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Blueprints Review

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The Taj Mahal, Sears Tower, the Empire State building, famous architectural wonders that started out with a plan, visualized on a blueprint. In the game “Blueprints” players are architects following their blueprint and the available resources to build and be rewarded to architectural prizes and rewards.  The most successful architect, who after three rounds of play, has scored the highest number of points.

Components

The components are top qualityy.  There are 32 plastic dice.  These are nice and square making them easy to stack and move, which is crucial for game play.  Green dice represent recycled materials, black stone, white glass, and orange wood.

There are 24 full size Blueprint cards, 9 Award Cards, 12 Prize Cards, 4 player screens, a cloth bag, 4 wooden scoring markers, and 1 scoreboard.

The Blueprints cards show one building from two different views, the top-down and the isometric view.  Players put the dice spaces of the top down view.  The number shows the amount of dice to place on each space.  No dice are spaced on the hatched spaces.

Set-up

To play the game, the 32 dice are placed in the cloth bag.  The Award and prize cards are put next to the scoreboard according to the number of players.  The Blueprint cards are shuffled and put into a draw deck.  Players are given a score token, player screen and Blueprint card.  They put their Blueprint card behind the screen.

Two dice, from the bag, are placed on the “In-Demand Materials” section of the scoreboard.  They need to be two different colors.  Draw until this is the case.

Next, draw a certain number of dice from the bag, according to the number of players.  These dice form the pool of available resources.  Roll these dice and sort them by value.

After set up, determine the player order.  In the second and third rounds, the player whose building scored the least number of points, in the previous round, goes first.  Turn order then moves clockwise around the table.

Game Play

On a players turn, they choose one die from the pool and place it on their Blueprint card.  A new die is drawn, rolled, and placed into the pool.

The placed die must follow the placement rules.  It cannot be placed on the hatched spaces.  When a die is placed on top of a previously placed die, the placed die must be of equal of higher value.  For example, a four can be placed on top of a 1, 2, 3, or another 4.  If it cannot be legally be placed it must be removed.  The dies value cannot be changed.

Players continue to place until they have placed 6 dice.  The building is then revealed and scored.

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Scoring

Players receive six points for perfectly matching their Blueprint card.  The materials are scored differently.  The players’ screens show the scoring for each material.

Materials

Wood (Orange Dice) – each orange die is scored individually.  They score two points for each adjacent die.  An orange die next to two other dice, scores four points.

Recycled (Green Dice) – Score a total of 2/5/10/15/20/30 points for using 1/2 /3/4/5/6 green dice.

Stone (Black Dice) – Score each black die individually.  These are scored according to their level on the building.  They get 2 pints for the 1st level, 3 pints for the 2nd level, 5 points for the 3rd level, and 8 points for the 4th level.

Glass (Clear Dice) – Each clear die is also scored individually.  The clear die is worth the value of its top face, even if covered.

Awards

After scoring the materials, hand out the Award cards.  With two cards, the highest score receives the Silver Score, in a three-player game the gold award is given to the highest score and the 2nd highest receives the silver award.  In a four-player game the gold is given to the highest score, the silver to the 2nd highest score, and the bronze to the 3rd highest score.

If there is a tie the player with the most dice of the first “In-Demand Materials” get the award.  IF there is still a tie, the Award goes to the player with the most of the 2nd In-Demand Material.  If there is still a tie, it goes to the player who acted last in turn order that round.

Prizes

Only one prize of each type is awarded in a round.  If no one meets the criteria for the award they are not given out to players.  A player may also earn more than one Prize in a round.  If more than one building would receive the prize use the tiebreaker from above.

The Skyscraper Prize goes to the building with the height of 5 or greater.  The Structural Integrity Prize goes to the building with 4 or more dice with an identical value.  If a player’s building has dice with all values 1-6 they get the Geometer Prize.  If a building includes 5 or more dice of the same color they get the materials prize.

Once all prizes and awards are given the round is over.  Remove the score markers from the scoreboard, discard the used Blueprint cards, and reset the materials pool and draw two new in demand materials.  After three rounds the game ends.

Game End

After the end of three rounds, reveal the Award and Prize cards.  The player with the highest score wins the game.

My Thoughts

I was pleasantly surprised with Blueprints.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but the theme and idea of building with dice really caught my eye.  Blueprints turned out to be a fun, strategic game, in a small box.  I really appreciate that small box size!

Components

All the components are very nice with the exception of the dice bag.  The dice bag is nice, but too small to be functional for the game.  Players must pull dice from the bag each turn, but they don’t fit well.  It doesn’t even really work for storage in the box, so we replaced it with a bigger dice bag.  The dice are square and easy to stack.  The colors are all clear and the pips are easy to read.  I’m not convinced of using orange for wood, but it does look better than brown.  All the dice are opaque with the exception of the clear glass.

I really like the blueprint artwork found everywhere in the game.  The graphic design is very eye pleasing and connects the entire game from the rulebook, to the cards, and the scoreboard.  The artwork is also functional.  For example, the player screens have a scoring reminder.  The graphic design makes it clear to the player how to score.  I was always looking at this to help remind me.

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Rules

I have said I enjoy the graphic design of the rulebook.  The Blueprint theme is there, it is also well organized and easy to read.  The rules are simple and can be taught quickly.  Be sure not to miss the rule of taking the score markers off of the board after each round.  Points don’t carry over from round to round.  The only points that matter at the end of the game are the awards and prizes.  This can be a very easy rule to miss.  We missed it the first few times we played.  I actually like playing with score carrying over from round to round, so it wasn’t a big deal to miss this rule.  With more players it does work better to not carry over scores.

How to score is explained in the rulebook, which is important because the Award and Prize cards are language independent.  Once you have played a few times, the icons are easy to understand.  There is also a nice scoring example included in the rulebook.

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Game Play

Blueprints is a quick light game that offers players meaningful decisions.  There is strategy, but this isn’t a heavy game.  It also doesn’t seem to be very analysis paralysis prone.  Even with four players there is minimal down time.  It isn’t complex, but the randomness of the dice and fact that you must plan for future turns gives it a little bit more weight.

I really enjoyed building with the dice.  One of my favorite things about board games are the components, the physical parts, the things you can’t get when playing a video game.  Using the dice to build was my favorite part of this game.  I like the tactile feel.  The visual / spatial element is isn’t something you see in a lot of board games.  Players are building a 3D structure during the game.  This, the cards, and the artwork help to Blueprints more than just a pasted on theme.

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There are also meaningful decisions and, I would argue, a little bit of push your luck.  Do you try to go for the Materials Prize or the Structural Integrity Prize?  What if the others figure out what you are doing and try to block you?  Should you just go the safe route and build perfectly to your blueprint?  With all those black dice coming out the skyscraper prize is very tempting!

Believe it or not, I think there is a lot more player interaction and strategic play in a two-player game.  It seems to be a deeper game when you only play with two.

You may realize what your opponents are doing in a three or more player game, but you may not be able to or want to affect them.  Doing so could be at the expense of your own score.  I found I concentrated more on my own blueprint, than on my opponents, the more players were in the game.

In a two-player game you choose a die to take out of the pool after taking your own die. You are better able to play interference against your opponent, without hurting our own score.  This makes it a great couples game, one you can try to get your significant other to play with you.

Blueprints still plays well with three or four players.  It has been a hit with everyone I have played it with, even non-gamers.

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Quick Stats

Designer: Yves Tourigny
Artists: Chris Quilliams
Publishers: Z-Man Games
Players: 2-4
Game Length: 30 minutes
Ages: 8 an up

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