By Raymond "DuMeeple" Dumee on August 1, 2019
During our own "Let's Celebrate of Five years of DumeeGamer" event, we had the privilege of meeting up with the good people of Quined Games, who were good enough to come over and party with us. This, of course, made for a good opportunity to try a few of their newest upcoming board games, one of which is a cool game called La Stanza.
For this game, we travel back in time, but not with the infamous Big Red Timemachine, piloted by those two not-so-bright time-outlaws, "Sadhonker" and "CallMeBackdraft". Oh no, Ladies and Gentleman, we will travel back in a much more civilised way, all the way back to the times where good manners were invented and the high society is everywhere: the Renaissance. It is here that we will find ourselves in the room of.. La Stanza.
We played a pre-production copy of the game, so the components, although they already looked good, were still not all final. The box comes with a game board and four player boards, a bunch of coins, sixty character tiles and a lot of other tiles for use on the game board. Apart from this, the game comes with sixty-four book tokens and thirty-five helper Meeples. Each of the players receives a personal Meeple, a sailing vessel, eight discs and five columns in the colour of their choice. One very nice looking sextant is added to indicate the starting player.
In La Stanza, you will take the role of one of the four patrons on their way to increase their social status and prestige by sponsoring the most brilliant minds of that time. Long story short, you will have to get these historical smartasses working for you, to work your way up on the social ladder and gather the so sought after fame and fortune. Basically, playing La Stanza is all about becoming powerful and, above all, famous. So, how do we go about this challenge? Well, by making sure our minions are all in the right places, of course.
The game board is divided in six rooms, each of which represents a certain discipline or field, if you will, of human culture. You can make use of your workers, the aforementioned smartasses, in each of these disciplines. The disciplines in this game are: discoveries, literature, religion, arts and politics. Each of them comes with well-known characters such as Ferdinand Magellan (discoveries), Niccolè Machiavelli (literature), Martin Luther (religion), Leonardo da Vinci (arts) and the most unscrupulous of them all Paulus Mulino (Politics). But Mr. DuMeeple, you just said the board was divided in six rooms, didn't you? Why are there only five disciplines? What about the sixth room? Ah, good of you to ask! The sixth and last room is reserved for bonus tiles, which can be used to score some additional prestige.
When moving your own Meeple through the rooms, you start gathering Characters in your recruitment area. If you manage to get the ones from the same disciplines on your payroll (by paying them of course), you actually have a shot at earning some of that elusive prestige. The best way to get your Characters working for you is to have your own Meeple in the room in which you want to perform an action. This way, you don't have to use a helper Meeple to perform the action for you. The more characters you have working for you on one discipline, the better the actions you can perform in the room will become. When you have more than three Characters of one discipline on your payroll, they'll start creating masterpieces and the prestige points will finally start coming your way. The actions in the rooms range from advancing on the money track in the discovery room to creating art in the art room to exhibiting cool stuff in your personal museum. The player who managed to gather the most prestige at the end of the last round, wins La Stanza.
There is a lot going on at the same time in La Stanza, so it will be hard to keep track of everything. This, however does not present a huge problem, seeing as how it is better to focus on only one or two disciplines, preferably those you just happen to have a few characters of, and score a lot prestige with them. One downside to the game for me is the fact that the game mechanics somehow don't seem to fit the chosen theme completely, which is a bit of a disappointment, yet nowhere near to being a game breaker.
Overall, La Stanza is a very nice set-collecting, medium to heavy euro game and a good addition to the numbered Quined Master Print Edition series, which all come with that awesome book spine-like design printed on one side of the box which is, in my opinion, still a very, very cool feature! One day, maybe, I will have them all on my board game shelve, nicely displayed next to each other. It's like with Pokémon; gotta catch them all! But before we can catch La Stanza, we'll still have to wait for a bit. Although the game is already available for pre-order, the release is set for somewhere in October of 2019.
Speaking of having to wait; I already can't wait for my kids to grow up, get a job, move out and be completely independent. Not only will that make me a proud parent; it will also give me and my wife A LOT more time to play heavy Euro games!
Year of release: October 2019
Designer: Nuno Bizarro Sentieiro, Paulo Soledade
Artist: Luka Arh, Loïc Billiau, Sébastien Caiveau, José van den Helder, Kevin Hill, Konstantin Vohwinkel
Players: 2 - 4 players, ages 10 & up
Playtime: approx. 75 minutes