Before I begin I was provided a copy of the game in exchange for an honest review. This is not a paid review. If you would like to get your own copy click this link!
I love a good pun. So when asked to review Builders! a deck building game about building I was all for it. Add to the mix my general enjoyment of deck building, and the fact that my wife works for a construction company…it seemed a no brainer.
The game is like any other deck builder in that each turn you have cards in your hand that allow to to purchase new cards, or, in the case of this game, build floors on buildings. To hire new works you use beers, to build things you need a permit and some hammers. Pretty simple. The first player to build “x” number of floors triggers the end of the game then you add up your points in your plaza (ie your tableau of buildings).
So what do I think?
I enjoy the theme, I think it is clever the way the tableaus are created, and how they can interact with the cards in your hand, I also think there are clever mechanics baked in to the various floors that you can build. I also like the inclusion of a semi push your luck mechanic with the building inspector which can ruin your day if you take too many risks.
I also really appreciate the effort to demonstrate diversity in the cards, there are men, and women of various ethnicities in all the positions. Though perhaps this is undercut a bit by the animals also being in those positions…I am not sure. The art is engaging, and the the floors that you build tongue in cheek with delightful bits of comedy scattered about.
I had a somewhat tough time parsing the rulebook. I had to go back and re-read it a few times to figure out how the game worked, far more than I would have expected it to take.
We had a hard time with this game. We found it extremely hard to get permits to build things. There were many turns where no one was able to do anything other than draw cards, buy cards, and discard; this made the game drag a bit, and lose its fun. To complicate matters, there are not all that many ways to gain additional permits other than your CEO. We finally, had to houserule a way to gain more permits so we could play the game. When we did that the game picked up quite a bit. Now, it is possible that we were playing the game incorrectly, I suppose, but if that is the case then, to me, there is a serious issue with the way the rules are written. As a slight addendum, I am not sure how I feel about the currency used to hire people being beer. It sits a little oddly with me.
EDIT: The developer has clarified that it is an issue with the rules, and the “house rule” we added is, in fact the way the game should be played.
Bringing it all together
Builders! has a clever theme, good art and representation. It has the potential to be a quick game. We found we had to implement a house rule in order to make the game flow like it should. Rules could be clearer, and might be the reason why we felt the need for a house rule due to misreading them.
We gotta get this thing built! Get to the point!
* Clever theme, with good representational efforts
* The core idea of the game is good
* We found an issue with one of the core rules which gave us an issue when we played.
* Super portable