English language edition of Sankt Petersburg
Your Price: $34.99
(Worth 3,499 Funagain Points!)
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Baroque palaces, wide boulevards, and elegant bridges: St Petersburg. On May 16, 1703, Czar Peter the Great lays the foundation for the first building. Quickly impressive buildings are erected that are ever more grand and beautiful. Such buildings bring the aristocracy glory and the players victory points. But you need traders to bring the rubles necessary for all this magnificence, otherwise, the buildings are empty and bare. But the competition never sleeps and may grab needed cards right from under your nose. St Petersburg: the card game of beautiful living on the Neva.
A vexing and deep game of resource management and timing, St. Petersburg is one of the best and most intense games of the past few years--perhaps a bit too intense. In games with a small number of experienced players who are all playing well, this game has two problems: first, a single mistake early in the game can be nearly impossible to recover from and, second, the randomness of play order can give advantages (especially early in the game) that are hard for other players to overcome. Taken together these problems limit replayability, making it more of a challenging puzzle to be solved than an enjoyable gaming experience. They also limit opportunities to recruit new players: the gap between a novice and an experienced player is just too large.
Still, for those who enjoy intense puzzle games, where every nuance and gesture counts, and where a single draw or error can completely change the balance of power, St. Petersburg is about as good as it gets.
The reviewer who called this a "shopping" game is right on the mark. It's all about using your money to buy things that will give you the most points or at least will give you more money next turn.
It works well with 2 players and it's not too confrontational, so it makes a good "wife game."
If you like resource management and decisionmaking, give this game a try. It's lighter than Puerto Rico, Princes of Florence, etc. but heavier than Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride. And it plays differently than all these types of games.
St Petersburg is a very entertaining game - it reminds me in some ways of a "Knizia-lite" insofar as the scoring and the relationship of some of the cards and their potential benefits. The bits are quite innovative, with a "wood- block" type look to them, and the other bits like the rubles are first class too.
I think one of St Petersburg's most outstanding features is the ability to scale well with 2,3,4 players. It plays especially well with 2. St Petersburg has a high replayability due to the mechanism that drives the end of the game - the random exhaustion of one of the 4 decks of cards combined with the random appearance of the various cards that produce money, points or other benefits.
The game does not suffer from analysis paralysis even with 4 - it moves pretty steadily even with newbies playing.
My wife and I often play 2 games back to back followed by a game of Carcasonne - The Castle.
St Petersburg is certainly not as deep as Puerto Rico, or as backstabbingly entertaining as El Grande, but it is a very enjoyable game overall.
The last ten years have brought a great flood of Eurogames to the gaming community, and I do mean great. If Acquire has become a "classic" in the gaming set, surely Settlers, Puerto Rico, and other really good games will fall into that category. Years from now people will continue to play these games because they are so much fun and so well designed. With that mindset I have altered my thinking regarding purchasing new games. A game that is well designed and fun but doesn't get played because there are better games of that genre is, in the end, a piece of clutter on your bookshelf. I now Ebay my used games that got a few plays but are clearly destined for a coating of dust. That's not to say I don't keep a healthy assortment of games though! However, when I look at a new game these days, I feel it needs to be somehow unique to be worthy of purchase.
St. Petersburg is a niche Euro that is worthy of consideration. There are many great three, four, and five player Eurogames, there are fewer really good two player games. St. Petersburg does very well as a two player game, with the added bonus that you can play it inside of a lunch hour. (As an aside, Carcassonne The Castle and Lost Cities also fit into this category well too, and all are very different so you have options.) St. Petersburg also plays well as a multi-player game, and the advantage it has over other games is that it is relatively quick, and therefore makes a great filler game. It is not so good that you will likely play this all evening; and while it does have similarities to other Euros I do not feel it is meaty enough to warrant more than four stars. The flip side of that coin is that it is very quick to teach. This isn't a great game to bring newbies into the hobby, though. While there is a little luck, this game will almost certainly be decided by skillful play. If you want your newbie gamer to have a fighting chance and get hooked into Eurogaming, start with Settlers or Ra. You just can't go wrong there.
Regarding the game components themselves, they are clear and pleasant enough to look at. Given that, the paper money is flimsy and awkward to deal with. What I have found to be a great alternative is to drop a few dollars on some poker chips and use three colors to represent denominations of 1, 5, and 10. This offers several advantages. First, you don't have to appoint a banker. Second, it speeds the game up. Third, poker chips are just more fun to deal with. And lastly, I have found that it can be useful to set aside some of your chips on certain cards to designate an upcoming play, like stacking six rubles on the author you intend to upgrade.
Recommended, and the price is right too.
