Full Disclosure: Smiths of Winterforge was designed in part by Dylan Shearer who helps with Australian Tabletop Gaming Network time to time with website design and maintenance. This relationship has no baring on this review, however we feel it extremely important to make it known.
Standing there in the cavernous halls you can hear the hustle and bustle of a market place in the distance, the joyful singing and laughter of workers in the tavern, and through it all echoes the rhythmic, almost harmonic ring of hammer on anvil. There is no mistaking where you are; you are in a place of greatness. As the sweat starts to bead on your forehead, you smile to yourself. There is no place like this in all the realms, you are standing in the guildhall of the Smiths of Winterforge.
In Smiths of Winterforge you play as one of six guilds earning reputation points (REP) by completing contracts, having a full crew, improving your skills and trying to beat your fellow guilds to earn the Centenary Contract, which guarantees work for your guild for 100 years.
Setup for Smiths of Winterforge is quite easy considering the amount of components.
- To begin each player chooses one of the Guild Boards, and takes the matching colour corresponding meeple, cubes and three coins. Everyone places there meeples in the guildhall located in the centre of the board and three of the cubes in the starting spots on your guild board.
- Shuffle and deal each player two royal contracts, players choose the one they would like to keep and then discard the other. Once each player has selected there royal contract, place the discarded and any leftover royal contacts into the game box.
- Remove the nine 1 REP contracts from the pile, shuffle and deal one to each player then the remaining cards into the contract deck. Place the contract deck at the top of the board and then turn face up contracts equal to the number of players plus one.
- Component cards come in three levels, simple separate them into their levels, place them on the left hand side of the board and turn three cards of each level faced up.
- Shuffle the loan cards and place at the bottom of the game board and turn two face up.
- Shuffle the crew cards and place at the bottom of the game board and turn three face up.
Choose a person to go first, on each player’s turn they may perform three actions. Each of the available actions can be performed more than once a turn. As an action you may:
- Move you agent to a connecting Precinct; or
- Perform a Precinct action
The connected Precincts of Winterforge are as per below diagram:
Each Precinct has several actions that can be performed. In the rule book you will find a more detailed explanation of each action, but this is just a brief summary of each:
- Take Contracts – you make take up to two of the face up contracts at the top of the game board (maximum hand size of three).
- Request Funds – You may request one coin from your guild if you have less than three coins.
- Take Loan – You may take one of the loan cards.
- Pay Loan – You may pay back any amount of coins onto your loan card.
- Forge a Contract – You may attempt to Forge a Contract from your hand.
- Training – You may pay to increase your skill by one point.
- Hire Crew – You may hire one of the face up Crew cards for your guild.
- Replenishing the Tavern – Instead of replenishing the tavern at the end of your turn, you may do so at the end of this action.
If the either of the following conditions are met, the game is over once the current round ends:
A Player completes their Royal Contact; or there are no Contracts in the Contract Deck.
Add up all your reputation points using the guide in the rulebook and the guild with the highest reputation is awarded the Royal Centenary Contract.
Smiths of Winterforge is an exciting and amazingly well thought out game. You can see some love has really gone into this product. As someone who has played Table Tyrant Games’ first release, Tavern Fame, this is a massive leap forward. Tavern Fame was a small box card and dice game, whereas Smiths of Winterforge is heading into the realm of a gateway Euro game. For a young Australian Indie company this was a huge leap and gamble for their second title, but man did they pull it off.
I sat down with a few buddies, five of us in total. Before we even started the game they were blown away by the box art and even though I hadn’t explained what the game was they were already excited and snatching the box to look at it and choose their guild. So after a brief discussion of the rules we played… three times. They loved it and I, with a preference to small box games, did also. I find some Euro games a bit long or draw out. Smiths of Winterforge was not one of those, with three actions per player per turn, turns seem to come around quickly. There are no long turns or drawn out processes as the actions have been well thought out and streamlined. The games ran for a little over 90 minutes and the time seemed to fly by.
I received a prototype of this game and the components are of amazing quality. The cards are a thick, silky card-stock, beautifully designed and easy to shuffle. The Guild Boards and game board are made from thick cardboard with a black matte back. The coins are made from the same material as the game board; double sided and are easily popped out of their frame. The meeples and cubes are beautiful vibrant colours. My only complaint with the components is the dice which are horribly cheap and look really out of place in the box. Overall though this is hands down one of the best prototypes I have ever received and is better quality than a couple of finished products I received from other Kickstarters.
Smiths of Winterforge’s artist, Jamie Noble Frier, has done an amazing job. The box art is stunning, his use of source lighting just takes my breath away. The use of Dwarven style lettering throughout is a lovely little element that may go unseen but yet adds to the overall feel and theme of the game. One element I found really refreshing and a beautiful little touch was having three guilds with male characters and three with female characters.
Smiths of Winterforge is great game; stunning art, challenging game play and tight well thought out mechanics. With the base game costing a very reasonable $65 AUD (Approximately $50 USD), I can’t wait to back this game. The game is due to hit Kickstarter on the 16th of September and this will be a game you need to add to your collection.
Check out the Kickstarter here or head over to the Table Tyrant Games website for more information.