Troyes

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Troyes is a game that should get a lot more attention than it does. It is a bit of a more difficult game to teach but it is worth sticking with as some of the mechanics on display are excellent. Troyes is a dice placement game with some area control elements. Each round you will be allocated a number of dice depending on how much presence you have in three buildings. There are three…
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Troyes is a game that should get a lot more attention than it does. It is a bit of a more difficult game to teach but it is worth sticking with as some of the mechanics on display are excellent. Troyes is a dice placement game with some area control elements.

Each round you will be allocated a number of dice depending on how much presence you have in three buildings. There are three colours of dice and each one leans in a certain direction more than the others – yellow are generally better for earning coins, red for fighting of events and white for rebuilding the Cathedral.

Each turn you will choose between one and three dice and use them to score points, earn upgrades, fight off harsh events and so on. The slight snag is that you are free to use other people’s dice, as long as you can afford to compensate them. This creates a feeling of smugness as you pluck the yellow six that your opponent was about to use away from them, followed by sulkiness as you pay them for the privilege. Dice can also be used to take a space in one of the three buildings mentioned earlier.

Although this might not get you points in the short term, it will give you a shed load of dice for the next round. Rolling eight dice to your friends, two will always bring a smile to your evil face. The clever design is not just limited to the dice though. At the start of Troyes each player is given a secret goal card. This will tell them how many points can be scored should they excel in an area of the game, but these goal cards will score for everyone.

This leads to trying to guess what the other players are heading for while shrouding in mystery your own goals. Although Troyes is competitive, there is some joint challenge to be faced in the event cards. These will come out in twos each round and cause some kind of limiting effect. There are points available for those who combat the events, but it does take a lot of dice to do so…

Troyes is a wonderful ‘Euro’ style game that is thoughtful, fast and engaging. Similarly to other Euro games the theme is a bit lost in the gameplay, but the game is never dry. The added level of player interaction makes for a tense game of timing your moves to perfection, and this game is highly recommended for anyone looking to take their gaming hobby to the next level or find a new ‘medium weight’ game for their collection.

Player Count: 2-4

Time: 90 minutes

Age: 12+

Awards

Golden Pear

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Luck mitigation in influence points
  • Huge variability
  • Very reactive

Might Not Like

  • Some resources are much easier to come by
  • All events are negative
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Description

Troyes is a game that should get a lot more attention than it does. It is a bit of a more difficult game to teach but it is worth sticking with as some of the mechanics on display are excellent. Troyes is a dice placement game with some area control elements.

Each round you will be allocated a number of dice depending on how much presence you have in three buildings. There are three colours of dice and each one leans in a certain direction more than the others - yellow are generally better for earning coins, red for fighting of events and white for rebuilding the Cathedral.

Each turn you will choose between one and three dice and use them to score points, earn upgrades, fight off harsh events and so on. The slight snag is that you are free to use other people's dice, as long as you can afford to compensate them. This creates a feeling of smugness as you pluck the yellow six that your opponent was about to use away from them, followed by sulkiness as you pay them for the privilege. Dice can also be used to take a space in one of the three buildings mentioned earlier.

Although this might not get you points in the short term, it will give you a shed load of dice for the next round. Rolling eight dice to your friends, two will always bring a smile to your evil face. The clever design is not just limited to the dice though. At the start of Troyes each player is given a secret goal card. This will tell them how many points can be scored should they excel in an area of the game, but these goal cards will score for everyone.

This leads to trying to guess what the other players are heading for while shrouding in mystery your own goals. Although Troyes is competitive, there is some joint challenge to be faced in the event cards. These will come out in twos each round and cause some kind of limiting effect. There are points available for those who combat the events, but it does take a lot of dice to do so…

Troyes is a wonderful ‘Euro’ style game that is thoughtful, fast and engaging. Similarly to other Euro games the theme is a bit lost in the gameplay, but the game is never dry. The added level of player interaction makes for a tense game of timing your moves to perfection, and this game is highly recommended for anyone looking to take their gaming hobby to the next level or find a new ‘medium weight’ game for their collection.

Player Count: 2-4

Time: 90 minutes

Age: 12+

Worker placement games are among my favourites to play. I love the strategy that comes from a long-term game such as Viticulture, and the intriguing tactical commitments that come from something like Lords of Waterdeep. So when I opened up a mystery box to find Troyes nestled in there and I saw the meeples on the back, I was excited. Now to clarify, I have the 2016 printing, which included four bonus cards and a solo mode. Let’s go back in time to visit the Champagne region of France. Here we explore four centuries of history in Troyes, by Pearl Games.

How To Play

Troyes is a worker placement, dice rolling game. With area control and hidden objectives thrown in for good measure. Players will allocate meeples at the start of the game to the three main parts of the city: the church, the castle and the town hall. Each meeple represents a die. You will recruit and roll to apply to various activities, which are openly visible on the board. However, you also have hidden objectives that are shared – but you only know the one you’ve drawn.

Each round has several phases:

Activity Cards – reveal the activity cards at the three locations.

Income and Salaries – gain 10 money and spend based on where meeples are placed.

Assemble Workforce – gather a die per meeple in each building and roll them, then place them in your pie segment.

Events – draw two new events and resolve all active events. 

