Guildhall: Job Faire

Hope S. Hwang
2 - 4
12 - 199
InteractionComponents & Design

Hope S. Hwang’s Guildhall was Alderac’s surprise release in 2012, a game that was suddenly there with no prior announcement. As it is a pure card game with six types of action cards, and rather popular, the expansion is much less unexpected. Its name is Guildhall: Job Faire and is what we call a standalone expansion: you can play it alone, but you can also mix it up with the original Guildhall. Job Faire doesn’t bring any fancy new rules, it brings six new professions to the game and that’s it. But everything in Guildhall is about the professions anyway, so doubling the options for those – I say options because you pick six when mixing both games, you don’t play with all twelve – extends the game quite nicely.

What is this Guildhall thing all about, then? It’s basically very easy: on your turn, you play two cards from your hand into your guildhall – the play area in front of you – and get effects based on the profession of those cards and the number of cards of the same profession already in your guildhall. The only restriction is the card’s color: you can never have two cards of the same profession and color in your guildhall. All cards except the Tax Collector – there’s always something special for government employees, isn’t there – have three levels of effect. You get the first with no cards or one card of that profession already in your guildhall, the second with two or three cards and the third with four cards. You can’t have more cards already in your hall because with five cards a guild chapter is complete and you cannot add any more cards to it. It also has all the available colours at that point, so you couldn’t add more cards anyway. So, since everything in this game is about the cards, and there are only six professions, here’s a quick walk through the guilds.

  • A match made in cardboard heaven
    A match made in cardboard heaven

    The Bricklayers let you draw some cards from the draw pile – an important ability because Guildhall has no regular redraw on your turn – but also makes you put some cards from your hand back on top of the deck. At the highest level, you draw seven and must put back three. Wait, did I say must? You are generously allowed to put cards back, because those cards are then available to use with …

  • the Scholars. They take up to five cards from the top of the draw pile and put them straight into your guildhall. Cards put there this way do not trigger their card effect, but Scholars are a very quick way to fill up your chapters, and if you can place the cards you need on top of the draw pile first with a Bricklayer, well, I’m sure you see the potential.
  • Hunters are actually more like scavengers: they take cards back from the discard pile and swap them with cards in your guildhall.
  • Peddlers have a more offensive action, they swap cards from your hand with cards in another players’ guildhall. You can use them to get cards you need, or to keep other players from activating the more powerful actions. Or both at once, if you never liked having friends anyway. For extra nasty, five Peddlers can swap two of your cards against a whole chapter from an opponent’s guildhall, with up to four cards – not five, because once a chapter is completed it can’t be manipulated any more, not by the owner, not by anyone else.
  • It’s no surprise that Robbers are also there to piss off others. They take cards from an opponent’s hand and put them straight into your guildhall. At the lowest level, the card is random, but with more Robbers you can pick the cards you want. Every successful band of Robbers has a spotter.
  • Death will be in the next expansion...
    Death will be in the next expansion…

    And finally, there are the Tax Collectors who, very surprisingly, do not piss off any opponents at all. Quite the opposite, when playing a Tax Collector you have to donate a card from your guildhall to another player’s guildhall. In return, you gain a point for each Tax Collector already in your guildhall. That’s nothing to be sneezed at in a game that you win with 20 points. And, to be honest, giving a card away has its upsides, too: you can give cards from chapters away before you complete them so you can use the highest level ability more often. (I’m not sure if this is intended to be legal, but according to the rules it sounds okay: you put four Tax Collectors in your guildhall. You play another Tax Collector, score four points and give one of your Tax Collectors to another player. Now when the new Tax Collector moves into the guildhall there will be four again, the chapter stays incomplete and you can repeat the same next turn. It sounds pretty damn powerful, but to be honest: if your opponents let you do that, they deserve to lose in five rounds.)

But completing chapters is not the goal of the game yet, they don’t score any points. They are, however, the currency to buy points. Instead of playing a card into your guildhall, you can exchange one or two completed chapters against one of the available Victory Point cards. Which one would be a pretty easy decision – always take the highest one – if Victory Point cards didn’t also have special abilities, usually more powerful the less points the card is worth. Three points isn’t much, but three points and the option to put as many cards from your hand into your guildhall as you want? That’s pretty cool when you have a hand full of cards. As mentioned above, when someone reaches 20 points he wins.

Scoring with the Robber
Scoring with the Robber

A game of Guildhall: Job Faire doesn’t usually take very long, twenty points can be scored quickly. But only if the other players let you, sniping at other players’ chapters with four cards so they cannot complete them is a common way to have fun here. That does slow down the game a bit, but there are plenty of options to get two or three cards of one profession into play in one round – this is where the Bricklayer/Scholar combo really shines. This sniping at successful players and trying to still complete your chapters is a light yet fun style of interaction that only rarely gets frustrating. When it does, it’s mainly for the leading player in a four player game, because Job Faire can involve some leader bashing. But even then, there is a fighting chance, you never feel hopeless. Guildhall: Job Faire is a fun, quick game with a bit more direct interaction than average in its weight class. Now, I must admit that I never played the base game Guildhall. But looking at the cards there, they seem different enough that owning both and mixing them is definitely worthwhile if you enjoyed one of them. The only unanswered question is: what sort of project do Bricklayers and Tax Collectors cooperate on that scores seven points? What is the meaning of the Victory Point cards? We have been trying to puzzle that out, but it doesn’t make a lot of thematic sense.

(I just realized that “you never feel hopeless” was a terrible pun with the designer’s name. But I regret nothing!)

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