Radio Review #120 – La Granja: No Siesta

 

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(2016 – Stronghold Games)

 

“Sweetest surrender of winter….she put up her flag, it is waving….”

 

2015’s La Granja is a well respected, economic Euro, which combines variable card actions (similar to Glory to Rome) with elements of area control, worker placement, and dice-drafting. Co-designed by Michael Keller and Andreas Odendahl (“Ode”), La Granja is currently ranked amongst the top games of its type within the community. One of the best features of the game was the dice drafting mechanic that players would use each round in order to take their actions. There were six different actions in the game, and each action correlated to a number on the die (1-6). Each round, the dice were rolled, and the dice placed next to the action on the board that matched its result. Players would then take turns drafting dice in order to take its action, with all players being able to simultaneously resolve the action of the final remaining die that was not chosen. While only a small aspect of La Granja, designer Ode has created a new, dice driven game focused solely on this drafting mechanic, entitled La Granja: No Siesta. While it’s father, La Granja was a game that could take up to 2 hours in length, No Siesta is a much lighter, straight-forward dice game than can play from 30-45 minutes.

In La Granja: No Siesta, players will perform many of the things they did in La Granja, such as delivering goods to the local market, repairing the roof tiles of their barn, hiring workers, using animals, and storing goods. But the theme is really where the similarities between the two games end. No Siesta uses the dice drafting mechanic as a revenue building tool, in which players will collect different forms of revenue (whether they be silver, harvest goods, or animals) in order to allocate these to the numerous areas on their personal player sheet. Completing sections on their sheet will help them to unlock certain abilities and bonuses, as well as score victory points, depending on the section. Allocating one of these resources will advance the player’s marker along the Siesta track. Once a player has reached the end of this track, the game ends and players will total their collected victory points. The player with the most points wins.

 

 

 

Components:

– La Granja Player sheets & pencils

 

– The Esplores Market board

 

– Siesta board

 

– Revenue boards (one for each player color)

 

– Player discs (a set for each player color)

 

– Revenue dice

 

– Roof tiles

 

– Standard Helper tiles

 

– Advanced Helper tiles

 

– Start Player marker & Score pad

 

 

 

Setup:

During the game, players will attempt to complete various sections of their player sheets by using the revenue they receive from drafting different dice. At the beginning of the game, each player receives one of these Player sheets, along with a pencil. They’ll also receive a Revenue board and a set of Players discs, matching their chosen color. When the player drafts a particular die, he’ll mark the good received from that die onto his Revenue board with one of his discs.

In the standard game, each player would also receive a set of 6 Helper tiles. However, I’ll be covering the advanced version of the game, which includes a set of advanced Helper tiles as well. In the advanced version of the game, instead of each player receiving a set of these tiles, two sets of the 6 standard Helper tiles are placed in a common area for all players to use, as well as the 12 advanced Helper tiles. When a player earns a Helper, he’ll be able to choose from any still available here.

There are two small game boards that are also placed in the center of the table. On the left is the Siesta board. At the beginning of the game, each player will place one of their player disc on the 1st space of the track. Any time a player chooses to take a siesta, he’ll increase his progress on this Siesta track. Each space is worth a Victory Point at the end of the game, and this track also helps the player in unlocking more discs that will be available to him during the game. Making it to the last space of the Siesta track will trigger the end-game.

The board on the right contains the local Esplores Market. When a player has completed an order and delivered it to the local market, he’ll be able to place one of his player discs on one of the spaces here. Each space provides some sort of end-game bonus. Discs that are placed here can not be removed and unavailable to players for any other purpose. This is why it’s a good idea to advance far enough on the Siesta track to unlock more discs, since you’ll basically lose those placed on the spaces of the Esplores Market.

