English language edition
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Pueblo--the ultimate building challenge! Work with the other players to create a mighty home for the Chieftain, stone by stone. You are a craftsman but you cannot let the Chieftain see your trademark stones, or you will be penalized. The longer you play, the more difficult this task becomes! Take on your opponents and become the Chieftain's Master Builder.
Too many games these days are just too deep or complicated for play at the end of a workday. This is just the right mix. The Chieftain who walks around assessing penalties provides a great screw factor. The tension between building as the play develops and trying to position your pieces for a favorable endgame (one last walk around EVERY space) requires short and long term planning. Could the game bog down without a time limit per move? Perhaps, but actually most times there aren't too many choices to slow the game down. Excellent scoring system overall; the endgame allows tension to remain until the last penalty is assessed. Deserving of best abstract game!
I have always enjoyed games with building blocks based on polyominoes like quintillions by Kadon. This one is very straightforward to learn and yet provides solid depth for strategy.
So far, I have only tried the game with two players. Planning ahead is critical. Sometimes it is better to take a penalty or two so that you can avoid having to play a piece on a higher level. Also, moving the chieftan so that you have a better advantage two plays down the road, adds to the planning. I am looking forward to the extra complexity three or four players will add to the game.
If you like games that require spatial skills, prefer faster paced over slow and methodical, then Pueblo is the game for you!
this one is sure to please. Kiesling and Kramer prove again that complex strategies can be built on a foundation a few simple rules. Large pieces, evocative artwork and the clever mechanics of where to move the chieftain and how best to hide your pieces in a 3-D environment make for a rewarding game that clocks in at under an hour. Enjoy.
Pueblo comes to us from the winning team of Kramer & Kiesling. It is a departure from the 'civilization'' building scheme they created in Tikal, Java, and Mexica. Two to four players are given 'x' amount of colored and neutral building blocks, depending on the number of players. On your turn, add a block to the game board, then move the chieftain (a kind of building supervisor). Wherever he stops, he surveys what colors he can see, and gives them penalty points. So you want to place your pieces carefully to keep them as well hidden as possible while constructing the pueblo (large house). After all the blocks are placed, the chieftain takes a final survey around the structure, again handing out penalty points to any colored blocks he sees. Low score (least penalized) wins. By far, the smallest set of rules Ive ever seen from these two designers. There is also an advanced 'pro' version that adds a 'Tikal' bidding phase and restricted building areas.
This is a great game if you love something Ive referred to in past reviews as 'The Screw Factor' Each player is out dish out the most penalty points to the other players while keeping his own points down. As I look around my game room, its hard to find a game (other than my golf games) that tests you to keep the lowest score. (Im sure they are out there, I just dont own them!) Pueblo starts off very quickly, but becomes quite an exercise in planning as the pueblo rises, leaving less ground area to work with. The higher your exposed color, the more points you could be caught with. While there are no alliances per say, I found my gaming group bantering about if you move the chieftain past me, Ill return the favor...'
Clean easy rules, solid building pieces, nice game board makes Pueblo a great game to own. I do recommend getting a 'lazy Susan' to put under the game board though, as all players are constantly rotating the board to see what can go where, with as little exposure as possible. Slows down towards the end game, as everyone analyzes the placement of their final pieces, but not to the detriment of the game. Pueblo offers a nice change of pace to 'game night' but can be easily taught to practically any family member. (Hey, even my wife caught on!) Sorry Honey... guess Ill be sleeping outside my pueblo tonight!
When I first saw the video game Tetris, I thought it looked quite boring. Then I played, and found how addictively fun it could be, especially when played against a human opponent. So when I saw Pueblo, the blocks immediately reminded me of Tetris and the game looked like you fit blocks together, just like Tetris. So I purchased the game, hoping that the game would be fun enough to get me past its abstract theme (Im not a huge fan of abstract games.)
So is Pueblo a good and fun game? The answer is yes, its a quick, fun abstract game for 2-4 players. Unless you cant play a game without a good theme, I think you would enjoy this fun yet deep game. Now for my usual longer answer
First, a short description of game play.
Each player is given a number of blocks, according to the number of players in the game. They receive a number of blocks both in their color and in a neutral (tan) color. All blocks are the same shape (unlike Tetris). Basically, the blocks are 4 cubes connected in a way so that from every side, three faces are showing. The playing board is placed in the middle of the table, and the scoring board next to it. The playing board has 100 squares in a 10 by 10 grid. The grid is split into four quadrants, each composed of 25 squares. The outer thirty-six squares make up a path on which the chieftain moves around the inner sixty-four squares the playing area. Each player places a little pawn of their color on the scoring board, which is just a spiral-scoring track from 0 to 100.
