The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game Review

In the tabletop game industry, there is a popular type of game called roll and write. Basically we will roll one or more dice and we will make decision in the game based on those dice by writing on a piece of paper.

The original ide came from Yahtzee from back in 1956. It became popular since another game with this mechanism, Qwixx got nominated for Spiel des Jahres, which is considered the highest award in tabletop game industry.

Since then, every year more and more games in this genre were released either as print and play or retail games. One of the reason for its popularity is that anybody can start designing an analog tabletop games with just a pen and paper.

Because of that, more popular title of board game version started to offer their dice or roll and write version. One of them is The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game, which the board game version is considered as one of the top 20 games on BGG.

Moreover, ever since we have to deal with pandemic and physical distancing, people started to look for this kind of game. Mostly because they can play the game with more people over Zoom or any other video conferencing app.

So, what is this dice game of The Castles of Burgundy? How do we play it? Can it be played over any video conferencing app?

Those are probably just a few questions that came to mind after hearing about the game. Well, in this article, I’m going to share with you my The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game Review based on my experience on playing the game and what I can find from the internet.

Hope this helps. Is The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game going to be the best roll and write game?

Click or tab on any sections from the table of contents to jump right to that part. Use the red arrow button on the bottom right corner of the screen to head back to the top.

Overview

Game’s Title: The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game
Genre: Roll and Write, Pencil and Paper, Dice Rolling, City Building Theme, Medieval Setting, Resource Management, Bingo Mechanism, Competitive, Official Solo Variant, Set Collection.
Designer: Stefan Feld, Christoph Toussaint
Artist: Julien Delval, Harald Lieske
Publisher: alea (Ravensburger)
Number of Players: 1 – 5
Playtime: 15 – 30 minutes
Official Website: The Castles of Burgundy: THe Dice Game (ravensburger.de)

Release Year: 2017
Initial Price: $15

Content:
2 Rulebooks (EN/FR)
5 Pencils
1 Pad (100 sheets with 4 Different Estates)
5 Dice (2x pips, 2x colors, 1 hourglass)

About The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game

As the game’s title suggests, this is the dice game of the popular board game with the same title, The Castles of Burgundy. The board game version is considered one of the most popular game in its genre, currently at top 15 to 20 game on BGG.

Previously, the designer released a card game version which I have written a review for here. With this dice game, they implemented a roll and write mechanism for The Castles of Burgundy, one of the popular genre in tabletop game industry.

All 3 different versions take place in the same settings. Players are influential nobles in 15th century France, that will try to build and expand their castles. We can buy some blueprints, construct them while managing some resources like workers, commodities, and church community.

Some people say that the card game version managed to capture about 70% the experience of the board game version using just cards. In this dice version, we actually get the remaining 20% with still about 10% missing.

One element of the game that the card version didn’t implement was the spatial element of this city building game. We can find that in the dice version where players will start their game with similar dutchies or estate like in the board game.

On the board, we can see 37 hexes with different color and icons. Players will start by choosing from one of the 4 green hexes that indicates their starting castles.

While the overall shape of the estate that we are trying to build is the same but the starting location of this castle hex is different. The same goes with the terrains or other hexes that surrounds that castle.

Those hexes can have a group of one color and icon. Thematically, that means those hexes are perfect just for specific type of buildings. In this game there are 6 terrains or 6 building types, Castle (Green), Monastery (Purple), City (Orange), Mine (Gray), Pasture (Yellow) and River (Blue).

We can only expand the development of our estate from the existing hexes. To reach more hexes, we have to explore the nearby terrain first.

The problem is that sometimes we don’t have the right resources to explore those hexes. These resources comes from the 4 dice that we roll.

Two of the dice will tell us the color or terrains that we can explore. The other two will tell us the value or amount of resources. Each type of terrains will require different value.

Every turn player can make decision based on these information and mark the hexes of their player board. Which is why we call this a roll and write game. We roll a dice and write a note based on the dice.

So, if we can get the right dice with the color that is the same as the surroundings of our existing estate and the required value, we can explore and build. Once we have completed a group of adjacent hexes with the same color, we will generate more resources.

Each building type will generate different resources. City will give us more worker, Monastery will give us more Monk, Mine will give us Silver and River will give us more commodities.

Another Castles, can generate any of these 4 depending on the location. While Pasture will only double the value or victory points.

These resources can be spent once per turn in later turns to make us more productive. Worker can help us change the value of the dice and Monk can change the color of the dice.

By having enough of those two, we don’t have to worry about getting stuck with a bad roll of dice. Having silver allow us to do extra action every turn so we can be more productive.

We can also get more Silver by having trading commodities. However, trading only happens randomly based on one more dice. Instead of value or color, this dice shows one or 2 hourglasses.

This hourglass tells us how much time we spend each turn. There will be 3 rounds and each takes about 10 hourglasses. We have to build our estate as fast as we can and score points before the time runs out.

While completing the existing terrain will give us more points and resources, exploring will also give us more opportunity. On the other hand, we can get  higher points if we can complete the group in earlier rounds.

The game will constantly challenge us to be strategic with long term plan and tactical because of the limited resources.

This dice game also implement the Bingo mechanism. Only one player will roll those dice and all players will make decision based on those same roll.

In the era of self isolation and physical distancing because of pandemic, this mechanism is great to support play along on the internet with multiple players. Each player will only need a copy of the player board sheet and they can participate.

Below is one of the play along video for The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game by Step Hodge.

We don’t even need to participate in the game live. Simply, we can just take notes on the result of dice roll and their order and we can play the game ourselves in different time. Then, if we want, we can compare the scores.

The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game is part of the alea’s very small box series of dice and card game. While the card game has the number one, this dice game is number 4 in the series.

Components

The copy of The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game that I used has a blue color for the box. From what I understand, this is the second printing while the original has the maroon one just like the card game and board game version.

The size of the box is the same as the card game version, which is  about 18 x 11.3 x 3.5 cm. I guess it is easier to tell the difference between the two version with contrast colors.

At bottom right corner of the front cover, next to the RAVENSBURGER icon, we can see the icon of 5 dice used in the game. The card game version doesn’t have anything like that.

The other difference is at one of the lid’s side, we can see a number 4 behind the designer’s name for the dice version while the card has number 1. There is only one designer for the card game while the dice has two designers.

Both card and dice version of the game support two languages, English as the primary and French. We can find some information regarding the game on the box for those two languages.

Inside the box, we will find two rulebooks, 5 pencils, a plastic bag with 5 dice in it and a thick pad. At the bottom of the box, there is a layer on the base like the card game version, but not necessarily an insert.

It is just a signature for alea, the publisher. Somehow I think it makes the inner part smaller to the point where the width rulebook is not going to fit in it. Either side of the box will be push outward or the rulebook will get bowed a little.

There is enough space in the box to add more things, not that there will be some expansions. Considering that we will spend those sheets, we probably are going to replace the pad with something else if we like the game enough.

It is a common thing with a game like this that anybody would laminate the sheet so it can be used multiple times. For that reason, we will also replace the pencils with dry erase markers.

The size of the inner part is about 17.3 x 10.5 cm. For the thickness, the size is 3 cm but if we are willing to use some elastic band, it can go even deeper.

Rulebooks

As I said before, the game comes with 2 rulebooks, one for English and the other in French. Somehow the publisher didn’t post the digital file of the rulebook on BGG, officially.

It is also not that easy to find the file on their website but there are. Here are links for the English, German, Dutch and French from their official German webpage

The size of the printed book is 14.9 x 10.5 cm. So, the width is exactly the same as the inner width of the box, if not bigger. The length is definitely shorter.

Both of rulebooks have 12 pages. Like the card game version or other games from alea, each page has two columns. One to explain the rule in detail where the right column is the summary.

This right column makes it easier for players to refresh their memory when they want to play the game again after a while. I do wish there is some index or table of contents though but the game is not difficult.

Here are the table of contents of the rulebook.

