Spiel 2014 Preview: Orléans

Posted by James (admin) on September 17th, 2014

Orleans gameOrléans is a new game from dlp games who released the highly-entertaining game Citrus last year.  Orléans combines multiple game mechanics such as bag-building, meeple movement, and worker placement.

Each player has a bag of character tokens (farmers, knights, craftsmen, etc.) and players can add more tokens to their bag during the game.  At the start of each round, players draw some characters from their bag, and each player places them on their player boards in specific combinations to activate actions.  Most actions require 2 or 3 characters, so I can see there will be some tricky choices deciding in which combinations to allocate the drawn characters each turn.  Players can part-fill actions and complete them on a later turn too.

There are lots of different actions to choose from.  Many add a character to your bag and then advance you along the matching track on the central game board which give a benefit – the further along the track you are, the better the benefit.  For example, adding a boatman to your bag advances you along the boatman track which earns you coins.  Adding a knight to your bag also advances you along the knight track which allows you to draw more characters at the start of each round.   Some are a bit different such as adding a trader to your bag allows you to add one of the special action tiles to your player board which you can activate, such as creating goods, or using a boatman character as a craftsman, farmer, or trader.

There is also opportunity for direct interaction between players too.  Some actions allow you to move your merchant (meeple) around the map.  The merchant can move along a road or a river, depending upon which action was activated (each requiring a different mixture of characters), and they gain a goods tile if they pass over one on a route.  Also, you can use an action to build a trading station where your merchant is located, but there can only be one trading station per location so you need to build there before someone else does.

Orleans boxWhen you use an action, the characters used to activate it go back into your bag, so there is a constant recycling of your characters, as well as adding new ones too.  So, this is a bit like deck-building but with tokens being drawn from a bag.  (Another release this year, Hyperborea, has a similar type of mechanic using cubes.)

There are a few other game elements too such as a Beneficial Deeds board where any player can permanently place characters to gain a reward, a reward/penalty for having the most/fewest farmers each round, and so on.  At the end of each round, all players resolve the effects of an event tile (drawn at the start of each round) which can be good or bad.  The game ends after 18 rounds and the player with the most Victory Points (VPs) wins.  Players earn VPs for cash, goods, trading stations, and citizen tiles (which are earned by the first player to reach the end of some tracks and reach some other achievements).

Overall, Orléans looks like it contains a lot of different elements which you need to balance in order to score VPs.  Choosing how to allocate your characters will probably be tricky but you’ll also need to decide which actions will work well together.  Gaining lots of one character type will move you a long way up their track to get a large benefit, but it also means you’ll keep drawing lots of that character type from your bag which may make activating lots of actions difficult because they require a mix if character types.  Some of the tracks give you improved abilities such as drawing more characters each turn, and this sort of upgrading reminds me a bit of Hansa Teutonica.  Also, it adds some progression too.

As well as upgrading your abilities (and changing the mix of characters in your bag), gaining extra actions looks interesting too.  Also, one action allows you to effectively ignore one of the characters required for an action (you place a disc to permanently fill-in the chosen character space).  So, it sounds like there are lots of ways you can customise your capabilities, and this means players will each have a slightly different view of the game, which is something I always like.

I definitely want to play this one as it sounds like my kind if medium-weight eurogame with lots of decisions.  You can read more info and the rules on dlp game’s website here: bga.me/orleans

For more Spiel 2014 previews, check out my Spiel 2014 Previews page which lists the games on my radar with links to their previews too.

James.

 

2 Responses to “Spiel 2014 Preview: Orléans”

  1. Jacob Says:

    I’ve read enough of your previews to say you’ve done an amazing job distilling games into something easily accessible to read and understand. I’ve enjoyed reading them all. It’s definitely helped me choose and not choose which games to buy. Thank you very much!

  2. James (admin) Says:

    No problem. Glad to be of help.

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