Cathedral Board Game

Cathedral Board Game

Cathedral is an abstract strategy board game invented by Robert Moore. First published in 1979, The goal of Cathedral is to play jigsaw shaped medieval building pieces on a 10 x 10 grid game board surrounding a central Cathedral piece in order to gain territory.

Players: 2

Game Time: 20-30min

Complexity: Low

Age: 8+

Release Year: 1979

By using the correct strategy a player can also limit the other player’s options in order to win. For example, cutting off a section of a section of the playing board from the other player by placing buildings from one city wall to another. The territory inside that now belongs to the player whose pieces have cordoned off that area. Players get to choose to either play the dark or light pieces, similar to chess. The board game was reportedly inspired by the city layout that Robert Moore saw around Christchurch Cathedral when flying over it in Christchurch, New Zealand in the early 1960s. Robert Moore then went on to develop the idea of the medieval city building board game that we now all know and love as Cathedral between 1962 and 1979, eventually partnering with Brightway Products to publish it. Cathedral has been, and continues to be, an award winning bestseller.


This board game is easy enough for children to play. And the skill that a player could possibly use to win the game varies greatly. As a result, the fun you will be able to have playing this game will depend greatly on the players themselves. If you enjoy being challenged in a similar fashion to chess, then you will enjoy this game. If you enjoy being better than others at abstract strategy board games, then you will also enjoy Cathedral. Thwarting the other player’s plans to build their medieval city through clever placements of game pieces is very enjoyable. It’s the perfect kind of game for a family game night. There are even portable versions of this board game. So you can play almost anywhere! To sum it up: this game is fun. No matter who you play with or for how long.

Cathedral Board Game


Part of the success of Cathedral as a family game night favourite is its replayability. The fact that you hardly ever get the same result when building your city means that each time you play. You will need to come up with new ways to fit the jigsaw shaped medieval building pieces together every time you play. In its simplest form, this board game is an advanced jigsaw puzzle type game. But unlike other jigsaw puzzles, Cathedral can be built up in a variety of different ways, leading to endless fun.


The player interaction with this game is fairly decent. There are plenty of ways to sabotage the other player by putting down a game piece that will leave them frustrated and leave you gleaming. Now the gameplay itself need not be very competitive in and of itself. But depending on who you play with. It can get very competitive. One big plus to this game is that it is much quicker to play through than most conventional abstract strategy games. The gameplay doesn’t usually require as much deep thinking as chess, for example.


The quality of the wooden board itself is fantastic. There are other editions of the Cathedral game that exist out there made from other materials. But the solid wood game is the original. The wooden game pieces have a nicely coated lacquer on them. The 10 x 10 grid board is surrounded by a city wall that sets the boundaries of where players can play their game pieces. There are editions of this game that have made a variety of different changes. For example, the Cathedral World edition had each building made to look like famous buildings and architecture around the world. Unfortunately most of these editions have been discontinued. Although, if you are desperate, you should be able to find good quality second hand versions on eBay for a reasonable price.


The only noteworthy art in this game is on the box itself. It tells you exactly what you are to expect when playing this game. The wooden game set, and even the plastic version, are very aesthetically pleasing to look at when playing the game of Cathedral. When the game has been won, it is also quite enjoyable to take a second to observe the board itself. It really does look like a medieval walled city. Polystone plastic editions of this game have now been discontinued. So the wooden ones are the most widely available editions of the game. Which is actually a good thing because the wooden game set is really something special to behold.


Our rating for this game will be 8 out of 10. The reason for such a high rating is the board games simple yet challenging gameplay, the unique and beautiful medieval city buildings that are the game pieces, as well as the fact that this game is so easy to get a hold of and how affordable it is. The one and only problem we have with this game is that this game will certainly not be for everyone. There are plenty of people who will find this Cathedral game boring. And that’s OK. The fact that this game has consistently done well is certainly a testament to the fact that there will always be people that love the Cathedral classic as well as other available editions.