Game Idea (Page 1). This explains a bit about the setting and what we are trying to do to win the game. There is actually a further explanations at the top of the second and third page.

Game Components (page 1). There is an image depicting all of the components that we get from the box to play the game, excluding the rulebooks.

Writing Pad Details (Page 2 – 3). This part explains what every part of the writing pad means with an illustration. I think they should have added the reference to the other page of the rule.

That can indicate where in the game will each of these be used. For example, I clearly missed the first time and second time bonuses when I played the game for the first time.

Game Setup (Page 4). Here we can find the rule about all players using the same duchy. We then have to choose which castle to start randomly as the basic setup.

Game Play (Page 5-8). This part explains the general gameplay and how each player will do action every turn until the last turn of the last round. Then this continues with how each of 6 different building types works and the bonus we can get.

Bonus (Page 9). This is how to use MONK, WORKERS and SILVER which can be activated just once and only one per turn. Only works for the player who activate it.

Selling Commodities (Page 10). This is the thing that we get but not considered as a bonus. Only happens when we roll the double hourglass.

Extra VP for completed colors (Page 10-11). This is about the player who gets to be the first for completing a color. The first and second time bonus, both can be claimed by multiple players. They should have use different title for this like FIRST TIME BONUSES.

Game End (Page 11). Here we can find the tie breaker which is based on the remaining bonuses that we still have at the end of the game.

Variants (Page 11-12). This part explains all of the different setups we can use for the multiplayer game and the solo variant.

Credits and Info (Page 12). Here we can find some of the test players and contact info about the publisher. I’m surprised that the name of the main designer is not mentioned at all.

Other than the first time bonuses, I don’t think I have problem playing the game. The game is simple enough and there are enough tutorial videos explaining how the game works.

I think the issue is the expectation from players of the other version of the game. For example, in the other versions, we can use multiple Workers while in this dice game, we only need one Worker at a time.

However, while we can only use one bonus at a time, I thought we can use other bonus. So, with the similarities between each version, it is very easy to assume that this will work the same.

Another issue is, while the rulebook use the summary column on each page, there are some missing details. For example, the fact that all players will be using the same duchy as the basic rule.

There can be some complicated situation, especially regarding the Commodity and blue hourglass. The question is about whether we can sell the commodity anytime and sell the commodity we just got for completing River hexes in the same turn.

The rule doesn’t explain that the selling commodities only happens at the start of the turn. So, if we get some commodities during that turn, we can only sell them with the next blue hourglass.

I can see there are some extra rules in the printed rulebook to give example of this. Even if without illustration.

The notes on that specific section is just trying to distinguish about a bonus and selling as additional and optional action. That optional sell all or nothing should have been in the summary as well.

The rulebook actually use the term PHASE but in this article I call it as ROUNDS. While I call it TURNS while the rulebook refers to it as ROUNDS.

Pencils

The game also includes 5 pencils to support 5 players. They are just standard sharpened graphite pencils with about 8.5 cm each.

I’m not sure since they don’t have any mark, but the graphite scale is about a B pencil rather than an HB. There is nothing special with these pencil, we can even use our own.

We can even use more than 5 and play with higher player count at the same time.

As we can probably tell by the use of pencil, that this is a game where we will be writing on limited amount of paper sheet. If we choose to laminate some, these pencils will be useless then.

Sure, we can erase them but one, they don’t include any eraser and two, the paper will be worn out eventually. I get it that not including the eraser can support player to not cheat and make decision more carefully.

However, based on my experience, there will be times when my action was not a legal move. I still need to erase them.

For this issue, using laminated sheet and dry erase marker can be a solution. The problem is that the tip of dry erase marker cannot be smaller than 1 mm, as far as I know.

While the writing area is not that big on the sheet. We probably have to print the sheet ourselves with a bigger size.

There will be no issue storing markers within the game box. My marker is about 13.5 cm long with 1.1 cm in diameter.

Someone said on other forum that if we do laminate the sheet, the best pen or dry erase marker is the Lumicolor non permanent pen. The tip is small just like a regular pen.

Dice

The next thing we can find in the box are the 5 dice in one zip lock plastic bag.  Not that it is necessary but they put two holes on the bag so we don’t have to worry with the air trap in the bag.

These dice are standard D6, made of wood. What I appreciate from these dice is they cut the corners. Of course, they are not necessary but I think it is easier for the dice to roll that way.

Two of the dice are showing number from 1 to 6 in pips. The other two are showing 6 different colors, YELLOW, GREEN, ORANGE, GRAY, PURPLE and BLUE.

One dice is rather unique. It shows either one or two hourglasses on the sides.

In this game, every turn, one player will roll all of the 5 dice and all players will be using the same result of the roll. From 2 color and 2 pip dice, players have to use a combination of one color and one pip dice.

So, each turn, they can have up to 4 possible combinations. There will be some extra bonus resources that allows players to change either the value or the color of those dice which only affect that player.

If somehow they still cannot use any of the combinations, they have to pass and get 1 WORKER as a reward. The Worker is one of the bonus that allows them to change the pip value in later turns, a signature from all of The Castles of Burgundy game.

For dice rolling, we can use the box or the lid as the dice tray. Some suggest adding a napkin so it will not make too much noise when we play at restaurant or bar.

If somehow we don’t want or cannot use the physical dice, this is a digital app for replacing the dice roll for The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game.

The Hourglass Dice

The Hourglass Dice only has two possible values, either a single hourglass with black color or double hourglass with a blue color. Only two sides have the blue one.

This one dice serves two purposes. The first one is the timer of the game.

In any version of The Castles of Burgundy game, the game will take place over a fixed number of rounds. For the board game and card game version, each player will have the same amount of turns every round.

In this dice version, that is a bit different. We still play over 3 rounds every time, which is shorter than the other 2 versions. However, depending on this hourglass dice, the number of turns every round can be between 5 to 10 turns.

If we keep rolling the blue or double hourglass, we will have shorter game with less number of turns. So, this gives a bit of randomness and definitely can change the player’s strategy a bit.

Towards the end of each round, players will have to check and probably gamble a bit whether they can have enough turns or not. However, this is a bit different for the solo mode variant.

For the solitaire variant, the game suggests always using 8 turns every rounds. So, in solitaire mode, this dice only serves for the second purpose.

The second purpose of the hourglass dice is for SELLING COMMODITIES action. This is also a signature from any The Castles of Burgundy game.

In any of this game, we will have commodities as resources generated by building ports or water transportation. Having these commodities will give us no good unless we sell them.

In the dice version, selling happens randomly and only when we roll those double hourglass. With just 2 sides showing the double hourglass, we have 1 of 3 chances every turn to sell our goods.

The problem is that we still need to have the goods first. There is no guarantee that selling goods will happen after we have the goods.

Selling goods in the dice version will give us 1 Silver and 2 Victory Points per goods. That Silver can be spent as a bonus to activate two actions in a single turn.

So, if we want to score a lot from this one feature, we first need to make sure we build all of the BLUE BUILDINGS to get those commodities. Then, hopefully, later in the game we get to roll the double hourglass.

That is not enough. We still need several turns, hopefully a good one to spend those Silvers and activate double actions.

We can always replace any of these dice with regular D6. All we need is to remember which value represent which color or hourglass side.

For the Hourglass Dice:

1 / 6: Blue Hourglass, 2 – 5: Black Hourglass

For the color dice:

1: Purple
2: Gray
3: Yellow
4: Blue
5: Green
6: Orange

Or if it is too hard to remember, we can always follow the pattern from the left side of the sheet. It will have an order of the color and we can just assign number 1 to 6 from the top to bottom.

So, 1 for Purple, 2 for Gray, 3 for Blue, 4 for Orange, 5 for Green and 6 for Yellow.

Writing Pad

This is the last components of the game and the main one. The writing pad also serves as the player board which we will write on.

We have about 100 sheets of this, with 4 different variants, A, B, C and D. Each sheet is a double sided with the same variant. That means from each variant we get 50 plays.

