It turns out that you did such a great job building the city of OddVille that you have been recruited by another city as one of The Builders and it’s your job as a foreman to build the machines and buildings they need for their city.
In The Builders, you are one of the foreman pursuing your dream of becoming the First Builder of the Kingdom, a position that will be granted to the foreman who builds the most (valuable) buildings in the time allotted. This won’t be an easy task, as you will be vying against other foremen for the best buildings and will have a limited number of workers available to you. Each worker has a different skill set, and is capable of providing you with the different resources you need to build your buildings. Only by selecting the right buildings and the right workers will you achieve victory and become the first builder.
Another resource management city-building card-game, you have limited money to hire workers, each worker has limited ability to generate materials required for building, and you have limited time to deploy those workers. But you need to deploy enough workers to finish your buildings, as the only way you can become the First Builder of the Kingdom is to finish enough buildings to secure your victory. (Which is secured as soon as you build 17 victory points worth of buildings.)
In The Builders, you start the game with:
- one apprentice and
- ten coins
Then, on each turn, you can perform three actions. The actions you can choose from are:
- begin construction of a new building or machine (by selecting one of the available five buildings)
- recruit a worker (from one of the five available workers)
- send a worker to work (on a building by paying his wages)
- earn coins (by spending an action)
Just like in the real world when you are building a new Procurement department, you start with a small budget, one or two assistants, and a potential set of sourcing projects that you have to select from (as you don’t have the resources to do all of them); then you have to recruit new workers, task them with sourcing projects, pay them to tackle the projects, and hope you succeed in time. Also, if times are hard, you moonlight by taking on GPO work to make ends meet.
The complexity of the game is that, just like you experienced in OddVille, each worker has a different experience level and brings with him different resources (stone, wood, tile, and knowledge) that can be used in the buildings you need to build, and each take different amounts of different resources to build. Furthermore, you can’t assign two workers to the same building on the same turn (without sacrificing extra actions), your earnings become exponential if you sacrifice multiple actions (1 coin for 1 action, 3 coins for 2 actions, and 6 coins for 3 actions), and you can buy extra actions for 5 coins. Plus, every machine you are able to build before the game ends gives you an advantage. For example, the circular saw produces 2 or 3 wood, the crane produces 2 or 3 stone, the tile oven produces 2 or 3 tile, and the survey tool produces 2 or 3 knowledge, depending on the one that you build. These tools can be used like workers, but you don’t have to pay them.
Similarly, in the real world, each of your workers have different backgrounds and bring different skills with them; each sourcing project requires a different skill set; you add communication complexity if you assign too many resources to a single sourcing project (and pay for it with delays); building and maintaining a team costs money; and you can acquire additional revenue for your department by providing GPO services.
The game ends at the end of the round in which one player reaches 17 victory points (tallied as the sum of the completed building and machine victory points and the amount of coin possessed divided by 10).
Like OddVille, The Builders (Middle Ages) is a neat little game that, like OddVille, has the advantage that you can generally finish a game with 10 minutes per player once you get that hang of it. You can play multiple head-to-head games against your cube mate, or a couple of 3 or 4 player games in a lunch-hour.