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biblios

Biblios – Game Review

I first heard about Biblios when watching the DiceTower video “Top Ten Essential Games Every Gamer Should Own”.  Zee Garcia at around the 6:50 mark mentions this as a “great filler game that’s going to stick around”.

After deciding I would like to play this game I headed to all my local shops trying to find it.  No luck at any of my local stores.  I even had some shops check with their distributers but again no luck.  Well I was eventually able to find a copy from the man who created the game Steve Finn on his website (www.doctorfinns.com).  Keep reading below to find out if this game will stick around in my collection.

The first thing that hits you when you get this game is the very unique and super cool box.  Modeled after a book with a magnetic flap which is used to hold the box closed.

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Artwork throughout the game is good and fits the theme well from the Scriptorium board to the 5 different library category cards.  The dice used in the game are also great and slightly oversized.

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Game setup is very fast but does require slight modification based on the number of players (1-4).  This is well explained in the instruction book.  In each game you play the part of an abbot at the head of a monastery attempting to own the most illustrious library.  This plays out over two key game phases:

Phase 1 – “GIFT PHASE”

In this phase each player on their turn will pull one card at a time from the Draw Pile.  Each time a card is pulled the active player must make a decision.  They can either keep the card in their hand, place the card face down on the Auction pile or face up into the Public space (the number of cards which will be placed in the Public space varies by number of players).  The great part of this mechanic is the active player must decide whether the current card is good enough to keep or risk discarding to pull another.  This does result in some great cards being unwillingly placed in the Public space.  As you progress player by player through this phase you start to get a sense of what colors (categories) others are going for which enables you to strategize against them.  Another great part of this game is the church cards.  These special cards enable players to increase or decrease a die value of their choice on the Scriptorium board.  So for example if you have a lot of blue cards (Pigments) you may want to increase this blue die if the opportunity arises.  On the other hand if you have a church card which allows you to decrease a value you might want to pick a color which you know other opponents have a lot of.  After the Draw pile is fully depleted players begin the second phase of this game.

Phase 2 – “AUCTION PHASE”

In this phase players will work their way through the Auction pile which was created in the previous phase.  Using any type of card to bid for gold cards and only gold type cards for colored and church cards.  As mentioned in the instructions at times it can be hard to remember whose turn it is to flip a card over for auction.  They recommend placing the Auction pile in front of the current player.  Players will be looking to better their own hands and possibly weaken their opponent’s hands during this phase.  It’s especially fun/interesting when a church card comes up for Auction as most players will bid hard for this card.  Players do have the ability to bluff in an attempt to draw more money/cards out of opponents but if caught there is a penalty.  I have yet to try this in a game.

Determining the winner

When the Auction phase is completed, players will then determine who has the most cards in every category.  If you do you will receive the victory points indicated on the corresponding die.

In conclusion I really enjoyed this game.  I played several 2 player and 3 player games with different winning players almost every time.  I prefer to play with more than 2 players but it’s still fun with 2.  I will mention that when I first went to my local store looking for this game one of the workers there said “oh ya we had that game but it didn’t sell well”.  Now this could have simply been there tactic to steer me towards a game they did have in stock but this game is good so I’m thinking maybe they just never tried it.  Or maybe for some they thought it was a religious game or something.  Anyways I liked the game a lot so if you get a chance pick this title up!!!  It also travels well J as I found out on my recent trip to Hawaii.

  Things I liked:
  • When it’s not your turn you stay intrigued as you will be gaining a card regardless of whose turn it is. From the Public Space.
  • This game has strategy but the players strategy will shift from game to game based on which cards you acquire.
  • Seems like because of good balance between luck and skill the player who wins often varies even if someone is more experienced.
  • Plays quick but doesn’t feel like a filler game.
Things I didn’t like:
  • Might be nice to have a marker to decide who’s turn it is to flip card for auction phase.  Ok this is picky and they did make a note in instructions to simply place Auction pile in front of active player :)
  • I don’t have any more to put here :)

3 Comments on “Biblios – Game Review

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