The size of the sheet is about 16.5 cm x 10 cm. From 100 sheets, the thickness is about 1 cm with a single carton at the end.

To play the game, each player will get one sheet of this, of the same variant as the basic setup. One side of sheet is just to play one session. So, it’s like they encourage us to play two in a row by using the other side right away.

The rule suggests that a new player should start first with the A variant. So, it is considered as the easiest one.

Because they use both sides, I guess it is not really recommended to use ink on this paper. It will ruin the other side.

It is kind of hard to take the whole pad out from the box unless we flip the box upside down. There is still extra room for the finger to lift it but it will bend the box a bit.

We clearly need to lift the left side of the pad that holds all the sheets together. I don’t know if we can put the sheet back to the box after we laminate them.

The color is also very bright and for fans of the game, we can easily spot some familiar arts from the other version. The icons are very small and we have less than 0.4 x 0.4 cm of each writing area with the exception for the final score.

In this game, the writing that we will be doing is numbering, crossing, circling. If we use pen with a very thick tip or unsharpened pencil, we probably have a hard time.

On the other hand, if we do laminate the sheet and use dry erase marker, we probably just write on the illustrations. It is still hard to write on the scoring part though.

There are several things that we can find on each sheet. Here are the details.

Building types area

We start with the left most part of the sheet to find 6 rows for 6 building types and their bonuses. These are to mark the bonuses that we get for completing an area of a single building type.

Each building type will tell us the color and the combination of pips value that are allowed to be used together. For example, at the top, we can find the PURPLE building, which is called MONASTERY, requires 1 pip or 2 pips value.

The 3 and 4 pips are for the MINE (Gray) then 5 or 6 for the RIVER (Blue). The City (Orange) can use any number of pips. However, in a single area, we need to use different number for each hexes.

The Castles (Green) requires a value that is the same as the surrounding hexes. This can be any number. If we want to make the game easier, we have to make sure, that we use a variety of numbers near any given Castle.

The Pasture (Yellow) can accept any number of dice. However, if there are several hexes in a single Yellow area, we need to use the same value for all hexes.

Those are just a reminder of how we can, thematically, explore our estate, which is in the middle of the sheet. How each different type of hexes requires certain combination of dice.

All of the requirements in different sheet variant are all the same. They are not a different setup variable so we can play with any sheet using the same system.

Bonuses/ Resources Area

Right next to these icons of building types, we can see from three up to 8 circular icons, with the exception for Pastures. These are the bonuses or the resources that we can get and spend during the game.

Each time we gain a resource, we put a circle on an icon of the right type. When we do want to use those particular bonus, we then cross the previously marked icon to indicate that we have spent them.

Most of the time, we gain a bonus for completing an area of one or more hexes with the same color or type. Which is why the number of possible resources corresponds with the number of area of any given type.

Each building type will always give the same bonus, with the exception for the Castles and Pastures.

PASTURES only double the Victory Points we get for completing an area. That is just for building Pasture Area. It is an immediate bonus that will not affect the other type or even the other Pasture Area.

The CASTLES can give any of the 4 type of bonuses once per game. We start the game from one of the Castles. Since, each of 4 Castles will give us different bonus as the starting resource, that becomes one of setup variables.

Each player can choose differently or we can use suggested variant where all players have to agree on the same starting Castles. Somehow, I always forget to put a circle of the bonus from Castles in the Castles space. Not that it really matters.

The CITY type will give us WORKERS. As mentioned earlier, having a Worker allows us to change the pip value in later turns so we don’t get stuck.

These has the most space, with up to 8 Workers. The reason is because other than completing a City Area, we can also get Worker if we cannot use any of the dice combination.

I assume this is considered as unlimited but the game doesn’t really say clearly. While I was in situation where I got consecutive unlucky rolls that I cannot do anything with and generate a lot of workers, I don’t think we will need more than 8.

The RIVER or blue type will give us COMMODITY if we complete an area of blue hexes. The commodity does not actively help us when we take any action.

However, we can activate SELL COMMODITY bonus when we roll that double hourglass at the start of the turn. By doing so, we cross the Commodity, and in return we get a silver, circle one, and get 2 points per commodity immediately.

As mentioned before, that double hourglass may or may not happen after we get the commodity.  This additional action is not considered as activating a one time bonus per turn.

Also, this is an optional thing, which is weird. We can sell everything or not at all. The thing is, there is no reason not to sell the commodity immediately. In fact, we want to because the possibility of no more double hourglass.

This is different than the other 2 versions. On those games, we can sell multiple commodities and get more rewards. That is not the case here for those who are familiar with the other versions of Burgundy.

NOTE: We cannot sell commodities we just got in the same turn when we get the double hourglass. The Selling part happens before we use a combination of 2 dice to complete that River area.

So, we can only sell them in later turns if we do get that double hourglass again. This is the reason why we want to complete any River area as soon as possible.

The MINE or gray area will give us SILVER. The bonus area has more icons for Silver than the number of area with gray hexes because of the commodities.

Silver allow us to do extra action per turn. What it means is, usually, every turn we only get to use one combination of color and pips from 4 dice. By spending Silver, we get to use another different combination of those 4 dice.

So, if, let’s say we roll a 2, a 4, an orange and a blue. We can first use a 2 and orange then as the additional action, we can use the blue with either number or the orange with 4.

It is possible to roll double of the same pips and double the color. For that, we can consider the same combinations as using a different dice. This is definitely very useful especially when trying to complete Pasture or City Areas.

It doesn’t have to be the same type or for the same area. We can also complete let’s say two purple hexes from two different areas. This is definitely very useful at the end of earlier rounds as we can get higher points when completing areas with more than 1 hex.

NOTE: spending silver is considered as spending one bonus. If we do spend this during our turn, we cannot change the pips using Worker or the color using Monk.

The last is the MONASTERY or the purple which will give us MONK. This is like the Worker but instead of changing the pips value, we change the color of one dice.

I don’t know about the board game but clearly we don’t have this with the card version. Monks will be useful when get stuck with hex surrounded with just one type or one color.

We clearly want to avoid that but there is a starting Castle that can lead us to this situation very early. Unlike getting more Workers which can happen if we just pass, we cannot get Monks unless we complete any of the Monastery or the Castle.

Only the B duchy has 3 spots for Monks while the other duchies can have up to 4, aside from the castle.

The bottom middle part of the sheet actually has icons to remind us what the bonuses are for. While for me who already played this game a lot, I can easily understand the icons.

However, for some people, I think some of them can be misleading or really need further information. For example, the icon says that spending a Silver will give us 2 x and two dices. It doesn’t specify that we need to use different combination.

They could have printed a summary on that carton sheet of the writing pad.

Timer / Round Track

On the right most part of the sheet, we can find the ROUND TRACK at the top and the Scoring Track at the bottom. Between that is the reminder of Round Bonus Points.

As we can see the round track has 3 columns, that represent 3 rounds. Each round, we can see an hourglass symbol and a roman numeric number from 1 to 3. Then, each column also has 10 white squares.

What we will do is every turn, we roll that Hourglass dice and we take a note either 1 or double hourglass. We do that by crossing these squares, one per hourglass.

This is how each round we can get between 5 to 10 turns. After we have filled the entire column that round ends and after we have filled all 3 columns, the game ends.

NOTE: when we are about to fill the last square of earlier rounds, even if we roll double hourglass, we don’t proceed to the next round. So, in this case, the double hourglass is just to trigger the selling commodities.

I also recommend crossing two squares at once for the double hourglass instead of one cross for each square. This can help to remind us or the roller because it is easy to forget if we get distracted.

In multiplayer mode, only the one who rolls the dice should take note on the round track. However, I still think it is beneficial for other player to do the same with their sheet. This can help all players to remember how many turns left so they can take a calculated risk without asking the roller over and over again.

In Solo variant, the game recommends using the same number of turns, with just 8 per rounds regardless of what we roll. The double hourglass is just to trigger the selling action.

For that, we can just cross two rows of those square boxes.

