Orleans is a bag builder game where players compete in different areas in goods, money, development tracks and victory points using followers and gaining citizen tiles. It almost feels like a race and area control using a mechanic similar to that of a deck builder but instead using a deck of cards, it’s using a bag filled with tokens.
The object of the game is to collect various items from coins, goods, building trading stations, earning development points and citizen tiles to gain the most victory points. Every player starts with the same amount of followers: A farmer, a boatman, a craftsman and a trader. Each player has they’re own player board where they place these followers to gain more followers such as a knight, a scholar or a monk; and also gain more of the same followers that they started with. It also allows them to use the followers to move around the city of Orleans (the map with trails and rivers of goods) collecting goods and building trading stations as they move their merchant token around; and also send followers to the Beneficial Deeds board to gain citizen tiles. The order of play starts off by each player drawing tokens out of their bags (each player may vary on how many tokens they can draw out depending on how far they are on the Knight Track) and then allocating them in their required places; where each place serves as a different type of action. They then carry out the actions they have chosen, and resolve the event in that round. The game continues on in 18 rounds, each round having different events occur that could either be an advantage or disadvantage to each player.
There is so much goodness about this game. Once you get through the first round, it plays very smoothly, and the rules are easy to follow through. You just need the basic mechanic which is the bag builder. You basically try to make use of whichever followers you end up drawing out. Just like you would buy cards in a deck builder game, your deck builds up and you are able to do more actions; in this game, you would collect more followers in order to be able to do more actions. The best part of Orleans, next to the bag building aspect, is that there are so many options in which you can earn your victory points. Every game won’t ever be the same. Orleans is a lot of fun. I first heard about this game back in 2014 and I couldn’t get my hands on a copy since this wasn’t widely available in the USA yet, but I was so glad it eventually came out on kickstarter (thanks to TMG) and I finally got my copy last year. It was a long wait but it was well worth the wait.
Not only is it a fun game, but the artwork is neat and the components are top notch quality. Orleans comes with nice felt-like bags for each player. There are a ton of components in this game, so many little pieces. The game originally comes with cardboard tokens, but I got the deluxe version (which upgrades the components to wooden tokens and metal coins) through their kickstarter, and I’m very glad I did because I love this game. The rulebook is easy to understand and refer to when needed. The gamebox is just a box with artwork on the cover and no insert.
However, as much as I love this game, it brings me to the negative portion of this game; it’s not a huge deal, but I was a little disappointed when the good tokens and citizen tokens did not come with stickers. The followers came with stickers to cover both sides of the follower tokens, but you lose the artwork for the rest of the other wooden tokens which is rather unfortunate. Regardless, the game is still good and this was just a small complaint about the deluxe version.
As much as I love this game, I don’t always have the time or patience to set up and play. I would probably bring this out more during summer when there’s no school. I’m a mother of five children and it just gets tiring during the school year and if I want to play, I only get the time and energy to play shorter games where there’s not a lot of set up and take down time. There are just too many pieces to pack/unpack in bags and the set up also differs depending on how many players there are; this means more counting pieces. It’s just like setting up and playing Agricola. Awesome game, dreadful set up and pack up time.
The theme has very little to the do with the game, at least I don’t feel the strength of the game coming from the theme. It might not be appealing to some people, but they shouldn’t let that keep them from playing the game. When I first saw the game, my first impression was that it was a bit bland of a theme. I think you could probably use any kind of theme and still be able to keep the same gameplay and mechanics. I don’t mind it too much, but the gameplay is still great regardless.
This game definitely has a lot of replay. Every game can be played with different strategies. There is an expansion Orleans: Invasion, which offers more gameplay and also a co-op gameplay. There are several other promo tiles that have been produced and another expansion, Orleans: Trade and Intrigue is coming soon.
Overall, all I can really say is: it’s a fantastic, awesome game regardless of some of the negatives I mentioned. This is definitely on my top 10 list.