One of many lists that I keep could best be called my ‘fence-sitter’s list’; games that, for various reasons, I have not played and, for various reasons, haven’t wanted to play despite fairly good buzz on the internet. St. Petersburg has long been on that fence- sitter’s list. The theme sounds dull (aristocrats and buildings in Russia?), the artwork doesn’t look so great from the pictures I’d seen on the internet, and there was buzz on the game that replayability may not be high on this title. Finally I decided to give it a chance…and, quite frankly, I didn’t like it. There didn’t seem to be any real strategy to the game, it was too wide open. The object is to get victory points, but there are hundreds of combinations of abilities, so how can there be a best way to get them? Interestingly enough, this was my first impression of Puerto Rico, a game that went on to be a smash hit. So, is St. Petersburg the next Puerto Rico? Well…not exactly, but there is a lot more to this game than a first playing might tell you. And a lot here to like.
The game consists of 4 different decks of cards, some markers, paper money, and a board. The decks of cards are of 4 types: Workers, Buildings, Aristocrats, and Improvements. All the cards are illustrated in a pseudo-‘iconic’ style – reminiscent of Orthodox Church art. I don’t know why it doesn’t photograph well, but the game looks very nice in real-life with its distinct artwork and wide variety of card types. The board is simple but very clean and functional, with spots for all 4 decks, a discard pile, card drafting rows, and a scoring track along the outside edge. Each player is given 25 rubles (the very nicely designed paper currency of the game) and one or two deck markers to start the game. And then we begin.
Your turn couldn’t be simpler; either: a) Pick one of the eight cards on the drafting rows, pay the cost (printed on the card), and build it (set it in your own play area). b) Take one of the eight cards and put it in your hand (to a maximum of 3 cards in your hand). c) Build one of the cards from your hand. d) Pass.
The first phase consists of turning over a number of green Worker cards. A player may hire a worker, take a Worker card into hand, build any card out of his hand, or pass. The Worker cards are extremely valuable early in the game because they are the cheapest way to generate income (and money is tight in the first half of the game, so income is highly desirable.) Workers cost between 3 and 8 rubles each, and each one provides 3 income at the end of every Green phase. (So why pay 8 rubles for 3 income when you can pay 3 rubles for 3 income? We’ll talk about that when we get to the Improvement deck.) This Worker phase ends when all the players have passed, and then players are given the income of rubles and victory points showing on all their green Worker cards only.
Next, the blue Building phase, which works much the same as the green Worker phase. But since only 8 cards may ever be available, Building cards are only added to the board as there is room for them. If 3 Worker cards were not taken in the previous round, then 5 Buildings are added for a total of 8 available cards. Whereas Workers provide mostly ruble income, Buildings provide mostly victory points, though several of the Buildings have special abilities such as increasing hand size or taking an extra card. The more expensive the Building, the better its ratio of cost to victory points, ranging from a 5 ruble building providing 1 VP per turn, all the way up to a 23 ruble building providing 7 VPs per turn. When all the players have passed, the blue Buildings are now scored for victory points and ruble income – as this happens at the end of every blue phase, buying big VP buildings early ensures a large income of VPs every turn.
Next, the orange Aristocrat phase. Again, the row is filled up to 8 cards, so any leftovers from previous phases lessen the amount of available Aristocrats. Aristocrats mostly provide income, sometimes a couple of victory points, but cost quite a bit more that Workers. The reason for this is that not only do the Aristocrats provide an income of rubles and victory points at the end of every round, but at the end of the game, players score bonus VPs for having a variety of Aristocrats. Having one type of aristocrat at the end of the game is worth one bonus VP, but 5 Aristocrats is worth 15 points, and 10 different Aristocrats are worth 55 points! End of phase, players get their income/VPs from all their orange cards.
Lastly, the Improvement phase. Again, cards are added to a total of 8 available cards. These improvement cards will be either green, blue, or orange. They must be used to “improve” (replace an existing card) with the owner paying the difference between the old card and the new one. Worker improvements are a little different from the other improvements, as hinted above. Workers always provide 3 income but range in cost from 3-8 rubles. The different prices denote different Workers, and each type of Worker has an icon. When you buy a Worker improvement, the icons must match. The key here is that the more expensive the worker, the better his corresponding Improvement card is. Building improvements can be very handy since they can help provide ruble income, getting a player more income just before the Aristocrat phase. Aristocrat improvements are vital for not only providing more victory point income, but also because the only way to get a large variety of Aristocrats (for end game bonus scoring) is to get some of these Improvements. No income of ANY kind is provided for the players at the end of the Improvement phase, so players must budget very carefully!
