Biblios

A no-frills type of review of the card game Biblios, THE perfect filler game if you ask us. And you should. Also, check out the rulebook and 5 player variant and the end of the review.

Biblios
Posted December 05, 2018 by Jay Kay
  • Designer(s): Steve Finn
  • Publisher: iello
  • Playercount: 2-4 (5 with official variant)
  • Length: 20 - 30 min

INTRO

First of all, Biblios is not a board game, it's more of a card drafting game and a very good one. In fact, one could say this is a perfect filler game (You know, the kind of games you play between games or when you are waiting for someone. Or perhaps as the last game when the hour is getting late).
-One would be right.
Biblios takes about 20-30 minutes to play including set up, it's easy to teach, packs a great amount of replayability, and appeals to newbies and hardcore gamers alike. Sounds good? Well, sit back and enjoy this review of Biblios.

Components

  • 1 Value Board
  • 5 Dice
  • 87 Playing Cards
  • 2 Reference Cards
  • Rules

Overview

Biblios is a set-collection card game in which you are an abbot of a medieval monastery competing with other abbots to amass the greatest library of sacred books. 
To do so, you need to collect different types of scrolls, scribes, manuscripts, and other items needed for such a library.. These are represented by different types of cards.
You will also need money, for buying more of these items at auctions, and you will need to be in good standing with the bishops. These are also represented by cards from the same stack.

The game is divided into two phases, "The donation phase"  and "The auction phase", with the first one taking up roughly 2/3 of the playing time.

At the end of the game, players compare their score in the different types of categories, and the winner gets as many points as the die in that category is showing.

Set up

This part is a breeze, you shuffle the cards, removing a certain amount of face-down cards depending on player count, put down the dice on their correspondent spots, with the number 3 pointing upwards. Boom, you are ready to go.

Gameplay

Donation Phase: Players take turns drawing cards from the stack. On a players turn he/she has to:

  • Take one card and add it to his/her hand.
  • Take one card and add it face down to the auction pile.
  • Take the same amount of cards as there are other players, put them face up on the table.

The players draw one card at the time and have to decide what to do which each. This is a very simple mechanic in which phase 1 revolves around, and it's brilliant;
-Oh, you drew a pretty good card for your collection, hmm what to do? Give it to the opponent, add it to your hand, and therefore forfeiting the rest of the cards this turn, or putting it face down in the action pile?
These are the choices that will haunt you when it's your turn and it's great, the feeling when you've managed to give your opponents the worst cards, get the best one yourself, and the second-best in the auction pile is simply amazing. Press-your-luck mechanic at its finest.

So, what is a good card you wonder? Well, this game is about collecting the most points of a given category (color), to gain the dice of that corresponding category, and the dice determines the score.

the dice of each color
In this example, whoever gets the most points in the brown category, wins the brown dice. At the moment it's worth 5 points. 

There are also cards that raise or lower a category's status with the Bishop. Mechanic wise this means you can raise or lower the value of one or two dice. These cards are extremely important at the end of the game.

Auction Phase: The auction pile is shuffled and then the current player draws the top card and makes a bid for that card. The next player has an opportunity to bid higher or fold. The player with the highest bid wins the card. In other words, a pretty standard auction procedure.

When bidding for Bishop cards or category cards, the players use their money cards. When bidding for money cards, the players use a different currency; A number of cards they are willing to discard from their hand to gain that money card.
For example, player X knows he/she cannot possibly win the orange category, so it might be worth discarding the two cards he has for some more money. 
At this stage, the players have a pretty good idea on how they are doing in a certain color, because they know what cards they have put in the auction pile, and they have some idea what the opponents have, thanks to the cards put face up in phase 1.

This goes on until the deck is depleted.

The players compare colors one by one, and the winner of each color gets the die. The dice might be worth 1 to 6 points depending on how the players have used the Bishop cards. So you might pull off a win even though you just won 1 color.
Obviously, the player with the total amount of points on their dice is the winner.

OPINION

The good

Very easy to teach.

Very fast gameplay.

Great replayability.

The Drafting/Press your luck combo in phase 1 is superb.

Scales very well, good fun with 2, 3, or 4 players. There is also an official variant for 5 players by the designer (see below!).

The suspense lingers to the very end.

The bad

Some think the theme is "pasted on".

The quality of the cards could be better, easily remedied with sleeves, though. We recommend the Fantasy Flight BG Sleeves. The game consists of 87 cards, so you will need 2 packs of these. Make sure you get the 63.5 x 88mm sleeves for Biblios.

CONCLUSION

To sum it up, Biblios is one of the best card drafting games out there, and one of the best filler games. Highly Recommended!
Rating 9/10.

The game is about 20 dollars/euros, and it can be found here.

Biblios rules are found here. (rulebook in .pdf format)

OFFICIAL 5 PLAYER VARIANT

This is an official variant from the designer which lets you player Biblios with 5 players.

Setup:

  • Give each player these cards: 1, 1, 2, 2, and 3 gold (5 to each player in total)
  • Discard 2 random cards
  • Deck now has 60; enough for each player to have 2 turns as active player

Additional rules:

  • Grab 5 regular dice (white with black pips).
  • Next to each colored die in the category spaces, place a white die and turn to 1 at start of game.
  • The white dice will count as 2nd place in each category.

Whenever a player uses the power of the church card, he gets an additional power to change a white die in the same manner (though could do so in a different category), if he wishes. Example: I play church card with two dice plus 1. I change colored dice in two categories up 1, then change white dice in two categories up 1. 

A player is not forced to change white dice, but can only change colored dice if she wishes. (I.e., does not need to use full power).
Second place in each category scores the white dice.
One cannot turn the white dice to be valued higher than a colored die.
Likewise one cannot turn a colored die lower than a white die.
In the case that the colored die and a white die are the same in a category, the white die is automatically lowered by 1 (unless both dice are at 1).

This game is great, and costs about 20 dollar/euros. Pick it up at these online stores:

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