Radio Review #46 – Canterbury

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(2013 – Quixotic Games)

 

“A long time ago came a man on a track….walking thirty miles with a sack on his back….”

 

With Core Worlds, designer Andrew Parks created a thematic space game that combined galactic civilization building with the merging of drafting and deck-building mechanics. Players took the role of various barbarian clans on the outskirts of the galaxy, in their attempt to take control of the central Core Worlds. As Rounds progressed, players were able to build their armies and fleets, expanding from a small group of ground and air units, to massive warships and advanced interstellar technology. With his newest release, Canterbury, Parks takes this idea of thematic civilization building, and merges it with an area control mechanic, presenting a more economic/Euro-style gameplay.

In Canterbury, players will take on the role of various Saxon Lords, working to rebuild the city of Canterbury after the fall of the Roman Empire. The City of Canterbury is comprised of 25 districts, each of which are bare to start the game (albeit a single water well), but players will be able to complete new structures to flesh out the city. Certain services are required in a district in order to build more advanced structures. For instance, all districts require some type of water source before it can complete a structure that provides food. Once food is available in a district, a religious structure can be built, and so on.

As players individually build and upgrade these structures, the prosperity of the city as a whole will increase, allowing players more money in which to build and upgrade even larger structures. Players receive points based on their ownership of particular districts, the building of structures, and what types of services they have provided to the city when compared to their opponents. After the city has reached a certain level of overall prosperity, the game will end. The player with the most individual prosperity will be declared the winner.

 

 

Components:

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– Canterbury Game Board

 

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– Structures Board

 

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– King’s Favor Board

 

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– Player Boards

 

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– Reference Boards

 

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– Small Structures

 

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– Medium Structures

 

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– Large Structures

 

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– Player tokens

 

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– Money tokens

 

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– Prosperity and City markers

 

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– Rank markers

 

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– 100 & 200 point tokens

 

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– 2-player Build tokens

 

 

 

Setup:

The main game board represents the barren remains of what was once the prosperous City of Canterbury. The board is made up of 3 sections of the city. The inner, light brown area represents the Central District.

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A red-bordered Water Well that comes included with the game will be placed in this district before play begins, along with a purple city marker on the space showing that water is being provided for in this district. The city’s Prosperity marker is also placed on the 1st space of the Prosperity track that surrounds the board. The lighter green districts that surround the Central District represent the Inner Districts. The dark green districts on the outskirts of the city represent the Outer Districts.

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All of the various buildings and structures are placed onto the Structures board. This board separates structures between small, medium, and large, as well as organizes them depending on the various types of services that they provide; water, food, religion, defense, commerce, and culture.

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Each player receives a set of tokens in their color, along with a player board and a reference board detailing the various bonus opportunities. Players will place one of their colored tokens onto the Full Build space on their player board, as they will be starting with this action to begin the game. Players will also receive 6 coins (money) to begin the game with and a Rank token which represents turn order for the game as well as the amount of money that player will earn when scoring District Favors (which I’ll explain in more detail later).

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The King’s Favor board represents potential bonus prosperity that the King will issue a player depending on how much of a particular service they have provided the city. The board is arranged into sections, with each representing a different service, consisting of water, food, religion, defense, commerce, and culture. A player token of each color is placed to the far left of each section on the King’s Favor board for use when moving their rank along the track.

 

Remaining Coins and tokens are placed to the side of the main game board for use during the game. After the initial setup of the game, the play area should look something like this:

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Gameplay:

As referenced on each player’s individual board, during a player’s turn, he may choose to complete 1 of 3 actions; Levy Funds, complete a Full Build, or Tax & Build. During each player’s initial turn of the game, everyone will start their turn with taking the Full Build action. Players can usually choose to take any of the 3 actions on their turn, with the exception being if they had taken a Levy Funds action on the previous turn. As you can see on the player board, any time a player takes the Levy Funds action, they are required to take a Full Build action the following turn. Let’s take a look at how these actions work.

 

 

1.) Levy Funds

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As Canterbury’s overall prosperity increases, the city’s Prosperity marker is moved along the score track. Directly underneath the score track is a smaller track that keeps track of the amount of taxed funds that can be paid to players from the Treasury according to how prosperous the city has become. For instance, taking a look at the picture below, if the city’s current Prosperity amount was at 22, a player could collect taxes from the Treasury in the amount of 7 Coins. This is the main way to collect money in the game.

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When a player takes the Levy Funds action, he will earn the amount of Coins according to this track. At any point that the city’s Prosperity marker passes 100, a purple disc is placed under the Prosperity marker. Each disc under the marker represents 10 units that needs to be added to the number represented on the Treasury track. For instance, taking a look at the same picture above, if there had been a purple disc underneath the Prosperity marker and the marker was on space 22 (actually representing 122), a player could collect taxes from the Treasury in the amount of 17 Coins. Remember that when players take this Levy Funds action, they are required to take a Full Build action the following turn.

