Under a blazing sun in 4th century BCE, traders come from all corners of the Mediterranean Sea to Corinth to sell their goods; Persian carpets, Cretan olive oil, Roman grapes, and Egyptian spices are highly prized by traders. Players have a few weeks to secure their place in Corinthian lore as its most savvy trader!
Corinth is a roll-and-write game akin to a dice-only version of the board game Yspahan. At the start of a turn, the active player rolls nine dice, then places all the dice with the highest value on the gold space at the top of the chart, then starts placing dice from the bottom of the chart up, with each value of dice being on a separate level.
The active player takes all the dice on one level, then the action associated with that level. The top level gives the player as many gold as the number of dice they took; the bottom level gives goats instead of gold; and the middle levels allow a player to deliver goods to a number of market stalls on their personal player sheet equal to the dice claimed. (You have four colors of market stalls, and once you start marking off, say, rugs in one of the blue areas, you have to finish marking off all the rugs in that area before you can start marking off another blue area.)
The active player can spend gold to roll up to three extra yellow dice and thereby increase the odds of getting to take a desired level; if the active player doesn't take any of these yellow dice, they are removed from play, preventing others from benefitting at that player's expense.
Instead of marking off gold, goats, or goods, you can use the value of the die or dice claimed (1-6) to move the steward on your personal score sheet. The steward starts in the middle of a 5x5 grid on your sheet, and you must move it as many spaces as the number of pips on the die value claimed, not crossing over any line you've drawn previously. You can pay 1 gold to move the steward one more or one fewer space, and you can pay as much gold as you want to do this. You can receive gold, goats, or goods from where the steward stops, but beyond that, you can earn points. When the steward stops on a corner space of this grid, you count the number of spaces circled to this point, with some spaces counting twice, then you write down that number, scoring that many points at game's end. If you stop in another corner later, you do the same thing again, which compounds the value of all your previous movement.
You can spend gold or goats to construct buildings that give you bonus powers, such as collecting two additional gold whenever you collect any gold or moving the steward up to two spaces more or less without paying.
After 16 turns (with four players) or 18 turns (with two or three players), the game ends and you tally points for goods delivered, spaces visited by the steward, buildings constructed, and goats and gold still on hand.
It’s time to Roll and Write your way into being the most successful merchant in the Ancient World of CorinthDays of Wonder. Be ready at the Harbour to make wise decisions on whether to deliver goods, trade in gold or goats and when to build to bring home a tidy profit of victory points!
This 2-4 player game, designed by Sebastien Pauchon, fits neatly into a small box that houses 12 light but sturdy engraved dice, nine white and three yellow, a pad of 150 full colour, paper score sheets, one Harbour Board, and a light but very helpful rulebook.
Each player needs to grab a pen and a score sheet, then place the Harbour Board in the centre of the table with the dice next to it and you’re ready to begin.
The first player crosses out the leftmost dice picture on their turn track and rolls all nine white dice (A dice tray would be handy for this, alternatively use the lid of the box). That player then sorts the dice by rolled value, the highest going into the Gold District (area) at the top of the Harbour Board.
The lowest value now is placed in the bottom area of the board, the Goats District, and the rest of the dice grouped into matching values and place in the next available District moving up the scale of the board (This may mean that not every district will have dice).
The first player now chooses which District to take the dice from, the important thing to note is that it’s not the number on the dice that counts but the number of dice. After this each other player in a clockwise order chooses the dice from other Districts, each removing them from the board.
There are four distinct areas on the player sheet to try and complete during a game of Corinth. Gold or Goats, Goods Delivery, Move the Steward and Construct Buildings.
When taking from either the Gold or Goats District the number of dice represent how many of these items they have just received. On the score sheet the player now circles the Gold or Goats. Every player starts off the game with one of each circled.
When a dice group is selected from one of the four coloured districts the player can deliver goods to shops in that District. They check off as many symbols as dice collected and when a shop has all its goods crossed out the player can move onto fulfilling the other deliveries for the rest of the shops in that district. The number at the top of each shop is the victory points awarded to each player who completes the goods order, counted at the end of the game.
The player who is first to deliver goods required to all the shops in the district receives a special bonus for doing so. This bonus number is found next to the character on the leftmost side of the sheet and is circled by the player. Everyone else then crosses out this bonus as they have missed out on it for that District.
As an action one could choose to Move the Steward instead of the regular district allocation. In this case the Steward is moved as many steps as the number on the dice. Gold can be spent (by crossing through circled coins) to increase or decrease the number of steps by one. When the Steward is moved through the market a path is drawn one step at a time, until reaching the last symbol that is circled and gained by the player. The Steward cannot cross over a circled symbol or line already drawn.
Finally, a player can construct a building by using the collected Gold and Goats. Each building gives a different helpful ability that can be used throughout the rest of the game, so it’s important to build these early on to take full advantage of all they offer.
Final Thoughts on Corinth
Corinth’s box art is colourful and fun to look at and I think a good representation of the game within. It’s easy to learn and to teach to others and plays through in no longer than 30 minutes.
It’s a fun introduction to the Roll and Write genre, with enough to keep everyone busy. There is a playful level of strategy involved in which area to work on first and with the dice that have been rolled and are still available to you by the time it’s your go.
Moving the Steward ramps up complexity, not too much, but enough to keep any gamer working out the best route to take. Whilst newer players can still have fun trying to be the first to complete a Goods District and score themselves the extra bonus.
There is a lot to do but with the feeling of not enough time to do it in, so choose wisely, as each round moves quickly and the finally count up is soon upon you. Corinth feels balanced with a fair amount of engagement and replay-ability and for a game that’s under £20 I believe you should at least give it a go.
I think most people will like Corinth, and if they don’t then why not try and roll nine of the same value dice and as the rules state, not only win that current game but every game after that! Then give the game to a friend and rest easy that you have complete Corinth.