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THE GAME CONCEPT You are an abbot of a medieval monastery competing with other abbots to amass the greatest library of sacred books. To do so, you need to have both the workers and resources to run a well-functioning scriptorium. To acquire workers and resources, you use a limited supply of donated gold. In addition, you must be on good terms with the powerful bishop, who can help you in your quest.
OUTLINE OF GAME PLAY The object of the game is to score the most Victory Points. You win Victory Points by winning any of the 5 categories: Illuminators, Scribes, Manuscripts, Scrolls, and Supplies. You win a category by having the highest total number of workers (Scribes, Illuminators) or resources (Manuscripts, Scrolls, Supplies) in that category. This is determined by the numbers in the upper left corner on the cards. At the start of the game, each category is worth 3 Victory Points. As the game progresses, the values on the Value Board will change and some categories will become worth more or less Victory Points than others. The game is divided into 2 stages: a Donation stage and an Auction stage. During the Donation stage, players acquire free cards according to an established plan. In the Auction stage, players purchase cards in auction rounds. After the two stages, winners of each category are determined and Victory Points awarded. The player with the most Victory Points wins.
GAME CHARACTERISTICS The game involves a good deal of strategic planning, some bluffing, and a little bit of luck. The rules are easy to understand, but you have to play it a few times to develop a playing strategy. It plays differently from 2-4 players, but each game is equally fun and challenging.
Biblios has to be the card game that Reiner Knizia wanted to make - it's that good. But unfortunately for him designer Steve Finn beat him to it! Originally published as "Scripts & Scribes", this game was one of those cult hits that became a kind of underground phenomenon among those who could get their hands on it. Described by some as For Sale type filler on steroids, it uses familiar mechanisms in interesting ways to create a fun experience with surprising depth in the short time it takes to play. It all comes together in a very successful and deservingly popular package, and the good news is that in the past year Scripts & Scribes was elevated from its humble VHS case status, and joined the world of real games under the name Biblios. With the help of publisher Iello, Pinocchio has become a real boy at last, making this great little card game widely available with new artwork and quality components, and fortunately not changing a thing about the great gameplay.
At its core it is a set collection game, but it begins with a drafting phase where players create an auction deck and give cards to their opponents. Then follows an auction phase as players compete for the cards in the auction deck, trying to establish point-scoring majorities in the five different suits. Oh and did we mention that there are ways to manipulate the points each category is worth by changing the dice totals corresponding to each set type?
Biblios gets just about everything just right: mechanics, rules, length, interaction, scalability, luck, strategy, tension, fun factor and surprise factor. It's all very well balanced, and will thus appeal to a broad range of people. It also combines a variety of mechanics in a delightful and satisfying way. Admittedly the theme is pasted on, because really all that matters are the numbers and suits, so it could be set collection for anything. In that respect Biblios reminds me a great deal of the best of master designer Reiner Knizia - cards with numbers, pasted on theme, but rich and rewarding game-play that makes me come back again and again. In fact, few would have questioned it had Knizia's name been on the box, because it's that sort of game, and right up there with some of Knizia's best fillers and auction games. Outstanding for its class, and very highly recommended!