Episode 6: Coimbra

Coimbra is a 2-4 player game published by Eggertspiele, designed by Flaminia Brasini and Virginio Gigli, and game artwork by Chris Quilliams and takes 60-90 minutes to play.

So lets hop right in, and visit Coimbra during the 15th and 16th century.

Portugal is thriving under its leading role during the Age of Discovery. Nestled in the heart of Portugal, the city of Coimbra serves as a cultural center of the country. As the head of one of Coimbra’s oldest houses, you seek to earn prestige by deepening relationships with nearby monasteries or funding expeditions of the era. To reach this goal, you must vie for the favors of the city’s most influential citizens, even if you must offer a bit of coin or some protective detail.

Coimbra is a dice drafting game at its core, with a couple twists. The board itself is divided into a few areas. The leftmost section is where you will be drafting and placing your dice into 4 different city sections, the castle at the top, then the upper city, mid city, and finally the lower city.

The castle section gives you a game token if drafted that will either give you resources, or a game effect, they will also have crows on them that will assist you in securing the first player spot. These are returned at the end of each round. In the castle section, dice are resolved in ascending order. Meaning, a die with 1 pip value will be resolved before a die with a 6 pip value.

The city sections will each have 4 cards in their pool to draft from. Each with a colour matching one of the influence tracks found on the rightmost section of the board that you will use to collect income, move your pilgrim or collect victory points. These 3 sections are resolved in descending order. Meaning, a die with 6 pip value will be resolved before a die with a 1 pip value.

When resolving the drafted dice, the pip value showing is what you’ll be paying to purchase the card in that city area. Meaning, if you’ve draft a 6 value on a die to ensure you’ll be able to select first, you’ll have to spend either 6 guards, or 6 coins, depending on the demand of the card, as the cost.

Then you resolve the card from top to bottom, increasing your influence on whichever track matches the card you purchased, and but however much influence is on the card. Then the bottom portion of the card will have a section that is either resolved immediately, during phase c, or e, or for end game scoring. This cards will also sometimes have scrolls on them, these scrolls are for set collecting, worth victory points at the end of the game.

In the centre of the board, you will find the city map where you will have your pilgrim visit different monasteries to gain different immediate rewards, like resources, or advancements on the influence track or to collect additional scrolls for your set collection.

On the right most side of the board, you have your influence tracks. You have coins, which is orangey-yellow, guards or shields which is green. Those two are the games currency. Then you have the pilgrim movement track in purple and lastly victory points track in green.

Based on which colour of dice you drafted, you will gain income on that influence track for the round in the amount shown by where your token is and for each of the three dice draft. So if you drafted two orangey-yellow dice, and one green die. You will gain coin income twice, the pip value doesn’t matter, and then you will gain victory points once. If you’ve drafted the white die, you can choose any track to gain income on.

Lastly, at the very bottom of the board, you have a series of voyages. Each round, you can pay to sponsor a voyage. These are end game goals that will generate victory points for you.

At the end of the fourth round, you will count up all victory points, and whoever has the most is the winner!

Okay, so, as you all know, I love me a good euro. This game is a great euro. I played it once at Origins, and then again at Gen Con. I was sold at Origins, but with anything in the 70 dollar price range, I want to make sure it’s not just the flash. I played it again at Gen Con and without a doubt loved it. I preordered it from my local store and it came in last week.

Let’s get the obvious thing out of the way. This game is BEAUTIFUL. The colours are beyond bright. The component quality is fantastic. The card stock is printed on a beautiful linen card stock with really bright and crisp print quality and the custom insert is great, though it does seem like there is a LOT of wasted space if you put all the tokens in their rightful spots. As a vertical stacker. The insert isn’t really important to me as I bag everything, but if that thing is something you enjoy, this one is great! Just don’t tip it, nothing will stay in place haha.

So at first glance, this game is REALLY busy looking. But I think that seems to be a trend with new games, the era of MS paint looking games is over. The business on this board doesn’t really takes away from the enjoyment of the game as the boards have very clear iconography, so you can clearly see which cards or tiles trigger which influence track.

One thing I do have to say about the design. They really missed out on a good opportunity for double layered boards for the income track. Much like Azul and Terraforming Mars, they should have followed in the footsteps of games like Scythe. One bump of the table and it’s nearly impossible to remember where your cubes were on your income tracks. It’s definitely not a make it or break it situation, but really, these things need to be considered when using personal boards to track resources rather than actual coins or pieces to represent the currency you have.

Now to get into what I enjoyed about the game play. Replayability is huge when it comes to the life of a game, and if it gets boring over time. Coimbra has different cards, tokens and score tracks for every game you play. Which means you will likely never see the same combination of cards and tokens. This means that everytime you play, you can try for a slightly different strategy. I love this in a game. Of course the core of the game remains the same, but you might not have the same voyages for end game scoring, or maybe there are better tracks to gain VPs on.

Because of this variance, the path to victory is never really that obvious. So you really have to work your strategy every time to play. Mind you, I’ve only played but a few times now, so I haven’t had the opportunity to test every strategy,  but it seems like focusing on any of the influence tracks can yield lots of victory points.

My favourite part of the game was the unique way of using dice to collect income. It really throws a whole other layer into the game you’re playing. You may really want a 6 face on a die to be the first to get a card in that city area, but it might be in a colour of die that you really don’t need or want income from. It’s a really cool idea and one that I don’t remember seeing in any other games I’ve played. It’s hard to find original ideas with so many games being released. So I enjoyed being able to discover something new and innovative to play.

I’ve only played the game at 4 player count, however, the mechanic used when you have less than 4 players is a neat one. You’ll add dice tokens to the drafted city areas on setup. Based on their pip value, they will automatically take the card away that increases an influence track the most when there are no dice of a higher value to the left of them. This seems like a good way to ensure that people are still using their highest valued dice to get cards they want.

However, it does also allow you to plan and see if the card you want will be removed. So if you know that the card will still be there, you won’t draft a high valued die, why pay more than you need to? So that part kinda doesn’t do it for me, though I’m not sure if there’s a better way.

Overall, I had a blast playing this game, it feels different every time and isn’t very difficult to teach, but the strategy is deep. The price is I am also really enjoying this more recent trend towards Euros that are just as visually appealing as they are fun to play. As someone that loves mid to heavy weight euros, it’s been sometimes hard to find a really good euro that is also visually appealing.

Thanks again for joining me! Next week on The Board Dame, I will be discussing one of my favourite pick up and deliver games by Ravensburger, Broom Service. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and Twitter at The Board Dame.

I also wanted to invite everyone to join me every Monday night at 9PM EST for a Live Learn to Play on Twitch!

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