Published by: Devir Games
# of Players: 2 to 4
In Barcelona: The Rose of Fire, you will be playing as an upper middle class family that is working at becoming the most influential and prosperous family. You will be working with and against the other players to transform Barcelona into a city that is the envy to all of Europe. You will have to be cautious in your planning as you will need to balance fancy upper class buildings and lower class apartments. Build too few of one and you may end up with a revolt or no influence. Can you thread the needle of building a city that everyone enjoys or will you turn Barcelona into a roaring fire of revolution? I invite you to read along as I give you my take on Barcelona the Rose of Fire by Devir Games.
Barcelona is a tile laying game that is card driven. Each player will have a player board that has the name of a family from Catalan. This board contains all the steps of the game and also displays the color of your player pieces. Player's will also get buildings in 4 different shapes in their player color. The different shapes represent the various classes of buildings. Striking workers will be given to each player in their player color. There are also sixteen black soldiers that will be used during part of the game. Barcelona's art on the cards and boards is very fitting for the time era and helps you feel like you are playing a historical game. The board is largely a grid map of Barcelona with a Auca of Prestige track and Social Conflict track on the bottom of the board. Players will be placing city tiles along with the building counters during their turns. The city tiles are square and show one of the 3 color housing blocks that will be formed during the game. The cards that players will use to perform their action are very sturdy and contain some knowledge about Catalan or a quote from one it's residents. There are a few cardboard tokens that will be used to represent different things during the game. The rule book is highly illustrated and makes this game seem far more complex to learn than it really is. Some of the rules are confusing as they seem to be translated from a different language and may not make the most sense. For example the tie breaker rules can be very confusing due to it changing for different aspects of the game. For the most part, the rules do explain everything and you should be able to play with only a little confusion on some rare occurrences. Overall I feel Devir Games did a good job of delivering a game that feels historical and interesting to play.
Barcelona: The Rose of Fire is a tile laying game that has players competing to have the most victory points at the end of the game. Players will earn victory points from buildings they build and prestige cards. Cards will be divided into 3 decks. (city, popularity, and prestige) At the start of the game each player will have 4 city cards to use during their turns for the first phase. The game is divided into 3 periods with periods 1 and 2 having 2 phases. At the start of each phase, the first player will randomly select an immigration counter that will have a number 4-6 and place it on the current phase. A 6 counter can only be placed on the last phase so pick a different counter if you select one of the sixes. This immigration number will be explained when I explain placing city tiles. Each card in the game will have a color and symbols of what type of buildings they can build in the upper corners of the cards. Some of the popularity cards will have text that can be used as an event instead of placing a building. The prestige cards will allow you to place a city tile and also perform an action based on the card's text.
Once the immigration is set and cards have been dealt out, the first player may take their turn. They will play a card from their hand and place a city tile along with a building type that is displayed on the card. In later rounds, popularity and prestige cards are added and you may have a choice of an action instead of building a city tile. The city is divided into 3 zones and each zone has a starting point for each of the 3 city colors. The player will take a tile and place the tile next to the starting point of the color and place a building of the type that is listed on the card. Most cards will have more than one of type of building to choose from. Different building types give you different amounts of victory points, but also different amounts of influence and other repercussions. When you place a building, you will take the immigration rate and subtract the class of the building. Upper class counts as 1 and goes down to 4 for lower class buildings. You will place striking workers in the Raval based on the difference between the immigration rate and class of building. For example if I place a Upper class building and the immigration rate is 5, I will have to place 4 striking workers in the Raval. No big deal right? Well, you can only have a maximum of 5 striking workers in the Raval. If you go over 5, you will remove 2 of the striking workers and place 1 of them in the barricades. The other is returned to you. You will keep doing this till you are down to 5 or less striking workers in the Raval. At the end of your turn, if there is a square block of buildings (2x2 square of city tiles), you will place an obelisk in the center of the block to note that it has been completed. All players who have a building in the block will gain a prestige point and move up one on the Auca table. Also the player with the highest building class sum in the block will receive an additional point. If you build a upper class building, you will receive a influence counter randomly from the bag. You can have up to 6 counters at any time. You will use these counters to buy influence cards that earn you extra victory points during the game. At the beginning of the game you will randomly draw on of these tokens and will place it under your player board. If you hold on to the counter for the whole game, it will award +2 victory points for each influence card of the same type you have at the end of the game. You can also use it for a special ability depending on the type of influence. They range from playing an event along with building a building on a popularity card to gaining additional prestige or victory points. Otherwise you can use it like any other influence counter during the game. The consequence for building an upper class building is that you will also move the bomb marker up one spot on the social conflict board. So in summary, your turn is play a card and build a building and/or event action on the card. Then play goes to the next player and keeps going till each player is out of cards.