Round Bonus Points

This is signature to any game version of The Castles of Burgundy. If we can complete an objective, or an area of the same hexes in earlier rounds, we will get higher points. The card game give us different bonus but with higher amount for earlier rounds.

As we can see, for each column or round, we will also get higher points if we complete an area with more hexes. With the exception for just one hex, the values are decreasing in later rounds.

2 hexes, we will get from 4 points, 3 points, then 2 points.
3 hexes, we will get from 8 points, 6 points then 4 points.
4 hexes, we will get from 13 points, 10 points, 7 points.

The shape of the actual area doesn’t need to match the indicated shape of this part. The type of the building has their own characteristic regarding how many hexes they can have in an area.

CASTLES: 1 hex
PASTURE: 1 – 2 hexes
CITY: 1 – 4 hexes
RIVER: 2 hexes (mostly), or 1-3 hexes
MINE: 2 hexes
MONASTERY: 1-3 hexes.

What those rewards tell us is the priority. We can always complete an area with just a single hex in the final round without losing any point.

The first priority if we want to score very high should be MONASTERY, CITY or RIVER with 3 hexes or more. That is, of course, just one consideration.

Bonuses are another consideration. I think we should avoid RIVER with 3 hexes because of the bonus that we need to get as early as we can.

It is not that we always have a clear choice, considering there is still a random factor from the dice. But if we break down the ratio between hex to victory points, maybe it can be easier to figure out our strategy. Here are the breakdowns.

Round 1
1 hex : 1 VP
2 hexes: 4 VP (1:2)
3 hexes: 8 VP (1:2.6)
4 hexes: 13 VP (1:3.25)

Round 2
1 hex: 1 VP (1:1)
2 hexes: 3 VP (1:1.5)
3 hexes: 6 VP (1:2)
4 hexes: 10 VP (1:2.5)

Round 3:
1 hex: 1 VP (1:1)
2 hexes: 2 VP (1:1)
3 hexes: 4 VP (1:1.33)
4 hexes: 7 VP (1:1.75)

What we need to pay attention to is if we fail to complete a bigger area in previous round, is it still worth it in the next round? An easy example is that completing a 2 hexes in final round only gives us 2 VP.

The ratio is the same as just completing one hex or 1:1. If we can complete a 4 hexes in first round, we get 3.25 points per hex. However, if we fail, we get only 2.5 points per hex, which is less than if we just complete 3 hexes in earlier round.

Completing a 3 hexes in second round is still better than 4 hexes in final round. Even if we do get less VP in earlier rounds but then, in later rounds, we can probably use the same number of action to score even more.

Based on that, we should focus on completing 3 hexes during first round, and move to 2 hexes during the second. Along the way we can try to complete halfway of the others and try to finish them in final round.

Again, there are other things to consider. This is also a fast game that even if we gamble a bit and try to finish 4 hexes right away, it really doesn’t matter.

Scoring Track

At the bottom right corner of the sheet, we can find the Scoring Track. Like the Round track and Round bonus points above it, the Scoring track has 3 big columns where we can write any victory points we get for each round.

So, when we are done with the first round, we move the writing on the second column and so on. It doesn’t really matter if we want to track the score differently like just using the left most track.

What matters is just as long as we remember that different round will give us different points depending on the hexes per area.

The horizontal part at the bottom of each column is meant for the total score for each round. If we use laminated sheet, since the tip of marker is too big, most of the time I need to use more than the provided columns. It is possible when I have to write above these scoring tracks.

On the left side of this scoring track, we can see a letter, A, B, C, or D, that indicates which duchy or sheet variant we are currently using. We can also see a big star space with a question mark inside it.

This is to write the FINAL SCORE. We add the total score from each column and write it there,

Inside the first column of the scoring track, they already print a number “1”. This is because we will start the game from one of the Castles which is an area of just 1 hex.

So, that number one comes from the starting castle and it counts for the total score. Unless, of course, all players agree to just ignore it. So, at least, all players will have 1 point at the end of the game.

I guess it kind of giving an example of how we should write the score but I think the font size should be a bit smaller.

First Time Bonus Points

At the three other corner of the giant hex, we can see small icons showing one type or color of the building with two numbers below it. This is for the first time bonuses.

In this game, like the other version of The Castles of Burgundy game, we are not just racing against the game with the timer but against other players as well. The first one to complete all hexes of one color will get the bigger score of the two.

Regardless of the duchy variants, the bonuses are the same. Here are the details.

Monastery (Purple), 7 hexes: 4 (1st) / 2 (2nd) points
Mine (Gray), 4 hexes: 3 / 1 points
River (Blue), 6 hexes: 4 / 2 points
City (Orange), 9 hexes: 6 / 3 points
Castle (Green), 4 hexes: 3 / 1 points
Pasture (Yellow), 7 hexes: 4 / 2 points

The way it works is that the first player who manage to complete all hexes of one color, they need to announce it at the end of the turn. That player will get the first time bonus and write it on the Scoring track.

It doesn’t matter in which column. We can get the bonus in any round.

The other players then need to cross that reward to remind them that the bonus has been taken. The others can then try to score the 2nd bonus of that color.

It is possible that more than one player complete it within the same turn. If that is the case, they all get the full amount of points but the second bonus remain available.

That means the rest of the players can still try to get the second bonus. It is also possible that this second bonus is claimed by multiple players. Like the first time bonus, they will get the full amount as well.

Then, all players need to cross the second bonus. No other player will get extra points for that color anymore.

The solo variant is a bit different. If we want to get the First Time Bonus, we need to complete them during either first or second round. We only get the second place if we complete them during the final round.

Based on the number of points that we can get per hex, maybe it is better to pursue some building types over the others. The highest ratio would be from either the Castle (Green) or Mine (Gray), which we will get 0.75 points per hex if we manage to complete them first.

The next are either the River (Blue) or City (Orange) which we will get about 0.67 points per hex. Then the last is from either Monastery (Purple) or Pasture (Yellow), which we can get 0.58 points per hex.

However, that is just from one consideration. We also need to consider the spatial aspect of the hexes. While the total number of hexes for one type remains the same but the location is probably not very close from one to another.

Then there is an issue of the starting point or the Starting Castle. It may not be a problem for either A or B variant of the sheet. The C and D is a bit more challenging, especially if we start from the Castle with a Silver.

As I said earlier, this is actually the aspect of the game that I tend to forget. Mostly because, we need at least 6 turns before we complete any of these. That is assuming we are very lucky and get all the rolls we need each turn.

The game is so fast and kind of addicting, especially if we get what we want right away. Unless we take a break, we just want to keep rolling and writing. Which is why the round is very useful. But at the same time the bonus can be triggered before the round ends.

I guess, the roller or one player needs to keep asking and reminding all players every turn.

The Duchy Area

This is the main part of the game, the giant hexagon in the middle of the writing pad. Each of these 4 variants will have 37 smaller hexes with the same number of hexes for each type. The difference is just the location and the shape configuration of each area.

Each of the small hexes will have identical illustration and color for each building type and a small 0.45 x 0.45 cm space to write on. We are mostly will be writing a number in that space from the pips value of the dice.

The exception would be the Castles. Instead of white blank space, each Castles will have icon that represent the bonus we can get. The game still suggests us to write a number on that icon, though.

I think it is kind of hard to read the number because the color is a bit too dark. For me, who use the laminated sheet, I really don’t care about the art.

So, I just write on the hex, not specifically just that white space, covering the illustration. In the end, as long as we can still tell the colors, that would be enough.

In this dice game, players will be trying to expand their duchy area starting from the chosen Castle. We are doing that by making decision on which direction are we going to explore the duchy area.

The restriction is that we can only explore the new hex from the existing hexes. So, we have at least 6 possible directions to explore and each new hexes will open to new opportunity,

However, whether we can access the nearby hexes is dictated by the rolled color and pips dice. As mentioned before, each building type or color requires different pips value.

