Add new comment | Casual Game Revolution

Add new comment

Biblios

Collect pigments, manuscripts, and forbidden tomes, as you compete to create the most splendid monastery library in Medieval Europe.

Biblios is a classic card game published by IELLO, where players draft and bid for cards in seven different categories. The players who collect the most cards in five of these categories will win points at the end of the game; but how much each category is worth fluctuates as you go.

Gameplay

There are seven categories of cards in Biblios. Five of these are scoring categories: pigments, holy books, monks, manuscripts, and forbidden tomes. Each card also has a number that says what its value is (this can range from one to four). There is a board placed in the center of the table, with a space for each of these categories, and a die, showing a value of three, is placed on each space. These dice represent how many points each category is worth at the end of the game. When a church card would be added to your hand, you instead discard it and may either choose to ignore its ability or use it to change one-to-two dice on the score board, increasing or decreasing their values by one, depending on the card. There are also gold cards, worth one-to-three gold coins.

Each game of Biblios takes place over two phases. During the first phase, when you are the active player, you draw cards one at a time (the number you draw is the number of players plus one) and must decide to either place each card face-down in front of yourself, face-down in the auction pile, or face-up in the center of the table. You may only place one card in the auction pile and one in front of you. Once you are done, you move the card in front of you into your hand and, starting with the player to your left, all the other players take turns selecting one card from the center of the table and adding it to their hand. The player to your left then becomes the new active player. This continues until all the cards in the deck have been played through.

The second phase is the auction phase. You start by shuffling all the cards in the auction pile to create the auction deck. Again, players take turns being the active player. The active player draws the top card of the auction deck. If it is not a gold card, players bid gold on it. The player with the highest bid wins the card and adds it to her hand after paying gold cards from her hand with a value equal or higher than her bid. If no one bids, the card on auction is discarded. If a gold card is pulled from the auction deck, players bid a number of cards they will discard, and the winner discards the bid number of cards face-down.

After the last card has been auctioned or discarded, the game ends. For each of the five scoring categories, players add up the value of all their cards in that category, and the player with the highest total earns points equal to the value of the die on that category on the score board. The player with the most total points wins the game.

Biblios Components

Review

Biblios has a tight, streamlined design. The card drafting, auction phase, and scoring mechanics are all kept quite simple, there are limited ways to score, and no wild cards to deal with. This is part of the game’s strength. It’s really easy to set up, teach, and play, and the strategy can be grasped quickly, but there is still plenty of meat to the gameplay.

Both phases are interesting. During the initial phase, as active player, having to choose before drawing the next card whether to keep it or add it to the auction pile or table, can be a tough call. Do you risk discarding something that is mildly helpful in hopes of drawing something better? Or risk the groan when you’ve already taken your card and draw something you really needed? The auction phase is also engaging, with room for bluffing and trying to drive up the cost for certain cards (though be careful if you do this: there is a penalty for winning the bid and being unable or unwilling to pay). You also have some limited information during this part of the game, as you know what you yourself have put in the auction deck.

Even though it’s a game about building your hand and your own collection of cards, both game phases ensure player interaction and you never feel like you are entirely off in your own world. In fact, it is important to keep an eye on the cards your opponents are collecting and respond accordingly. However, not all mechanics play the same across all player counts, particularly with two players in the first phase, when you are essentially just choosing a card to give the other player rather than choosing cards they will draft from.

While the theme is mostly aesthetic, it is a unique one and we did enjoy it and the artwork (though we would have liked a little more variety across cards with matching values and categories), and the components are well made, particularly the dice which are big and chunky and easy to read at a distance.

The changing scores and the unknown factor of everything that’s in the auction deck and what is already in your opponent’s hands, keeps Biblios exciting and engaging. We loved the simplicity of the two phases and then you’re done and that nothing about the game feels overly complicated.

Pros: Unique theme, good components and artwork, solid player interaction, uncomplicated mechanics

Cons: Not all the mechanics work equally well across all player counts, we would have liked more artwork across the cards

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.