One player starts, and then each player takes their turn in order. On a players turn, they do two things. First, they place one of their blocks on the board. Then, they move the chieftain one to four spaces on his track and give out points. When placing blocks on the board, there are some restrictions, but mainly, the blocks can be placed anywhere you want. After the player moves the chieftain, points are scored. If the chieftain is not on a corner, he looks straight down the row in which he stands. Any color he sees gets points according to the height of the color. For example, if the color showing on the fourth level is red, then red would get 4 points. If the chieftain lands on a corner space, he instead takes an overhead look, giving one point to each color in that quadrant that can be seen when looking straight down at the board.
Now, it should be noted that points are a BAD thing in this game, and a player should try to avoid being seen by the chief. After every player has placed all their blocks, the chieftain takes one more walk around the outside track, stopping on every square, and scoring it. After this final scoring round, whichever player has the lowest points is the winner!
There are two variants to the game, which can be added separately or jointly. The Demolition version follows the basic game. After the final round, each player then takes turns in order again. However, this time, they are removing a block, then moving the chieftain. When the last block is removed, the game is over. The Pro version adds two things. Cult sites are the first. The are little L shape cardboard pieces that are placed on the board before the games starts at the players discretion. Nothing can be built on top of these sites, making space even more valuable. The other thing the pro version adds are auctions for turn order. As going first is a valuable thing, it is auctioned off twice a game (three times if playing jointly with the Demolition version). Points are used to auction with, with the winning player paying (moving their piece) the amount of points they bid. Small changes to the rules, but both these variants change the basic game quite a bit.
Some comments on the game:
1). Components: The components for this game are top-notch. The block colors are nicely done, and the blocks themselves are of high quality plastic. Theyre light, stack well, and generally are easy to work with. The little tokens and chieftain token are nice, and the boards are also nice, decorated with an ancient New Mexican design. The box is very nice, square, and holds all the components well has spaces for the smaller ones. A small white chip is provided with the game to help you remember where the chief starts when you move him around the board for his final walk. You could use your finger, but adding this unnecessary but useful piece is a nice touch. Overall, I was impressed by the quality of the components.
2). Rules: The rules for the game came in a booklet with five languages each taking up four pages of rules. As the rules for the game are both simple and short, so are the printed rules. But, since some of the rules can be a little confusing, colored illustrations on how to place blocks, score blocks, and move the chieftain are extremely helpful. I found that this game is very easy to teach and learn. People pick up on the game rather quickly although not on the strategy.
3). Strategy: Im still not sure what the best strategy for this game is, as I dont do very well at it. I know that you must try to keep at all costs from getting your blocks up high, as that can produce a lead in points that can be rather devastating to you. There are plenty of places to place your block each turn, but not too many so that analysis paralysis sets in. Every turn, a player will feel like there is no good place to put his blocks and thats a good thing. One should just strive to put their block in the least worst place. There is also a little strategy when moving the chieftain. As with many abstract games, there is no luck, but in this game, it didnt bother me that much.
4). Variants: I like the pro variant quite a bit. The auctions are nice, as going first is good, and going last is horrible. However, the cult sites really help the game out. They can take up to 12 spaces on the main board that cannot be built on pushing the blocks to the higher levels, and generally making the game hard. When teaching people the game, Ill teach the basic version first but then quickly move on to the pro version. The demolition version isnt quite as good. In my opinion, it just drags the game out longer. Yes, the winner may be different, but its not that big of a deal. I would play it if I played Pueblo all the time and needed a change.
5). Fun Factor: The theme is definitely pasted on to this game. Its an abstract strategy game, through and through. Yet I had a good time playing. It wasnt rip-roaring fun, but the game was amusing and quick enough that I enjoyed it. Part of it was getting to build with the cool little plastic blocks. Then the Tetris feel seems to bring in a lot of people too. All Ive shown this to so far, have enjoyed it. Also, it makes a good two-player game. I enjoy the multi-player game much more, but its a good game that I can pull out for my wife and me.
So I have to give a high thumbs up to Pueblo. If you need a theme to have fun, then look elsewhere. But if you want to build little blocks, and have a lot of fun doing so, while making agonizing decisions, then this is the game for you. Its a short, fun, abstract game.
This is an outstanding addition to the genre of abstract strategy games --- one that seems to appeal even to gamers who don't usually like abstract games.
