Digidiced is one of the forerunners of the board game-to-app movement. They’ve created some of our favorite apps including Patchwork, Agricola, and Cottage Garden. But today we are looking at their implementation of the Stefan Feld classic Castles of Burgundy, which has long been one of my favorite board games.
Let’s take a look at how the euro classic point salad translates onto your iPhone or iPad.
In Castles of Burgundy, players compete to set up the most prestigious estate in medieval France. Each turn you’ll have two dice which can be used to initiate an action, normally either taking hexagonal tiles from a central board to reserve them, or placing one of the reserved tiles into your estate. Throughout the game you’ll score points for collecting different sets, completing sections of your estate, and selling goods that are delivered by placed ship tiles.
Each type of tile provides some unique benefit. Ships acquire goods and modify turn order, knowledge tiles give you rule-breaking abilities, buildings give you bonus points or actions, and farms score points based on the number of similar animals in the pasture. The most coveted, the mines, give you a silverling each turn that can be used to buy additional tiles into your reserve.
Which tiles you can grab and where you can place them are based on your dice rolling results. You can spend workers two modify the values of your dice and always spend a die of any value to acquire more workers.
This continues for five phases, each with five individual rounds. Player interaction is minimal, it fits the typical multiplayer solitaire eurogame. That said, you will compete with other players on grabbing the available hexes from the central board and racing to complete all of a single type of areas for bonus points. Other than that, you’ll be in your own world focused on optimizing the results of your dice and the available settlements.
Digital Game Experience:
Castles of Burgundy follows the tried and true Digidiced formula. There is a very well designed tutorial that will give you all the basics to get started if you aren’t already familiar with the game, or just need a quick refresher. After that you can jump into single or multiplayer games.
Single player you can add up to three AI opponents and choose easy, medium, or hard difficulty for each of them. The AI difficulty does seem to scale quite appropriately. I consider myself an average-to-good Castles of Burgundy player and dispatched the easy and medium foes regularly. But the hard AI is quite difficult to beat.
Multiplayer has all of the required options. You can challenge friends or find random games and play with a fast timer or asynchronously with a 24-hour turn timer. You can also do local pass-and-play if that is more your style. Matchmaking seemed to work well. I did have some trouble at times getting multiplayer games to load one after another and had to force the app to quit and restart it for the updates to take effect.
From a design standpoint, the app is wonderful. It looks much nicer than the drab brown of the cardboard version. Even the animals on the farm tiles have short animated movement. By default, the game’s animation when you take and place tiles looks neat, but slows done the game quite a bit. There are settings to crank of the speed of the animation, which alleviates any real concerns there.
Castles of Burgundy has a lot of information that you may want to see at any given time and the app keeps everything handy in a relatively small space. You’ll be able to see how many workers, silverlings, and goods you have on hand in addition to all the tiles on your board and the open areas for your opponents. If you are unsure of the ability of a certain tile, a single tap will open up a box that explains it quickly.
Outside of a few hiccups getting games to load smoothly, Castles of Burgundy of iOS is everything you could want in a digital implementation of the classic Feld eurogame. If you like the game or have ever a passing interest in euro games, it is a must-play. And if you aren’t easily able to convince your friends to play the very ugly cardboard version (or just want to play on the go) the Castles of Burgundy app will certainly make do.
Final Score: 5 Stars – A great implementation of a classic euro.
• Occasionally had to quit to get online game to refresh.
• $8.99 price tag is hefty.