 

 

2.) Full Build

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As players acquire funds, they will be able to construct various buildings and structures throughout the city. Each building token has an icon in each of its 4 corners that show the characteristics of the structure. The top-leftmost icon represents how much the structure will cost to build. The top-rightmost icon represents the service that the structure provides. The bottom-leftmost icon represents how much Prosperity the structure will gain for the City. And finally, the bottom-rightmost icon represents how much Prosperity the structure will gain for the individual player.

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Taking a look at the Watchtower structure, the icons on the token show that it will cost a player 4 Coins to build, provides a Defensive service, will increase the city’s prosperity by 4 and will increase the individual player’s prosperity by 5.

 

When a player takes a Full Build action, he can either build any combination of 1 to 2 small or medium structures, or he can choose to build a single large structure. The player must place these structures into a district that does not already contain that same exact structure (but it can replace a smaller structure that provides the same service as an upgrade). If the structure being built is the first to appear in a district, the building player will receive a prosperity bonus equal to the number of service markers in that district at the end of that player’s turn. There are certain restrictions however to which structures can be placed into which districts.

Each district contains a row of spaces beneath it that represent the various services that are being provided for in the that district. In order to construct a particular structure with a specific service in a district, that district must provide all the services to the immediate left of the structure’s service. For example, as seen below, if water, food, and religion were being provided for in a district, a structure that provided defense could be built. However, with a district that provided no defense, no commerce structure could be built in that district yet.

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When a structure is completed, the player that built it will place a marker of their color over the space corresponding to the service that the structure is providing for the district (or surrounding districts in some cases, which I’ll explain in a bit). As the Prosperity of Canterbury increases, there will be certain points in the game where bonuses will be handed out to players that have provided the most services to each district. To reference this, players will compare their service markers that have placed in each district. Different size structures will allow players to provide services to districts in different ways. Once a service marker is placed in a space by a player, that marker can never be moved or replaced, even if the structure that provided it is replaced or upgraded.

 

 

Small Structures

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Small structures are comprised of Wells (water), Gardens (food), Chapels (religion), Watchtowers (defense), Merchant Stalls (commerce), and Pageant Wagons (culture). Each of these small structures only take up 1 space in a district and when placed will provide the corresponding service to that district only.

 

 

Medium Structures

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Medium structures are comprised of Fountains (water), Farms (food), Churches (religion), Garrisons (defense), Marketplaces (commerce), and Stages (culture). These structures are noticeably more expensive to construct, but also provide an increased amount of prosperity to both the player and city, as well as provides the corresponding service to a larger area than the small structures. A medium structure takes up two spaces in a district, but when placed will not only provide services to the district in which it was placed, but will also provide the same service in each of the districts immediately adjacent to it (not diagonally).

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For instance, Player A (blue) pays 16 coins and builds a Garrison (defense) in a district. The building of the Garrison earns him 18 individual prosperity, as well as increases the city’s prosperity by 16. He is allowed to place the Garrison in the district shown below, because water, food, and religion services are being fulfilled. He would place a service marker of his color onto the defense service space of the district in which he built the Garrison as well as in the defense service spaces of all of the adjacent districts, even if these districts do not provide water, food, and religion.

 

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Only the district in which the Garrison is built must water, food, and religion be provided. The Garrison is a large enough structure, that its defensive service reaches its neighboring districts. Player A will then increase his marker on the King’s Favor track. In this case he will increase his marker on the defense track by 5, since he placed 5 defense service markers on his turn.

 

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Players are allowed to upgrade and demolish previous smaller structures when placing medium and large structures onto the board. A small structure can be replaced if a medium or large structure replacing it provides the same service. It can also be demolished as long as a neighboring medium structure provides that service or a large structure providing that service exists anywhere in the city. The same rules apply in relation to medium and large structures, although a large structure can never be replaced or demolished. If a building is demolished and replaced with a larger building that provides the same service, the player constructing that building will gain 3 bonus prosperity.

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For example, Player B (green) wants to build a Marketplace (commerce) in the district shown above, yet there is no available areas in the district in which to place it. The district already contains a Merchant Stall, therefore since he is adding a commerce structure to the district in the form of a Marketplace, he could replace it with the Merchant Stall. However, since the Marketplace is a medium building, it will take up 2 spaces. Therefore another structure would need to be replaced.

 

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The neighboring district to the left contains both a Fountain (medium-sized water structure) and a Church (medium-sized religious structure). Since these two buildings provide their services to this district, Player B could remove either the Well or Chapel in order to make the available room needed for his new Marketplace. Even though commerce was already provided for in the district, the new Marketplace will also provide this service to all adjacent districts, therefore Player B will place service markers on the commerce spaces for these districts and then increase his marker along the King’s Favor commerce track.

 

 

 

Large Structures

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Large structures are comprised of a Water Works (water), a Granary (food), a Cathedral (religion), a Citadel (defense), a Guild Hall (commerce), and a Town Square (culture). There is only 1 of each type of large structure available for players to build. Large structures are by far the most expensive constructions, but they provide their corresponding service to the largest amount of districts, as well as a major increase in prosperity to both the city and individual player. For large structures, the player’s earned prosperity is dependent on the type of district in which it is built.

