Hello again board gamers or bored gamers, see what I did there, ahaha…
So, I’m back doing a review for The Lost Lighthouse and a one I promise will be more positive than Takenoko.
“What is Blueprints then?” I hear you ask so inquisitively. Blueprints is a little dice game where you put yourself in the roll of an architect crossed with a builder using the games namesake, Blueprints.
The interesting thing right off the bat with this game is that many people hearing “dice game” may be thinking that it’s all about the rolling of them like in Yahtzee and so many other games.
Dice are rolled, but in this each die has another different and quite interesting purpose, to make a building. How many of us have sat there stacking our dice, making little forts in between opponents’ turns in a long game? Well Blueprints takes that silliness and uses it as nifty little mechanic.
Before we delve into the mechanics of Blueprints with any detail and trust me there is very little in the sense of details you need to know, let’s do that typical review examination of what you get for your money.
For around the twenty quid mark, Blueprints is a small game box containing 32 dice all of which are reasonably chunky and of good quality. Not to complain about other games specifically but there are a few games out there that use dice as an important part and the quality is just not there, poorly printed pips, bad material, well don’t worry about any of that, this game has not gone one of those issues and is fantastic. You can see where your cash is going and this is good being the main component.
Four little card screens with good thickness and nice print are inside which having the scoring rules on the inside is a useful reminder for the players. Next are the actual blueprints and points cards, these are slightly smaller than typical playing cards but are clear and again well printed.
The final piece of card is a scoring board, which is that lovely thick stuff with the slight texture to it that nice board games tend to have, again this is well printed and again totally fits within the aesthetic.
After that there is not much else, bar your typical rules manual, which for Blueprints is a quad fold piece of paper with great diagrams and keeps into the aesthetic of the game itself.
Finally, there is a blue felt dice bag that isn’t as soft as I would like but really does not matter. The bag too seems sturdy and of a good quality, great for sausage fingers.
All in all some dice, some screens, some cards and some scoring bits.
Blueprints uses its tiny box very well, not hard to pack away but a full box and each component is very nice so much so, you can feel and see the quality.
Back from the contents and into the rules.
We all know what comes in this box and the concept of it, but how does it play?
Blueprints is quick and simple, but like the best board games it also has great depth and fits a lot different gaming styles the people you are playing with might have.
First, after each player of which the game plays from two to four, grabs their screen and every dice is poured into the bag.
Between the 32 dice Blueprints gives you they are divided into four groups of eight.
These four groups represent building materials, black dice are stone, clear dice are glass, green dice are recyclable materials and lastly orange, which I assumed they really wanted as brown, is wood.
Each player gets a blueprint that they hide behind the screen, which has a top down and three-dimensional picture to show what they (might) aim to build with six dice they will eventually get.
Two of these are then randomly pulled out and rolled (it doesn‘t matter who does this) and go onto the scoreboard, if a pair of the same colour are rolled, another die is picked until you get something different.
What these represent by being on the board is the most in-demand materials, what this is in the actual game is the tie-breaker and instantly a clever mechanic as now the in-demand dice are harder to come by with only 7 of each left in the bag.
After the in-demand materials are decided a handful (the number is according to the amount of players) of dice is rolled, each of them is then picked, replaced by a new one and the bag is passed on around the table.
At this point is where I should explain the scoring briefly.
Each of the four colours has a different scoring mechanic, green are better in mass to show your commitment to saving the planet a single die scores barely anything where as a building completely built from this is worth fifteen times more (or each single one is 2.5 times more for the pendants like me out there).
Wood seems to represent a frame; it is worth more the more dice that are touching it.
Stone, the black dice, are worth more the higher they are in the building and lastly glass is the simplest of understanding the scoring, the top face of the die is how much it is worth, easy.
When each die is grabbed it stays the face it was showing and is placed anywhere within the blueprints two by three boundary and once all six dice are placed and their totals added up the last little bonus you can get is fulfilling your Blueprint.
However, as I say, this is a bonus and not something you have to do.
This in itself is clever. Do you make the blueprint for that bonus or should just start stacking the black dice that keep turning up.
Again, maybe you could finish the Blueprint but hey, that Orange die fits snugly between things including another orange that your score will skyrocket.
This as a mechanic is great, for the beginner there is no need for trying to think too hard early on about the maths, following the blueprint is simple, grabbing those glass sixes is safe and all is good.
Maybe “the comedian” of the group has decided to stack all six in a tower; if the stone dice keep coming up, they actually might win with it. However, maybe they are “extra funny” and they just made their building shaped like a phallus.
The one issue I know many people will see here with the hidden scoring is the fact that turning a die isn’t hard to do in a small space and therefore cheating could be easy unless someone has kept track of each colour and number picked.
To that, I say the problem here is not the game but the players. If you have people you play with who you think will cheat, why are you playing them? So do not worry.
Anyway, once each player’s score is totalled up the gold, silver and bronze cards get handed out with any ties in points dictated by those “in-demand” ones rolled earlier.
This is not it though as were the Gold to Bronze cards award points that will determine an overall winner after three rounds there are also four other cards that can be awarded to one player each round.
First off, an award that is perfect for that comedian named the “Skyscraper prize” where they need to stack five or more.
Along with these are using five of the same material (colour), four of the same number face and lastly having your dice show from one to six.
This scoring mechanic is where sneakiness comes in, the “griefer”, the backstabber this is their playground.
The quiet genius, this is also perfect for them.
For the latter player, they can quietly pick their die each round, possibly acting that the reason they keep taking sixes is just that they are the colour they need, “well this glass is worth the most”, secretly attempting to score the “Structural Integrity” prize for having four of the same by the end.
The former, the cheeky git sees the player to his left has been taking black dice all game and notices that supplies are running dry so cuts them off stopping them from getting the “materials prize”.
This is where the game keeps you hooked, has you wanting to play again and gives this extremely simplistic piece of fun a huge amount of depth.
As I hinted earlier, your building score gets you these victory and bonus cards and there is not just one round played but three.
This itself does a couple of things, first it cuts the variance down a little as the first round “loser” is the person to go first next so is less likely to be screwed over by bad rolls or those colours they wanted never coming around to them.
Also it means for the newer player maybe their initial building is poorly made, worth very little but after seeing what scored high they can both understand and plan next round better all the while not having to play a ridiculous amount of catch up.
Three rounds takes twenty to thirty minutes to play, you never get confused whether it’s time to finish or if you are on round two as there is only three of each victory card so if any pile has run dry you know what has happened.
Twenty minutes gone and you just want to play again; you shake your fist as your opponent piped you on ties with that one extra in-demand die.
You realise now where you went wrong and you know you can do better.
Maybe, just maybe, you want to see some more blueprints and roll some more dice.
This game for twenty good old British pounds sterling is a bargain a brilliant short, fast, beautiful, simple yet deep game that can fill a gap on a board games evening, be a good opener for some less board game savvy friends or just a really good chance to play something when you are strapped for time.
Thanks again for reading, hope you enjoy Blueprints too.