Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Unemployed Unite!

Guildhall: Job Faire
Designed by Hope S. Hwang
2 - 4 Players
45 Minute play time
Ages 10 and up

Background / Introduction
Are you one currently unemployed or looking for a better job? A good place to go and hand out resumes is your local Job Fair. At this Job Faire your options are Robber, Tax Collector, Scholar, Peddler, Hunter, or Bricklayer. Out of those options in this day and age, I think I would have to be a Scholar myself.

Well, in Guildhall: Job Faire, players are trying to collect and grow the different chapters in their guildhall so that they might be able to perform more powerful actions and claim victory points. This review today is just based on this Job Faire version of the game which is a sequel of sorts to the first Guildhall game. The game can be played on its own, or integrated with cards from the first game. I hope to get you a review of the first version sometime in the future, but the game mechanics are all the same, just with different professions. Each of the professions are represented in all the different colored cards. As you add different colored cards of the same profession to a chapter in your guildhall, that profession becomes more skillful and powerful when you play them in the future. When you have a full chapter, you can then use that chapter to buy victory points. The player who can reach 20 victory points first is the winner.

Components / Rules
AEG does a great job with the box and quality of the components and rule book. The cards are of a nice quality, although I would have liked the little cardboard victory points provided to be upgraded to a nice metal or something (I'm not a huge fan of little coin like pieces being made out of cardboard and popped out of that large print out. For some reason I always tear a few of them while I try to get them out. Could just be a personnel error.). AEG leaves other slots or room for other cards if you decide to purchase both Guildhall games out now (or perhaps a future expansion?) which is nice to have.

The rule book is well done and the game really isn't that complicated. Each of the cards have icons on them reminding players what they do. I will get into the cards a bit more in the actual game play section, but one thing that I think a lot of people may have trouble with is the symbology of the cards and keeping track of what each ones mean. For more experienced gamers, this may not be a big deal, but at least for the first few games, you will probably have to refer back to the rule book to remember how each profession works or what the bonus actions do with the victory points. You should get the hang of it after a few plays though, and then it isn't a huge issue. I do wonder though if it would have been better to summarize the concept or main action that that profession takes right on the card. Then they could have still had symbols on the card showing the difference as the cards get more powerful. For those interested, there is a file on www.boardgamegeek.com that has the action explanations for reference in a well presented way that you could print off and have handy for each player.

Game Set Up / First Turn
All of the profession cards (120 cards) are shuffled. This is a lot of cards to shuffle! The victory point cards (30 of them) are shuffled and 5 are flipped over face up for purchase. 9 cards are then dealt to each player from the profession deck. Each player then goes through a first turn set up phase. This includes discarding any cards you want, and re-drawing up to 9 cards. Then you place 3 cards from your hand face up onto the table in your guildhall (no cards can be duplicates here in your guildhall and you can't play a card into your action area later in the game if you already have that card in your guildhall). You group cards of the same profession together and these are called chapters.

On your turn, you have 2 actions that you can perform. Your choice of actions: Play 1 card, Discard any number of cards and draw back up to 6 cards, and Buy 1 victory point card. Each of the profession cards have an action associated with them and you can perform better actions if you match the number needed by how many cards are in that specific chapter. There are some limitations given with some of the cards, but I won't go into detail about that. The fact is, the game is really simple. The hard part is remembering the symbols and terms used in the game and getting used to those. At the end of your turn, all of the cars played in your action area gets transferred into your guildhall. When a chapter has all 5 colors, that chapter is complete and turned over face down (those cards no longer control the actions related to that profession). You can have a maximum of 3 completed chapters in your guildhall at one time. The game ends when at the end of a turn, someone has 20 or more victory points. The player with the most points wins.

The Cards

Here is a quick summary of what the general actions are from each of the professions. Keep in mind that they change slightly as you have more of that kind in your guildhall. Some very cool different cards and 3 of the six are very interactive with the other players.

Robber - Take cards from one other players hand into your guildhall. Doesn't she look so happy?

Bricklayer - Draw cards from the deck, then place cards from your hand back on top of the deck.

Peddler - Swap cards in your hand with cards in one other players guildhall.
Place the cards from the other player's guildhall into your hand. Then take another action.

Tax Collector - Gain VP equal to the number of Tax Collectors in your guildhall. Place 1 card from your guildhall in one other player's guildhall. He is going to go all Sheriff of Nottingham on all you!

Hunter - Look through the discard pile and swap cards from there with cards in your guildhall.

Scholar - Draw cards from the deck and put them directly into your guildhall.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened up the box, but what I found was a very enjoyable set collecting game. It seems that whenever anyone sees a game these days made up of cards, the immediate thought for some is "I wonder how much this game is like Dominion?" Well, the victory point cards have shields on them, and both games are made up of cards...but that is about it. Guildhall Job Faire does a great job at creating something very original and enjoyable. To score points you need completed "chapters" or sets, but what profession are you going to focus on while you do that? Then you have to decide what is going to be the best help to you to purchase? The 3 points that also allows you to play cards from your hand into your Guildhall? Or do you spend more and get more points but no bonus action? This game has a lot more too it than just a set collecting game, and it does it very well. The symbology isn't my favorite, but it is something that I can get past. The only other thing is that the game only has the 6 different professions. I feel that you may grow tired of using the same ones. Luckily AEG has the original version as well to help remedy that. So, with an available 12 different professions now between the two, you should be set for a while. 3 Fingers up or 8/10 stars. If you are looking for a fun new set collecting card game with a lot of strategy to it, I would recommend Guildhall Job Faire and that is How Lou Sees It.

A big SHOUT OUT to AEG for making this review possible. Remember to keep playing board games!

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