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For example, taking a look at the Citadel, this structure will gain the city 29 prosperity. The player however, will earn prosperity dependent on whether the Citadel was built in the Central District (39 prosperity), Inner Districts (34 prosperity), or Outer Districts (29 prosperity).

 

When a player builds a large structure, he will be able to place a service marker in that district (if one is not already there), as well a 5 additional service markers in any district on the board that does not already provide that service. Therefore, placing a large structure will not only provide the player a tremendous amount of prosperity, but can also allow him to increase his King’s Favor in that service up to 6 spaces along the track.

 

 

3.) Tax & Build

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The final action that a player may take is to Tax & Build, which is somewhat a combination of Levy Funds action and a Full Build action. In this case, players may gain coins equal to half the amount of a normal Levy Funds action (rounded down), and may also build 1 structure of his choice. If players did not perform the Levy Funds action on the previous turn, this is the best action to take when constructing a large structure, since a Full Build still limits a player to only 1 large structure.

 

 

End of Round:

In Canterbury, a Round is comprised of the city’s prosperity marker completing one full trip around the prosperity track. After 3 full Rounds the game, the city of Canterbury has reached its prosperous peak and the game will end. At the end of each Round, players will pause play and are rewarded District bonuses according to which players provide the majority of services to each district. The player with a majority of service markers in a particular district, will gain a prosperity bonus equal to the number of spaces that are covered by buildings in that district. Therefore, if a district contains service markers, but no buildings, no one will score a bonus for that district. The player with the 2nd highest majority in a district will score half (rounded down).

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Taking a look at the above district, Player A (blue) provides water and religion, Player B (green) provides culture, and Player C (yellow) provides food, defense, and commerce. All 6 spaces in the district are covered by buildings. Therefore, Player C would gain 6 bonus prosperity at the end of the Round since he provides the majority of services to this district. Player A would gain 3 bonus prosperity.

 

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At the beginning of the game, Rank markers are handed out to each player. The large number on the marker represents the turn order that players will take actions in during the game. To balance the fact that the same player will always take his turn first (players toward the end of turn order have a slight advantage with things such as Treasury coins collected), coins are awarded at the end of each Round to players according to the amounts on their Rank markers. At the end of the 1st Round, players will receive the amount of coins listed on the far left of the marker, followed by the amounts after the 2nd Round and 3rd Round.

 

 

End of Game:

After the District bonuses are provided at the end of the 3rd Round, players will finish turn order (if the city’s prosperity marker passed 300 during the middle of turn order) and then will be able to each take one final turn. After this is completed, the game ends. Players will then again score District bonuses as well as account for the King’s Favor bonuses. Each service on the King’s Favor board is scored separately. The player furthest along the track will score a prosperity bonus equal to the gold number on the track, whereas the 2nd place player will score the blue number on the track.

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Taking a look at the Food service track on the King’s Favor board, we can see that Player C has provided Food to 11 districts in the city, whereas Player B has provided 6 and Player A has only provided 3. Therefore at the end of the game, Player C would gain 9 bonus prosperity and Player B would gain 2.

 

After the final District bonus and King’s Favor bonuses have been completed, the game has ended. The player with the most prosperity wins the game.

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Thoughts:

One potential flaw I find with many civilization style games is the fact that Rounds in the game are measured by a succession of numbered turns, which in a game based on progressive building, can sometimes create a sense of rushed decisions or even a lack of accomplishment by the end. Canterbury however avoids this by use of the city’s prosperity track. As players build structures, prosperity increases, which in turn progresses the game. This will ultimately conclude in a visually complete city. A sense of accomplishment, no matter how many collective turns it took players to get there.

Towards the beginning of the game, players will usually only be able to afford constructing smaller structures, providing a slower increase in the city’s prosperity through the initial Round. Once player’s are able to afford medium and large structures, prosperity begins to soar and the 2nd and 3rd Rounds move along much more quickly. It’s rather neat how this little gameplay feature provides a sense of how an actual civilization would develop. Slowly over the initial course of its progression, then rapidly as it reaches its peak.

District bonuses are extremely important, with these bonuses being scored a total of 4 times during the game. This makes medium structures the most valuable, with their lower cost as compared to larger structures, but being able to provide services to neighboring districts. Various strategies will present themselves over the course of multiple plays, and Canterbury can be a quite analytical in how to use particular strategies to maximize prosperity.

As he also did with Core Worlds, Andrew Parks uses a combination of various mechanics in Canterbury to present a particular civilization building theme. From the progression of the city itself, to how medium structures provide services to neighboring districts, to the player’s coin accumulation provided by the city’s overall prosperity (the treasury), Canterbury creates a narrative with every session, of how the ancient Canterbury was rebuilt from a single, tiny watering hole in the center of town, to a bustling city at its height.

 

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