Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday, 2 August 2016

In my day we just rolled bricks:- Blueprints

Game: Blueprints

Publisher: Z-Man games

Designer: Yves Tourigny

You’re qualified Architects now, so go out into the world and make your mark, make that dream house made entirely out of recycled beer bottles or that shining jewel in the crown of the city’s skyline! And then when reality comes crashing down on you, I’ll be here. You won’t win awards working for me, and you’ll make only what the customer wants, but it’s a living. Leave the fancy designs to the Norman Fosters of the world, here you’ll use our patented modular building techniques and choose of our palette of just 4 materials - go make me a masterpiece!

Blueprints is a 2-4 player construction game in which you create “buildings” out of dice which represent different building materials. There are rewards for building the best building, but also awards that get given for making unique and interesting buildings in several categories. Blueprints is a game of deciding how much you can push your luck going for the optional objectives without letting your opponents get away with their plans.

Building in simple in Blueprints, you have a 3x2 grid on which you can build giving you a total of 6 ground-floor level slots to build in. You get to take one dice from a central market and add it to your building, after which you roll another dice to replace the one you took. In total you get six dice to build each building with, and while you could just build a 2x3 building that usually won’t get you very far. You can build as high as you like (well... up to six of course), but each dice must have the same or higher number on it than the dice below.

The yellow player's almost all-glass building. Each player has a screen to keep their building a surprise, the back of the player screens have guides for how to score each type of dice.
There are 4 different materials which all score differently; Clear dice simply give you the value of their roll. Black dice give you points based on how high in your building they are. Green dice give you points based on the number of green dice you have in the building and finally brown dice score points based on being surrounded by other dice. In addiction there are bonus points for building the correct building on your blueprint. Each round you have a card which politely suggests how you should build your building, but you are free to ignore it if you think you can get more than the 6 bonus points that way.

All the points I’ve mentioned so far aren’t actually end game points. Each round the buildings are scored and the best ones get awards worth 1/2/3 end game victory points. In addition there are bonus awards for objectives like building a building with 5 of one material type, etcetera. Each of these is worth 2 end game victory points so it’s well worth going for one or two on top of going for the main building points. In the case of ties each round has 2 rare materials which are more in demand, as these 2 dice are removed from the bag these dice types are also a little rarer that round. Whoever has the most of the first type wins ties for any awards they could win, so it’s helpful to grab these, so long as you don’t fail the objective while doing so!

The various cards in the game, the blueprints cards, 1/2/3 point cards awarded for the highest point scoring building of the round, then bonus cards for 5 of 1 dice colour, a 5 tall tower, one of each dice number and 4 of the same number.
Blueprints does have some drawbacks, being so dice dependant you can expect a huge luck factor, which can take away from strategies. Personally I try to aim for at least 2 of the bonus objectives to try and stave off bad luck, but sometimes you just can’t survive four dice coming out as ones when you need a 3+. The idea is good, but I do sometimes wish that each round was a bit longer, I love building things with dice, but I want to build bigger things that look a bit better. That may be a complaint from my inner Lego fan who just loves building blocky buildings! Blueprints is a solid concept that I just wish was a little grander in scope, I do really enjoy the mechanics in the game though, and the simple gameplay does make it an easy game to teach. Blueprints is good for a small game, but it does suffer from being a small game.


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