Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Troyes from Z-Man Games

Designers: Sebastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges, Alain Orban
Publisher: Z-Man
Players: 2-4
Ages: 12+
Time: 90 min.
Price: $55
Publication Date: April 2011

Z-Man will be publishing the US version of Troyes (published in Europe by Pearl Games) this month.

Medieval games always get my attention, but I'm looking forward to this one because of Troyes (pronounced "Trwah") and its important place in history. The Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, which forms the major theme of this game, is one of the masterpieces of Gothic design. Begun in 1200 (which is the starting point for the game) it remains incomplete to this day. The city also has links to the founding of the Knights of the Temple of King Solomon, better known as the Knights Templar. Their founder, Hughes de Payens, was born nearby in the 11th century, and St. Bernard of Clairvaux created their rule and officially organized the group at the Council of Troyes in 1128-29.

Troyes is also important because of its connection Chrétien de Troyes, one of the greatest poets of the Middle Ages and the man responsible for a large chunk of the Arthurian legend, particularly the grail lore. The story of Sir Percival, the Fisher King, the bleeding lance (identified with the Spear of Longinus), and the holy grail (actually a serving dish, not a cup) all spring from Chrétien's Perceval, le Conte du Graal. (There's no reference to the grail prior this story, not even in the form of a grail-shaped beacon from Castle Anthrax.)

Chrétien, Pope Urban IV, Hughes de Payens, Henry I, and other historical figures all feature in the game, which spans 400 years. Here's the official description:
Troyes is a strategy game in which you represent a rich family from the Champagne region of France, using your influence to recruit and supervise individuals from the three prominent domains: military (associated with the color red in every aspect of the game), religious (white), and civil (yellow).
Each domain offers different benefi ts: The military permits you to fight with greater effi cacy against invasions. The clergy focuses on completion of the cathedral, and education of the peasants and the military. The peasants toil to fill your coffers. The citizens of the city provide a work force, represented by dice. You use the work force in different ways: to perform various activities supervised by your tradesmen, to build the cathedral, to grapple with unfortunate events, or even to recruit new citizens. 
Each of these actions requires utilization of one group of 1 to 3 dice. In your actions, always regard the goals of the famous character that inspires your family. This individual is one of several very influential people whose principles have helped make the city what it is today! In fact, if you can figure out whose principles the other families follow, you can maximize your own fame, because each family will be scrutinized by all of these famous figures. The player who has garnered the most fame, in the form of victory points, will win the game!


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