 

Finally, all other components including the Roof tiles and Revenue dice are placed near the central play area. Each player begins the game with 4 of their player discs active. The remaining discs are left in a supply area near the Siesta board, to be unlocked later. After setup is complete, the game should looks something like this:

 

 

 

Gameplay:

A game of La Granja: No Siesta is played through a series of rounds until a player‘s disc has reached the final space of the No Siesta track. Each round consists of two phases, a Dice Phase and a Scoring Phase. Let’s take a look at how these two phases work:

 

 

I. The Dice Phase:

Each die contains 6 facings; olives + wheat, grapes, silver, pigs, donkeys, and hats. These facings match the icons listed on each of the player’s Revenue boards. At the beginning of each Round, the current start player will roll all of the Revenue dice (5 in a two-player game, 7 in a three-player game, and 9 in a four-player game). Beginning with the start player, each player will draft one of the die and places it in front of them, immediately placing one of their discs on the space of their player board that matches the die’s facing. Once all players have selected a die, the current start player will take the remaining dice, re-roll them, and all players will then draft a 2nd die, earning the goods listed. This will leave one unclaimed die remaining in the center of the table. The start player will re-roll this die and all players receive the good on the result.

For instance, the Blue player rolls all 9 dice at the beginning of the round. By choosing a die with the olive + wheat facing, he places a disc on the olive space of his player board, along with another on the wheat space. This is the only facing that contains two goods on it. If he only had one disc remaining when taking this die, he’d have to choose which good he wanted.

 

After all players have chosen a die, the Blue player takes the remaining 5 dice and re-rolls them. This time he chooses a die with the grape good. After placing a disc on the grape space of his player board, and after all other player have drafted their own die, a single die remains. The Blue player re-rolls this die resulting in a Pig icon. Therefore, all four players place a disc on the Pig space of their player board. The Round then continues with the Scoring Phase.

 

 

 

 

II. The Scoring Phase:

Each player sheet contains 5 different areas where players can use their collected revenue. During the Scoring Phase, players will simultaneously allocate their goods from their Revenue board to the areas of their player sheet (their La Granja). When a player chooses to use a particular revenue, they’ll remove the disc from their Revenue board containing that icon, then shade in a bubble on their player sheet matching that icon. Let’s take a look at the 5 areas, what they contains, and the bonuses they can provide when completed:

 

 

 

A. Delivering Orders to the Esplores Market

The lower-right corner of the player sheet contains three rows of icons. These are three separate orders that have been requested by vendors at the local Esplores Market. The left side of the row request a donkey to pull the cart into town, while the right side of the row lists the goods requested. When filling the row, players will need to fulfill the goods listed in the order shown from left to right. The donkey(s) however, can be added at any time before completing it.

For instance, in the previous example the Blue player ended his Dice Phase with an olive, a wheat, a grape, and a pig. During the Scoring Phase, he could choose to allocate the olive, wheat, and grape to the upper order from the local market.

 

Once a player has fulfilled all items of an order, including the donkey needed to pull the cart, he’ll get to send the order to the Esplores Market. If he’s the 1st player to complete this order, he’ll circle the higher Victory Point reward listed (and all other players will cross it out on their sheets), otherwise he’ll circle the lower number. He’ll also receive a commodity.

When a player receives a commodity, he’ll place a disc on the commodity space of his Revenue board. Normally, players must spend all of their Revenue collected during the Dice Phase before the end of the Round, otherwise they’ll forfeit it. However, discs placed on the commodity space can carry over from Round to Round. A disc on a commodity space can be used as a “wild” for any revenue icon, except for a “hat”.

Finally, when a player completes an order for the local market, he’ll be allowed to place one of his available discs onto one of the spaces on the Esplores Market board. No player may have more than one disc on each of the available spaces, and the total number of discs that can be placed on a space equals the total number of players in the game, minus one. So if the Blue, Red, and Yellow players have placed a disc on the space that awards 1 Victory Point at the end of the game for each hired Helper they have, the Green player would not be allowed to place his there. Some of the other bonuses here include end-game points for each disc a player has, for each roof tile they’ve obtained, for each overseas trade they’ve sent, and for each set of harvest goods and animals in their warehouse and stables.

 

 

 

B. The Barn Roof

The upper-left corner of the player sheet contains the La Granja’s barn. Player’s can use income (silver) in order to repair the roof of the barn, awarding them with a Roof tile. Sections of the roof must be repaired from left to right, in order. After fulfilling enough spaces to complete a section, the player will draw a tile from amongst the face-down supply pile, flipping it over and placing it face-up on the fulfilled section. These include one-time bonuses that can be spent during the remainder of the game, by simply flipping to tile back over. Whether used or not, the player is awarded the number of Victory Points at the end of the game, listed below the areas of the roof he was able to repair.

