Monday, 29 June 2009

Chateau Roquefort

I played Chateau Roquefort with Han and Chong Sean at Carcasean boardgame cafe on 26 Jun 2009. This game is marketed as a children's game, but it can actually get rather thinky. It looks gorgeous, and it is quite unique. I haven't seen anything quite like it. There are elements of memory and puzzle-solving, also a bit of nastiness (if you want to play that way).

Each player controls 4 mice, and uses them to explore the castle to look for cheese. The castle is no ordinary castle. Rooms in the castle can shift positions. There are trap doors which will capture your mice. If two of your mice land on rooms showing the same type of cheese, you gain a cheese tile of that type. There are 7 types of cheese, and you need to collect tiles of 4 types to win.

On your turn, you are allowed to take 4 actions. An action can be moving a mouse one step, removing a roof, or triggering the room-shifting. The castle is initially all covered up and you need to remove some roofs to see the rooms inside. Roofs are returned to their positions at the end of a player's turn, if there is no mouse in the way. Thus the memory element - you need to try to remember where the various types of cheese are before the roofs go back. Also because the rooms can shift, it becames trickier to remember which piece of cheese has moved where.

There are 3 traps in the castle - which are basically holes. You are not allowed to jump across them. Well, actually you are, but you'd look silly. Your mice are not allowed to jump across the traps. If someone slides the rooms in such a way that a hole moves to where one of your mice is, that mouse falls through and is now trapped in the dungeon. You have one mouse less. It is possible that you accidentally cause your own mouse to fall through a trap. If you are leading, it is possible for your opponents to gang up on you and do a few consecutive slides to make you lose your mouse.

The beautiful castle of Chateau Roquefort.

The seven types of cheese. In the background you can see some of the roofs. On the lower right you see the room tile which can be used to slide the rooms in the castle. Push it in from one end, and another room tile will fall out from the other end. Then you use that other tile to initiate the next room-sliding.

Some spots on the board are safe from the traps. See the spaces without a lowered floor. That red mouse next to two traps is actually perfectly safe, at least as long as it stays where it is.

All mice wear silly smiles.

The game actually has a bit of Tikal / Mexica / Java feel to it. I am surprised that I am comparing it to these medium-heavy games. The similarity is, of course, the action point system. You have 4 action points, and you need to think about how to best make use of it. There can be many permutations of what you can do. Of course Chateau Roquefort is not as heavy as these 3 games in the Mask Trilogy, but it can be thinky in a similar (but less severe) way as them.

How heavy the game feels depends on how seriously you take it. All the components and the gimmicky feel point to a light gaming experience, which can indeed be the case. So, it is not advisable to play this with super competitive or overly serious people. The game may drag.

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