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The Prince: The Struggle of House Borgia
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Store:  Strategy Games, Card Games
Theme:  Political
Format:  Card Games

The Prince: The Struggle of House Borgia

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Ages Play Time Players
12+ 90 minutes 3-5

Designer(s): Alexander S Berg

Publisher(s): Phalanx Games, Mayfair Games

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Product Description

In Southern and Western Europe, 1475 1550 was a period of Renaissance, a new cultural and social movement inspired by the Classical Era. Italy was in turmoil, and rivaling city states, controlled by influential families, vied for power. Some well-known names of that period are: de Medici, della Rovere, Colonna, Orsini, and the most infamous of them all: the originally Spanish House of Borgia.

The Florentine statesman Niccol Machiavelli (1469 1527) served as a diplomat under Cesare Borgia, and saw from up close the devilish methods with which this ruler expanded his wealth and power. Rodrigo Borgia, later Pope Alexander I, has been named 'the best incarnation of the devil on earth'. Based on his experiences with the Borgias he wrote his controversial Il Principe, stating that objectionable methods like corruption and murder are acceptable if it is in the interest of the ruler.

Borgia is a colorful cardgame, in which the players represent one of the great, powerful Italian families in Renaissance Italy. Making the best of available resources, and using the political influence of your family, you pave the way for your ultimate goal, which will guarantee your family fame, wealth and even more power: the Papacy. The road to becoming Pope is long and difficult: you will need to connive with other families, gain fame by becoming patron of remarkable artists, gain Papal offices, strongholds in the patrimony of St. Peter, and vast sums of money, mind your military power, and jostle for position and political leverage until the time comes for the elector cardinals to retreat into their enclave and cast their votes for a new Pope.

Product Information


  • 60 playing cards
  • 30 cardinals
  • 120 ducat pieces
  • 1 Pope
  • 1 game turn indicator
  • 5 victory points indicators
  • 5 family displays
  • 1 election pad

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 5 in 1 review

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Very balanced! Very interactive! Very fun!
December 30, 2003

Four of us get together to play games incessantly. We have well over 50 different games and we've played them all. Our all-time favorite has been 'Overthrown' (GET IT!) along with Settlers of Catan and Samurai, but we'd all have to say that The Prince: The Struggle of House Borgia is our new favorite!

With each player representing an influential family in Venice, you compete to earn the most victory points in three rounds.

You start with 4 cardinals (voting power) and one holding/city to protect your starting assetts. In each city you can attach one political office, one famous artist and one outside family.

Each type of card offers different benefits:

City - Defensive value, Income and victory points

Office - Income and votes

Artist - victory points

Outside Family - Defensive value

Luck plays no part in this game. On each of the three rounds, there are 12 face down cards. Instead of drawing a card on each player's turn, they turn over a card and each player bids money to take it. When only two bidders remain, special deals and trades are frequently negotiated.

The 12 cards consist of the cards mentioned above plus mercenary cards and special cards which can be used to seize other players' holdings and assets (or defend your own). Negotiations frequently occur during a seizure as well.

At the end of each round, you collect income and victory points based on your cities, artists and offices. Then the players vote to elect one of the players as Pope using the votes from their cardinals and offices. The Pope receives 10 victory points and assigns new cardinals to players of his choice.

What makes the game interesting is that the game forces players to negotiate and barter. Money is always tight and players rarely have but a couple cards in their hand. Alliances, truces, trading of assets and trading of votes are very real assets in the game. Negotiations become very creative and instrumental in winning the game.

Much like rock, paper, scissors, all of the elements of the game are very balanced and influence one another. If a player is strong in one aspect, their equally weak in another.

Also by design, the games tend to be very close (i.e. no obvious winner half way through). If someone becomes too powerful, alliances form to balance the power. Typically, the last election for a pope is instrumental in winning the game and each player's voting power has been previously influenced by multiple trades and promises.

I highly recommend this game!

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