Actions – use 1-3 dice to perform an action. Eg. add a new meeple to your supply, build the cathedral or tackle an activity. In order to do an activity, you need to have a tradesman on that card to organise the workers. You can also pass to get two money and, so long as there are still dice in the town square, you’ll gain one per round when it comes round to your turn but you take no further actions. 

End of Round – collect money and citizens from your district, discard your dice and change the starting player. 

At various points in the game, you gain prestige points which can be used to influence your own dice or buy additional workers (you will need additional workers in this game.) You can get prestige by tackling events, building the cathedral and on certain activity cards. Once you’ve flipped every red event card, the game has a final round and then you head to final scoring. Have the most victory points at the end of the game, and you win.

Final Thoughts

Troyes seems to have been reviewed well by the critics, so when I did some research before playing, I was expecting it to flow neatly. The gameplay feels like a lot, and there are many steps that you need to be aware of. I also don’t like that money is a difficult resource to come by. This can be mitigated by investing heavily in the town hall and whilst it might limit you in some areas, you can use your money to buy more dice from your opponents (or the neutral player) which is great for luck mitigation. 

The box art isn’t one that draws you in. If you didn’t know it was a board game, I’d almost have assumed it was either a jigsaw puzzle or a book. But it is very fitting with the theme. I think if I’d seen it in a game shop, I probably would have passed it up. But I guess that’s the point of a mystery box, you try something new you probably wouldn’t have thought of as worthy of your collection (see my review on Tacocat Spelled Backwards.) 

I think Troyes is a game you need to play a couple of times before you really get into it. The first playthrough for me was a little rougher than I would like, but that’s possibly down to being hungry and a little distracted during the explanation of the rules. (Note to self – watch more how to play videos. And maybe learn French.)

Let me start by saying that Troyes is in my top 10 games of all time and I would give it a rating of 95%. Please bear that in mind as you read the next paragraphs.

Troyes does not give off good first impressions. The art is authentically medieval, but it is distinctly unpleasant to look at. The cover will put off 90% of gamers. The board is also horrible to look at. I know that art is subjective, but the vast majority of people will veer away from this game at high speeds just because of the look.

And then there’s the gameplay. The number of times you get to perform an action relies on a formula that wouldn’t seem out of place in a Quantum Mechanics for Experts book. Okay, that’s possibly a touch of hyperbole, but this game has more maths in it than most other games.

Now imagine you are playing a game of Troyes. You roll your group of dice and you see a fair few 5s and 6s. Brilliant! High values are great in this game. The player to your left is the first player and their first move is to buy one of your dice and use it for their action. What? The next player does the same thing, as does the next. What?! You’re now left with a depleted pool and amazingly enough, they’re all low values. Admittedly, you have quite a stash of cash now, but even so, all of that thievery smarts.

Despite all that, I love this game. Let’s tackle the points I made above. I’d never say that the art was great, but it has grown on me. It helps that the gameplay is so fantastic. Yes, it is mathsy but it doesn’t take too long to get used to. As for people thieving your dice, well, that’s where the crunchy decisions come in. You need to switch your mindset from “These are my dice” to “These are all common dice that anyone can use, but these in front of me are free.” The decisions are then all around which of your free dice you need to use up first to stop people from buying them. You know that if you use a yellow 6, but leave a red die with a 5 on it, it will undoubtedly get bought before your turn. Can you afford to lose that red die? Red dice let you do red actions, yellow dice let you do yellow actions etc. You have to be very aware of what the other players want to do and which dice they will potentially buy from you. The expansion to Troyes introduces a purple die that belongs to you and you alone. I always play with the purple die even when teaching it to new players.

Another of my favourite aspects of this game is the hidden objectives. In the base game, there are 6 objectives and one is dealt to each player at the start of the game. At the end of the game, you score not only for your objective but also for everyone else’s objectives. So you spend the game trying to work out who has got which objective. And also accusing people of having certain objectives. This happens from turn one. As soon as the first player places a cube on the cathedral, someone shouts the phrase “Well, they’ve obviously got the cathedral objective.” This is followed by strenuous denials. This banter goes on throughout the whole game. It’s great fun.

I normally shy away from games with long turns. In fact, I despise them. But here the decisions are just so crunchy, you have to give them the time they’re due. But while someone else is thinking about what they’re going to do, you can look around at the other dice and plan your next move, or try to work out who has which objective.

When I heard that a spiritual successor to Troyes was being released with artwork by Ian O’Toole and a space theme, I was incredibly giddy and preordered it instantly. But when Black Angel arrived, I was disappointed. It was to some extent a streamlined version of Troyes with extra elements added in for extra flavour, but I discovered that the rough edges of Troyes were the things I loved. Black Angel was a pale imitation lacking in banter and crunchy choices. I sold it very quickly.

The expansion, The Ladies of Troyes, while not being essential, does double the amount of content. It doubles the amount of activity cards that you can visit, adds in the purple die, more objectives, plus other modules too. It comes highly recommended.

Troyes is a game that you have to apologise for when you bring it to the table and it’s certainly not for everyone. If you like dice placement, strong player interaction, and banter at the table, give Troyes a go. It may be a game you love.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Luck mitigation in influence points
  • Huge variability
  • Very reactive

Might not like

  • Some resources are much easier to come by
  • All events are negative