Once everyone is out of cards, you will start the end of phase procedure. The first player will take all the striking workers and place them in the black bag along with as many soldiers as there are workers in the barricades or total number of players, up to a max of 8 soldiers. You will then take a number of workers/soldiers from the bag equal to the current immigration rate and add them to the barricades. Players will now lose prestige points on the Auca based on the number of striking workers in the barricades. For each soldier removed from the bag, you will move up the bomb on the social conflict track. Next you will determine who gets the labor strike card. The labor strike card is basically a waste of one of your turns for the next round. The player with the most striking workers in the barricades will take the labor strike card. All striking workers in the barricades are then returned to their player's available pool of workers. The player who is has the most prestige on the Auca will receive a prestige card and add it to their hand for the next round. Players will then assign popularity cards. This is decided by comparing the number of a class of building in each district. The player who has the most of a class of building in a district will take a popularity card. Up to 9 popularity cards will be given out this way. A player can only have 4 cards for each round. They will not receive any cards over that limit. If a player still does not have 4 cards after popularity cards are dealt, they will receive city cards till they are at the 4 card limit. Finally a new first player will be determined. This is given to the player who got the labor strike card. If you are at the end of a period, you will also score completed blocks. Buildings in completed blocks will receive victory points based on class of building. Upper class will give you 4 and lower class will give you 1 victory point. After you have scored the block, you will remove the buildings from the tiles and return them to the players along with removing the obelisk. Each block will only be scored once during the game. You will also quell the protests. This means you will empty the black bag and divide the workers by color. The player with the fewest striking workers in the bag is rewarded with a prestige point on the Auca. The workers are then returned back to the players.
After the fifth phase, you will perform the end of period and phase procedures, but instead of receiving the labor card, the player will lose victory points. Also the player who would get the prestige card will receive 4 victory points and 1 victory point for each majority in the districts instead of popularity cards. You will score blocks as usual and then each building located outside a block will get 1 victory point. Players will get victory points based on their influence cards and could receive victory points for influence counters the player did not use. The player with the most points wins the game.
Now you may be asking what about the social conflict track. What is going on there? During the game if the bomb reaches one of the influence spots, the influence cards of that type that have not been claimed will be removed from the game. Nothing too big. But if the bomb reaches the anarchy spot and during the end of phase procedure at least one soldier is removed from the black bag, the city is overtaken by a revolution. Any scoring of buildings from that point forward will be in reverse order. Upper class buildings will get 1 victory point and low class buildings will get the max 4 points. This can cause a drastic change in scoring and strategy.
Barcelona the Rose of Fire is much harder to explain than play as you can see by my gameplay section. I enjoyed the conflict of building upper class buildings but having a lot of penalties for doing so. The balance of maintaining your spot on the Auca board, workers in the Raval and barricades, plus trying to make sure your buildings end up in blocks and getting majorities is really hard to keep up with. Getting prestige cards is almost essential to victory as long as you use them to their max potential. During all the games I played I never once feared about getting close to Anarchy on the social conflict board. I think at least 2 players have to try hard to place a lot of upper class buildings to get it to anarchy. Doing so would be horrible because you will most likely end up with bad prestige and the labor strike card. The actual tile laying and building part of the game is fairly simple but fun. Trying to balance it all makes for some difficult decisions and playing the wrong card can affect a later turn. The historical aspect of Barcelona is very interesting and Devir really tried to immerse you in the history and time period that you are playing in. Barcelona is a fun game that at times feels over complicated for what it is. This is a light to medium weight game that wants to be a medium to heavy weight game. Despite that, I enjoy Barcelona for what it is. Games will change a lot depending on the experience level of the group and how the players are playing during the game. If everyone takes a balanced approach, it will play one way. If a player or two play very aggressive with upper class buildings, it will drastically change the tone of the game. Each way is fun and offers players to experience different strategies that you can try and make work for your victory. I would recommend Barcelona: The Rose of Fire to people who enjoy tile laying games or games that have make you think on how to keep everything balanced. Barcelona is much easier to teach than read the rules to learn. I loved the historical aspect of the game and the art makes it an eye catcher. Barcelona will be added to my collection and I hope to play more to try out various strategies more.
+Historical theme and art is very interesting
+The intense decisions based on trying to maintain balance
+Easy to play
+Different take on tile laying
-Rules are over complicated
-Anarchy is really hard to reach on social conflict board
- Tie Breaker rules can be confusing depending on what you are trying to decide