Ken Follett’s Kingsbridge Series
Das Fundament der Ewigkeit
When I learned that Ken Follett would be writing another part of his saga featuring the cathedral of Kingsbridge, I was very excited.
Both Part I and Part II of the series, „Pillars of the Earth – Die Säulen der Erde“ and World without End – Die Tore der Welt“ were very thrilling and captivating. The games that were created based on those novels are among my favorite games.
So, I was hoping very much that Kosmos would again published a game based on the third part of the series.
Kosmos did not disappoint me! As in the first two games based on the first two novels, Michael Rieneck is the designer of the game, but this time on his own, without a co-designer.
Let me begin with stating that my expectations of the novel and of the game have been more than fulfilled – surprisingly, this was not the case for many other players – I will get back to explaining my opinion on the reasons for this later.
The book again is very compelling and enthralling and the game offers interesting mechanisms and a felicitous implementation of the novel.
The game, as the book, features the religious conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in the year 1558 in England, France, Spain and the Low Countries. Players strive to use those conflicts for their own advantages and try to boost their own religion in those countries, as this earns them victory points.
The game comes with a variety of components:
52 Person cards, 4 Overview cards, 16 Event cards, 4 cards "Loch Leven" and 4 Religion cards.
Then there are 4 Trading Posts in each of four colors – blue, greed, red and yellow, one victory point disc per color, 30 Religion tokens – 10 purple, 10 gray and 10 beige – as well as 16 Protection tokens, and 14 commodities markers each of Books, Ore, Cloth and Wine; 28 Advantage markers and four sets of dice, each set contains one black, one white, one blue, 1 brown, one orange and one purple die. The list of components is complete with 4 Cover crosses, 2 Flares, 1 Starting player marker, 1 board, 1 rule book and a leaflet with an excerpt from the book.
The board shows the realms of England, France, Spain and the Low Countries, in a somewhat freely interpreted arrangement. Each of the country areas shows four cases for Religion tokens.
Along the edge of the board runs the Victory Points track and the righthand lower corner of the board shows the Action track.
At the start of the game the Religion tokens are sorted by color and set out ready for use. Each player takes one set of dice and one overview card, plus the four trading posts of his color and a victory point disc, an action disc and one Religion card.
Now you shuffle the 4 "Loch Leven" cards face down and randomly deal one to each player; each player then receives the commodity depicted on the card and one protection tile. Finally, each player displays his religion card so that his religious affiliation is visible to everybody.
The victory point discs for all players are placed on case 2 of the victory points track.
Person cards and event cards are shuffled separately according to their color and set out next to the board. The top Person card of each of the four stacks is turned up and a Religion marker is placed on the card as indicated on the card. Should at that point an event card be turned up, it is set aside and a new card from the stack is revealed.
Protection tiles form two stacks and are placed into Kingsbridge Cathedral.
All Advantage tiles are also shuffled face-down and placed on the board as two stacks.
Flares remain next to the board.
Finally, each player rolls his black die and places it on his Religion card. The black die determines the number of rounds of affiliation to this religion for the respective players.
Whoever visited a church most recently, is designed the starting player and receives the starting player tile.
The game is played in rounds and each round is split into two half years.
In the first half of a year, each player in his turn reduces the value of all dice that he has already used, by one, e.g. a Four to a Three. In the first round, this is only done for the black die.
Now, the starting player goes first to roll all his available dice. At the start of the game, all dice but the black one are available; during the game one has usually less available dice.
One of the other dice is used to acquire one of the four open Person cards, the die is placed on the card and its value indicate the number of rounds in which the card can be used. The dice colors denote countries as follows: White - England, Orange - Low Countries, Brown - Spain and Blue - France.
After selecting a Person card, you take the Religion marker from the Person card and place it on the first free case for Religion markers in the corresponding country. Then you place one of your trading posts on the case of the country whose value corresponds to the value of the dice, and, finally, you take the Person card, set it down in front of you, place the die used for selecting the card onto the card and resolve the action provided by the card.
As already mentioned, you reduce all dice on cards by one at the start of each round; when the result arrives at zero, you take the card out of play and the die is immediately available again. Should the black die reach zero, you roll it again and can decide if you want to switch to another religion.
When a fourth Religion marker is placed into a country due to the acquisition of a Person card, a Religious Conflict is triggered. You score victory points if you are affiliated to the religion that has the majority in markers in the country; but you can only score if you belong to the majority AND have a trading post in the country. You score that many victory points that are indicated on the case on which your trading post sits. All players belonging to the minority religion lose an eventual trading post in the country, it goes back into personal stock.-
When all players in turn have completed their turn in the first half year, the starting player begins the second half year. You can now use a die not yet placed on a person card, to implement an action from the action track. Those actions can enable you to acquire or sell commodities, to acquire Protection tiles or Advantage tiles that can be used at any time, and give a few additional options.
In our games we found in most of them that it is more important to do actions that impede or damage other players than to aim for more personal victory points. If you only try to directly achieve the optimum move for yourself, many players will end up with a feeling or a suspicion that they are played by the game. If, however, you deliberately try to inflict damage to opponents and, granted, score fewer victory points, but do this in a deliberate and planned way, you will find that the game absolutely allows planned play. It is, however, very unusual not to directly choose the best move for the best possible number of victory points.
Furthermore, it is yery important to really carefully consider when you want to use which dice with what result to acquire aa Person card. Only very few Person cards are really worth it to take a die out of play for a long time. As is often the case in his games, Michael Rieneck has again managed to create an unusual, individual and interesting mechanism for this game. As regards to the graphics of the game, Michael Menzel has done a stunning job again.
Finally, let me again state note that all those who want to play for victory directly and create the maximum possible number of victory points in each turn, will like the game a lot less that players who are ready to rather play a game against other players to inflict damage to them. Those players should like the game very much.
The unstable and shifting situation of those times is very coherently interpreted and implemented in the game and is mirrored, in my opinion, very well by the flow of the game in which you should act more against other players than usually in a game.
My resume: Contrary to the opinion of others, I believe this to be a very good game. True, it does not have the in-game depth and the brilliance of its predecessor „Die Tore der Welt“, but it can hold a candle to “Die Säulen der Erde” and thus represents a well-made new part of the trilogy of novels and games.
Designer: Michael Rieneck
Artist: Michael Menzel
Price: ca. 40 Euros
Publisher: Kosmos 2017
Users: With friends
Rules: de en es fr it pl
In-game text: no
Topic of the book very well mirrored by the game
Very attractive components
Dice values used as time limits for card effects
First game of its kind
Kosmos (en), Devir (es), Iello (fr), Giochi Uniti (it), Galakta (pl)
My rating: 5
The volatile political and religious situation of those times is very realistically transferred to the game, in which you must act against other players more directly than is usually the case.
Chance (pink): 2
Tactic (turquoise): 3
Strategy (blue): 1
Creativity (dark blue): 0
Knowledge (yellow): 0
Memory (orange): 0
Communication (red): 0
Interaction (brown): 2
Dexterity (green): 0
Action (dark green): 0