Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The long view of the Architect: it keeps getting better

About a year ago, I tried out a solitaire game called the Architect. At the time, I thought it was better than I had expected and I knew I should play it some more. Yeah, it took me a year to get back to it.

(Spoiler: it is even better than I remembered it being)

The Architect is an 18-Card tile laying game where you are creating the floor plan for a one-story home. It needs to have a central corridor and as few isolated rooms, doors opening into walls and gaping holes in outside walls as possible.

The tile-laying rules are very generous. There are columns that have to form a grid. Beyond that, you can both cover up previously placed cards and tuck under them. That gives you a lot of flexibility.

Which you need because it’s surprisingly tough to make a good layout. The rules say you should have plenty of space when you play and the rules weren’t kidding. Unlike many similar games where you end with blocky card patterns, The Architect can create some very snaky, spread-out layouts.

Going back to The Architect, I realized what really makes it tick and stand out is that every card is very different. In a lot of tile-laying games, there’s a lot of symmetry and similarity in tiles. Every card on the Architect is very distinct while still being very true to the architecture theme. I’m really impressed with how much design work had to go into this seemingly simple idea.

The variety of cards creates a lot of interesting decisions and means that the layouts really change from game to game. There’s a lot of changing challenges and replay. 

I have played a lot of micro games. I’m a lazy PnPer and they’re easy to make. And I have seen a lot of game crammed into a few components. But even by that standard, there’s a lot of game in eighteen cards here. If it was 52-cards, it would be overwhelming.

The more I have played The Architect, the more of an interesting puzzle it becomes. Eighteen cards and minimal ink, I’d recommend it to anyone who is curious.

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