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Troyes, the first title released by newly-founded Belgian publisher Pearl Games, is the brainchild of a trio of Belgian designers: Xavier Georges (Royal Palace, Carson City), Alain Orban (Santy Anno) and Pearl Games manager Sébastien Dujardin. Here's a game description from the publisher:
Troyes is a strategy game in which players represent a rich family from the Champagne region, using their inﬂuence to recruit and supervise individuals in three prominent domains: military, religious, and civil. Each domain is represented by its own color (utilized on the cards) and offers its own beneﬁts.
The inhabitants of the city provide a work force, created by rolling 18 dice at the beginning of the round. Next, the players will meld sets of 1 to 3 dice of the same color in order to execute an action; the nine activities of the city include such things as building the cathedral, grappling with an unfortunate event, or even recruiting new residents in order to be able to roll more dice next round. The dice used by a player are free if they are his own citizens, but each player also has the opportunity to open his purse to recruit his enemies’ citizens. Players can use their inﬂuence to change the result of the dice, giving them a degree of control rarely seen in a dice game!
Additionally, each player receives a secret character card at the beginning of the game, whose principles he will defend with the most clever of schemes. In order to gain still greater fame, he will also try to divine the other players’ agendas. The player who has garnered the most fame, as a result of his every action, will win the game. To ensure plenty of replay value, there are 27 Activity cards available, but only nine of them are used each game.
Troyes will debut at the Spiel game convention in Essen, Germany in October 2010. Rules in English, French and German will be posted prior to the game's release on the Pearl Games website.
Update, Sept. 9, 2010: Pearl Games has posted the rules for Troyes in English, French and German on its website. In addition to the rules linked to above, the Troyes game page features an appendix that describes all the cards in the game, again in three languages.
While originally published by Pearl Games in 2010, Troyes only hit the US market in the first half of 2011 courtesy of ZMan Games. Troyes made a big splash when it debuted at Essen 2010, coming in second beyond 7 Wonders in the final standings of the Fairplay list, and was arguably the darling of gamers at the show, its success surprising many who had never heard of it previously. Many consider it to be one of the best gamer's games to emerge from 2010, and if not the best then in the top three.
The game is set in the years 1200-1600, as players use the military, religious, and civil influence of their families to seek to be the most prestigious in Troyes. And yes, that includes building a cathedral! If that sounds like Pillars of the Earth, you're right, but there's a big difference: this has dice! But don't let that intimidate you, because while it may use dice, Troyes does so in a very unique way, to make it a true strategy game of the highest quality. The basic concept of the game is that the citizens (meeples) of the players are placed in three buildings to provide a workforce to build up the city of Troyes. This workforce is represented by dice, which are used to perform various activities (e.g activities by labourers, building the cathedral, countering negative events, or recruiting new citizens).
The combination of great artwork, along with smooth and deep gameplay that features some innovative mechanics is a formula ripe for success. If you consider yourself a fan of medium-heavy eurogames and don't have this already, be sure to take a look at it!