Only when the rolled dice can make the right combination and color, we can use them to explore that specific hex. We mark the hex by writing the corresponding number to indicate we have explored to that hex.

So, the first thing we want to do is opening more opportunity. The opportunity is based on whether we can use the rolled dice to explore or not.

Even from choosing the Starting Castle, we already can see that the opportunity from one Castle is different from the other. One Castle can be surrounded by 6 hexes but not 6 different colors.

The more colors that are available in the surrounding hexes, the easier we get to explore the area. If we cannot use any combination of the dice, we get stuck, not exploring and get a Worker instead.

As mentioned before, each of 4 variants will have the same number of building types each with the same number of hexes. The basic suggested setup is that all players will be using the same duchy variant.

The only differences is the starting Castles and the bonus we can get. As the basic setup, all players can choose randomly. While players can chose the same starting castle and get the same value of dice, they can still make different decision. It is just a matter who is more efficient.

Even if they also choose the same color of nearby hexes, if the hexes have different location, the next nearby hexes can open a different opportunity. The time and how they activate their bonus between players can also add the variety.

With 37 hexes, we get between 15 to 30 turns to fill those hexes, depending on the hourglass we roll. If we can get 7 possible Silver, that can add 7 more hexes and possibly complete all of the hexes.

So, if during the game even with just one double hourglass, it is already impossible to complete everything. But that is also how we can get more Silver. So, it is really impossible to happen.

Getting 60 points is already great and 70 is almost impossible.

The first plan should be going inward to the middle of the hexes. This will give us more opportunity than just exploring the outer hexes. We can leave them the last.

Always try to choose the hexes that are surrounded by more colors. Then, at least make sure that we have enough bonus, especially Workers or Monk.

Duchy A

The first variant, or duchy A is considered the easiest. At least the game recommends using this for the first time playing the game.

All of the starting Castles are placed relatively very symmetric. However, the surroundings and the starting bonus are different.

If we start from the Castle with a Commodity, it is surrounded by only three different colors, orange, yellow, and blue. I guess the first thing to do is try to go south east so we can have access to a green and purple.

Somehow all of the gray areas are at the two different corners. We just need another purple to the south and at least we can access the gray area.

From this starting Castle, we need 7 hexes to complete the Green, 10 for Purple, 8 for Gray, 8 for Blue, 11 for Yellow and 14 for Orange.

This starting Castle has the best access to complete the most first time bonus compared to other castle. Also, this is the closest one to complete the area with four hexes.

However, compared to others, this is the easiest to get stuck as well. The starting Silver would be nice if we get double hourglass early but it still needs the right combination of color and pips.

The next thing we want to get is definitely the castle with Worker because it is the nearest. Completing all of the blue color is probably a must as there will be no competition with other castle.

If we start from the Castle with a Silver, it is also surrounded by only three colors. However, unlike the previous Castle, we have 2 single hex areas that can give us Monk or Worker.

We immediately have silver, so, I think this is easier to complete those 3 orange hexes.

From this starting Castle, we need 7 hexes to complete the Green, 11 for Purple, 8 for Gray, 10 for Blue, 11 for Yellow and 13 for Orange.

Compared to other castles, this starting Castle has a better chance to be the first on completing the orange. Yellow and gray will be a tight competition but we definitely want to try completing the 2 yellow hexes nearby in the first round.

We should go north if we want to access gray area early but I think it is better to go south overall. The south west orange will give us access to blue and green hex.

If we start from the Castle with a Worker, it is surrounded by almost every color, with the exception of green. With the starting worker, we can almost can take any action.

From this starting Castle, we need 7 hexes to complete the Green, 10 for Purple, 8 for Gray, 9 for Blue, 12 for Yellow and 14 for Orange.

While other 2 castles require the same number of hexes to complete all of the gray area, I think this castle has a better chance. We also definitely want to try completing 2 yellow areas with double hexes right away.

The problem with this castle is that it doesn’t have much access to more workers unless if we go south a bit.

If we start from the Castle with a Monk, we immediately have access to 4 colors. The starting bonus can be useful for mostly the orange but we definitely need more worker.

At least, that will give us an access to green.  It will take a while before we can access the gray. I don’t think this is the best castle to start with. Maybe going to west is a better option and we probably should spend the Monk to that direction.

From this starting Castle, we need 7 hexes to complete the Green, 10 for Purple, 9 for Gray, 9 for Blue, 11 for Yellow and 14 for Orange.

Based on that, the best choice to be the first completing all of the same color is just purple and yellow. Both will have competition from other players with different castle.

Duchy B

The B variant is similar to the A where all of the Castles are in rather symmetric position. However, the position of the bonus is different. The unique think about this variant compared to other duchies is that we have less purple areas. Thus, we get less Monks.

With the same number of hexes, it will take longer to even get any bonus at all. The single one is even at the top of the duchy. This could be the hardest variant.

If we start from the Castle with a Monk, it is surrounded by just 2 color, orange and blue. There is a big chance that we might not be able to play anything at the start.

The best use of the Monk is probably to go south east and get access to green, yellow and purple. Even those areas are made of 2 hexes or more.

From this starting Castle, we need 7 hexes to complete the Green, 12 for Purple, 7 for Gray, 8 for Blue, 12 for Yellow and 12 for Orange.

This is the best castle to complete the gray area first compared to from other castles. If we can choose, maybe this is not the best one to start.

We may not be able to be the first on completing all yellow but at least the two area nearby are possible.

If we start from the Castle with a Worker, we get access to 4 different color, purple, blue, yellow and gray. With worker as the starting bonus, we have less chance on getting stuck if we get green or orange.

We can probably save that single blue area for the start of the last round at least. It is probably a better idea to just go for the blue on the south west area.

Then, it is just one step ahead to access the orange with just 2 hexes compared to if we go north.

From this starting Castle, we need 7 hexes to complete the Green, 10 for Purple, 8 for Gray, 7 for Blue, 11 for Yellow and 12 for Orange.

I think this one has the best chance on completing all of the blue areas. If we do start with yellow, maybe we can go for 3 blue hexes immediately.

It is also possible to complete all 3 yellow areas with 2 hexes but it’s a bit too much I guess.

If we start from the Castle with a Silver, we only have access to three colors, gray, blue and purple. We probably need to think carefully at the start of the game and make sure that we can spend the silver to do double action.

That is, of course, if we are lucky enough. Also, we probably want to make sure that we can expand more with those two actions.

For example, if we do get a good combination of purple and blue, we should use the purple first to go east and use the blue to further go to east. This one really challenge us to think two steps ahead.

While going north give us access to another castle with Monk, it is surrounded by just 2 colors with 3 or 4 hexes. It is easier later if we go to east.

From this starting Castle, we need 7 hexes to complete the Green, 11 for Purple, 7 for Gray, 8 for Blue, 11 for Yellow and 12 for Orange.

So, this one has the better chance on completing yellow, because it is near that one single yellow hex at the bottom. But it still need that extra 2 action just for that hex.

We can probably go for the gray as well, complete the two yellow in the middle and go for the other 2 gray area at the top.

If we start from the Castle with a Commodity, we can immediately access three different color, blue, yellow, orange and purple. That starting bonus, though, we may still get stuck early in the game.

Going north first is probably the better idea so we can get access to green and more workers. This is just one step ahead to access the gray area. Then, we might want to go west.

If we are lucky enough with our several starting roll, this could be the best to start. At least, this is a better castle to get more workers not from just passing but from completing orange areas.

From this starting Castle, we need 7 hexes to complete the Green, 10 for Purple, 9 for Gray, 8 for Blue, 11 for Yellow and 12 for Orange.

We have enough competition if we try to chase the bonus from purple or yellow. So, from this castle, we might not be able to complete every hexes of a single color but we have easier access to smaller areas.

Duchy c

This one doesn’t have any area with 4 hexes. The starting Castles are asymmetric compared to A or B.

If we start from the Castle with Silver, that is at the top most of the duchy. We first need to go south, then either to west to get green and yellow or to the east to get access to blue and yellow.

