The game is set in the Burgundy region of High Medieval France. Each player takes on the role of an aristocrat, originally controlling a small princedom. While playing they aim to build settlements and powerful castles, practice trade along the river, exploit silver mines, and use the knowledge of travelers.
The game is about placing settlement tiles into the princedom. Every tile has a function that starts when the tile is placed. The princedom itself consists of several regions, each of which demands its own settlement tile.
The core game mechanism involves two dice. The pips show the kind of action the players are allowed to do (example: roll a 2 and a 5: using the 2 the player buys a watch tower and places it on a 5 city tile which triggers the function of the tower with additional advantages).
It is also possible to influence the dice, so the player is not completely subject to luck.
Developer Stefan Brück at alea describes Saint Malo as “a light, dice-rolling strategy game in which the players draw their own city buildings, walls, and people on wipe-off boards”.
In more detail, in Saint Malo players roll five dice to gain various resources; combinations of dice create enhancements like characters or buildings, which can provide additional victory points, money, or special actions, such as altering the outcome of a die roll. Players draw symbols for their holdings on erasable boards showing a grids of their cities to create individual towns. Players could build storehouses on particular squares, for example, then place a merchant nearby to gain money each turn. Another important character is the soldier; players must acquire these to defend themselves from pirate attacks that can decimate their towns.
Saint Malo rates a 2 out of 10 on Alea’s difficulty scale.
Developer Stefan Brück at alea describes Las Vegas as “an easy, dice-rolling, fun-and-luck game with a lot of interaction and ‘schadenfreude'”. Who doesn’t love schadenfreude? (Well, other than those being schadened, I suppose…)
In more detail, Las Vegas includes six cardboard casino mats, one for each side of a normal six-sided die. For each mat, players draw money cards until at least $50k is showing, but the amount may end up being a lot more, making that casino more desirable.
Each player has eight dice of a different color, which they take turns rolling. When you roll your dice, you can choose to place them on the relevant casino cards; for example, a die showing a 1 will be placed on the casino mat marked “1”. You must place at least one die per turn, although you may place more. All players take turns doing this until all the dice have been used. Finally, the player with the most dice on each casino card takes the money associated with it. In case of a tie, the next non-tied player takes the highest-valued money card at that casino.
Las Vegas rates a 1 out of 10 on alea’s difficulty scale.
~ Ravensburger Spieleverlag GmbH
In Casa Grande players try to develop well-located building lots in order to construct large and tall buildings on them. Opponents can use your buildings for their own purposes, and the final result should be one large magnificant house – “casa grande” – after another.
Casa Grande is played on a game board that shows a square grid for the building area, which is framed by a track. At the start of the game, each player receives a number of building blocks and differently-shaped platforms. Each player also receives five bonus points and one pawn, which is placed on the track.
The game is played in turns with some elements being similar to Burkhardt’s own Kupferkessel Co. At the start of his turn, the player rolls the die and moves his pawn forward on the track as many spaces as the number rolled. By expending bonus points, the player may move his pawn further. Then, the player must place one building block on the board in the column or row corresponding to the space on the track where his pawn is located. If he now has the building blocks needed to support one of his platforms, he may place that platform on top of the building blocks. If he does so, he gains an amount of money (Casa Grande Lire) based on the size of the platform and the level at which it was built.
After a platform has been added, building blocks may be added on top of the platform. If another player builds on top of your platform, you gain a number of bonus points. You also gain bonus points if your pawn ends its move on a corner (in which you don’t get to place a building block). If a player accumulates nine or more bonus points, he receives nine Casa Grande Lire, but loses the bonus points.
The game ends at the end of the round in which a player has placed his last building block. The player who has collected the most money wins.
Indigo is a tile-laying game along the lines of Metro, Tsuro and Linie 1 in which players build paths bit by bit, with no player owning the individual paths and everyone trying to exploit the paths already present. Unlike those earlier games, however, your goal is to move gemstones from their starting locations on the board to your designated goals, with the player who scores the most points winning the game.