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.
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.)