Maybe going to east is a better choice since we have more access to purple. We definitely should try to complete the nearest yellow area with 2 hexes in the first round.

From this starting Castle, we need 7 hexes to complete the Green, 13 for Purple, 8 for Gray, 10 for Blue, 13 for Yellow and 11 for Orange.

If we start from the Castle with Commodity, it is surrounded by 3 colors only, gray, orange and yellow. If we are lucky enough to immediately sell the commodity and get Silver, we want to use it to open more opportunities.

That is if we do roll either of the three color. We definitely want to go to south east and get access to purple, blue and green.

This is one of the closest one to complete 2 Yellow areas with 2 hexes. If we can get them in the first round, we can get 16 points. That extra silver at the start can definitely help.

This castle is probably not the best choice for this duchy. We only have better chance to complete the gray area first.

From this starting Castle, we need 7 hexes to complete the Green, 14 for Purple, 6 for Gray, 10 for Blue, 12 for Yellow and 12 for Orange.

If we start from the Castle with Worker, this is closest to the center of the duchy. It is the best one to be the first for completing all of the colors. Or even, probably the best spot overall.

Also, this spot is surrounded by 5 different colors. With the help of that one Worker, we can definitely get any action. Unless of course if we roll double green.

So, the first thing should be going north west by completing one yellow hexes so we can get access to another green. The next step should be getting Monk from the nearby Purple.

We definitely want to try to complete the Yellow. At least, this is the best starting Castle to complete all 3 Yellow areas with 2 hexes. They are the same as completing 3 hexes.

From this starting Castle, we need 7 hexes to complete the Green, 12 for Purple, 6 for Gray, 8 for Blue, 11 for Yellow and 12 for Orange.

If we start from the Castle with Monk, this is probably the most difficult one to start. It is at the edge and only surrounded by 3 colors, orange, blue and purple.

Even after the first move, we only find one more color and that is Yellow. We still need one more turn to access green and gray. After reaching that second green, it gets easier.

We definitely want to get more Monks and use them to complete that 3 hexes of oranges in the first round. The 2 Yellow nearby is nice if we can complete in the first round as well.

Starting from here is less likely to be the first to complete all of the same color. We can still go for Purple, though.

From this starting Castle, we need 7 hexes to complete the Green, 12 for Purple, 8 for Gray, 10 for Blue, 12 for Yellow and 12 for Orange.

Duchy D

The Starting Castles from the D variant are also a bit asymmetric. If we start from the Castle with a Silver, that is at the top most of the giant hexagon.

We probably have hard time trying to be the first completing yellow, gray or purple areas from this location. At best, we can go for the first to complete a Green (6 hexes) or gray (8 hexes). For yellow we need 13 hexes,  10 hexes for blue, 12 for purple, 14 for orange.

This starting Castle is surrounded with just 3 different colors of hexes, Yellow, Purple and Orange.

If we do get double Yellow or a Yellow with 2 pips with the same value, we can immediately complete the nearby Pasture area and get 8 points. However, this only leads to another Green.

If we are lucky enough and get Purple immediately with 1 or 2 from the pips, we can then get a Monk from the nearby single purple hex. This will definitely help to secure more turns since we can always just change to Orange and fill some of the nearby City with any number.

If we start from Castles with Worker, we get access to also 3 different colors. But one of them is the City with 2 single hex area that can only give us more workers.

I think from this starting castle, going north is a better strategy where we can get easy Monk and another Castle with Silver. By completing the City on the right, we get access to three different color already, purple, blue and gray. That is if we are lucky enough to get Orange immediately.

This is the closest location to complete 2 double Yellow hexes.  We can get 16 points if we are lucky enough to complete them in first round.

From this starting Castle, we need 6 hexes for completing Green, 12 for Yellow, 12 for Purple, 8 for Blue, 8 for Gray, 13 for Orange.

If we start from Castle with Commodities, we have immediate access to four different colors, which is the most compared to other Castles. However, there is still a chance that we get either green or gray at the start and we cannot do anything with it.

It is a gamble but if we roll double hourglass immediately, we get Silver and 2 points. We just need a blue and orange and we already get access to all of the colors.

I think going east or the right side is a better option as we can get access to more purple. However, this is the closest location to complete area with 3 purple hexes.

This is also the closest to the center of the duchy. We can also try to complete Yellow on the north west part and get 8 in the first round.

Maybe this is the best option if we choose to start but we can lose focus with too many options.

From this starting Castle, we need 6 hexes for completing Green, 13 for Yellow, 11 for Purple, 9 for Blue, 6 for Gray, 13 for Orange.

If we start from Castle with Monk, we get access to just 3 colors, purple, orange and blue. I think this is the only starting location where we can complete an area with 4 hexes during first round and get 13 points.

We definitely should use those monk to complete the City area with 4 hexes. From this starting Castle, we should go south west first and make sure we can get more Monk.

From this starting Castle, we need 6 hexes for completing Green, 15 for Yellow, 10 for Purple, 9 for Blue, 6 for Gray, 14 for Orange.

That is it with all of the components we need to play The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game.

How to Play

The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game is essentially a multiplayer solitaire game. Regardless of the number of players, the rule is basically the same.

We can even play with more than the supported player count at the same time. The box says 5 players but that is because they only include 5 pencils in the box.

The rulebook also have a solo mode but I consider it just a different variant of how we can score. It is just easier to use that variant for comparing scores with our previous plays.

Here is a playthrough video by Tom from Slickerdrips channel for The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game. Find more videos to play along here.

Setup

First. Each player will take 1 PENCIL or pen or marker. The game doesn’t provide it but I do recommend using eraser not because of cheating but preventing illegal move.

Second. Each player will take 1 sheet of the WRITING PAD. All players will be using the same duchy variant either all A, all B, all C or all D.

The game suggests using the A if there is any new players. Later, the group can decide to play again with either the same one or different variant.

Third. One player will be taking all 5 DICE and rolls those dice for the entire session.

The game suggests the owner of the game to do it. We are not going to pass the dice to the other players.

Fourth.  Each player must choose their STARTING CASTLE from one of the green hex of their sheet. We should mark it by crossing the resource or bonus icon of that green hex.

Players should keep their choice as a secret. As the basic setup, they can choose differently from the 4 possible Castle. Multiple players can start with the same one.

Fifth. Each player then should mark their STARTING BONUS or RESOURCES based on the chosen Castle. We do that by circling the bonus on the left side of the page, next to the green hex area.

It is very common that we will mark the bonus from different row like the worker from the City. It really doesn’t matter but by following the rules, it will help remind the player when they complete all of their Castle.

That is it with the setup and we are ready to play the game.

Gameplay

The game will take place over 3 phases. Each phases consists of multiple rounds of dice rolling from 5 to 10 rounds. In this article, I’m referring PHASE from the rulebook as ROUND and ROUND from the rulebook as TURNS.

Each turn, the owner of the dice will roll all 5 dice and players will take action based on the same result of the rolled dice. We do it by writing on our sheet simultaneously.

The turn order is as follows.

One. Check the round or time marker.
Two. Activate Sell Action (Optional).
Three. Use the Bonus (Optional).
Four. Take Action.
Five. Gain Points and Bonus (Conditional).
Six. Gain First Time Points (Conditional).

When we have reached the final turns of the third rounds, the game ends and we proceed to scoring.

Time/ Round Marker

We need to check off the amount of rolled hourglasses in the current round’s time column from top to bottom. If we rolled single hourglass, we mark a single box from the column and two boxes for double hourglasses.

For the two boxes, I recommend crossing both boxes with a single cross instead of using two. This can help remind us whether we have crossed it or not.

The game suggests just the one who roll the dice but I recommend all players to keep track on their sheet as well. Alternatively, the one who roll the dice should announce how many turns ahead before it reach the end of round.

If there is just 1 box left of any given round and we roll double hourglasses, we don’t start the next round or phase. We still only mark the last box.

