With The White Castle appeared on time Game '23 the spiritual successor to the popular connoisseur game The Red Cathedral by the Spanish designer duo Isra Cendrero and Sheila Santos. In Germany, the game is being published again by the traditional German publisher in collaboration with Devir Kosmos. Like its predecessor, The White Castle should have rules that are easy to learn and still offer great depth. You will find out in this review whether the game can live up to these expectations.
In 1761, Himeji Castle is the seat of the daimyo, the region's prince and important advisor to the shogunate. We, as resident families, fight for our position at the court of the white castle called "White Heron" and place our family members on the training grounds, gardens and in the castle to gain prestige, because in the end the family with the most prestige wins.
Tactical, but fast
The White Castle is a quickly played dice worker placement game for 1 – 4 people. The game is played over 3 rounds of 3 moves each. This means that we only have 9 moves over the entire game to increase our reputation with the Daimyo. The basic rules are kept pretty simple. There are 3 bridges on the left edge of the game board. These contain, corresponding to the bridge, dice in three different colors, which are arranged from left to right in ascending order according to the value of the dice. On our turn we take a die containing three bridges that are on the left or right side of the bridge. If we take a die from the left side, i.e. one with a lower die value, we can also carry out the lantern action on our game board (see picture).
We then place our die on one of the action spaces on the game board or our game board. If our dice value exceeds the dice value shown on the action field, we get the difference between the two values back in coins. If our dice shows a lower value, we have to pay the difference between the two values in coins. We then activate all actions on the field that are assigned to the color of the die in any order. Once this is done, it is the next player's turn. If an action field is already occupied by a die, then (with 3 - 4 players) another die may be placed on top of the die that has already been placed. Here the value of the currently lying dice must be compared with the dice just played.
Changing fields of action
There are a total of 11 action spaces in the game. 5 action spaces inside the castle, 2 outside the castle, 1 well space and 3 on the personal game board. The 5 action fields within the castle are divided into two areas. In the lowest area we find three fields with 3 dice actions each, which usually contain somewhat weaker actions. The middle two fields of the castle contain the last two action fields, which only contain 2 actions each with stronger effects. These actions change throughout the game as each person uses the castle action and places one of their courtiers (family members) on one of the castle spaces.
The well space (bottom left of the board) acts as a kind of wild action, for which you receive various resources and where an unlimited number of dice can be placed if you don't have a better option. The 2 spaces outside the castle (bottom right) have three action options that allow family members to be placed either in the castle (courtiers), the gardens (gardeners) or on the training ground (warriors). Depending on the number of family members already placed, the 3 spaces on the personal board secure important resources for us and activate the action card that we received with the help of our courtiers.
Overall, we collect resources in The White Castle in order to be able to place our family members in the various locations. These give us a large part of our victory points at the end of the game. We can gain additional victory points via the influence track. The further we progress, the more points we will get here at the end.
3 types of family members
Our family members are divided into three types and are placed in three different locations on the game board. They are placed with the castle, garden or training ground action and require different types of resources. If they are placed, they also generate victory points and bonuses in different ways.
The courtier placed with the castle action moves up the castle and generates more victory points the higher he moves within the castle. We receive bonuses in the form of action cards on the field. If our courtier reaches an action space, we can take the corresponding card and place it on our personal game board. Our old card moves to the lantern action and, according to the symbol on the back of the card, from now on gives us resources, victory points or influence whenever we use the lantern action.
The gardener is placed near the bridges in the gardens. The gardens give us an immediate additional action that we can use and is always activated at the end of a round if there are still dice left on the associated bridge. We also receive a fixed number of victory points, depending on the field on which our gardener is placed.
Warriors are placed on the training ground. These also give us actions that can be carried out immediately. Victory points are generated by multiplying the total number of all warriors on training grounds by all courtiers in the castle. A good mix of warriors and courtiers is therefore very important.
Information about The White Castle
|Number of players: 1 – 4|
Age: from 12 years
Playing time: 40 - 70 minutes
Difficulty: expert game
Long-term motivation: high
Classification: Dice Worker Placement
Author: Isra C., Shei S.
Illustrations: Joan Guardiet
Publisher: Kosmos, Devir
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2023
Cost: 32,99 Euro
Time is short in The White Castle. Getting the most out of the game in just 9 moves is difficult. But it is precisely this scarcity of moves and resources that makes The White Castle a really good game. You want to do as much as possible in one turn and therefore try to prepare possible combo chains in advance moves. For example, by saving for a warrior, then placing him and carrying out the action of the space on which he was placed, and thus possibly bringing a figure into play that triggers another action. Over time, the initially unattractive actions on your personal game board become more and more attractive and you can do more and more. This is really a lot of fun!
However, this shortage of moves can be frustrating at times. Sometimes you have the feeling that you can't react to the actions of your opponent, simply because you would have to sacrifice two of your nine moves and you won't make any progress. In situations like this you wish you had one or two more rounds to simply be able to do more on the board.
What the low move count means, however, is that The White Castle can be played quickly. Our test games never lasted longer than an hour. We even finished a game for two in half an hour. For a connoisseur game that offers us a lot of decision-making options, this is pretty impressive. The White Castle can also be a perfect starter or final game on a game night.
In general, The White Castle is a successful little connoisseur's game that doesn't have to hide behind the big games that can sometimes last hours. If you don't have enough after one game, you can quickly start a new game and play several games with enough room for tactics so that the game doesn't get boring so quickly. Because the basic rules are quite simple, you can quickly find your way into the game. After the first round at the latest, you will have a good overview of your options. We can definitely recommend The White Castle. Due to its short duration, the game will certainly find its way onto the table often and is also easy to transport thanks to its compact size. In addition, the RRP price of €32,99 is more than fair.
|KOSMOS 683948 The White Castle, At the Court of Daiymo, Strategy Game... *||32,15 EUR||Buy|
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