Woodcraft

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In Woodcraft, you play as forest people running competing workshops in the woods, with you gathering wood and crafting goods for your customers. Along the way, you hire helpers, improve your workshop, and buy different types of wood and other tools to create the best workshop you can. During the game, players complete their projects with wood (dice) that can be cut down to size, glu…
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Category Tags , SKU ZPG-DLG08015 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

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

You Might Like

  • Crunchy, tight turns
  • Plenty of options to manipulate the dice

Might Not Like

  • Iconography could be clearer
  • No reference card
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Description

In Woodcraft, you play as forest people running competing workshops in the woods, with you gathering wood and crafting goods for your customers. Along the way, you hire helpers, improve your workshop, and buy different types of wood and other tools to create the best workshop you can.

During the game, players complete their projects with wood (dice) that can be cut down to size, glued back together, and adjusted using dice manipulation to be as efficient as possible with their resources.

Whoever builds the best, most successful workshop wins.

 

If there was a craft I wish I was good at, it’s woodwork and carpentry. I like the tactile nature of wood and the versatility of the things you can make at the end of it. Chairs, radios, shelves, tables, dice… ahh dice… what was I talking about? Right! Board game. Board games give players the opportunity to take on roles as craftsfolk who have the skills we don’t, and a game that does exactly that is Woodcraft by Vladimir Suchý and Ross Arnold. In Woodcraft, we utilise the wonder of wood and make some fantastic items, employ helpers and fulfil orders in an effort to become the best crafter and win the game. Sound good? Then sharpen your chisel and prepare your lumber. Let’s dive in.

The Game

Woodcraft is an action selection, order fulfilment game, that uses dice as the resources. To start the game, set the main board up by setting the seven action tiles in one quadrant and place the arc tile over the bonuses. Rotate the saw so that the arrow points to the far end of the next quadrant. Roll two dice of each colour and place them in the bottom right of the board as the lumber market.
Quickly set up the income board with a counter for each player on the reputation, hazelnut income and blueberry income tracks and add the round counter on space one.

Randomly place two of the three reputation track tiles on the paler spaces, making sure they’re on the right side for the player count. Shuffle all decks of cards, and deal out four early-game order cards and four early-game helpers next to the scoreboard and place the disk of each player on the zero spot. Finally deal out a number of Public Contract cards equal to one more than the number of players.

Next, players take their own player boards and the various tiles of their workshop, setting up a splicing tile and a sawblade. All other tiles are there as upgrades for later on, so keep them to one side. Take 12 blueberries (the currency of the game) and one of each of the three dice. Set the brown die to 1, the yellow to a 2 and the green to a 3. Then all players draw two hazelnut order cards, five early-game order cards and three early-game helpers, choosing two of the early-game orders and one helper to employ, discarding the rest. Pay the cost of the helper and place them in the top left room of your workshop.

The game itself flows incredibly well, with three phases to a turn. First, grow any planted trees. This is a die you have planted using one of the actions, so increase the pip value by 2. Next, choose an action from the action wheel and perform it. When you take an action from the wheel, you also gain any bonus printed below the action tile. Then you move the action tile around to the next open space in the next quadrant. You can also buy a bonus action to take another action on the board and perform any number of free actions. All three of these options can be taken in any order. Finally, you can buy some points. The game play is fully finished in 14 rounds, so you have to be efficient in your turns.

The main actions you can take on your turn in Woodcraft are: buy lumber; exchange dice; buy materials; choose orders; choose a helper; produce or plant a tree; and improve your workshop. The free actions include using a helper’s once-per-turn ability; saw lumber to split the dice values; splice scrapwood to increase a die’s value; glue lumber together to sum two dice values into one single die; harvest a tree and taking the die out of the plant pot; or complete an order.

On the fourth, eight, eleventh and fourteenth rounds, an income phase happens, where unfulfilled orders decrease in value, additional orders are played, blueberries and hazelnuts (points) are gained from your positions on the income tracks, expended tools are recharged, and the market for orders and helpers are refreshed.

When the game ends, the winner is the one with the most points. There’s a few other nuances in the game, like claiming the public contacts and changing to the late-game orders and helpers, and the specifics of the actions but that’s Woodcraft in a nutshell.

Final Thoughts

I played Woodcraft once, with several mistakes, but I absolutely loved this game. It holds the focus of the players throughout, and there’s a lot of crunchy decisions to be made as you play. I love how easily players can manipulate the dice with the tools provided to them. You can use scrapwood to increase the dice by small values, glue two dice together or slice dice apart, splitting the values into two or more smaller dice. It’s so satisfying to see a big turn pay off after planning in the past two turns.

One thing that did throw us off when we played though was some of the iconography. One of the actions, Buy Resources, has a symbol on it which suggests you take one unit of two different resources but that’s not how the action works. Instead, there’s a table on the main board which gives you an exchange rate for blueberries to buy higher quantities of the resources. We missed that completely, and spent half the game getting free resources but fewer of them, which made the game a lot harder.

However, now we know that, we’ll be on it next time. We also struggled without a handy reference card for what all the actions do and how they interact, which could’ve been included with the game, but if you know it’s a heavier game, you prepare a bit more for it.

Fourteen turns doesn’t seem like a lot, and it really isn’t in this game. But you can do a lot, like buying a whole extra action on your turn, and holding off on playing actions until later can provide increasing rewards. You see, if you take a particular action multiple times, it moves around the board, spinning the saw blade with it. Any actions left behind in previous quadrants gain revealed resources for you, which makes the actions more attractive. You also can’t take an action on a full loop before moving all actions from the first quadrant, so you may have to take the action left behind eventually. Even this can be mitigated though, by spending a lantern to move one tile but take a different action.

And I’ve not even mentioned the tool shed in the attic! Honestly, there’s so much meat on this game, and I would highly recommend it if you love a heavy game full of decisions and some excellent manipulation of what’s in front of you. The design here is elegant, and you’re almost always able to do exactly what you need. You just need to adjust the board to your favour, which is so satisfying when you can see that pathway to victory. I’m very intrigued to see how the solo mode of this game plays too, and I can only imagine the gameplay becomes even tighter when the player count increases. Wonderfully done, in my opinion. I can’t wait to get it on the table again.

 

Zatu Score

Rating

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

You might like

  • Crunchy, tight turns
  • Plenty of options to manipulate the dice

Might not like

  • Iconography could be clearer
  • No reference card