Selling Commodity

This only happens when we roll the double hourglasses or the blue one. The roller should announce it to all of the players.

Any players who has a COMMODITY either from the Castle hex or the River hex can activate the sell action. What it means is they trade all of their commodities into 2 Victory points and 1 Silver per commodity

We cross the previously circled commodities and then write 2 VP per commodity on the Scoring track of our sheet. Then we also circle 1 Silver per commodity from the gray hex of the left side of the sheet.

This Selling action is optional. Players can choose to sell all or nothing.

Taking Action

In general, players will only do one action per turn. Taking action means choosing the one nearby hex from the existing or starting hex.

That means each new hex we explored will open to more opportunity of more hexes.

We can only choose the hex based on using a combination of 1 color die and 1 pip dice from the 4 rolled dice. Each color or type of hex may require different pip value that we can find from the left side of the sheet.

Purple: 1 or 2
Gray: 3 or 4
Blue: 5 or 6
Orange: any number but different number in the same area
Green: any number but the number must already have been marked in an adjacent hex of that Castle.
Yellow: any number but the same number as the Yellow hex in the same area.

Each player then mark that hex by writing the rolled pip value. It is possible that a player cannot use any combinations from the rolled dice.

In that case, we can try using the bonus (See below) or pass. Passing in this game means that we will get a WORKER. We circle any unused worker icon next to the orange hex on the left side of the page.

Using Bonus

Each turn, players can spend just one bonus, either MONK, WORKER or SILVER if we still have some unused bonus on the left side of the sheet. We cross that previously circled icon to indicate that we are using it this turn.

MONKS (PURPLE) allows us to change one of the color dice to any color.

WORKER (ORANGE) allows us to change one pip dice to any value that we want.

SILVER (GRAY) allows us to use a different combination of one pip and one color dice to take one additional action. In other words, we can mark 2 hexes in a single turn.

Using the same color but different pip value from another dice is considered as different combination. The same goes with using the same pip but different color.

Activating the bonus doesn’t actually change the dice. The change only apply to the player who spent the bonus.

Remember that we can only spend one bonus. As an example, after we have changed the color of one dice with MONK, we cannot take additional action to mark the second hex using SILVER.

That means, it is possible that even if we change a pip value or a color, we still cannot do any action. We have to make sure that before we spend the bonus, we can actually take an action.

This is why we need the eraser.

Gain Points and Bonus

We will gain bonus and Victory Points once we have completed an area. An area is a group of adjacent hexes with the same color which can be from single hex up to 4 hexes.

Each color of the hex will give us specific bonus. Monk for purple, Silver for Gray, Worker for Orange, Commodity for Blue and the Castle can give any of those 4 bonuses once per game.

Yellow will just give double points from the base reward of that specific area. We mark the bonus by circling the unused icons from the left side of the sheet in corresponding color or row.

The points that we can get can vary depending on the number of hexes from that area and the current round. If we can complete an area in the first round, we will get higher bonus with the same number of hexes in an area.

We can find the scoring detail for each round from the right side of the sheet. Here are they.

Round 1
1 hex: 1 point
2 hex: 4 points
3 hex: 8 points
4 hex: 13 points

Round 2
1 hex: 1 point
2 hex: 3 points
3 hex: 6 points
4 hex: 10 points

Round 3
1 hex: 1 point
2 hex: 2 points
3 hex: 4 points
4 hex: 7 points

So, we write the amount of points in the scoring track. The sheet provide each round with its own scoring column. We can write wherever we want as long as we know for sure the points that we get.

Gain Extra Points for Completed Colors

We can also earn extra points by being the first (or second) to complete all hexes of the same color. When a player marks the final hex of that color from their duchy, they will announce it at the end of the turn.

That player gets extra victory points according to the corresponding small star space which they add to their scoring track. The other players then check off that number as a reminder that these victory points have already been taken.

This is the only interaction between players in the game.

It is possible that multiple players can fill the final hex of the same color at the same turn. In that case, all of those players will get full points and the second reward remains available.

It is also possible that the second reward are claimed by multiple players as well. After that second reward, no other player will get extra points for that color.

The rulebook doesn’t say anything about forgetting to announce it. I say the player will lose their right to claim the bonus if they forget to announce it.

However, for the first play, the owner should be the one to ask every player. The earliest that can happen is the sixth turn, so the owner should ask every next roll before rolling.

Game Ends and Scoring

The game ends after completing the final turn of dice rolling in the 3rd round. We check off the final box of the third column in round track and let all players take their action.

Each player adds up the subtotals of points from each round and enters the total amount in the big star space.

Whoever has the most victory points wins the game.

In case of a tie, the player with the most remaining bonuses wins. That means circled spaces that haven’t been checked off.

If there is still a tie, the game ends with multiple winners.

Variants

The game suggests several variants that we can try, including the solo variant.

For the multiplayer mode, the rule suggests 2 variants. One is all players will still use the same duchy but they have to agree on to use the same starting Castle. If they cannot decide which, the owner will choose.

Two, all players will use the same duchy but they will use different starting Castles. The owner gets to choose first followed by the next player in clockwise order. That means this variant only support up to 4 players.

The last is the Solo variant which is a game to beat your own score. The game plays like regular mode with a couple of tweaks.

One. Each round always consists of 8 turns. The double hourglass only means that we can do sell action.

Two. If we can complete all hexes of one color we can still get the extra points. However, we only get the first bonus if we can complete them during the first or second round.

We will only get the second reward if we complete them in the third or final round. Here are some achievement level that the game suggested.

50 points or more: Well done!
60 points or more: Excellent!
70 points or more: Incredible!

That is it with how to play The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game.

My Experience & Thoughts

Even though in this article, I tried to figure out the most efficient way to win this game, it doesn’t mean it’s going to work. Mostly because of the dice, the random or luck factor of the game.

There are some session where I got stuck multiple times, even consecutively and at the start of the game. As a result I got more than enough Workers that I don’t know what to use them for.

Even if we try to accumulate workers and diversify them by collecting Monk as well, we still can get stuck because we still need a good combination between color and pip value. Considering that we can only use one bonus every turn, sometimes it feels kind of useless to have.

If they say that in The Castles of Burgundy, there is no bad dice roll, that is just for the board and card game version. That is not the case here with the dice version.

What is worse is that using Silver is also considered as using bonus. So, it kind of gets in the way. What it means is, in the other 2 version, we will mostly have a good experience but some session of the dice game will feel unsatisfying.

We cannot just accumulate bonuses and get something in the end. The remaining unused resources should generate points at the end of the game, not just as a tie breaker.

I don’t know how impactful that would be considering that we can get like between 40 to 60 points in this game. At least, that would be a better translation from the board or card game version.

I think this is still a strategy game where we should have more long term plan to win the game. However, the luck dictates a lot and it seems it will be more fun when we just play tactically.

For example, someone suggests that we should try to complete blue area as as the first thing to do. That is because we need several additional turns from getting the commodity and turn it into silver and spend the silver.

That is objectively a reasonable plan. However, when I tried that strategy, then the roll just didn’t give the right combination for the blue.

There was a game where I already started one hex of the blue area and ended up not finishing it at all. Even if I did, I didn’t have enough turns to spend the Silver.

It is true that this is a filler game that can be played really fast. It is possible that we want to play multiple times in a row but it is still not going to be that good.

Some turns, the decision is obvious because we have no choice. I don’t deny that in some others, it is not an easy choice, which makes the game an interesting one.

To the point that we will have a complex turn with double hourglass, and bonus additional action. The thing we need to consider can be a deep one that can make us lose track.

I have some experience where I forgot whether I have crossed off the timer or not. Forgetting to gain points after completing a Castle or all 4 Castles is very common for me.

Most of the time, I forgot about it because I tried to think several turns ahead.  Then, when I’m about to make a decision, I don’t remember whether I have spent the resources or not.

Which is why I recommend all players should track the timer and use a single cross for 2 boxes when double hourglass is rolled. These kind of details can help us keep track.

