Sunday, 20 September 2015


Plays: 3Px1.

The Game

In Cubists you are sculptors - cube artists - who use dice as the material for sculptures and buildings. You race to complete commissioned artwork, and you contribute towards building an art museum. Both of these give victory points. The game ends when someone completes five sculptures, or when the museum is completed.

These four columns of components are (from left):

(1) The player board. Every turn you roll two dice. You can use them to build sculptures in one of your two workshops here. If you choose not to, or if you can't use the dice yet, you can store them in your storage space (top right corner of your player board). You can store at most two dice. When you build a sculpture, you should build it according to the specifications of the customers. This is a business afterall. The customer requirements are in the next column.

(2) The players race to complete these sculptures requested by customers. Whoever completes one takes the card, and earns one or two bonus dice. The point value of a sculpture card is in the yellow star. The number of bonus dice is indicated by the red cubes. The most important use of the bonus dice is to contribute to building the art museum. You can use them for other purposes, and sometimes it makes sense to do so, but they are usually best used as museum building material, because they score 2VP per die.

(3) This is the construction site of the museum. It starts with one red die as a cornerstone. A blueprint card is randomly drawn at the start of the game (that green card), and everyone builds according to it.

(4) These are the artist cards. When you have two or three dice of the same value, you can use them to book an artist. Artists give a one-time special ability. Once you book an artist, you can use him any time from your next turn onwards. Once used he is discarded (sad but true). An opponent may take over your artist. If he has two (or three) dice of the same value, and that value equals or exceeds the value of your dice on an artist, he can eject your dice and place his in their place. So you probably don't want to wait too long before using your artist. There is much variety in artist abilities. E.g. some give you a die of a specific value, some let you modify the value of a die.

The basic rules around building a sculpture and building the museum are the same. When you add a die next to another, the values of these dice must be different by exactly 1. E.g. you can only place a 3 or a 5 next to a 4. When you add a die on top of another, their values must be the same. You can only place a 4 on top of another 4.

These are the artists. At the moment three are booked. The third artist booked with a pair of 1's has no loyalty at all. Any pair including another pair of 1's can take him away. The second artist booked with 6's is harder to sway, but it is not impossible.

The Play

I did a 3-player game with Allen and Han. I played in a simple way, focusing on just the sculptures, and contributing to the museum construction as often as possible. The competition in completing the commissioned works is fierce. There were a few times Allen was narrowly beaten in completing a sculpture, and it was quite painful for him because it meant much effort had been wasted. The new sculpture order coming in may not look anything like your half completed masterpiece, so often you need to start from scratch. Before you abandon a sculpture you can use the dice for signing up artists. That is a small consolation, but it's better than none.

I'm still unsure about going for artists. Some of them do seem powerful, but I feel they are risky - others may steal your artists. Also they are not exactly cheap, costing at least two dice. I only invested in artists when I had spare dice which I couldn't find a good use for. You do need to consider the artist abilities in the context of the current sculpture orders. Some artists may give you an edge in completing certain orders. Sometimes they let you take a combo-rific turn when the stars line up. That is fun and satisfying.

Deciding which sculptures to work on is something you need to do all the time. If many opponents are working on the same one, there is a higher risk of losing out. If someone is almost done with a sculpture, you probably don't want to go anywhere near it. Sometimes two sculptures are similar, and you want to build in such a way that you have the flexibility to complete it as one or the other. The number of orders is small, so there is no avoiding the competition. You need to choose wisely and hope for the best. This is a tactical decision you make all the time.

Which die values to use in your sculptures is another thing to consider. Ideally you want one workshop to use lower values and the other higher values, so that no matter what you roll, you can fit that die somewhere.

We played very quickly. I'm not sure whether it's us or it's the game. We generally play games at a brisk pace, often starting to take our turns before others finish taking theirs. In Cubist you only roll two dice on your turn. Even if you have two dice stored from your previous turn, that's only four dice in total to consider. There is not that much to think about when you need to decide where to place them. On other players' turns, you should take note of what they are doing, e.g. which sculptures they are going for and which artists they are investing in, but there is still plenty of time to think of your own medium- and long-term strategy. I find this a light and speedy game.

This is my player area. I have completed two sculptures at this moment. They have given me three bonus dice, and I have used them all.

The art museum construction is still in progress. I (green) have contributed two dice. Han (beige) has contributed two too.

The Thoughts

Cubist is a light family strategy game. It's easy to learn. There is a spatial element to it. There is some luck and excitement in the die-rolling. You have a medium-term goal to chase after in the commissioned works, and a long-term goal in the art museum.

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