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Princes of the Renaissance
 
 
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Store:  Strategy Games
Genre:  Negotiation & Diplomacy
Format:  Board Games

Princes of the Renaissance


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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
13+ 120-180 minutes 3-6

Designer(s): Martin Wallace

Publisher(s): Warfrog

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Product Description

In Renaissance Italy, each player takes on the role of one of the minor condottiere princes, such as the Gonzagas or d'Estes. Then there are the big five major cities, Venice, Milan, Florence, Rome, and Naples. These are not controlled by individual players but players will gain 'interests' in them as the game progresses. Each city has six tiles, most of which represent a famous character such as Lucrezia Borgia or Lorenzo Medici. Each tile has its own special properties which are linked to the character on the tile. Thus Cesare Borgia will help you to become more treacherous, while a Venetian merchant will increase your income. These tiles are also worth victory points, depending on the status of the city at the end of the game.

A city's status will change as a result of war. When two cities fight they will each need a condottiere to fight for them. Players bid, using influence points, to decide who will represent each city. The outcome of the war will depend on a little luck and the size of each player's army. Each player also gets paid for fighting, no matter what the outcome of the war is. Thus players can turn influence into gold, which in turn can be used to buy more City tiles.

No game on the Italian Renaissance would be complete with an element of treachery. Players can be openly treacherous by buying Treachery tiles, which will allow them to do nasty things like steal influence, bribe troops, or knock players out of an auction. However, the game allows players to be devious in other ways, that still remain legal. Making sure that a war goes the way you want it to is an important part of the game, and it is not always the player with the best army that ends up fighting. Want a city to lose, well become Condottiere for them and make sure you have a really bad army, or use Treachery tiles to bribe your own troops not to fight. At some point some player will become the Pope, which means they can form a Holy League, (i.e. join one side in a battle). Want to make sure the Pope is on the 'right' side, well why not bribe him. What player negotiate over is up to them. The game does not force negotiation and works perfectly well without it but it remains an avenue for players to explore.

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Advanced Strategy Game Nominee, 2005
International Gamers Awards
Best Strategy Game Nominee, 2004

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Martin Wallace

  • Publisher(s): Warfrog

  • Artist(s): Peter Dennis

  • Year: 2003

  • Players: 3 - 6

  • Time: 120 - 180 minutes

  • Ages: 13 and up

  • Weight: 992 grams

  • Customer Favorites Rank: #30

Contents:

  • 1 game board
  • 6 family tiles
  • 24 troop tiles
  • 12 event tiles
  • 30 city tiles
  • 20 treachery tiles
  • 1 pope tile
  • 5 city tokens
  • 2 war tokens
  • 1 'wars fought' pawn
  • influence counters
  • gold counters
  • victory counters
  • 2 six-sided dice

Product Reviews

 
 
 
 
 

Average Rating: 3.4 in 5 reviews

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Experience proves it a great game.
May 11, 2004

Although a bit surprised by the less than enthusiastic reception given this game in some previous reviews, I understand now that to appreciate the game requires a certain level of experience. Now having passed the novice stage as a 'Renaissance' player, I can honestly admire this game for what it is: a tense contest with a subtle and devious nature that is not easily recognizable in its first few playings. This is a game that grows on you; one that will have you re-thinking moves days after you have made them. Indeed, experience is the only way you can fully appreciate the many subtle strategies that exist therein.

The game is comparable to 'Puerto Rico' in that there are many alternate ways of winning and scoring. For a more comprehensive description of strategies, see the articles on www.boardgamegeek.com. These will give you a much better appreciation for how the game should be played and should be considered a must know.

For now, I'd like to address some of the issues mentioned in previous reviews. Firstly, there are some issues with the rule book and several typos on some cards; those can be easily remedied; there is an errata on this page as well as clarifications on other web-sites (see boardgamegeek.com). The good news: they are all free.

A previous review mentioned the difficulty in knowing where you stand. This is simply a matter of experience; understanding your position and those of your opponents will become more apparent with more and more playings.