There's a lot of player interaction, as the placement of each and every block effects other players and the placement of all other blocks.
The rules are very simple, and can be explained in less than a minute to adults and children. Yet, the strategies demand players think in three dimensions, and try to envision what effect their next move will have on opponents' and their own future moves.
Game components are excellent, and functional.
Playing in less than an hour, Pueblo is an excellent game for both family gaming and the more serious gamer. I highly recommend this game.
the game got stale more quickly than I expected. I have to admit that the 3D quality of the game is very attractive but the strategy seemed pretty straight forward after 3 tries and the game lost its appeal.
This is a great game to sit in a ski lodge by the fire in Santa Fe New Mexico. People would sit down and play while drinking hot cocoa and Kalua then return to the slope. It is a great game for family reunions. It is not a great game to take out once a week and play several times because it loses its shine fairly quickly.
Pueblo falls short in my estimation for two reasons:
1. I'm not a fan of abstracts, and this one doesn't give me any compelling reason to make it an exception.
2. Contrary to Rick Z.'s assertion, this game is _highly_ susceptible to analysis paralysis. If you want to play this game, I would recommend using a one-minute sand timer.
We still consider last year's Best Abstract Strategy Game a towering achievement. Your building blocks are formed by connected cubes in your color, or the neutral color. Each turn, lay a block in the 8x8 building site--on a vacant space, or resting on previous blocks. Then move the Chieftain one to four spaces around the site's perimeter. "Looking" down the row on which he stops, he awards penalty points to players whose colors he spots! Fewest points wins after all blocks are placed.
Fanatics can try the Demolition variant, where scoring continues as blocks are removed, or the Pro variant, in which (with a smaller site) turn order is auctioned in points before play starts. Wow!
Treat yourself to the towering talents of these two imaginative designers. Your building blocks comprise four asymmetrically connected cubes, in either your color or the neutral color. Each turn, place a block in the inner 8 x 8 area; blocks may be laid on the ground or be supported by other blocks. Then move the Chieftain one to four spaces around the area's perimeter. The Chieftain award penalty points to players whose colors he spots as he "looks" down the row or column in which he ends a move. After all the blocks have been placed, the player with the fewest points wins. In the Demolition Variant, final scoring takes place after further turns that consist of removing a block before moving the Chieftain. The Pro Variant features a more limited building area, with turn order auctioned in points before play starts. By successfully hiding your color, you'll reveal your talent for playing this strategic game.
Ahh, - Kramer & Kiesling! Just the thought of another game designed by this dynamic duo is enough to get me woozy! Their track record with me has been darn near perfect, so I am pre-disposed to purchase any game they release that is aimed at the adult market. Now, if they would ever throw Ulrich into the mix and release a Kramer, Kiesling & Ulrich design, then that would be bliss!
My first actual glimpse of this game came at the recent Gathering of Friends and, truth-be-told, the actual appearance sort of startled me. The game is undeniably abstract. That's not exactly the kiss of death, but it also isn't my favorite genre. However, it was designed by Kramer & Kiesling, so there was no way I wasn't going to give it a try.
I shouldn't have had one iota of doubt as I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience so much I eagerly played it again several more times during the course of the week and taught other groups to play, too. The game is very focused, with the rules being very simple and the objective extremely clear. Each play is critical and the choices to be made are tough. Vintage Kramer & Kiesling!
Players have been charged with the task of building a vast new pueblo in the Southwest desert. However, the chieftain has been very specific in his demands and insists that the pueblo blend in with the countryside. His preference for the neutral sand-colored blocks means that he will penalize any player whose colored blocks are visible. Thus, players must attempt to place their blocks in such a fashion so that their colored blocks are obscured from view, especially at the critical moment when the demanding chieftain makes his inspection rounds.
If you desire a more humorous explanation of the theme, drop a note to Ted Cheatham. His inspector has been transformed into a roaming pervert who enjoys peeking in the windows of the pueblo! We won't go there, however!
The board depicts an 8 by 8 grid divided into four equal quadrants. This area is the 'building' site where players will place their building blocks and construct the pueblo. Surrounding the site is a path where the chieftain makes his way around the emerging pueblo, meticulously watching for offending blocks. The board is rather plain, but is decorated along the edges with replicas of native American artwork. There is also a serpentine scoring track that never fails to confuse (sort of like the one used in Fossil). It works, but one must be careful when recording the points.
