Strategic Depth: Beginner
Setup Time: <5 min
Play Time: 25-45 min.
Mechanics: Auction/Bidding, Set Collection, Card Drafting, Hand Management, Press Your Luck
Production Info: 2007 | Iello| Steve Finn
As the head of a medieval monastery, your goal is to assemble the greatest book collection and build the most famous library. To that end, you need to acquire the necessary pigments for decorative lettering, hire the best copyists, and reproduce the most precious works.
But you have only a limited amount of gold at your disposal to reach your goal. The trick is to part with the items in your collection at just the right time and to pay the lowest price for the works for which others will envy you. Finally, you must watch out for the bishops, who can ruin your plans on a whim!
- The Good -
There are only two phases in the game Biblios and that is part of the reason why it captivates new players along with experienced ones. There is a gift phase, where you have to choose a card to keep, a card to auction (face down) and the rest go face up depending on how many players there are. So if there are 4 players, you keep 1 card, 1 card goes to auction, and the other 3 go face up for players to take in clockwise order. The trick is that you have to do this one at a time and the decisions can be agonizing as you realize you kept an inferior card and just gave your opponent a great card. After all the cards have circulated for the gift phase, the auction phase begins, which is where the magic happens. Players start bidding on 1 card at a time and this can be very tricky because you want to improve your set collection but do not want to use all your gold. The auction phase is always a fan favorite because of the bidding that takes place against opponents and being able to manipulate dice values through the Church cards. Make sure to save some money to buy some Church cards as they are game changers!
Biblios is one of the most portable games I own and that's important because it makes it easy for travel and being able to play at any location. It also looks like a classic book when you have it on the shelf so I also love the cover art design. It has a great design with slick magnets that allows fast and easy set up along with a tiny board for 5 dice. The only real setup of the game is shuffling the cards and taking out a set number based off the number of players. This is important so that players can't count cards and never truly know how many colors are out there.
Biblios is one of the most complex filler games that I own because it is very easy to teach and play anywhere, but also takes good planning and strategic bidding. I actually find this game the best with 2 players because of the 1 vs 1 strategic element that takes place. During the auction phase you are trying to up the bid on your opponent but also have to decide what is worth the cost. It's a great head to head battle and I have played this game dozens of times with all different amount of players. The simple mechanics really draw in people who are new to games and typically everyone wants to play a second time once they figure out the strategy from the first game.
- The Bad -
There is a luck factor especially during the gift phase. You still have to make that choice if you are going to look at the next card and keep it, auction it, or put it up for the group. However, you do many times get stuck with a good or bad card along with receiving one from others. You still have strategic moves that you can do during the auction phase but the gift phase does present the most amount of luck during the game.
Believe it or not this has been a big topic on the internet along with friends when I have mentioned the game. I do not have a problem with the name Biblios but I remember seeing several reviewers years ago on amazon complain that the game has a religious title thus they would not purchase it. Also, they point to the fact that there are monks on the front and for some reason people can be offended by it. I find it to be a very tacky complaint as it's just a theme. However, I have had several people ask if it was a Bible game, mostly in jest, but that has been the biggest complaint of the game and unfortunately confusing/offenseive to others.
- Overall -
Biblios is currently in my top 10 games of all time, which you can find in our personal top 10 lists post. I love the simplicity of the game but the strategic depth in the auction phase. It's a great game of press your luck and also player interaction as you are receiving cards every turn during the gift phase. The portability of the game has allowed me to play this game with lots of people including those with short attention spans. It's very fast set up, inlcuding a small board with 5 dice to represent values of each category and then cards for collecting, bidding, and buying.
A wide variety of age groups will enjoy this game as it is easy learn and there is no down time. Every turn you are involved in the process in some matter and people always love a mixture of dice and cards. You will find yourself bidding and strategizing against your friends in this deceivingly complex "filler" game. I have not found one player who does not enjoy this game and several people have immediately purchased the game themselves. It gets just about everything right: mechanics, rules, length, interaction, scaling, luck, strategy, tension, fun factor and surprise factor. It's all very well balanced game and will appeal to a broad range of people.
