Review: Noblemen – among the blue bloods

Noblemen - packaging

World of noble people is rich. This is a completely different world, than the one, we know. It is full of parties, planning, fashion and worries, which car should you take for a ride this morning – Maserati or Porsche?

I’m sure you can imagine, that you were born into such a world. But then, we would have been stigmatized since the first days of our life. So what’s left? You can dream of their life style, but you should enjoy yours. Or you could try board game called .

We should thank company for introducing us into society of wealthy people, who hold balls every weekend. Author of the game is and game is hot news. Illustrations were prepared by and .

Noblemen - game is ready

Box will not let you in doubt for a moment with its weight – this is a really big and massive game, containing all the wealthy people it could fit. On the lid, you will find portrait of a noble couple standing in front of some castle garden. They both hold masks in their hands, as they fled from a ball and are defiantly staring at you. So do not let yourself for long, we put them aside and peek inside the box. There are many reasons for the high weight, which abounds in this game.

Most of the whole weight can be blamed on cardboard components coming in variety of shapes and sizes. You will punch out plenty of large boards from pile of sheets. They contain illustration of characters without their head. The upper part of the body is to be found in another sheets, also for punching out. When combined together with the basic body, they create a screen. It works much like in other game by Pegasus Spiele, we have reviewed – Santiago de Cuba (review). This time, however, they are much larger and therefore much stronger and their interlocking parts won’t break so easily.

They are equipped with different titles. The only thing, which really is essential for beginning of the match is Baron title. But there are also Duke, Marquess, Earl and Viscount.Their importance is falling as they are typed and more importantly, these are double-sided cards – both men and women. Players can therefore identify more easily with their character.

Noblemen - game is ready

A large part of the unpacking job is punching out a huge number of land pieces. Altogether, there is an astounding 202 and there are not only fields and woods, but also meadows and fountains. Out of these, you will be creating your territory. Then there are little tokens for bribes and also 82 gold and silver coins.

Along with these large sheets, there is an interesting symmetrically shaped game board inside. However, it will serve primarily as bank and for monitoring of various parameters. You expand your own land right in front of you. Players can look forward to three components of their own – a small token for victory points route, large hexagon for prestige and two wooden warrior pawns.

We would like to move slowly towards playing, but still, there are four types of buildings in the game – a castle, a chapel, a palace and a folly. And then there are unique figurines for monitoring gameplay – perfect Queen pawn, but also green and blue indicator for turns and decades. But there is also 35 scandal cards and ten help cards (two for each player), that will help you during the game. Reason for them is players have quite a wide range of ways to play, as will we learn in a moment.

Noblemen - game in progress

First everyone has to choose one color. This decides bottom part of screen, tokens for tracking points and prestige. They are both put on the starting box of appropriate tracks. While victory points will be collected throughout the game, prestige applies only to masquerade ball, which is held once every few rounds. Each player puts warriors in front of himself, as well as ten money or more, as compensation for players, who are further from starting player.

Game board must be filled with supply of building on adequate spacec around center. Their number is determined by amount of players by the rules. Likewise, you sort out number of available titles – with smaller number of players, there will be only one count and viscount available, in contrast to higher numbers. Right in the middle is a place for turns and decades indicators. To the right of them, mixed bribes tokens are put and you can rejoice, because board is ready to play.

Before you grab all available square land tokens in a canvas bag, which is also part of the preparation, you must deal out starting pieces to players. In the first game, you will receive share of three pieces of each type. These tokens can be together with money put into safety behind players screen, where they can not be seen by anyone else. This however is not yet all, because each of players becomes a baron, whose board he inserts into his lower part and makes up his screen.

Noblemen - game in progress

Do not forget one other meadow, which should each of the barons put in front of him. This is his place, where he will start his journey to become the most important lord of all. And there is already a castle built there, which is your aristocratic home. Finally, we prepare cards by shuffling the deck and dealing three cards to each of the participants. You can keep only one of them, while two others are put back on bottom of the pile. Now everything is finally really ready and we can start to expand your land and property.

On his turn, a player has to do only one action. He can spend it on quite a few (specifically, seven!) various activities. Moreover, he can also play one scandal card for free and replace any two of his land tiles for one randomly drawn from bag. This is actually almost all, but yes, we should look at all those seven actions.

You could be initially a little lost in them, but exactly for this purpose, there are help cards inside Noblemen. First and most logical action is expanding your estate. You can take up to three tiles from behind your screens and put them on the table. Each of them must be next to at least one already placed land. For their placement, you get immediate reward. Depending on the type, it may be money, pieces, or prestige valuable for the approaching masquerade ball.

Noblemen - board detail

Now it is also worth mentioning, that four pieces of the same type make up one large whole – four fields complete a farm, four trees are a forest and four fountains will put a garden in your backyard. Lastly meadows are building sites for your new buildings.

This leads us to second very important action. You can build castle, palace, chapel or folly. For its construction, you must pay money according to its position in the offer. The more buildings are built, the more expensive are the newer ones. However, some noblemen have a discount on a particular building type. All buildings except the palace must be built on an empty meadow. Palace is modernization of some castle you already own and you simply swap their pieces.

Castle brings knights, who set out to spread your glory, crying aloud in other kingdoms. This allows you to take one of your piece and lay it on any finished enemy area four cards: farm, forest or garden. Depending on the type of field you occupied, adversary must also pay a ransom to you (money, tiles or queen pawn). Unit remains in place (until you move it) and will bring you points in held masquerade ball.

Noblemen - cards

You get patronage of the Queen and receive her pawn instantly, whenever you build a palace. She simply insists on paying a visit to you. You have no other immediate use for her, but has a high point value in the building valuation during the game. Chapel will bring one new card scandal, while you can choose from three. We should remind you, that scandal cards can be played at any time during your turn for free and use their effects immediately. Folly brings you only victory points. However, please note, that they are very, very expensive and you can build them only, when you have other areas already in place.

