Lignum is a demanding, multi-player product that leads from a basic game to advanced and expert play. The author sets it up for two to four timber contractors in the 19th century. With just four thalers, one lumber yard worker and one forestry worker, everyone has to make their lumber yard economically viable in two years.
The rules are overwhelming, the basic game alone comprises 16 pages, plus eight pages for the expansions and four pages for the game structure. Nevertheless, Lignum is not too complex. The brief overview of the gameplay makes it clear that the seasonal rhythm can be played through quite easily. It is strongly reminiscent of the diverse processes of Viticulture, like winegrowing, it involves a finely balanced optimization process that initially takes place under extreme scarcity of money. Each round begins with the exciting access to the felling regions, then the planning process for the supply route is exciting and the farm management between winter preparation, quick earning of money and lucrative long-term planning. This is nicely balanced and is excellently complemented by the “planned activities”. It’s best to approach the game with two people; it might take you 90 minutes at the beginning, but then you can play through the seasons in a quick 45 to 60 minutes. A four-player game can last 180 minutes, but with experienced players it can still take two hours.
The advanced game
In the game for advanced players, depending on the number of players, order cards are placed on the corresponding space on the supply route. The player now has the opportunity to stop on this field and buy an order for one coin. The tasks consist of delivering different types of wood in different drying stages until the end of the game. In order to fulfill this, the player must place the desired type of wood in the required quality from his lumberyard on the order card in the forestry work phase, as soon as the progress indicator is on the supply field. If all required types of wood are on this card at the end of the game, you get extra points.
The expert game
In expert mode, another option is added to those mentioned above: The “planned activities” field, which is located on the supply route, is populated with special activity cards. Here the player can choose a planned activity per round to complete later. A single scheduled activity can be used by all players. The first player to choose one of these activities can place one of their markers on this card for free. All other players pay one thaler for each tile that is on this card. At the same time, the player who is planning such an activity must decide in which of the coming seasons he would like to carry it out. The selected season is also marked by a marker on the year display. If he carries out this activity at the planned time, he will receive bonuses for it. However, if he cannot carry out this activity for any reason, the activity and with it the considerable bonus will be forfeited.