remember, as they are printed with icons on the bottom of each card.

Be warned, however. Though the game is simple enough for new and casual gamers, it is quite cutthroat. Because of the limitations in colors that can be played in each chapter, players will be forced to interact with each other to manipulate other’s guild halls to better their own. Gaining large Chapters in your guild hall will grant you huge bonuses, yet raise attention to everyone else around you. And opponents can discard individual Cards from your guild hall as well as in some cases, entire Chapters. It can be in your face and a bit nasty, something that a lot of gamers out there will dig, but it is important to note for those with a gaming group with player’s that are a bit more sensitive. At the same time, the game plays remarkably well between 2, 3, and 4 players, and most of this can be attributed to the amount of player interaction.

Players that can adapt easily to change during a game will find success here. There are no long-term strategies in Guildhall. Players guild halls are modified so much from turn to turn (whether it be by their own doing, or an opponent’s) that new strategies and tactics will need to be formed to stay one step ahead. While there are a lot of card games out there, Guildhall combines simple rules and strategy with adaptable, cutthroat tactics to provide a unique and solid package.

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