05th Jun2019

‘Corinth’ Board Game Review

by Matthew Smail

corinth-box

Corinth is a recently released roll and write game from Days of Wonder. For those who remember it, Corinth is based on Yspahan, an older board game that uses most of the same mechanisms, albeit in the form of a board game rather than a roll and write.

If you’ve never heard of the roll and write genre, let me explain briefly what these games are all about. All roll and write games share a couple of common elements, or to be more specific, they feature both rolling and writing. The rolling part comes in the form of dice whilst the writing is all about recording the results on one or more sheets of paper.

Where Corinth itself is concerned, the game is split into sixteen or eighteen turns (depending on player count) during which players will draft dice rolled by the active player. These turns boil down to either six or four (again depending on player count) turns with each player taking the active role. The players will be competing to collect goods of various values and to move their steward around the local market, all of which happens on their own personal sheet. Completing different stalls of goods will score points, with larger stalls of more valuable goods obviously being worth more than small stalls of low value goods. After the final dice draft, the winner is the player with the most victory points.

On a turn where they take the lead role, the player in question will roll the nine standard dice, plus up to three golden dice (one for each coin they choose to spend.) Once these dice are rolled, they will take all of the highest value dice and place them in the gold space on the goods board. They then fill the other goods spaces up from the lowest value (goats) to the highest value (Egyptian spices) by placing all dice of each value into the same goods area. This means, for example, that all die showing a one will be in the goats space, all two’s will be in the olive oil space, all three’s in the grape section and so on. This also means that if no dice of any number are rolled, then not all goods will be present that round. This happens, for example, if no sixes are rolled, which means that all of the highest numbered dice (five, perhaps) will be placed into the gold space. If dice showing one to four were all present, then they would be placed on goats, olive oil, grapes and fabric, leaving spices blank.

With this in mind, the player who rolled must assess the dice and decide which set to draft. All dice of one particular kind must be taken, at which point the player has two options. Firstly, they may mark off a number of goods of the kind take equal to the number of dice – the pips on the die have no relevance at this point.

corinth-4

Secondly, they can take all the dice and use them for the pip value only, which allows them to move their steward that many spaces. Wherever the steward stops, the player circles that space and takes the associated benefit, which may be goods, gold, goats or a victory point. If the space is a corner, then it will always score a number of victory points equal to the number of spaces the steward has travelled so far. Once the active player has chosen their dice, then any remaining gold dice will be removed. The other players then take turns to choose a set of dice to draft, applying the benefits in the same way. In this way, every player has exactly the same number of turns as both the active player and as a following player in all positions of turn order. Regardless of what they do with the dice, players also have the option to spend accumulated gold and goats on constructing the four buildings, which each have a benefit of their own. One provides three victory points for each building (including itself) that is constructed, whilst the others allow the player to affect the stewards movement, add two gold whenever they take gold instead of goods and to take an extra good of the same kind when taken.

Playing a game of Corinth is quick, simple and easy to teach, with each game lasting about thirty minutes or so. There’s no obviously better path to victory, but it can certainly be said that optimising decisions on a turn by turn basis is the most important thing to fathom. On the other hand, the simplicity of the decisions can occasionally mean that Corinth feels somewhat luck based. As an example, if a player rolls a high number of dice that end up being placed in the spices section, then it is almost always a no-brainer to take them, even if all that does is prevent an opponent from having them. The fact that these dice can be used to move the steward means that they aren’t even useless, even if that player had completed all their spices stalls. Taking olive oil, on the other hand, will rarely be that worthwhile, because even a lot of completed olive oil stalls are worth a fairly minimal amount. Building is a decent strategy, and it’s the only use for goats, which makes taking a large number of goats strategically in a single early turn can be helpful. All buildings cost gold as well though, and gold can be used to affect steward movement and add golden dice, so it’s a bit more valuable.

Ultimately, Corinth is a fairly straightforward game that is much lighter even than most other roll and write games, but it’s also brief and lighthearted enough that it can fill in between other games, or as a warm up before a bigger game begins. The components are simple but fairly bright and well made, which makes it easy to setup and tear down and the box is small enough to make Corinth pretty portable.

Overall, a good but perhaps unremarkable addition to any collection.

*** 3/5

Corinth is available online at 365Games.co.uk, or at your local games store. Don’t know where yours is? Try this handy games store locator

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