Designer: Steve Finn
Biblios came onto our radar as an auction game that was enjoyed by people who didn’t like bidding and auctions. It also said on the box that it played two players, quite unusual for an auction game, and in the instruction book there were no special rules for a 2-player variant. So how have we found Biblios and have we enjoyed playing with just the two of us?
Biblios is not a strongly thematic game, but a little research tells you that the theme is supposed to be that you are each a monk, competing to amass the greatest library my amassing the most supplies and workers. This certainly doesn’t come through in the game other than through the nice, but quite bland artwork. Really, in Biblios you are collecting groups of coloured cards, trying to have the highest numerical value in a colour compared to the other players in the game.
The game proceeds in two phases. In the first phase the active player draws one card at a time for the draw pile and decides if they want to keep it, put it on the auction pile for phase two or offer it to their opponent(s). The number of cards drawn is equal to the number of players plus one. Your reasons for making decisions will be governed by the colours of cards your collecting, the value on the card eg. an Orange 2, and how much you want to push your luck at drawing something better for yourself. The auction pile is your opportunity to get a good card later because you can’t take two on your turn.
|The game setup for two players.|
In the second phase you then auction of the auction pile by bidding with the cards you’ve collected in phase 1. Money cards are used to buy coloured item/worker cards and you can get rid of worker cards you don’t want to win auctions for money cards. All the while you should be looking at the value on the dice in the monastery – you might be able to corner a lot of the blue cards and therefore want to try and increase the points value on the blue dice, but perhaps without being too obvious so that your opponents don’t decrease the value again or try and ‘run-up’ the auction for those cards.
When all of the cards have been auction you total up your cards in each colour category and the player with the highest score in each obtains the matching colour die and gets the number of points on the face showing. The player with the most points wins. Due to the low number of total victory points available in the game (around 20 on average) the game can result in a tie so you should actually make yourself aware of the tie breakers (money first and then the person who wins the brown category) otherwise frustrating draws might be an issue.
|The coloured dice represent the points available for having majority in that colour - they all start on 3 but can be manipulated using the purple cards.|
After a first few play-throughs, Biblios sat on our shelf for a long time, not getting much love. When we first were taught the game we were taught a couple of crucial rules incorrectly (in spite of a very simple rule set) and when some different friends pointed this out I think we got worried that if we ever took it out again with two players it wouldn’t work as well. Since we’re currently trying to thin our collection, last weekend was time to check if we still enjoyed Biblios and unfortunately for our shelves, we still do!
Biblios is a very light auction game, taking around 15-20 minutes when you’re playing with just 2 players, but there’s a lot of back and forth and second guessing your opponent as well as some control of the outcome due to the dice modification cards. The auctioning is very fast, which I think appeals to some who find auctions a difficult mechanic. Like many short fillers, there’s not a great deal of variety, so perhaps over time we’ll move on to something new, but I think Biblios deserves to be on the shelf and definitely has a unique place as an auction filler that works with two!
For the Yellow Meeple, Biblios deserves a 6.5/10.