Thursday, 3 May 2012


Plays: 2Px1.

The Game

Tournay is a successor of sorts to Troyes. Troyes is a cube-converting, VP-scoring Eurogame with interesting use of dice and a bit of worker placement. Tournay is the card game version. It has some similar elements, however overall I find it to be quite different. It is more a tableau game (like Race for the Galaxy, 51st State, San Juan), and of course the "interesting use of dice" aspect is gone, because it has no dice.

Every player starts with his own 6 workers (in the basic game), 2 of each type - soldier (red), cleric (white) and civilian (yellow). You use workers for drawing cards from similarly coloured decks, the more advanced decks requiring more workers. Cards are buildings and characters that you can play into your 3x3-grid play area by spending money. Once played, you can place your workers on buildings to use their powers. There are three event cards visible at any one time, some good, some bad, and whenever a Town Crier card is revealed from any deck, events take place. You can spend workers (and money) to combat events, which are worth points and can also protect you from future events.

The centre area. On the left (which should be the top), the event cards deck, and 3 events revealed. You know what's coming and you can prepare for them, but you won't know exactly when they'll happen. Next, available workers to be purchased. In the basic game, you can only purchase additional workers using specific buildings. Then there are 9 decks of cards, 3 colours x 3 levels. You need to use workers to draw cards, higher level cards requiring more workers.

The lower left section is my personal area - my plaza where unassigned workers assemble, one already used yellow worker (civilian), my $5 coin and my green scoring marker, which is only needed at the end of the game.

My play area during mid game. The Port (1st row 2nd column) lets me use another player's yellow building. The Architect (2nd row 1st column) earns me $1 whenever I construct a building in the same row or column. The Fort (2nd row 2nd column) lets me defeat an event card if the event has occurred before. The Priest (2nd row 3rd column) lets me use a building in the same row or column twice (on different turns, and still requiring a worker). The 3rd row 2nd column building (can't read and can't remember what it is) lets me draw two level 2 white cards. The Monastery lets me buy a new worker. At this point I had defeated at least two events and had used them as ramparts to protect me against events.

As you use up your workers, eventually you will need to spend a turn resetting all of them back to the unused state. Ideally you use all up before you reset, but since there are 3 types of workers, sometimes you are desperate enough to use a particular type (which are all exhausted) that you reset sooner. You can use workers of other players, paying them for such usage, but normally you can't use their buildings. Only some buildings allow you to do that.

The game ends after a player has filled up his 3x3 grid and has constructed at least two prestige buildings, i.e. Level 3 buildings which often score a lot of points for the owner and also some for other players. Other than the prestige buildings, some normal buildings also score points, as do events that have been defeated.

The Play

Allen bought Tournay 2nd-hand, and it was a good deal. He liked Troyes very much. The English version of Tournay is not yet widely available. His is the international version containing English rules. We did a 2-player game. I didn't remember much about Troyes, but I was quite sure the gameplay of Tournay felt quite different. Tournay was all about drawing cards and playing them into your own 3x3 grid, and trying to make the most of your cards. One thing that I felt a little uncomfortable about was you are more-or-less stuck with the cards you draw. You do have some choice when getting a card, either the face-up card (if one is available), or you draw two and pick one. However once you gain a card, you either build it, or you waste it when you exceed the hand limit. I guess you do have a choice of building it or wasting it, but the latter seems just... wasteful.

I have a nagging feeling that a significant part of your success is how lucky you are with the card draw. However, each deck only has 10 cards, and the card powers are mostly quite generic, i.e. they can be useful in many situations and combinations. Having few cards in each deck means players can quickly learn what cards are available and where to look for them. So, maybe I worry too much. The prestige buildings (level 3 buildings) can give a lot of points. It's probably best to hold on to them, try to fulfill the scoring conditions before your opponents guess what they are, and then build them just before the game ends.

I was quite lucky with my buildings. I had one building which let me combat events cheaply, and another one that let me use buildings twice. This combination let me combat many events. I guessed that there would be a military prestige building that awarded points based on number of events defeated, and I was right! I drew that exact same card I was hoping to get. This, plus another combination of a building that allowed me to buy more workers and a prestige building that scored for sets of workers, gave me a comfortable win.

My play area at game end. The top left and top right buildings are prestige buildings. They give you points based on specific criteria. They also give points to your opponents who fulfill the same criteria, although not as many points as are given to you. The red shield icon means victory points. Some buildings give no victory points, e.g. those in the bottom row.

The Thoughts

My biggest impression is how different Tournay feels from Troyes. Tournay is a pleasant construct-your-own-city game, where you try to make the most of clever combinations of buildings and characters, and then shoot for the most suitable prestige buildings. Player interaction seems lower compared to its predecessor. In my one game neither Allen nor I used each other's workers at all. It didn't feel very necessary, since many actions only needed one worker, and the numbers on the dice rolled aspect of Troyes no longer exists. Probably we have not discovered the nasty strategy of using up valuable workers of opponents before they can use them. Troyes has this nastiness in its dice mechanism. We should experiment with this the next time we play Tournay.

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blownfreaks said...

I think of of the strategy that I did not undertake is to spend money to use up your workers. I think at some point I had so much money that I didn't even know what to do with it. I think that might spoil some of your plans... I think there are so much more to explore and we just did the basic introduction game, the advance game should be more competitive.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

Yes, I think you should have used up my red or white workers so that I wouldn't be able to keep using those two buildings for combating events and recruiting. One counter for me is I can use that money to in turn pay for using your worker. Not sure how effective it will be. We have to try this out. The advanced game should be more interesting, because you start with only 1 worker of each type, and you'll need to decide how to customise your worker mix during the early game.