The components also include strangely shaped building blocks, 8 each in four different colors and 16 in the neutral beige color. These blocks are made of a sturdy plastic and should last a lifetime. Two of them join to form one square block. The components are completed by 4 score markers, the chieftain token and base marker and a few assorted markers used for the variants.
Each player begins the game with five of his colored blocks and four neutral blocks. Four sets of 'blocks' are made (one colored block and one neutral block), leaving one additional colored block. The game rules are remarkably simple, yet the decisions are tough. On a turn, a player does the following:
On each player's very first turn, they must place their colored block that has not been paired with a neutral stone. On subsequent turns, each player must select one of their paired block sets and either place the colored or the neutral piece. On the following turn, they then must place the other piece before moving on to another paired set of blocks. Deciding on whether to place the colored or neutral stone is always a tough and critical choice.
A block does not have to touch a previously played block, but it certainly can. Further, blocks may be stacked so long as no overhangs are created. This means the pueblo will eventually rise in height as more and more blocks are placed.
As mentioned, a player concludes his turn by moving the chieftain 1 to 4 spaces and conducting his inspection. The chieftain looks along the row where he is located and if any colored blocks are visible, those players are assessed a penalty. The penalty is equivalent to the level the block is located on. For instance, if the blue player has one visible block on the first level of the pueblo, he is assessed one penalty point. If the red player has a block visible on the second level, he receives two penalty points. Thus, the higher levels are clearly more dangerous if your blocks are visible.
If the chieftain is moved to one of the four corner squares on his path, he takes a puff on his peace pipe and magically floats above the pueblo, gazing down upon the structure. He examines only the quadrant that adjoins the corner square he was located on. Any colored blocks visible result in one penalty point per block being assessed to its owner.
The game ends once all players have placed their blocks onto the board. At that point, the chieftain conducts one final inspection from each point on the path. The player who has best met his wishes and has the fewest penalty points is victorious.
The key to the game is attempting to place your blocks in such a fashion so that they are obscured from view as much as possible. Often, you can place one of your colored blocks and then cover it with a neutral block on a subsequent turn. Or, clever placements may force your opponents to cover your blocks with their placements. The temptation is to avoid the outer edges of the building site since these blocks cannot be obscured from view and will always remain visible. However, if you can place the blocks so that the only colors visible are on the first level, this is often a wise move. Placing blocks at higher levels on the pueblo can result in severe penalties if they remain visible. Trust me, players will maneuver that pesky chieftain in such a fashion as to smack you with the most penalty points possible! That chieftain is an unforgiving fellow!
The rules also include two variants. The first results in the demolition of the pueblo once it is constructed, with each player taking turns removing a block and moving the chieftain. This one doesn't entice me as it seems a bit repetitive and I don't really see the point. The 'Pro' version introduces up to four sacred cult sites that are marked on the board with tiles. These areas are taboo and no block may be placed onto these tiles. This seems to make placement decisions even tougher and offers the most promise. I look forward to trying this variant soon.
The game is one of choices, most of them being very tough: which block to use, where to place it and how far to move the chieftain. The factors to consider are not many, but the ultimate choice is critical. A poor placement here or there can and will spell doom. Such tough choices present throughout a game usually elevates my appreciation for that game considerably. Pueblo is one such game. I get those wonderful 'butterflies' in my stomach while playing and constantly feel challenged in each and every game. Kramer & Kiesling have done it again!
I am not an abstract game player, but I really enjoyed this game. The reasons are simple -- it is a short game, and there is very little down time. In fact, the final scoring takes as long as 2 turns. The few abstract games I have played lasted 90-120 minutes and seemed to always leave me with a headache. It's tough to play an abstract game right after a long day at work! (At least that is the excuse I use.)
The object is simple -- do not score any points. Seems simple enough, but if you let the 'Chieftain' see any of your color blocks as he/she travels around the playing field, you will score points. Players start by placing a colored piece in play, then they can alternate between a blocking piece and their color piece. After playing a piece, the player can move the Chieftain up to 4 spaces. Any color that the Chieftain sees, scores against the player. The higher up the piece, the more points are scored. If the Chieftain lands on a corner, then the whole quadrant is scored, from an aerial view.
Once the last piece is played and scored, then the Chieftain moves around the board, one space at a time, and scores points for all seen pieces including the aerial view.
The game I played lasted about 40 minutes. I didn't win, but felt like I had a fighting chance until the final scoring round.
Players can work together to score points against the leader by the Chieftain movement on their turn. This adds some spice and fun to the game but doesn't result in a 'Kingmaker'.
If you have the chance to play this game, do so immediately -- you will not be disappointed!