Review: Order of the Gilded Compass

  • February 11, 2017
  • James Skemp
  • review

The following is a review of the Order of the Gilded Compass board game, received as part of the Amazon Vine program.

Dice Rolling With a Bit of Setup, But Enjoyable

First, if you’re not very lucky with dice, you should probably move on as Order of the Gilded Compass relies very heavily upon the luck of the roll.

Two to five players take turns rolling dice, assigning some number of them before play continues to the next player. Any unassigned dice are than re-rolled when next the player can go, and those remaining dice are assigned to either another location or, in some cases, to the same one. Play continues until one player assigns all their dice, at which point each player may have one more go, and then location effects are played and a new round begins.

While there are rule additions for two to three players, four or five players seems to be the suggested group size for Order of the Gilded Compass; anything below that isn’t necessarily unenjoyable, but adds to the dynamic nature of the game.

While there are a couple of set locations that will always be used, there are also a few that can be rotated in/out to give variety to play. The game doesn’t recommend anything for first time play, but I found the Treasure Hunters' Guild and The Sunken Galleon to work well. Getting these locations setup before the game begins takes a chunk of time, especially if you haven’t played with the location before, or in a while.

The dice are slightly smaller than normal dice, which is neither good nor bad, but is noticeable. The rest of the pieces are of good quality, but I do wish that the box was designed better for the components; as they are now some of the supplied bags are a little tight for what I assume they were to be used for.

Both the rulebook and locations themselves tell you how dice can be laid, with the latter using symbols instead of words, but only the rules say how things are scored. This isn’t a big deal, and if you stick with the same locations for a few games you’ll learn fairly quickly how each location works. Keeping the rulebook close at hand until then, or for new players, is a very good idea.

There’s also a second, smaller rulebook, for the mission tiles. This is two pages, front and back, but it could easily have been one page, front and back, if they had removed the book-like look of the first and fourth pages. Either way, I like that it’s another booklet, since players will probably want to consult it each game.

Despite relying heavily upon dice rolling, the fact that you can re-roll dice by expanding tokens that can be gained during play, and that dice are re-rolled before each of your actions, there’s enough strategy that being lucky with dice isn’t all that’s required.

The theme is there, and the component art supports it well, but it can safely be ignored during play if it’s not your thing.

Because of the above, I generally like Order of the Gilded Compass and give it four of five stars. I have a chunk of people that I won’t be able to play it with since it relies upon dice rolling, and because the decision making is such that I won’t be able to fit it in during a 45-50 minute game lunch, but I can see it getting some play when people want to roll some dice.