Four of us this week so it was a chance to play another of the Essen releases that we're slowly getting through. This time it was Die Baumeister von Arkadia by Rudiger Dorn, published by Ravensburger.
Players represent wealthy families competing for prestige and influence as they assist in the building of the city and its massive central castle. Buildings are erected, workers are employed, the castle is constructed, and family seals are earned. The player most adept at exerting his influence at key moments will rise to the top of Arkadian society. Players get four opportunities to cash in the seals they have earned and this will normally be when those seals are most valuable in the castle. But, the game comes to an end pretty quickly so you can't delay too long or you miss out on getting a price of your choice. Also, you only get more workers when you score and you need workers to extend your influence on other buildings.
I found this game quite tricky to work out - in the early stages, all I seemed to be doing was setting up other players for gaining seals. Nige seemed to be doing pretty well but he made one play late in the game that set me up for a big score. That and the fact that I used all 4 of my scoring opportunities, wheras one or two others only used 3, meant I was able to grab the win. I think we all thought Arkadia was a clever game but it was missing that little extra element to make it really shine. A bit dry and a brain burner, much like Torres whose tower pieces this game seems to have recycled.