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Awards

Rating

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

You Might Like

  • Lots of extra content
  • Increase the variability significantly
  • Doesn’t add a lot of extra complexity

Might Not Like

  • Expansion content requires its own box
  • Sorting and set up can take a while
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Red Cathedral: Contractors Review

Red Cathedral Contractors

Hot on the heels of the core game comes The Red Cathedral: Contractors expansion. The Red Cathedral is a 2020 game designed by Israel Cendrero and Sheila Santos and published by Devir Games. In The Red Cathedral you will lead a construction team building Saint Basil’s Cathedral under the watchful eye of Ivan the Terrible. You will be working together to complete the cathedral but whoever does it the best will be granted the favour of the Tsar.

During the game players will be gathering resources and building parts of the cathedral. As part of set-up a building plan is selected and the cathedral sections laid out to match the plan. The main mechanism in The Red Cathedral is a dice drafting rondel action system.

On a player’s turn they will perform one of three possible actions. These actions include assigning a section of the cathedral to build, sending resources to build part of the cathedral or gain resources.

For a full review of the core game of The Red Cathedral click here.

The Contractors expansion comes in the same size box as the core game and at around a similar price. It is a box that is packed full of new content including 10 new guilds (core game contains four), six additional blueprint cards, a new board, new workers, pieces, tiles and a new black die. The contractors expansion expands on to the core game taking the replay value up several notches and mixing up the gameplay experience with each game, whilst still retaining the core DNA of The Red Cathedral.

The new board contains a stylised map of Russia which players will be sending out contractors to visit and gain various specialists. These specialists offer a new way to score at the end of the game by collecting sets of different specialists. This is done by a fourth action “hiring” which allows players to send a worker (contractor) out to visit a region on the map paying permits to do so. Similar to the core game mechanism with the Workshop tiles, players will gain specialist tiles that can be placed on their board paying the cost of two Rubles.

I am not going to list all 10 of the new Guild cards but some to note include the Jewlers, who add a new resource type, diamonds, which act as wild resources. Mangers give you greater flexibility in acquiring basic resources and can really push the game forward. The Archivist comes with a whole new deck of cards called the Contract cards which give you additional end game scoring opportunities. The Brick Makers use a reinforcement tile which gives you additional one time bonuses/benefits. By mixing and matching these new guild cards with the ones in the core box you can get widely different combinations.

Final Thoughts

The Red Cathedral is a great game. It comes in a small box but packs a big punch. The dice selection/action selection rondel is a fabulous mechanism and the interaction and competition to race to complete the construction is always tense and fun.

So, is the Contractors expansion needed if the core game was great to begin with? Well, if you love The Red Cathedral you are sure going to want to keep reading.

Content Galore

What the Contractors expansion offers is a bucket load of extra content that you can seamlessly add into your game. The new contractors boards (map and player board extensions) add a new way to score big points at the end of the game. It comes at the cost of other things but it adds another path to victory that was not originally present. I love the new addition and the extra level of thought and strategy that you have to consider. It is a relatively simple addition but one that impacts the game in a significant way. It increases competition for the specialist tiles and interaction between players without introducing any take that into the game. The bonuses that these specialist tiles offer can be powerful but they are only one time use.

The ten new guilds are a fantastic way to keep the game fresh. They offer new mechanisms, tokens, cards and resources. You can mix and match them in a variety of ways without much restriction. Each of the ten different Guilds come with three different cards for even more replay value. I have found using one or two of the new Guilds with the ones from the core set works really well. It adds new rules/mechanisms without being overwhelming. However, the Guilds are not hugely complex and I would not hesitate to include this for first time players.

The new blueprint cards are a nice addition. Again, they add variety in the way that the Cathedral is built which can also make for a different feeling game. Tall, skinny cathedrals are going to be more competitive and add to the race element as you rush to complete higher levels before your opponents. For me these are not the main reason to get this expansion but they are nice to have included.

Contractors 3

More Dice, More Flexibility

The inclusion of the black die adds more flexibility and options on your turn. As with the white die and your coloured die you can pay extra Rubles to move it additional spaces. Moving the black die also activates your specialist tile for them big one off bonuses. There is a timing element here to ensure you have a tile in the black die slot and that you can utilise the bonus to its full potential.

Overall, if you liked The Red Cathedral you are going to get a blast out of this expansion. If you didn’t like the core game to begin with I doubt that the expansion is going to change your mind. You are still essentially playing the same game but with some additional wrinkles, twists and actions. For the price point you certainly get value for money in terms of content and replay value. The only one gripe is that the expansion content does not fit in the original game box.

However, the original box was relatively compact and fairly full to begin with and with an expansion box the same size also full of content it is a very minor gripe. The additional content far outweighs the issue of having two boxes on the shelf. This is an expansion that I would highly recommend and I am already looking forward to my next game of The Red Cathedral.

Zatu Score

Rating

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

You might like

  • Lots of extra content
  • Increase the variability significantly
  • Doesnt add a lot of extra complexity

Might not like

  • Expansion content requires its own box
  • Sorting and set up can take a while

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