At the end of the four phases, players move any cards that were not taken to the bottom row of the board where they are now available at a 1 ruble discount. Now players start back at the green Worker phase, revealing cards, but with the discounted cards counting against the 8 cards available. I’ve tried to give a good sense of how the game works, and what each card does, but what I can’t tell you is what makes this game as fun as it is. Like Puerto Rico, the “wide-openness” of the game can be a bit overwhelming at first playing. But as you get the hang of the game, recognizing the value of different cards to you at different times in the game becomes very important. Since from game to game different cards will be available at different times, players are playing a game of “optimization” where they are trying to see the value of the available cards respective to themselves and their opponents, mostly trying to help themselves, sometimes trying to prevent their opponents. The tactics used to get cards you need, keeping cards away from opponents, budgeting money, and taking advantage of player turn order, are impossible to apprehend during your first game, but once you get the hang of it, the game has a very constructive feel to it.
St. Petersburg is simple enough that non- gamers can grab onto the concept quite quickly, and since it is largely non- confrontational, it makes a good game for those casual gamers too. The game is lucky enough to keep it from becoming a chess match, but clever play will almost always make up for unlucky card drafting. This game has a bit of a Puerto Rico-lite feeling to it, but is very much enough of its own game to merit purchase. Very little downtime, nice graphic presentation, clever gameplay, and that wonderful intangible, high “fun factor”. It has a breezy replayability similar to Mystery Rummy or Balloon Cup, but has more depth of game to it. With a player range of 2-4, and a 30- 40 minute playing time, this is worthy addition to almost any games library. And the numbers don’t lie: St. Petersburg gets played and played often! Recommended.
St. Petersburg is a game about shopping. While the theme is the building of St. Petersburg and the acquisition of the resources to build and occupy the nicest buildings, at its heart this is a game about shopping.
The game is played over a series of turns which comprise four rounds each. Each round sees cards from one of four special decks added to the cards already on the board, bringing the total number of cards to eight. These cards represent workers, buildings, aristocrats and various upgrades to the other three categories. While a few cards have special effects associated with them, the majority either provide income, victory points, or a little of both. More expesive cards will provide a greater return than cheaper cards.
This is not an auction game, so the cost of each card is fixed. The tension of the game comes from trying to maximize one's holdings. If one purchases too many income-generating cards, it is at the expense of victory points and vice versa. It is also a question of when to buy cards as sometimes there will be two or more good cards up for grabs and a player can only purchase one card at a time.
This game lacks the weight of some other recent Euro games, like Goa and Maharaja. It is very much the same process turn after turn, acquiring cards for one's holdings. Happily, the game plays in a short enough time frame that it does not outstay its welcome. The decisions tend to be tactical rather than strategic, since it is unknown what cards will come up for sale each round.
There are some nuances to the game, such as the discount applied to older cards and the ability to put cards into your hand for later purchase, but for the most part the game is pretty simple and straightforward. If you enjoy games where you have to outshop your opposition and try for the best deals, then this is a game for you.
Of the new crop from Rio Grande, this game was a clear winner. After Jay Tummelson taught it, I played it twice, enjoyed it both times, then purchased. This strategy game can be played in less than an hour, and appears to be deceptively deep (in a good way). Jay says it plays well for 2, 3, and 4. I only played it with four and can certainly vouch for that number. Enjoy!
I've only played once so far. If varied strategies work this could go up to 5 stars. If there turns out to be one best strategy, down to 3 stars.
There are 4 decks of cards. A turn is basically, flip and buy cards from a deck, score any in-play cards from that deck, repeat until you do all 4 decks. There are markers distributed to the players indicating who goes first for each deck (then clockwise). After a turn the markers are passed to the left, so you know in advance turn order for each deck and can plan ahead.
Each buying round starts with 8 cards available, including leftovers (from previous rounds that turn, or from the previous turn [at a $1 discount]). Every card has a cost ($) and a 'production' value ($ or Victory Points). A few cards have special abilities.
The first deck is made up of various kinds of workers. They have different prices but all give $3 income, so some are a better return on investment than others with the exception that some workers can be upgraded (4th deck). Buying a duplicate of a card you own already gives you a discount. After everyone is done buying workers, everyone gets income (or VP in some cases) from them. Only upgraded workers will produce victory points.
The second deck is buildings. Most buildings produce VP, a few produce cash. Any of them can be used for upgrades to other buildings. Buy and score.
The third deck is aristocrats. A mix of VP and cash. A one time, end of game, victory point total is given based on how many different guys you have. Buy and score.
The fourth deck is upgrades. Some of them require specific cards to upgrade from, buildings can be upgraded from any base level building. The card you are upgrading from gives you a credit towards the new one. The exception here is you do no scoring after the upgrade purchases, since you are upgrading cards of all 3 other categories.
If you want a card you can't afford, you can take it and keep a limited number of unplayed cards in your hand. However, if the game ends with unplayed cards, you are penalized.
End of game is the end of the turn in which one of the 4 decks is exhausted.
There seem to be various stragegies--you need cash from workers, but they don't produce VP. You can get discounts if you concentrate on one kind of worker. Buildings are good for victory points during the game, Aristocrats are good if you can get many kinds. Upgrades are the most efficient producers of both cash and VP but they don't score immediately.