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The Castles Of Burgundy Special Edition Review

Castles Of Burgundy Special Edition

The Castles of Burgundy is a staple of tabletop games- it’s reputation precedes it both in gameplay and quality. The story is very simple: it’s mediaeval France and you are trying to build your own area into the most powerful and profitable town by building silver mines, religious buildings, trade stores and shipping routes. You can either do this through honest means, or use your silver mines to buy from the black market.


The Castles of Burgundy (Special Edition) is played over a series of five rounds, consisting of a minimum of two turns per round. Each player rolls dice at the beginning of each round that they then ‘spend’ by matching the number on the dice to either an area on the main trade board that they can then take a structure tile from; an empty space on their player board that is contiguous to their starting castle or other previously played piece; to sell trade goods or to gain workers. Once all players have taken their two turns, any unused tiles are removed from the game and refreshed with new tiles drawn from the appropriate coloured bag. However, players can do more if they wish by spending two silver as a free action to gain a black market tile or if a tile they place has a bonus action.

The large central board on which you place the tiles of different colours has areas representing each number of the dice. These are filled with particular coloured tiles that are drawn at random. If you choose to take one of these, you place it on your board in a special holding space until you can spend a dice to place it into your town, on an empty hex that matches both its colour and your die.. Each colour represents a different type of structure that can be built: blue is for shipping, green for farmland, grey for mines, yellow for monasteries and cream/ beige for trade buildings. Each different type of building gives you points in a different way: Shipping tiles allow you to take goods that can be sold for silver and victory points; farmland gives you animals that score cumulatively depending on the amount of each type that you have; monasteries each have their own special bonuses printed on the reverse of the player aid card; mines give you silver and trade buildings each give particular bonuses depending on which you build. Some of these bonuses are given as soon as you build a building (eg. gain 4 workers or 2 silver), whilst others score at the end of each round (such as sheep tiles and mines). There are also red castle tiles, which can be replaced by beautifully moulded castle miniatures which give you an extra free turn without spending a dice. If you are still following this, there are additional bonus points for filling a whole contiguous coloured group on your player board that are dependent on the size of the group and on the round that you score it.

Although it sounds complicated, in reality The Castles of Burgundy is a straightforward combination of strategy and luck that will gain you the points that you need to win. You can play in isolation- designing your own strategy and taking moves to guarantee your win or you can play competitively and watch what your opponents are doing. That might affect your move- do you take a tile that they want to limit their points? But don’t ever get over-confident, even if someone is lagging behind, it isn’t difficult to catch up with the right numbers rolled!

This Special Edition comes with eight expansions to the original game that increase the replayability of The Castles of Burgundy by adding new tiles, new boards that connect to the

player board, 30 different inserts to change the layout of the main player boards and both team and solo variants. In addition, you also get the expansion shields and vineyards that add new actions to the round.

Design & Components

The Special Edition of the Castles of Burgundy is beautifully made, with high end, quality feeling components that elevate gameplay to the next level. Even the rulebook itself has been printed with a linen feel for a premium gaming experience. Each set of acrylic tiles comes with its own printed drawstring bag to draw from which look really nice on the table. The player boards have insets for dice and tiles that make it very simple to play. A really wonderful addition was a frame overlay for your player area that holds the hex tiles in place and stops anything from slipping around- it’s a thoughtful addition that I really appreciate.
The double sided neoprene mat is a lovely touch and adds to the exclusive feel of the game.

The miniatures included in the special edition of The Castles of Burgundy are really nicely designed and are very detailed. There are four designs of castles and four busts of the personas you take on when you play. The minutes are very tactile and look visually impressive on the board. With the addition of silver metal coins, it really feels like the design team have thought of everything they could to maximise the gaming experience for fans and new players alike.

I did feel that having all of the original cardboard components included felt a bit wasteful as we deliberately bought the special edition for the longevity and durability of the components included. Therefore the cardboard ones are not going to be used. Also, the neoprene mat did not fit in the box as it was originally presented, so we have had to print our own insert to make all of the components fit. However, these are minor concerns that do not affect the game itself.


The size of this game and its many components and variants can seem intimidating, but in reality The Castles of Burgundy is a classic for a reason. After thirteen years, people still want to play the game and to increase their gaming experience with expansions, and that only happens when a game is both simple enough to learn but complex enough to hold interest over multiple replays. In context, The Castles of Burgundy is not as complex as some other games such as U-Boot, The Lost Ruins of Arnack or Tindaya; but is more in line with games such as Tzolkin (The Mayan Calendar) or Santa Maria. It is simple to learn but hard to master and requires replays to discover every winning strategy.

Final Thoughts

We love this game. The Castles of Burgundy (special edition) has been designed with a level of care and attention to detail that is second-to-none. The game is simple to learn and has great replayability. It is a game that can be enjoyed by every age group- our ten year old beat us by dominating farming!

This game was originally part of the Alea Big Box Series, so it fits to have it sit alongside its sister games ‘Puerto Rico’, ‘Fifth Avenue’ and ‘Broom Service’ on the shelf. The Castles of Burgundy has undergone several incarnations since it was first released and is now in a class of its own. It will take pride of place in many board game evenings.