For instance, the Green player previously completed the 1st section of his barn roof, and has now spent enough silver to fill in the final space needed to complete the 2nd section. By doing this, he’ll immediately draw a face-down tile from the supply, which turns out to include two grapes.

 

At some point during the game, he could choose to flip this roof tile over, immediately awarding himself two grape goods to use to fulfill other areas of his La Granja. Because he’s completed these first 2 sections of his barn roof, he’ll be rewarded 2 Victory Points at the end of the game (1 for each tile). Once he completes the 3rd section, he’ll receive an additional 2.

 

 

 

C. Overseas Trade

Players can ship goods and trade overseas using the area in the upper-right corner. This is probably to hardest section to complete, as a player will need to ship three of the same good during the same Scoring Phase in order to complete one of the six sections here. Remember that players can’t carry discs over from Round to Round (except for commodities), so it can be quite difficult to ever get 3 of the same good during the Dice Phase. Using commodities is one way to achieve this, but player’s may also receive assistance from their hired Helper’s special abilities, which I’ll discuss in just a bit. Each completed overseas trade is worth 2 Victory Points at the end of the game.

For instance, the Blue player has two pigs on his Revenue board, along with a commodity saved over from a previous round when he shipped an order to the local market. He could convert his commodity into a 3rd pig, then use all three of these to make an overseas trade.

 

 

 

 

D. Warehouse & Stables

There may be times when players have collected goods that they don’t or can’t use elsewhere. Remember that other than commodities, regular types of goods can not be saved for future rounds. Any not use are simply discarded. Players can store harvest goods (olives, wheat, and grapes) in their warehouse and animals (pigs and donkeys) in their stable, located on the lower-left corner of the player sheet.

For every full set of harvest goods stored in the warehouse (1 olive, 1 wheat, and 1 grape) the player will score 1 Victory Point at the end of the game. The same works for every pair of pigs and donkeys in their stables. So, if at the end of the game, the Yellow player had 5 olives, 4 wheat, and 6 grapes in their warehouse, he would score 4 Victory Points (1 point for each complete set). If he had 3 pigs and 4 donkeys, he would score 3 Victory Points for his stables.

 

 

 

E. Hiring Helpers

By completing the sections located in the center of the player sheet, players can hire help for their La Granja. These helpers contain various ongoing special abilities and bonuses that will be available to the player for the rest of the game. Unlike delivering to the local market, or repairing the roof on the barn, players can complete sections of this area in any order they wish, however the sections that require more goods to complete will reward end-game Victory Points. Once the player completes a section, he’ll choose a Helper tile from the middle of the table at the end of the round, placing it on top of that section. This means that helpers hired during the current round will not be available to use until the beginning of the following round. Let’s take a look at the abilities and bonuses from some of the helpers in the game:

 

 

– By choosing the helper on the left, the player is able to ignore the order in which goods must be fulfilled for deliveries to the Esplores Market. This means that he can fulfill the goods needed in any order, rather than from left to right.

– By choosing the helper on the right, the player is able to convert a donkey into a hat, or a hat into a donkey once per Scoring Phase. I’ll explain how hats work in the next section. However, the ability to convert a good into a hat can be quite powerful.

 

 

– By choosing the helper on the left, the player is able to copy that ability of another player’s helper, though he’ll need to place one of his disc on that player’s helper, and it will remain there for the rest of the game. Who knew cloning technology was available in this small, quaint farming community?? This ability is fairly situational. Having disc available for you to use is pretty important during the Scoring Phase, so you’d really need to feel like using that other power is beneficial enough to remove a disc from your supply for the rest of the game. It can be helpful however if both copies of a particular helper have been claimed, especially in the latter parts of the game, when you quantity of discs become a little less important.

