Gameday First Play – Saint Petersburg (Second Edition)

Posted on by Jesta

I don’t usually buy games ‘blind’, but I did here.

Did I make the right choice?

On May 16th, 1703, Czar Peter laid the cornerstone for the first building in Saint Petersburg. Quickly, glorious buildings were added, always being expanded, so that Nobility (bringing victory points) may want to move in. But to accomplish this, one needs merchants who can bankroll the necessary Rubles, or the glory is over. The competition isn’t sleeping either, and can sometimes steal a desired card right out from under your nose.

In this game you’re buying cards to give you income to buy better cards that give you further income and points. You’re also trying to control items in a market for points too.

There are 5 phases in the game and each one is played in the same way (with a little difference to the first phase in the first round only but I won’t go into that)

Cards from the current phase are laid out on a track, filling it up to 10.

Saint Petersburg Board

Each phase has a token and a random player is given one of these (or more than 1 depending on the player count) and they will go first this phase. I like this, it means each of the 5 phases in a round has a different start player assigned.

In general you have 4 things you can do on a turn.

Buy a card by paying it’s cost and putting it in front of you.

Put a card in your hand from those available to play later.

Play a card from your hand by paying it’s cost again

Pass, you can come back in when it comes back to you.

Saint Petersburg Player Area

What are the phases?

Workers – Green cards representing people that give you 3 income each and have a different symbol on them depending on their job role. At the end of this phase you gain this income from your Green cards.

Market – Yellow cards representing Goods. These show goods that move you up a Market track (as do some worker cards) for end of round scoring. At the end of the round each Market card gives you the money and VP’s they are worth, but you also score the market track.

Saint Petersburg Market Track

Here players score for being first and second for each good. The number of points progresses each round, starting at 1/0  and going up to 6/3.

Buildings – Blue cards that are worth money and standard VP’s but also some triggered scoring if you meet certain conditions.

Nobles – Red cards that not only give income and VP’s, but also are a kind of set collection thing for large end game points.

Exchange – Cards of the previous 4 types in one deck that you play by replacing cards you already have in play with one of the same type. You discount the cost of the replaced card from the new one. You can only replace a worker if they have a matching symbol on the card.

There is no scoring at the end of this round.

After you play through this round you move any cards remaining on the second row of the board, these are available for a -1 discount. Any card that were already on the second row are discarded. Also, each player passes the ‘first player’ tokens they have to the left.

When a deck runs out there is a bit of end game scoring and the game is over, most points wins.

This is another one of those games that is easy to play, doesn’t take too long and makes you always feel like you’r progressing. This is the kind of game I like. Even if you’re not making the optimal move you’re always moving forward.

Money management is KEY and knowing when to take a card into your hand (The hand limit of 3 is punishing :)) and play them is something you need to learn after several plays I think.

While we ran out of Worker and Building cards, we didn’t see half of the Noble or Exchange cards so planning for that one strategy will be almost impossible.

There are a few more mini expansions in the box that we didn’t play with too.

All in all, a very good game, different to anything I own that I look forward to playing more.

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