Orleans takes place in a medieval setting in the city of Orleans, France where players will be looking to expand their dominance. This is done by assembling a following of farmers, merchants, Knights, monks, craftsman, scholars, and boatman to gain supremacy.
Orleans is at its core a worker placement game with a bit of a twist. Worker placement games typically have players with a starting amount of pawns that they will distribute each round to do various tasks that are displayed on a game board. Typically there are more actions on the board than there are workers so there are choices to be made. Each player will retrieve those workers at the end of round and repeat the process on the following turn. Orleans works similar in the sense that you will be deploying your workers around your game board to perform various actions but your workers that you have available is limited.
Each turn players will have all their followers or workers in a bag. They will draw from the bag a number of workers that their draw limit will allow. The followers are deployed and the the corresponding actions are taken in turn order. Any followers gained through these actions are placed in the bag along with the followers used to take those actions and will be down from again in the following round. The actions available and what is required to take them is where the game really becomes becomes interesting.
The action spaces will have spaces on them that will require a certain worker type to be deployed for the action to take effect. The action spaces on the board and the buildings will require either one, two, or three different types workers to use. Your turns really become dictated by the workers that you pull from the bag. This can be frustrating at times but really forces player to work with the resources that they have at the time but also challenges players to venture from the norm.
Each action on the individual player boards will perform an action and sometimes provide the player with a new follower to add to their bag. There is the castle where players can gain a new knight but also increase their draw limit each turn. There is the Farmhouse where players can increase their food production and gain a new farmer. There is the village where players can gain a new boatman, craftsman, or merchant. All of which carry with them actions that allow players to gain more money (victory points), machines to stand in place of a follower, or buildings where you can perform new actions to define your strategy. There is the University where players can acquire a scholar but also increase their knowledge of science. Players may also visit the monastery where monks can be made to be followers. These all will go into the bag upon gaining and will be ready on the following turn.
Some players will find that their bag is simply too full of followers that they simply don’t want anymore. This is where players can use the Town Hall action. Here players can send followers to work on an ongoing task that Orleans is facing. These tasks include Defeating the Plague, signing a peace treaty, or astronomy among various others. Each task requires a certain amount of followers to complete and will require them until the end of the game. Those followers will remain on the task and out of your bag for the remainder of the game. Obviously each player will be rewarded for their contribution and for the task completion.
Another path of play is of the map and traveling. Players will be able to move via wagon or ship to various other towns in France where they will acquire goods and build trading posts. The goods acquired will be worth victory points at the end of the game depending on their value. Trading points are also worth points based on your progress on the science track.
All throughout the game players will also have to contend with the events happening around the city. These events include harvest, Plague, taxes, and various others. They can be beneficial but also detrimental. When they appear changes from game to game so it’s best to know the events and to be ready.
There are many elements to the game that can need to sync up just right for a more efficient game play strategy. Each player will want to take the appropriate actions and the most actions possible to best suit the strategy they are employing.
- Good components
- Wonderful art style that is unique and thematic
- Easy to read and follow rule book
- Unique worker placement mechanic that is challenging
- Multiple paths to victory
- Bag building mechanic forces players out of their comfort zone
- Randomness of options available to player
- Little player interaction
Try if you like/need…
- Stone Age (Worker Placement)
- Lords of Waterdeep (Worker Placement)
- Caylus (Worker Placement)
- Quarriors! (Bag Building)