- English language edition of Sankt Petersburg
- Age range: 10 and up / Number of players: 2 to 4 / Play time: 45 to 60 minutes
- Manufacturer: Rio Grande Games
- 1 game board, 382 rubles, 120 cards, 4 start player markers, 8 markers, rule booklet
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Baroque palaces, wide boulevards, and elegant bridges: St Petersburg. On May 16, 1703, Czar Peter the Great lays the foundation for the first building. Quickly impressive buildings are erected that are ever more grand and beautiful. Such buildings bring the aristocracy glory and the players victory points. But you need traders to bring the rubles necessary for all this magnificence, otherwise, the buildings are empty and bare. But the competition never sleeps and may grab needed cards right from under your nose. St Petersburg: the card game of beautiful living on the Neva.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Still, for those who enjoy intense puzzle games, where every nuance and gesture counts, and where a single draw or error can completely change the balance of power, St. Petersburg is about as good as it gets.
A different player goes first in each phase and the sequence rotates after each complete cycle. Workers, buildings, nobles and upgrades are in the form of cards. Money is handles as paper Rubles. Small wooden tokens are used to keep track of who goes first. On each phase, cards are played into a pool with limited spaces. If cards are left over from a previous phase, they take up some of the spaces. Sometimes a player must take a card to ensure there will be enough spaces in the next phase so they will have a chance at getting one. Money is very important at the beginning of the game but it is fame points that will win it in the end (the end of a cycle where one or more card decks have run out). The more nobles you have at the end the better.
The game consists of a game board for laying out the cards and keeping score along the edges, four decks corresponding to the four phases, paper money, wooden phase tokens, and eight small player tokens. The game works best with four players but can be played with three. Game time runs between an hour and an hour and a half although speed is influenced by familiarity with the game. Very fun and good strategy without having to keep track of dozens of different things. It is an easy game to pick up and follow. Check it out.
This game does not hold after a couple of rounds. I found it easily look over when compared to games like Catan, Dominion, or Agricola. It just does not have the set ability to make people want to keep playing it. I found myself playing to one set strategy and not really looking for more ways to win.
The best part of the games is that it is played in about 30-40 minutes with four people, so if you do not have a lot of time, but wanna play a game, this one works.
Easy to learn
Quick to play
All around fun
Not very re-playable
Not very many "winning" strategies
My recommendation is that you look into other card games first like Dominion, Munchkins, or Race for the Galaxy before trying this one, and if you really like card games this one is an okay addition to your roster.
The basics of this game are simple. Each turn has just 4 phases. The first player of each phase rotates each turn. And each player will go first in each phase of a turn at least once. There are usually about 7-10 full turns per game. The theme is that you are building the new city of St. Petersburg and you want to impress the Czar with your accomplishments. Each card shows the basic cost to purchase as well as number of rubles and/or victory points it gives you each phase it has been purchased and put into play. There are special cards that let you do things like search the discard pile (e.g., either Debtor's Prison each blue phase or Black Market, one time whenever you want to) or take 2 consecutive turns in a phase, or take 1st player in a phase; some of these are paid for, though most are free as long as you have space in your hand to put them first before playing on the table. Normally you can only have 3 cards in your hand unplayed. There are spaces on the board to allow up to 8 cards to be shown face up, available for purchase. The actions happen in player order each phase starting with the player who has the first player symbol for that phase in that turn. Your basic actions are:
1. Take a card, pay for it immediately, and put it face up on the table in front of you. It is now in play and gets you rubles, victory points, or its special abilitiy (e.g., the Observatory lets you look at the top card of any one pile of face-down cards).
2. Take a card and put it in your hand for later play.
3. Play a card out of your hand by paying the cost and putting it face up on the table in front of you. It is now in play.
- The first phase is buying "workers" (green cards). These mainly give you the money (usually 3 rubles per worker each green phase) you need in future turns to buy more items; they give few victory points.
- The second phase is buying buildings (blude cards). They range in cost from 1 ruble up to 25 rubles. They usually give victory points (ranging from 1 up to 9 VPs per blue phase), but some do not. Many also give you money each phase.
- The third phase is buying aristocrats (orange cards). They range in cost from 1 ruble up to 18 rubles. They usually pay you money (ranging from -1 to 5 rubles) per orange phase. Many also give you victory points per orange phase.
- The fourth phase is buying "upgrade" cards (multicolored phase). These cards are marked with a square box around the price. These cards usually provide either better ruble pay outs or more VPs per their respective color phase or both. The only way to play one of these cards is to first buy a basic card in one of the 1st three earlier rounds and put it into play on the table. Then when you buy the upgrade you discard the basic card subtracting its cost from the shown cost on the upgrade card. For example, in the basic blue phase you bought and put into play a Market for 5 rubles. In the upgrade phase a Cathedral for 18 rubles is available. You pick it up and put it into play for 13 rubles (18-5=13), discarding the Market.
- Each phase also has a symbol to help you identify the phase and to pass the wooden phase markers around each turn. The green phase looks like the number 4. The upgrade phase has a square.
- You score money and victory points after phase 1-2-3 but not phase 4.
- The only time you score phase 4 is at the end of the game when you score your number of unique aristocrats (e.g., 10 different aristocrats is worth 55 points).
- The winner at the end of the game has the most VPs as they are accumulated and tracked each phase of reach round as well as the final scoring of your unique aristocrats. At the end, unused rubles turn into VPs at the horrible rate of 1 VP for each 10 rubles.
Outstanding features of this game:
- Easy to teach and play. You may not do too well the first few times, if playing someone who is experienced, but you'll quickly learn the basics and be able to steadily increase your knowledge.
- Minimal set up and take down time. That alone is priceless.
- Few pieces to keep track of. Takes little space to play.
- Plays great whether you're playing just 2-player or 5-player variant. Each variant is unique and fun in its own way. Easier to get resources throughout the 2-player game. Very hard to get resources in the 5-player game.
- Hard to master and every game is different. What works in one game may not work in another. You have to be strategically flexible with the cards that come up and how your opponent(s) are is(are) playing.
One potential problem area: This game is NOT forgiving to making a big mistake. There is no real "catch-up mechanism". If you mess up and your opponent isn't making mistakes, you'll see him pull away and there isn't much you can do other than do your best to stay as close behind as you can. But once you learn and understand this, you play much smarter each time.
Experienced players can play it in about 75-90 minutes, depending upon number of players. Key to learning is to have an experienced player teach you and walk you thru your first game. Then play a few more games on your own, asking a few questions when they arise. After about 4 games take the training wheels off and enjoy hours of fun over and over again!
Each card (once it's played) will earn you money and/or victory points during the scoring, which happens after each of the first three rounds. Obviously, you need victory points to win, but you can't buy more victory points without money. It's a tricky balance and timing is everything. While you can play any of the card types during any round, you only score the type for that round. You continue to cycle through the four rounds until one (or more) of the card stacks runs out. The game fizzles a little at the end since there is no scoring after the fourth round and sometimes that last round is unless.
Overall a good game though and usually playable in about an hour. The upgrade round can be kind of fun and the pictures on the cards are interesting to look at.