The following summaries are meant to be a high-level reminder of how to play this game. If this is your first time playing, we highly recommend that you read your board game's included rule book which will go into much more depth. You can download a digital PDF copy of the official rules by clicking the button below. There are also a few video tutorials near the bottom of this section to help all you visual learners out as well.
- Setup Overview -
Place the board in the middle of the table and put one die on each of the categories with the value of "3" showing. Depending on the number of players, discard a number of cards from the entire deck.
2 player: Discard 6 Gold cards (2 of each value), and then an additional 21 random cards.
3 player: Discard 3 Gold cards (1 of each value), and then an additional 12 random cards.
4 player: Discard 7 random cards
- Game Play/Player Turns -
Phase 1: Gift Phase
On the active player’s turn, they’ll draw a number of cards, face-down, equal to the number of players plus one. They’ll then flip one of these cards over and allocate it to either themselves (face down), another player (face up), or the auction pile (face down). This continues until all cards have been allocated. No more than one card can be allocated to the same destination…that is, each card will go somewhere different. Once the allocation is over, everyone picks up their card and adds it to their hand. The auction pile remains face down and will accumulate over time. Play proceeds clockwise and continues until the draw pile is exhausted.
Phase 2: Auction Phase
The auction pile is shuffled to form a new draw pile and the cards are auctioned one at a time. The first player in phase one begins as the active player for this phase. The active player will draw the topmost card and lay it face up for all to see. Players then bid for the card, starting with the player to the left of the active player. Bidding continues until the highest bidder is determined, who must pay that amount by discarding a number of cards from their hand. Players who bid amounts they can’t honor (and win the auction) receive a penalty. This continues until the auction pile is depleted.
Note: At ANY time during the game, as soon as a player acquires a church card, the game is put on hold while the dice on the board are adjusted. The card is immediately discarded.
- End Of Game -
The game ends when the last card has been purchased during the auction phase.
- Winning -
Whoever has the highest number of points in a category wins it and takes the corresponding die from the board, which serves as victory points. Whoever has the most victory points after all of the dice have been handed out, wins!
- Tie Breakers -
If two players are tied, the player who has the card with the letter closest to A wins the category. The other four categories are scored in the same way.
If two or more players have the same amount of total points, the player with the most gold wins the game. If there is still a tie, the player who had the higher value in the Monk category is the winner.
- Great Instructional Videos -
Here's a few helpful instructional videos you or your group can watch to learn how to play this game visually.
Do I have to play a Church card immediately?
Yes, if you keep or buy a Church card then you immediately change the die or dice and then discard it.
Does a player have to play a Church card if they acquire it through the gift phase?
No, this is a common misconception, and players can choose to discard it if they don't want to manipulate any of the dice.
How many possible total points are there for each category?
Blue and Brown: 25 Points total for each
Green, Red, and Orange: 11 Points total for each
Remember, some cards are randomly taken out or the game would be too easy
What is gold used for?
Gold is very useful for the auction phase and is needed to buy any of the Church cards or color cards for your collection.
During the auction phase, can I buy gold with gold?
No, you have to bid on how many color cards your willing to give up for a gold card.
During the auction phase, how does bidding on gold work?
Players bid by announcing the number of cards they wish to pay, not based on the value of the card. The cards are then placed face-down in the discard pile so no one can see what colors were discarded for strategy purposes.
Can you manipulate the same die twice with a Church card?
No, a Church card that has two dice in the corner means you change two SEPARATE dice, not the same one twice.
At the end of the game, does the number of cards that you have matter?
You will only get the victory points if you win a category. For example, if someone had a total value of 6 in orange and you had 5 then you do not get any points for that category.
Who is the first person to go in the auction phase?
It is the first person who started the game, also starts the auction phase by flipping over the first card from the deck and starting the bidding.
Do you have to bid turning the auction phase?
No, you have to either say pass or bid at least 1 higher than the last person.
Do you get change for buying a card during the auction phase?
No, sometimes you will overpay for a card because you do not have the exact amount in gold.
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Highest Price: $24.99 (Feb 14, 2015)
Lowest Price: $14.38 (Feb 15, 2017)
Average Price: $20.24
*According to CamelCamelCamel.com (4/19/2018)
Expanding The Game
There are currently no expansions for Biblios.
If you like how this board game plays, you'll definitely want to check out these great games which play similar.