For today’s Lunchtime Game Time we had a taste of Rhodes, a game by Pieter Boots, illustrated by Julien Delval and published by The Game Master BV. The game takes you back in time to the island of Rhodes in 292 BC. Each player manages a domain on which they can choose to produce grapes, corn, olives and goat’s milk. Merchandise can then be sent into the port by boat to fulfil orders. Egyptian boats also regularly arrive in the port with cargoes of spices and gold.
We had a great time, and as usual the team had a few things to say:
Olivier said: Rhodes is a placement game where each player can perform two actions per turn, so nothing too unusual there. However, the game is a real find for two reasons. First of all, the turn organisation: the last player of each turn gets to choose first for the next round, much like in Fresco. Secondly, the way boats arrive in the port, which is similar to Panamax: each new arrival pushes the line of boats along, and as the merchandise gets closer to the end of the port, it becomes cheaper to buy. Visually the game isn’t amazing but it still looks nice and is very legible, which is essential for a management game. A game of Rhodes lasts about an hour and is pretty intense, as players jostle to exploit opportunities and produce the right merchandise. In short, if you like eurogames and all things greek, then this is a great pick.
Jamie said: Now when I say the word “eurogame”, “production” and “delivery” it’s normal that the first thing that comes to mind is the standard “build an industry and exploit it” kind of pattern. Well, whilst Rhodes does apply that formula to a certain extent, it also breaks it up and leaves you faced with a worker placement and pick and delivery game that really isn’t what you were expecting.
The key to this comes from the fact that to fulfil orders, and therefore obtain the lion’s share of your victory points, you need to ship your goods to Rhodes via boat. This nets you some gain right off the bat but your goods aren’t guaranteed to make it to your warehouse. Shipments can be intercepted and purchased by other players as they arrive in port and whilst you do get the money for them, that cash can’t get you far if you can’t somehow convert it into goods that you can exchange for points.
This is how Rhodes breaks the standard formula as the shipping system forces you to remain supple in your choice of actions, choosing the right time to spend your turns on buying or selling, cashing in or out with your resources. You still have to manage your own domain, upgrading it as necessary and of course producing resources but the unique, almost stock market-esque mechanics of the port means that the game won’t go to the player who can produce the most, but the one who can deftly maneuver through the situations created by themselves and their opponents.
All this leads to a tense and ever-evolving game that is sure to agree with eurogame fans looking for a rejuvenating experience in the genre!
Georgina said: As someone who doesn’t usually play a lot of eurogames, what I loved about Rhodes was how easy it was to get into – even though the game itself is quite complex with tons of strategic possibilities, the rules are quite simple. It manages to be challenging without feeling like hard work! Building up your domain is fun and there is enough interaction between players to keep things interesting. Although you don’t attack each other directly, you can buy other players’ merchandise to stop them from getting what they need to complete their orders, and the turn order system means that you can pip them at the post by occupying key parts of the board first. I also found the game’s visual design to be quite simple but charming, and most importantly, effective and legible. All in all, a nice game! In spite of this style not usually being my cup of tea, I would definitely play Rhodes again!