Quick Look: Château
Designer: Martin van Rossum
Artist: Luis R. Blanco
Publisher: Rolling Rhino Games
Year Published: 2023 (On Kickstarter for 24 more hours! Link at the bottom of this review!)
I’ve seen a few posts here and there for Chateau on some social media groups that I’m a part of. When I was offered a look at it, I decided to check it out. Truthfully, print n plays and roll n writes were not on my radar until recent years. Once introduced, I’ve become quite fond of them. It’s undeniable that they’ve been rising in popularity and it has even drawn the attention of larger publishers to get in on the action. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at Chateau.
In Château, you are the architect of a beautiful historical landmark. Players will construct the blueprint of an architectural masterpiece by simultaneously placing shapes on their board. Each player has a unique Château, with a special bonus to use to their advantage. The first player to mark off all spaces in their Château wins the game!
Disclosure: Prototype files were used for the game for review. Final game may be slightly different.
I’m always on the lookout for simple games that I can use as a starter game for game nights, to break the ice at a gathering, or to introduce people to gaming. I think Roll and Writes are the best for this, which makes Château a wonderful addition to my collection. This is a wonderful game to play with any group of people. It is easy enough for the younger crowd to play, but contains enough strategy to keep the older crowd interested. Each game I’ve played provided enough competition to make it interesting but not make it confrontational. The one aspect of Château that I found most intriguing is the possibility of marking another players board; that makes some moves more strategic than others. And the outcome is not always guaranteed. Anyone who enjoys Roll and Writes will enjoy playing Château.
Rules & Setup:
The rules for Château fit on one double-sided piece of paper. The rules are simple enough and follow standard Roll and Write practices; a player rolls the dice and then players mark their boards. The rules explain what each possible die value does, how to mark the board, and what the winning conditions are. Teaching this game should only take a minute or two.
The game is being distributed as a Print and Play, so set up is fairly easy. You will need to print out the playing boards (as many as you would like to use), find enough pencils for the number of players you have, and add 2 six-sided dice. After that you are ready to play.
Theme and Mechanics:
In Château you are an architect attempting to be the first to complete the construction of a beautiful Château by marking off all of the spaces on your board. How you complete the construction can be straightforward or strategic. Each roll of the dice moves you one step closer to completing your goal.
The mechanic of Château is simply Roll and Write. One player rolls the dice and then all players mark their boards. Gameplay continues until someone wins the game.
Château is played over an indeterminate number of rounds. At the beginning of the game, after each player has picked the board they are going to play, players start by marking / crossing off 5 orthogonally adjacent squares on the board of the player to their left. Then, each round a player rolls the 2 dice to determine what the players can do that round; each die’s pip value will determine an action to take.
If the pip value on a die is a 1, players mark / cross off any 1 square on the board of the player to their left. Pip values of 2 and 3 have a set pattern of squares to mark / cross off. Pip values of 4 and 5 have larger patterns of squares to mark / cross off, but each of these patterns are a one-time use. A pip value of 6 lets you select from a set of icons on your board. Using the icon you mark / cross off all of the squares that also have that icon.
In addition, there are squares on the board that contain a hammer symbol. When one of these squares is marked / crossed off, you immediately mark / cross off another square on the board.
The first player to mark / cross off all the squares on their board is the winner.
What is done well:
Including additional actions to the dice instead of just having the dice dictate what pattern to put on the board. Making the 4 and 5 pip values add a pattern of 4 and 5 squares works well, and they are all together, but with a 6 pip value, the number of squares to be marked / crossed off can vary, depending on what else you have marked / crossed off.
Having the ability to affect another player’s board. A die value of 1 lets you mark / cross off a square on the player to your left’s board, making choosing which square to cross off a strategic one. The square you mark / cross off may make it hard to place some patterns, but it may also provide a completed square that may have been hard to fill otherwise. Being able to directly affect another player add another dimension to the game.
What some may find issue with:
Not all of the playing boards have the same number of spaces, giving the perception that fewer spaces are easier to fill. The majority of the playing boards have 61-64 spaces, with the largest being 69 and the smallest being 52. If gameplay were one space at a time, this would be true, but options for each board seem to mitigate the differential in spaces.
Some game board designs may be difficult to play. Many of the boards have wide open spaces to accommodate various patterns of marks, while other boards have long, single square runs which don’t accommodate anything but straight patterns or single blocks. Each board, though, seems designed to accommodate all of the available patterns.
I really enjoyed playing Château. It was just the right amount of gameplay for the start to a game night. It got me revved up to keep playing games all night. The game tends to draw you in. You start out thinking it will be easy to just mark off squares, but fairly quickly you start to think about how you are marking off squares and what happens if you put shapes in certain places. You quickly move into planning how you are going to build your Château. I will definitely be playing this game again. If you enjoy Roll and Writes, you will like Château.
Players Who Like: Roll and Writes, Pattern Matching / Arranging, and Bingo / Blackout type of games in general
Want to see another perspective on Château? See what Brad thought HERE!
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Thomas Shepherd- Reviewer
I grew up loving to solve puzzles, play games, and have fun. In my younger years I had fun playing pencil games, enjoyed the creativity of playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends, and generally hanging out with others. My favorite thing to do was to make puzzles of all kinds, mazes, word games, picture games, etc.
Sadly my career took me in a different direction, solving computer problems rather than gaming problems.
Gaming came back into my life, though, in a big way about 15 years ago, and I have held onto it since. I still enjoy designing games and have 9 published titles, which I did through my own game publishing company, Toresh Games, prior to the Covid pandemic. Sadly I was not able to sustain the company through the pandemic.
I highly encourage people to play games, make friends, and have fun. As a game enthusiast, I would love to see a return to games as the best social media platform for the masses.
All of Thomas Shepherd’s reviews can be found HERE.