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The Red Cathedral


A game for 1 – 4 players
Playing time is around 80 minutes
Publisher is Devir Games


It’s the mid 16th Century and to remember his military victories, Tsar Ivan the Terrible has ordered to construct a temple that would be know as St. Basil’s Cathedral. Its original design took several decades to complete and many teams took part in the construction.

In The Red Cathedral you take the roll of a team of architects charged with building the cathedral. Each player will build different parts of the monument. Use your influence to earn more of Tsar’s favor than your rivals. Will you be the player that has earned the most prestige points by the end of the game?

Let’s get it on the table

This game is played in different rounds until any one player has completed the construction of their sixth Cathedral section. That player receives 3 Prestige point as a reward and the end game is triggered, every player get one final turn before the game ends.

During the game players can get Recognition Points (with a beige background) or Prestige Points.

During your turn, you take on of the 3 basic actions:
A; Claim a Cathedral section
B; Build sections of the Cathedral
C; Acquire resources from the market

On your turn you will perform one of these actions and then the other player will take a turn.

During the setup, the only difference with the number of players is how you setup the building cards. To see how you have to set it up, just take a card and follow the instruction.

When you’re going to claim a part of the Cathedral you take a Banner from your personal workshop and place it on a card of the Cathedral and receive the token on that card. You can only place it on the lowest card or when a card below that card has a banner on it or when it has been completed. Place the token directly on your workshop board.

To build or decorate the Cathedral you need resources, when you have some or all the required resources on your workshop board you need to get them to the Cathedral. Per action you can place a maximum of 3 resources to the construction site and place it on the card with your Banner on it. When you place the final resources on a section, you receive the Recognition points and Rubles shown on the card and flip this card over so you see a part of the Cathedral. When there is a section below this card that isn’t completed, that player loses Recognition points equal to the number of finished sections above their card.

The final, but the most important action is the get resources from the market. Announce the market die you are going to use and move that die around the market exactly the number of spaces as the value of the die shows. After moving the die you now perform the market action, obtain resources (resources multiplied by the number of dice in that space, use influence (look at the card in the region) and/or activate a workshop tile (receive the benefit shown in the tile). After you’ve done everything, you now roll all the dice in this space and place them back.

When a player has completed their sixth Cathedral card they gain 3 Recognition points for finishing the game. The other player(s) now take one last turn and the final scoring starts.

Conclusion & final score

Difficulty: 2.82/ 5
Re-playability: 7
My score: 8 out of 10 dice

The Red Cathedral has a cool theme, working on a Czar’s Cathedral and you really feel like you are building during the game. You collect resources which you place on your workshop board and move them to the places you want to work on. This all sounds very easy but it really isn’t! The point is that you can only place x amount of resources on your player board, for this you will also have to start claiming enough areas to get extra space but you will also have to start moving your resources properly looking at which ones you need for the Cathedral.

Obtaining resources is also not always easy because you will just see that you need that one resource and just can’t get there with the dice that are there and so you will have to wait a turn and then perform another action so you can get there the next time. So you will have to anticipate the available spaces on the Cathedral where you want to build but also look at the needed resources. But do not lose sight of your opponent because before you know it, he will complete their construction and you will lose prestige points because you were not finished yet.

The Red Cathedral has nice artwork that really fits the theme, which can make the game look a bit older. The game has clear rules in which all actions are very well and clearly described.

The nice thing is that there is a lot of player interaction in this game but also not only, despite the 3 actions you can perform, the game has a lot of depth and therefore belongs to an entry level expert game. This game is the first in a series of games, The White Castle is the “successor” but don’t compare them because they both play completely different. The only similarity these 2 games have is that they both come in a small but full box and have the same designers.

Curious about this game? Soon 999 Games will also publish this game in Dutch, order it here!

Thanks to Devir Games for this review copy and the opportunity to write about it.

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