A handful of games from the German publisher will be released this year Giant Roc in collaboration with the Polish publisher Board&Dice. Barcelona is one of the titles and the first work of the Spanish game designer Dani Garcia, whose second title Arborea GAME'23 should appear. You can find out how the game fares when it comes to building the eponymous city in this review.
It is the mid-19th century. At this point, Barcelona had been under military control as a strategic fortress for a good 150 years. Since construction was not allowed outside the city walls, factories and buildings built close together shaped the cityscape. The living conditions were correspondingly bad and many diseases wreaked havoc here. Shortly after the city walls fell, Ildefons Cerdà presented his plan to expand Barcelona. He planned extremely wide streets to ensure enough space for people, carriages and trams; Green spaces to provide fresh air and places to socialize; and octagonal houses to improve visibility at street intersections. All this created space for the residents of Barcelona.
Interesting worker placement mechanism
In Barcelona we are actively working on the expansion of the city. We build houses according to the ideas of the population (working class, middle class & upper class). However, roads, trams and public buildings are also important for them. We receive victory points for everything during the game and at the end of the game. The person with the most points at the end wins.
A train from Barcelona is pretty simple. At the beginning of our turn we have two population tiles. These represent either the working class, the middle class or the upper class. We stack both tiles on top of each other as desired. We then place the stack on an empty intersection on the game board. Intersections connect 2 – 3 streets with each other. Each street triggers an action. Here we can either obtain resources, collect bonuses using paving stones, build roads/intersections/public buildings, purchase or improve modernism projects and move the tram. We usually take the respective tiles from our game board and then place them on the game board.
Most actions bring us victory points and bonuses, which - if placed cleverly - can trigger further bonuses later. For example, when our opponents use our intersection. We also unlock final victory points on our game board. If we move the tram and place a passenger from our game board on the game board, we receive, in addition to victory points, an additional action corresponding to the street on which we dropped our passenger off. Barcelona therefore gives us a large number of options that, in any form, give us victory points or allow us to make progress in our plans.
Building houses according to the residents' ideas
After you have carried out all triggered actions, you check whether a house can be built. If it is possible to build a house, one must be built. Houses are placed in the large fields between the streets and intersections. Depending on the residents on the intersections around a block of flats, different types of houses can be built. The higher the level, the better types of houses can be built and the better bonuses can be acquired.
To place the house, you first remove the population tiles above from 2 - 3 surrounding intersections and place them according to their type on the population track at the bottom of the game board. The population track shows the progress of the current game. If one of the three population tracks is the first to reach the last field of one of the three scoring areas, an intermediate scoring, the Cerdà scoring, is triggered.
There are a total of three intermediate rankings. These set quantity targets that you can meet in order to score important bonus points. Depending on how far you have progressed on the Cerdà track (right), you will receive an additional multiplier on your points.
the end of the game
If a resident track reaches the last field of the last scoring area, this intermediate scoring is carried out and the end of the game is then triggered. The current round is played to the end and the remaining points are then counted.
You get points for everything you have unlocked on your game board (placed paving stones, passengers) and for the Modernism projects you have acquired in the game. As with the intermediate evaluations, Modernism projects give us certain quantity targets. Depending on how well we did in the tasks, we receive more victory points. At the end, the person with the most points wins.
As is typical of Board&Dice, Barcelona also has a solo mode. Here we play against the well-known architect Antoni Gaudí, who is known for designing the Sagrada Familia. Gaudí is embodied by a meeple on the game board, which moves around the game board under card control and places inhabitants. Gaudí's position is only crucial for the placement of things on the game board. Which actions Gaudí takes are also determined by the cards.
Gaudí, like the player himself, receives points by building houses, intermediate scoring and his game board. There are only minor adjustments here, for example Gaudí also receives victory points when he receives resources because he does not use or collect them. In addition, quantity goals are not calculated based on quantity, but rather based on the level of difficulty. If you play simple, the quantity is set to 2; On normal it is 3 and on difficult it is 4. The winner here is also whoever ultimately has the most victory points.
Information about Barcelona
|Number of players: 1 – 4|
Age: from 14 years
Playing time: 60 - 90 minutes
Difficulty: expert game
Long-term motivation: high
Classification: Tiling game, worker placement
Author: Dani Garcia
Illustrations: Aleksander Zawada
Publisher: Giant Roc, Board&Dice
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2023
Cost: 59,99 Euro
Barcelona is a real points festival. In our test games we achieved at least 200 points. The reason for this is that you can easily get points for everything here. This can seem very intimidating for some, as many points are usually accompanied by a limited overview. However, Barcelona manages to keep all the options available to them very clear. As a rule, you know exactly what you have to do to achieve your goal and if this option is not available because an opponent interferes with your plans, you have a lot of options to make up for the deficit. Every action you take in Barcelona somehow brings you further and therefore closer to your goals. As a result, Barcelona creates a special game flow.
Because all players participate in building the city and have to distribute its inhabitants on the game board, there is also a lot of interaction between the players. You have to pay attention to where the opposing players may place their streets or intersections, anticipate future moves in order to benefit from the opposing players' actions and, if necessary, make sure to place your residents in such a way that the others do not benefit from it in terms of building a house can beat. The solo mode represents a human opponent quite well and is already a tough challenge on the normal level of difficulty.
There's definitely not much to complain about at Barcelona. At a very high level, one could complain that the game doesn't run quite as smoothly with more than 3 people than with fewer people. In addition, the material overall could be a little higher quality. For example, it would have been nice if the trams had been printed and the illustrations didn't have to be stuck on with stickers. Or if the cardboard tiles had been a little thicker, as they can otherwise be a little harder to grasp on the game board.
Overall, though, we really love Barcelona. We had a lot of fun with the game and will certainly end up on our table again and again after the test games. It is definitely one of my favorites now.
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