A deep and immersive Euro game, with an easy and intuitive to learn rule set? You’ve got to be joking! But wait, what’s that I hear? The sound of milk being churned for butter and silk being spun for brocade? That’s right, if you haven’t guessed, Orleans fits the bill!
Orleans is set in medieval France where you are charged with bringing in the most resources and buildings for your lord. Despite the heavy box and the relatively muted artwork, Orleans is not your standard hard-to-learn Euro. The rules are simple to follow, and with markers all over your player board, it quickly becomes obvious what you should be doing with each move.
I have played Orleans with people whose only other experience with modern gaming was the completely unrelated Azul and they were able to pick up the rules easily with a quick 5 minute run down. That is the beauty of Orleans, it’s simplicity. Each player knows what they have in their bag, there are spots to put their pieces that are readily marked, and any edge rules are pretty easily explained during gameplay.
Players each have a bag which holds their player pieces, these pieces are broken down into a number of roles that determine what you can do each round. Each player will have an amount of pieces that they are allowed to take from the bag, at random, at the start of each turn and then place them to take the action which is described. Players can:
- opt to move their meeple and take a resource;
- build a building;
- get another character to add to their bag;
- move up various achievement tracks
As with many Euros this game relies on who does the best in taking into consideration the contingencies on the board and can make the best of what they have been given. Do you go all out for the highest cost resource to gain points at the end, or is this going to go against you when the multipliers for the achievement tracks are considered at the end of the game?
The one thing that I don’t find as useful is the Town Hall – a separate board to the main playing board that allows players to go for further multipliers during the game. In a 2 and 4 player game I have found that the game is just too busy to be throwing someone into the Town Hall for minimal reward, as the Town Hall is the only place where you do not get your character token back at the end of the round.
I have talked about the simplicity of Orleans several times throughout this review, but the game isn’t a simple one as it has deep strategy. The more apt term is probably that it is stress free – character placement happens at the same time, you can ask people where they are going and there is a minimal level of conflict or clashing between players which makes this game exceptionally pleasant to play.
Overall, I find that Orleans has continued to stretch higher and higher into my most preferred games of recent times, with there often being jostling between Orleans and Great Western Trail as to which I will lay at any given time. I would recommend Orleans at the 2 player count as well as the higher player counts, especially for those who are wanting to dip their toes into deeper Euro games.
What are your thoughts on Orleans, have you played the expansions? You can buy here at Amazon