– By choosing the helper on the right, the player is able to move one of his discs one space on his revenue board during each Scoring Phase. This is helpful when a player has gained a good that don’t necessarily need, or when they are attempting to get a group of 3 goods to trade overseas. You’ll notice that there’s a line in between the regular goods (olives, wheat, grapes, silver, pigs, and donkeys) and the hat and commodity spaces (seen below). This means that you can not use this ability to move a disc beyond this line. Therefore you could not move a disc from the donkey space to the hat space. Though, if you had the helper previously discussed, you could make the specific conversion from a donkey to a hat.

 

 

 

Hats & The Siesta Track

Some players may have collected hat icons during the Dice Phase, which they can use during the Scoring Phase. While some areas on the player sheet do require hats, for the most part hats will be used to get some rest. It can be hard work on the La Granja. A rested mind is a productive mind. I think Rip Van Winkle said that. A player can choose to spend a hat to advance his disc on the Siesta Track by one space. Each space along this track is worth 1 Victory Point at the end of the game, and once a player reaches the last space of the track, the end-game triggers.

So in a sense, the Siesta Track is also the game’s timer. A couple spaces along this track include “+” symbols. When a player’s disc reaches one of these spaces, he’ll immediately unlock a new disc from the nearby supply, matching his color. If a player feels that he is ahead of everyone else, it may be in his best interest to collect as many hats as he can (or use helper abilities to convert them) in order to end the game before others can catch up.

 

 

 

End-Game Scoring:

Once a player has reached the end of the Siesta track, players will continue with the round. At the end of the round, the game is over and players will total up their Victory Points by scoring each of the following sections listed on the Score Pad:

 

– Any points given for covering roof tile and/or helper sections.

– Points awarded for completed deliveries to the Esplores Market (highest amount if 1st, lower amount if not).

– 2 points for each completed overseas trade.

– 1 point for each completed set of harvest goods in the warehouse and/or animals in the stables.

– Any points awarded based on discs placed on spaces of the Esplores Market board (for instance, 1 point for every completed roof tile).

– 1 point for each space advanced on the Siesta Track

 

 

After totaling all points, the player with the most Victory Points wins.

 

 

 

Thoughts:

The first time I played No Siesta, I unknowingly played the variant rules for a 2-player game where all 5 dice are only rolled once, as opposed to re-rolling them after each round of drafting. We also played the basic rules which included a set of standard helper tiles for each player versus placing two sets of these tiles along with the advanced tiles in a central supply for all players. This made for a fairly longer game than anticipated, with both of us filling out a majority of our player sheets before it was over. After discovering my error, playing the regular re-rolling rules, along with the included advanced tiles, the game had a much better flow and swifter ending. I attribute this mostly to the occurrence of hats in the game. Hats are the one icon that will normally be chosen when rolled, and using the variant, one-roll rule, these didn’t come up as often. There were even times when we’d go 2-3 rounds with no hats rolled at all. There are also two advanced helper tiles that help convert things into hats. So with both of these elements included in the game, more hats were resolved, therefore making for a game that was quicker and better paced. I mention this only for those that may come across the same issue.

Having said that, after playing with the correct rules (ha!) and advanced tiles, La Granja: No Siesta is a fun, little dice drafting game. In a way, it can feel like personalized Bingo, except that you’re able to draft the icons you want, then allocate them onto your player sheet, attempting to find the most efficient way to score points with them. There’s some interesting decision-making that players will encounter. Completing deliveries to the local market will have you place a disc onto an Esplores Market space, awarding you a way to gain end-game victory points, however this will also remove a disc from your supply to use for the rest of the game. Therefore, players will need to routinely advance their way along the Siesta track in order to unlock more of their discs to counteract this.

For many, the most entertaining element in the original La Granja was the dice-oriented action selection mechanic. No Siesta has basically taken this phase of the game and revolved an entire die-rolling game around it. Fans of La Granja should take note that the two games are really nothing alike (other than in theme and art design). But because of this, if you enjoyed the way dice were used in La Granja, No Siesta provides you a shorter, complementary light-weight game that the whole family can enjoy. Once players become familiar with how to complete each section of the players sheet, the game becomes very intuitive and simplistic in structure. However, much like its older, more complex brother, No Siesta rewards efficient decision-making and action selection.

 

 

If you’re near the Wilmington, NC area, feel free to check this game out and more at our community’s FLGS, Cape Fear Games.

 

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