There is one more important rule for constructing buildings – same type cannot be adjacent to each other not only horizontally, but also vertically. Its therefore not possible for you to build entire estate only of meadows. It is necessary to collect and play also other types of cards.

During your turn, you can also bribe, collect taxes and occupy land. For every two coins spent, you will be taking a token usable during other events, and also one victory point. The other two actions can be done only once each decade. Players earn money / tiles depending on their current property – fields (money) or forests (new pieces).

Noblemen - board detail

Last option, in addition to resting for one victory point, is donation to Church. You can donate them an unwanted tile and pass this land into possession of holy men. Their income opportunities are limited each decade (Church accepts only 3 tiles of each type) and you, as a generous donors, get immediately victory point for each tile you say goodbye to.

Rounds are counted with very clever mechanic. Whenever turn of a player, who is in possession of the Queen, ends, also turn counter moves one space forward. This often speeds up the game and not always have all players chance to act. So you have to pay attention, who has the Queen, because it has great influence on the whole game. Soon, Queen figure reaches places with the mask, and masquerade ball is held.

Players can swap titles here, which will help you to get to better and more advantageous positions. Each real masquerade starts by hiding identity. Therefore, all players put down their current titles, back into the bank. Now they all count prestige of their land – most points are given for gardens, palaces, but you can also use scandal cards or bribery.

Noblemen - game in progress

According to prestige gained, players then deal out titles again. If you have claim for title, which is already not available, you have to take a lower, but available, one. For titles obtain, victory poits are also awarded.

Another position on the round counter is icon with house. This marks end of a decade, but also means scoring of buildings. In that moment, you get valuable points for castles and palaces completely surrounded by land. You also get bonus points for adjoining chapels. When a decade ends, it means also adding new buildings to the stock and fact, that players are one step closer to end of the game. This occurs, when scoring takes place at the end of third decade. And then winner is decided – the one, who ran away the furthest on victory points counter.

Noblemen is a strategy game, that will captivate fans on several fronts. The first is an interesting battle for titles and juggling with those character screens to do it. Each of your opponents has a specific identity, which feels really interesting.

Noblemen - pawns

Part of the game actually originates in board games based on connecting tiles. Again, you assemble your estate in here, settling it with help of different buildings. And these lands are the largest point source. This is simple and frequently used mechanism, however Noblemen connect more things to it, creating an interesting and novel experience.

Game has interesting way of moving time forward. This is dependent on a player, who is in possession of the queen. Once his turn ends, it immediately makes the round complete. This means, that the battle for the Queen figure has a much greater impact, than it would appear at first sight.

And then there’s masquerade ball. Its unique connection with player roles in the game is very intriguing and by providing different options, it gives you perfect impression. Everything is drawn to perfection by designed players‘ screens, with their replaceable upper part. This way, its easy to recognize at first glance, what advantage which player has. Roles in game are limited, so you must also count with option, that you will have to take a lesser profitable title. A detail of double sided screens according to sex is then only a real icing on the cake.

Noblemen - cards

The game is surprisingly filled with rivalry not only for the hand of the Queen. You can block other players lands and prevent them from scoring points this area with help of soldiers. In addition, you can even get points for their land points for yourself. This is sure to entertain players, who like conflicts. But they are only result of thoughtful planning and because there is almost no chance in the game.

Most important rules are clearly drawn either on the board or on your screen. This is to be welcomed, because it will help you not only during first game, but every time you return to the game after a long pause. With this, you are able to instantly start playing and you do not have to remember, for example rewards for newly connected land tiles.

Noblemen is in the end game all about victory points, but this is a long spiral and you have to pave the way with many important and complex decisions. The whole game really gives the impression, as if you built your estate from a small castle at the beginning to large estate in the end. And who would not let something like that happen to him?

DesignerDwight Sullivan
ArtistOliver Schlemmer, Claus Stephan
PublisherPegasus Spiele, Tasty Minstrel Games
Year Published
# of Players3 - 5
User Suggested # of Players Best with 5 players
Recommended with 3, 4, 5 players
(25 voters)
Playing Time120
Mfg Suggested Ages12 and up
User Suggested Ages12 and up
(7 voters)
Language DependenceNo necessary in-game text
(10 voters)
CategoryMedieval, Territory Building
MechanicCard Drafting, Tile Placement
Primary NameNoblemen

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Noblemen – among the blue bloods
Final word
Noblemen is a strategic euro game, combining a square tile-laying principle, role exchange with benefits and also variable action selection during each round. Everything is happening on nicely shaped board filled with different wooden buildings. You can buy and build them for a fee, expand your domain. They will bring you many points, if positioned right. During each match, you can also qualify for better and more powerful titles by widening estate and they provide you access to their specific advantages. Each your new title is clearly visible to all, thanks to unique interchangeable mechanic of players screens. Game puts a lot of emphasis on flawless tactical thinking, because you have to spread your lands systematically, as buildings provide bonuses based on their locations. When you group more lands of same type, they provide you with more provisions, but your enemies might block them too. Every round ends with a player, who holds a queen. But this figure is constantly changing owners, which makes each round ending less predictable and each round has different length. Game time is a little longer, but quite normal for a toughter euro game – about ninety minutes with four players. Noblemen are nice game, which will please many advanced players, who will enjoy its nice implementation of old mechanics.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
player screens have interchangeable titles
elegant shape of main board
connection of tile-laying and classic action choosing
interesting queen mechanic, player who has it, ends round
difficult strategic euro game
excellently organized help on screen backs
everything depends on players, no chance besides tile draw
Cons
nothing new
quite comples for beginners
3
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