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The Pillars of the Earth
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The Pillars of the Earth

English language edition of Die Säulen der Erde

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
12+ 90-120 minutes 2-4

Designer(s): Michael Rieneck, Stefan Stadler

Publisher(s): Mayfair Games, Kosmos

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Product Description

England at the beginning of the 12th century -- Prior Phillip of Kingsbridge has a glorious vision: to build the largest, most beautiful cathedral in England. To accomplish the task, Phillip recruits the most renowned builders in the country. However, the fate of the Cathedral is constantly threatened by all manner of catastrophes and oppositions.

Players join together to help build Kingsbridge Cathedral. Using your workmen and resources, you must wisely deploy assets to overcome unexpected difficulties and shortages to prove yourself the greatest builder of them all! Will your efforts be recognized when the Great Cathedral at Kingsbridge is complete? The Pillars of the Earth is based on Ken Follett's best-selling novel.

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Game of the Year, 2008
Deutscher Spiele Preis
1st place, 2007
Spiel des Jahres
Recommended, 2007
International Gamers Awards
Best Strategy Game Nominee, 2007

Product Information


  • 1 board
  • 12 builders (3 in each of the 4 player colors)
  • 4 big workers (1 in each of the 4 player colors)
  • 28 little workers (7 in each of the 4 player colors)
  • 4 little grey workers
  • 1 little black worker
  • 82 building resource cubes:
    • 23 stone (grey)
    • 23 wood (brown)
    • 23 sand (cream)
    • 13 metal (blue)
  • 8 wooden discs (2 in each of the 4 player colors)
  • 1 black "costs stone" (wooden disc)
  • 36 craftsman cards
  • 9 building cards
  • 16 advantage cards
  • 10 event cards
  • 4 game overviews
  • 1 taxation die
  • 1 six-piece cathedral
  • 1 cloth bag
  • rules
The Pillars of the Earth has the following expansions available:

Spielbox Magazine: 2007 issue 6 includes Pillars of the Earth: New Craftsmen expansion Out of Stock

The Pillars of the Earth: Expansion Set English language edition of Säulen der Erde: Erweiterung Out of Stock

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.5 in 7 reviews

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by Kirk Andersen
A mind-blowing experience
January 31, 2011

I played this game with a friend and must admit it was a mind-blowing experience. I liked the components, artwork and, in the end, theme of this game. It had an interesting mechanic of choosing between options that are on the board which made it a very good decision-making game. It wasn't as smooth-flowing a game as I would have liked it to be with set-up and choosing order of play and various other things that had to be done in the sequences of play. This is the only reason I don't give it a five-star rating though. The board is awesome and the theme of building cathedrals in medieval europe is great although I wasn't originally struck by this theme when I first saw it in the store and in the games100 list. It was game of the year but I didn't really think I would like it. It is a fantastic game, though.

Constructing Some Fun!
April 04, 2008

The Pillars of the Earth is an engaging game that well deserves its "Game of the Year" status. It has a unique game mechanic that allows for multiple decisions and planning ahead. Although it does involve a little bit of strategy in trying to grab certain elements for your cathedral construction in order to benefit yourself in the victory points, it isn't much of a competition game like most eurogames. In fact, it fits the new trend in eurogames where it is more of a solitaire game played in turns while racing other people, somewhat like a similar "build it for your own benefit" mechanic that drives Zooloretto.

Don't get me wrong, I like the mechanic a lot. The board is absolutely stunning, and the theme works very well. Even though the wooden blocks that build the actual cathedral are really just glorified round markers, there is something satisfying in a tactile way to being able to place them.

The winner is never determined until the final count and the games are very close, but the strategy involved is a bit looser. It is a hard game to predict, but it is always interesting and moves along quite quickly. Despite all the elements that seem daunting when you first open the box, one round of play makes everything make sense.

Great family game that doesn't take too much out of you.

February 01, 2008

The Pillars of the Earth is a truly fantastic game. It's easy to learn, but like all great strategy games, the straightforward goals and rules lead to much "deeper" gameplay.

Each player is trying to contribute to the construction of a cathedral. Players send their workers to gather stone, wood and sand, then used their craftsmen to fashion these raw materials into something impressive that will contribute to the construction of the cathedral. The players' contributions are measured in victory points. Whoever has the most victory points wins.

  • The right amount of luck - There are randomly drawn cards which cause events and alter each player's abilities, but you may use your gold supply in bidding to claim the "good cards" or be exempt from the "bad" ones. There is just enough luck to keep you in eager anticipation, but not enough to destroy your well- made plans.

  • Many different ways to win - You can contribute to the cathedral in many ways: woodwork, stone walls, mortar are your staples. But as the game goes on, you may also hire an architect or goldsmith, build bells, make stained glass windows, bells and even and a pipe organ. The craftsmen use different resources to earn victory points, so you have a lot of options as to what your focus will be.

  • Very little down-time - Players are usually taking actions at the same time or one after the other in quick succession. This game keeps you engaged.

  • Everyone has a chance - Even if you fall behind, you can very turn the tables quickly if you put in a big enough bid for an important craftsman or privilege card. It's always fun totaling up the victory points at the end of the turn and watching the point markers jump past each other.

  • Perfect gamelength - once you get the rules down pat in your first game, later games shouldn't take more than 90 minutes. I personally enjoy playing long wargames like Axis & Allies, but I am very satisfied with the amount of strategy the designers have fit into such a short game.

  • Great components - This game looks very cool. The board is very nicely illustrated and the wooden pieces are cool. The components add a lot to the gameplay experience, too. For example, when you send your workers to gather stone, you place them in the quarry on the board. When it's time to gather the stone, you remove them from the quarry along with several gray blocks representing the fruit of their labor.

I've played this game now with two very different groups of people, and both seemed to enjoy it. Pick up a copy of the Pillars of Earth. It's very deserving of the accolades it has received.

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