‘Monastery’ © Ragnar Brothers 2008
A Brief Description:
2 - 4 players (including rules for a paired game)
Playing time 30 – 90 minutes depending on number of players.
‘Monastery’is a tile laying game in which players construct different parts of a medieval monastery. The work is done by the monks of a player. The monks may move from tile to tile and in addition to building work they can also study, toil or pray. In the ‘icon’ game monks can also make use of the special properties of some of the tiles.
The tiles vary in value ranging from 1 point field and path tiles to 5 point Chapter House and Library. The higher the value of tile the more monks are needed to build it. Players can build independently, but often they are required to work collaboratively.
The game spreads over two days of monastic life, with turns being allocated as time for study and toil or for services in the abbey. At each service a new abbot is elected and apart from going first in the turn the abbot also has some significant powers.
In order to win the game players must collect the letters of the abbey’s motto ‘Libera Nos Quaesumus Ab Omnibus Malis Amen’. The letters become progressively more expensive and players must decide whether to buy letters or recruit extra monks.
Points at game end are also awarded for the ‘blessings’ which players can collect throughout the game.
Some design Notes:
· As in all Ragnar Brothers games, the theme is of paramount importance. The idea came to Kendall during a bout of flu (no need for mind-bending drugs). A tile laying system, monk movement, monk recruitment and a time framework were quickly established. Initially the building work was card driven (somewhat akin to ‘Alhambra’), but this was soon dropped as the monks alone presented enough options.
· After a game-test week-end at Spiller’s, it was clear that the theme was strong. Phil and Steve Slade had a mammoth discussion as they drove home and from that came the idea of icon tiles. It was also realised that the arrangement of tiles in the monastery needed a simple, strong structure and after much refining the rule regarding adjacent tiles (‘Thou shalt not place toil tiles adjacent to study tiles’) was finalised.
· Game tests hosted by Kendall and Dicken were enjoyable, but the game was too long. The ‘Secret Way’ icon tiles helped, but it was Dicken’s suggestion to increase a monk’s movement allowance from 1 to 2 that proved decisive. Similarly, Kendall eventually succumbed to allowing the first recruited monk to cost a mere 1 point. Sometimes it’s hard to design the blindingly obvious!
· From the start of the design, monk recruitment had been built into the scoring mechanism – a novel modification of the common or garden score track. However, it was a comment from Roz on first seeing the game (‘is it like the Da Vinci Code?’) that led to the use of words and letters. Several different parts of the Latin Mass were tried. We knew we’d got it right when the positioning of the monks on the letters grid divided each of the lines of letters into their respective words. For the mathematically minded the recurring pattern of 1, 3, 6, 10 is also very appealing.
· Losing unspent points is never very satisfying, so the idea of receiving a ‘blessing’ in their place was introduced. Not only did the word stick (somewhat to our surprise), but also the blessing became a multi-functional tool solving a few minor problems (e.g. how to benefit from a strong turn at game end when all the letters have been taken).
· For the first time ever, Ragnar Brothers have designed some special game components. We are rather proud of the dual purpose screens and the standing or praying monks. We hope they also add something to a game that we believe is full of novelty and also reveals more strategies for play the more times you play it.
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