Considering that this is mostly a multiplayer solitaire game, it is possible that any player can make illegal action without anybody notice it. Not that they want to cheat but because they just forget.

The rule doesn’t really suggest how we should play. Maybe we are supposed to share our decision every turn? I assume that is not the case since the rule actually specify players to make announcement for certain things like the first time bonus points.

I guess, it is not about being very restricted with the game and just have fun. If so, I think we can just play with different duchy variant since we will not be comparing at all.

Also, if we do share our decision with other players, by using the same duchy, it is possible that other players can just copy them all. Maybe the designer should have let the Castle have a blank space instead of fixed location of bonuses.

Players can then decide or randomly choose the position. They can even use the card drafting mechanism where after we decided on the starting location, we pass our sheet. Then the opponent will decide location of one bonus.

That way, the game will have more replay value. They can just tell player to put a number from 1 to 4 where 1 is Monk, 2 is Worker, etc..

Maybe for Castle they can use two spots to write on. It is also problematic to write a number on any Castle using just a pencil.

As it is, I think the game is good enough. Just thought that there are a couple of possible and easy improvement that can be done for the game.

It seems like a strategic game with occasionally planning several steps ahead but with the dice roll, it is more fun just play it tactically. In fact, maybe it will be more heartbreaking when we cannot execute our long term plan just because the luck from rolling the dice.

Somehow I still think that it is not that difficult to combine these 2 smaller versions of The Castles of Burgundy. I do wish the fixed duchy from the dice version can be incorporated to the card game.

Like those Century: Spice Road or Golem game. We can combine those by deactivate the features from each game.

That means, the sheet from the dice game can be the player board. In the card game, we always have to create a set of three but if we use that duchy from the dice game, we can score from just a single card up to a set of 4.

But, if anything, we are just getting the board game version but with different component.

Conclusion

The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game is the roll and write version of The Castles of Burgundy. This use the Bingo mechanism where one player will roll 5 dice and all players will be making decision based on that same result.

Each player will get a pencil and a sheet of paper as their player board where we can write on as part of the decision process. This board has giant hex made of 37 hexes.

Thematically, we will be building our duchy or castle area, starting with a chosen Castle and try to explore nearby area. In order to explore nearby area we need to use a combination of one color dice with the right pip value.

Each area has one or more hexes with the same color or building type and there are 6 different colors each with its own requirement for pip values. We will be using 5 dice from which 2 are to determine the color and two for the pip value. One last dice is for the timer.

So every roll, we can get up to 4 possible combinations of one color and one value. If we can get a match combination with the requirement from nearby area, we can explore and build.

The main idea of the game is to keep sprawling so the nearby area will be bigger and have more variety. This way, we can reduce the possibility of a bad roll.

If we cannot use any of the combination, we pass and as compensation, we get a Worker. This is one of the bonus that allow us to change the pip value of one dice in later turns.

There are other bonuses that allow us to change the color and to take additional turns. We get them by completing a single area with one or more adjacent hexes with the same color.

That means, we cannot just exploring further. Sometimes we need to take time and complete an area in order to get bonus so it can give us more flexibility.

So, there is a bit of resource management. Everytime we get a bonus we make notes on the player sheet and cross them when we want to spend the bonus.

The challenge is that each turn, we can only activate one bonus from three different types of bonus that we can spend. If we change the color, we cannot change the pip value or do double action in the same turn or vice versa.

There will be times when the bonus will be useless because of both color and value are wrong and we can only change one of them. At the end, unused bonuses will not generate any points and just become a tie breaker.

A well known characteristic of Burgundy game in any version, is that the game is played in multiple rounds. If we can complete an area or objective in earlier rounds, we get more points with the same effort. That also applies in this dice version.

So, each turn, we have to make choice from three different considerations. Do we explore, complete an area to get more bonus or just to gain more points?

With the limitation of using just one bonus every turn and the randomness of dice rolling, while we can make a strategy, we will be mostly playing tactically. Unlike the other 2 versions, there is a bad roll in this dice version, which is not a good experience.

Some may say that the luck doesn’t matter because the playtime is short and we probably want to play again right away with very short setup time. I feel like it is more enjoyable if we don’t try to plan ahead.

However, we still will plan a couple turns ahead occasionally. Some turns is fast because it is the only option while others can take longer because it can open to more opportunities. It feels bad when the dice just doesn’t help us execute the plan.

The game comes with 4 variant of sheets and each time we can choose to start from 4 different starting Castle. Some starting Castles are better than others.

They also suggest some variants to play the game which don’t give any significant change. Like most of roll and write games, this one can be considered as a multiplayer solitaire game.

The only interaction is who gets to be the first on completing all hexes of the same color. We can play alone or with as many players as we can, as long as each of them has the sheet.

I don’t think the game has enough replay value. But it is very portable that we can play while travelling.

While it is not as good as the other version of the game mostly because of the randomness, The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game can still offer some depth in the gameplay.

More Games

There are a lot of other games in this roll and write genre. Unfortunately, this is my first one so, I cannot recommend other games for sure that share the same experience with The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game in general.

On BoardGameGeek.com, we can look for more similar games in these two categories, Roll and Write Mechanism or Paper-and-Pencil Mechanism. Some titles that I’m interested in are Railroad Ink, Fleet the Dice Game, Trails of Tucana, Troyes Dice, Hadrian’s Wall, On Tour, Welcome to…, and many more.

Maybe someday I have the chance to try them out and write a review on this site. Stay tuned.

In the mean time, here are other games that I have played so far. I think some of them share some similarities with this dice game.

For me, what makes The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game interesting are the spatial puzzle, combined with set collection and resource management. Some people may like the City Building theme in medieval setting.

If we like the theme, maybe we can also try The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game. While there is an issue with excessive use of cards, I still think the card game is a better one.

The card game does not have the spatial puzzle but it offers more interesting resource management aspect and better way to mitigate the randomness. Of course we can try the board game version to experience both elements better.

Walking in Burano is another card game with set collection element and spatial puzzle. This is definitely have more player interaction than the dice game of Burgundy.

Another set collection with spatial puzzle that I have tried is Circle the Wagons. Even though it is not a roll and write, and just for 2 players, it is a micro game that we can play almost in the same playtime.

We can also try Café. It is another card game with melding and splaying mechanism, so, there is spatial puzzle like Circle the Wagons but deeper in resource management.

For games with City Building theme and resource management element, we can try Peloponnes Card Game, Villages of Valeria, Tybor the Builder. Each of them has different main mechanism to play, from auction, action following, and card drafting in that respected order.

If we are looking for heavier and bigger game with those genre, we can try Imperial Settlers. In this game, we will be managing multiple different resources just like bonus in The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game.

For more games with just resource management, I have tried Oh My Goods!, Mint Works, Fleet and Seastead. I also have tried Finished!, just a puzzle game with resource management element.

If we are just looking for games with set collection element, I have tried Mandala for 2 players only. Quests of Valeria offers similar aspect with this dice game where we do set collection and we will be racing against other player to be the first completing an objective.

I will keep updating my website with more games. Find out the latest update from this Complete List. If we are just looking for portable games that we can play anywhere, there are more games on that list.

Final Words

That is all I can share with you about The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game, a roll and write game. This is my first game in this genre and probably not going to be the last.

I probably have missed something that I should have discussed regarding the game. Please don’t hesitate to point that out and share what you know related to this game and I will update this article.

I keep saying that these tabletop games can be a good way to spend some time without looking at the screen of our gadget.  If we do have someone close, that we can play with, there are other games where we can play cooperatively or competitively but with more player interaction.

The game can be very fast or like a filler type or it can take hours to play. Some games can also be played in solitaire mode and they are still more engaging than other entertainment activity.

So, what is your experience on playing this game? If you know other games similar or even better than this, please do share via the comment section below. I would love to learn and play that game, assuming I can get a copy.

This article is just my notes about what I can find from the internet. Hopefully this can help anybody who reads it.

Thanks for reading.

 

Mark M.

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