Quick Look: FORGES OF RAVENSHIRE
Designer: Sam Stockton
Artists: Liam Peters, Andrea Radeck
Publisher: B.A. Games
Year Published: 2024
Grab a hammer and some steel, it’s time to forge! The Blacksmiths Guild of Ravenshire is in need of a new Forgemaster. You and your fellow smiths are competing to see who can make the most money and become the new Forgemaster.
Forges of Ravenshire is played over 4 seasons or rounds. Each season starts with the gathering phase where players will acquire contracts, recruit guild members, and gather resources. Players roll their dice workers and place one of them on an available location to gather resources. Then retrieve a different dice worker to gather even more resources. However, the various workers are from different guilds and when retrieved will activate the guilds you have invested in. All players will take turns placing one of their workers and retrieving another worker 3 times.
After the gathering phase is the production phase. Take those 3 dice workers you have taken and now place them on different areas of your forge to gather more resources, make charcoal or steel, and forge contracts to make money.
At the end of every season, check to see if any special titles have been earned. Titles bring prestige and hard-earned money.
Finally, roll your 3 dice workers again and prepare the county of Ravenshire for the next season.
Note: This review is based on an early demo version of the game and may not accurately reflect the final version of the game.
I’m not always a fan of engine building games; too many times such games are set up where if you miss out on an opportunity your engine fails. Forges of Ravenshire did not appear to have this problem. There are enough other opportunities to keep your engine going that missing out on one opportunity does not put you out of the game. I also enjoyed the worker placement aspect of the game. Each worker has a strength (pip value) and color, so placement took a bit of planning and strategy. Like many strategy games, what you do now is needed to set you up for later, either later that round or for the upcoming round. If you can work out some synergy, your engine could propel you forward. The player with the best engine and synergy is likely to be the winner. I am definitely looking forward to this game coming out and it will be a part of my game library.
The rule book is simple to follow and walks you through each of the phases and each of the actions for each phase. There are a few rules that need clarification (and are likely to be so in the final layout), but they are easy to follow and teach. The player aids were included as cards with the card deck. The aids did well with iconography and meanings, but were a little lacking in the phases and actions explanation (it is assumed these will be improved for the final version of the game). If anything, the back of the rule book may be copied and used for some player aids.
The setup is easily done. There is a main board and then each player has their own board. The main board requires some setup of guild member tokens and initial worker placement, but otherwise most of the setup is with the player boards. The player boards and tokens are set up by color, with color cubes used to mark obtained resources. The player’s marker is placed at the beginning of the prestige track and each player get a set number of resources, money, and tokens, which are placed near the board. Each player takes a set of dice and rolls them; the player with the highest total goes first, and play begins.
In Forges of Ravenshire you are a smith trying to craft the best weapons and armor you can to increase your prestige. You use workers to gather material you can use in your forges to craft. You can also hire guild members to help you with certain tasks, whether it’s gathering resources, gathering mystics, or performing trades. The goal is to have the most money at the end of the game, from production, prestige, and savings.
Forges of Ravenshire is a worker placement, engine builder game. You place workers to gather materials (resources or mystics) and/or hire guild members. The guild members are your best bet at increasing your engine abilities, but having the pips on the dice workers is also really important. The pip values matter on the main board and on the production portion of each player’s board, but the worker color matters when activating a guild.
Forges of Ravenshire is played over 4 rounds. Each round is separated into 2 phases, the Gathering phase and the Production phase. During the Gathering phase each player places a die from their supply on the main board and gathers the associated resources, and then retrieves a die from the main board and gathers the associated resources. The player then activates the guild associated with the die that was retrieved. This will occur 3 times for each player during the round.
Once all players have finished their Gathering actions, play moves into the Productions phase. This may occur simultaneously for all players as all actions take place on the player’s board. The players take worker from their guild and performs a Production action with each. If the player has enough resources to match a pattern in their hand they may claim completion of the pattern and gain rewards.
After the Production phase, the main board is reset and the next round begins. At the end of the 4th Production phase, final resource conversions and bonus are performed and the player with the most money wins the game.
I wasn’t sure I would like how pip values or color of a worker mattered at different points, but not at the same time. I was pleasantly surprised at how well this worked and how it played into the strategy of what I wanted/needed to do. Having them matter at different times forces the development of a strategy.Placing a worker and then retrieving a worker provided enough player interaction to be able to affect another player, but not so much that a player should get frustrated at the game play. A worker can be placed in 2 spots at each location on the main board, and when both spots are full a worker will have to be placed somewhere else. This made it so that even if you could place a worker in a spot you wanted, you could remove a worker from that spot and still get what you wanted.
The use of dice for workers presents enough randomness into the game to make it interesting. Some locations you need higher pip values to gain the greatest reward, while others require lower pip values. Due to this dichotomy you had to pay attention to what pip values you have and what pip values others have in order to develop a proper strategy of what to play when.
Note: While the following were issues encountered during game play, this was a demo copy of the game and these issues may be resolved in the final version of the game.
Games with higher player counts may run out of Guild members. I found that in 4 player games the available Guild Members were depleted by the end of the 2nd or 3rd round, making the space on the main board where you could hire Guild Members an unplayable spot in later rounds.
The Guild Members’ abilities are decidedly separated by color, with the yellow guild members used to obtain mystics, the green guild members used to gain additional resources, and the purple guild members used to trade items. Since it is better to simply obtain things rather than trade for things, the purple workers and guild members were typically the last to be chosen.
It’s possible to obtain enough resources during gathering that a player would never need to forge during the Production phase. While this may not necessarily be a bad thing, it kind of subverts the theme of the game.
There were other minor and cosmetic issues with the game, but I am confident the designer and publisher of the game will address these.
This was an interesting game to play. There was plenty of interaction between the players I played with, but it never got contentious. All of the people with whom I played also enjoyed playing the game, with several asking to play again or where they could get a copy of the game. There is enough strategy needed for the game that will make you have to think and plan, but not so much that it should give you a headache. The game is simple enough for a younger crowd to pick up and enjoy, but complex enough for an older crowd to also play and enjoy. This is definitely a game I am looking forward to the time when it will be published so I can add it to my game collection, and I’m recommending you do the same.
Players Who Like:Worker placement games, engine building games, resource collection games, and semi-asymmetric game play in general
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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.