I first got Troyes sometime back in 2014, and while it's been a little over a year since my last play, I finally got it back to the table twice this week. I love that feeling when a game that hasn't hit the table in awhile reminds you why it earned, and then kept; a place in your collection.
Troyes is an incredible Euro, one that has mechanics that work together beautifully. It's a dice placement which inherently starts off as a tricky concept. Any game with dice needs to ensure that the randomness of die rolling doesn't ruin the gameplay, and all the more so in a chunky euro. When every decision matters, rolling 6's instead of 1's is a great way to turn a great game into a hard pass. Thankfully Troyes passes with flying colors, and does so in an innovative way. Generally games tend to attempt to mitigate luck of the dice through a few common methods.
1) Lots of rolling. Take a game like Rum & Bones or Catan, many games aim to have enough rolling that the luck evens out over time. In general this works to a degree, with the obvious problems that luck doesn't always even out, and that sometimes evening out late game is too late to correct an imbalance.
2) Ability mitigation: Giving players ways to adjust their die rolls can help, but again is limited by the fact that the players who don't need to use those abilities are still getting an edge.
3) All dice are good: The Castles of Burgundy comes to mind first and foremost, where a 1 isn't inherently better than a 6. It's all situational. So it's not a question of rolling better, but rather planning around being able to use any number when and where it shows its face.
4) High and low: Ensuring that high dice are good for some things, but low dice are good for others, is a similar approach. Found in games like Bora Bora and Alien Frontiers, it again limits the screwage of good and bad rolls.
5) Buying Dice: Troyes does something I've never seen before though, buying dice. It doesn't matter if you roll well, because you're basically guaranteeing someone else will buy that 6 you just rolled.
The basics of Troyes are simple, it's dice placement in the simplest sense. You roll your dice, and then use those dice to either take actions or load your workers into facilities gaining you more dice. The screwage element in this game is high, thanks to knocking people out, taking limited spots and buying each others dice. These decisions ensure that every turn is a careful calculation of whether to screw someone, how to screw them, or how to protect yourself from being screwed.
Combine this with action cards that vary drastically game to game, and no two games have a chance of ever being close to the same. Each new game requires a new decision tree of what's the best, how to get it, and whether to go for option B and let the other players needlessly duke it out over option A.
Tense gameplay, every decision counts, high variability, huge amounts of interactivity and screwage, and a playtime that can easily be under 2 hours....Troyes checks basically every box for me. My only complaint, and sadly it is annoying, is that the iconography is terrible. Not just hard to understand, but also inconsistent. The same symbol on one card might mean "trade in" and on another card "have". If the game weren't so good otherwise that would be unforgivable. That being said, if anyone wants to call TMG and to get a deluxified version going, I'll be the first to back it on Kickstarter.