The Castles of Tuscany: A Review

Ages 10+ | 2-4 players | 45-60 minutes

Designer: Stefan Feld
Category: Territory building
Mechanism: Set collection, tile placement
BGG rating: 7.4 out of 10. Link: click here. 

Buy it on Amazon here.

The Castles of Tuscany is a light, strategic tile placement game that is perfect for board gamers looking for a quick game after Sunday brunch. It is a good intro game for newcomers, looking to dabble in strategic games for the first time. For those who like set collections, this game works on not only collecting tiles, but also bonus tiles and cards. It has a good mix of game components without it being too overwhelming. 

The game is set in Tuscany in the 15th century, during the Italian renaissance. Players are influential princes trying to build their domains and expand their regions. The regions in this game are three small boards made up of hexes. The tiles are hexagon pieces with nine different categories. Tiles may be placed in your region by having the correct number of region cards and/or workers. 

You may rearrange the three hex boards to connect regions of the same color together. The max region size is three hexes (grey and light green shown here).

A player can do one of three actions per turn: draw cards, take a tile, place a tile. It is pretty straight forward! A player gains a reward whenever placing a tile of a certain color, and can refer to their own player board on what they get: more cards, more workers, more marble, etc. The red city tile gains an extra square tile for a player’s own board, which allows them access to more resources. 

This is your personal player board. Placing a red hex city tile in your region grants your choice of an additional square tile on the right of your board (as seen above).

These square tiles are key in strategy for this game, so I’ll touch on these. Please note that a player can add as many tiles as they can per category; there is no limit as long as they have the appropriate hex to be able to add it.

  1. Draw +1 Region Card: Players usually draw two cards, so adding this tile gives them an extra card per draw. A common tile to take. Note: the image shown here also shows a yield square tile, which is explained in number five below.
  2. +1 Hex Storage Space: Gives a player more room to take hexes. A common tile to take.
  3. +1 Marble Tile: Use one marble per turn to do an extra action. This is a more uncommon tile to take, but can be OP if used correctly.
  4. +1 Worker Tile: Use one orange worker man in place of one of your two region cards to place a hex. A semi-common tile to take and can be very helpful.
  5. Draw +1 Yield Card: Gives you one extra yield card, which can give you immediate victory points and/or resources. An uncommon tile to take.

Tips & Strategies

Board gamers who are used to heavier euro-strategic games might be annoyed at the large collection of region cards they might accumulate if they cannot place their hex. However this luck of the draw may be combated by gaining extra +1 square worker tiles to their board and working on accumulating as many workers as possible to ignore region cards. 

How to place a hex tile:
1. Have two region cards of the same color of the tile you would like to place.
2. Substitute one region card of the correct color with a pair of another color. I.e. Placing a red city tile may be done with one red region card and a pair of light green region cards.
3. Use an orange worker to substitute one region card. I.e. Placing a red city tile may be done with one red region card and one orange worker man. You may also use two workers and no region cards to place a hex.

One tip for strategic board gamers is to place your red city tiles as soon as possible to get more square tiles, since that is the bonus every time you place that tile. A good strategy is to then focus on your regions in the larger groups, since you get the most points from regions in groups of three (six points). At the same time, try and finish the entire light green agriculture region across the entire board, as being the first player to do this gains you four VPs.  

Hexes must be placed with at least one side touching another tile. Try to finish larger colored regions and then an entire color on your board for the bonus tile points.

A second tip is to utilize the marble from the grey quarry tiles. Try to get the square tile “+1 marble space” early on and get as many as possible. Spread out placing the grey quarry hex tiles throughout the game to get marble from the beginning to end. Save your marble for when you really need them to gain extra turns to grab that rare hex tile or complete a set of one color before someone else!

What is the best player count for this game?

I played this game three times with two players, and once with three players online. With 2p, it was easier to grab hex tiles that I wanted and played a game in about 40-45 minutes. I suggest this player count when you are just wanting to play a quick game or even a filler. With 3p, it was a huge shift in strategy, having to come up with two-to-three backup moves each round. It was fun adding a third, but I think 4p would make the game too long. I noticed that our 3p game took almost twice as long to play! It could have been because we played it on Tabletopia, however. 

It is better to play the physical copy in my opinion. On Tabletopia, I could not arrange my three region boards before the start of the Tabletopia game, which is important in grouping regions together to score more points. Not allowing us to arrange them made one of the other players never have three of one kind of region next to each other, and only ever scored one or three victory points per region completion instead of the highest, six. 

We also ran out of the region card draw pile, and had to manually flip each of the 140+ cards over–causing a rather long play delay. I wish there were a quicker way to hold shift+drag to select all discarded cards and then flip and shuffle, even if they were not aligned correctly.

Things about the box

-No box insert, but includes enough good-quality baggies to stop me from complaining too much.

-Beautiful box and good size. Clean design, not cheesy. Says “3” on the side.

Did you know? A removable insert was added at the bottom of the box to increase the sturdiness when palletizing for transporting in bulk. With bigger boxes and heavier components in board games becoming increasingly popular and produced in bulk, packaging needs to be durable enough to make it through the shipping process.

Worth the Feld? Should I add it to my collection?

In my opinion, yes. It is a lighter game and fine for all levels. My rating for this game is:

Rating: 7 out of 10.

7/10 stars

I found it interesting that the rating for The Castles of Tuscany on Board Game Geek has a complexity rating of 2.20, and The Settlers of Catan has a complexity rating of 2.35. As you can see, it is a game on the lighter side. I would still rather play The Castles of Tuscany though, simply because I love games designed by Stefan Feld. My first strategic board game I’d ever played was NOT Catan, like most. It was actually Feld’s The Castles of Burgundy (CoB), which came out in 2011.

Did you know? The Castles of Tuscany is Stefan Feld’s 29th game. There are 32 total, with his next board game, Bonfire, coming out soon! BGG link for Bonfire here.

This game was previously thought to be very similar to CoB, but I think it is its own style. There is an element of luck drawing the correct cards to place your hex tiles in your region. There are less hexes to choose from, a smaller region to work with, and a great game to explore different strategies over and over again.

Interested? Check out the Board Game Geek link here.
Buy it on Amazon here.


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