Another review classified the game as essentially 'an auction game'. That it is not. While bidding is an element of the game, it is not the heart of the game. The strategies that one employs before and after bidding are the essential aspects of the game. You must setup the auction to your advantage in order to succeed. Bidding is simply a tool that is used to extend your strategy. Again, this becomes apparent with more playing time.

Another point previously mentioned was the use of a die roll to determine the victor in combat. More experienced players will recognize that the die-roll should simply be a formality; when wars are properly chosen, the act of winning or losing becomes secondary. Earning gold for fighting is the more important objective.

These certain subtleties and strategies will only become apparent with multiple playings. Learning about the various strategies (from the web) will open up your appreciation of the game. You will find yourself exporing these techniques in future games, trying them out and enjoying them. And enjoyment will also come in trying to counter them, when they are played against you.

 
 
 
 
 
Wait for a second edition, or corrected rules to be posted.
April 13, 2004

What can I say about Princes of the Renaissance? For one, I was really looking forward to playing it. For another, the rule book is poorly written with many missing and unclear rules. One needs to go on line to determine the starting position of each city, this is not an oversight of an obscure rule, this is a major publishing error.

Another rule states 'Arrange all the City tiles into columns of the same colour, face up by the side of the map so that each tile can be clearly seen.' Should it read 'so that each top tile can be clearly seen?' If tiles are arranged into columns how could any but the top be seen? One member of the group thought this clearly meant that each tile should be seen; others thought this meant that only the top tile was exposed.

The 'Steal Influence' treachery tiles have a misprint in the English (all the tiles are written in both German and English). They state 'Steal influence' at the top of the tile but say 'stop a player from increasing their bid' at the bottom of the tile. Stopping the bidding is the function of the 'Freeze bid' treachery tile, 'steal influence' should allow a player to steal influence points. These are the big three errors that caused our group trouble, we caught other errors in the rules before they became a factor in the game.

One that we didn't catch I just noticed as I logged on to this web-site to write my review. I see errata posted that a player may not have more than one of each type of military unit. This would have made a difference (perhaps minor) in the games I have played.

Other than the rule, and misprint problems how did I like Princes of the Renaissance? I can definitively say that I am not sure. It was not as good as I had anticipated, nor was it as bad as I had feared after reading the rules. Although there are multiple strategies to employ it seems as though only a military strategy will lead to victory. Win or lose, being involved in a war is the best way to get money into your hands and money is tight. Victory points scored by winning a war did seem like a secondary benefit in the games we played.

I have a bad feeling that we made other errors in the games played.

Bottom line: I will state that I doubt my rating would go lower on subsequent plays, I do expect it to go up, possibly to 4 or 4 1/2 stars. However, I don't think this one will hit the table again until I find some cleaned up rules on the internet.

 
 
 
 
 
hard to tell where you stand, but bribes are ESSENTIAL...
March 20, 2004

Having just played this game once, this is more a 'session report' than a full and considered review, but this report may serve to discourage your further interest in the game.

The other recent reviewer accurately listed the various maneuvering and auctions in the game. What he did not emphasize in his less than enthusiastic review is that it is very hard to determine where you stand in the game.

Who owns which city tiles is clearly visible to all the players, as is the number of battle victory laurels. But the victory points for who has the most gold or influence will not be calculated until AFTER the final tile is bought in the third and final turn (set of rounds). And it is very hard to know at any point who does have any influence or money since these chits are NOT required to be public knowledge.

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I ended up with the second highest score in a six player game, but my city tile values ended up being dead last. The only thing which saved me were four battle victories translating into ten victory points.

The winning player was way ahead of everyone. He had a balanced number of city tiles from each of the 'winning' cities as well as five battle victories which translated into 15 victory points. Since he had the most offense on the board, other players were more than willing to use him as an attacker.

It should be noted strong defenders also have an advantage in the game. If the attacker fails, the defender launches a counter-attack. If this is successful, he wins a battle victory even though he started the battle in defense.

------------------------------------

If you do try this game, a good strategy may be to buy up two city tiles of the three lowest ranked cities during the first two 'turns,' and on the third and final 'turn' (set of rounds), LAUCH NUMEROUS ATTACKS which advance these cities up in the pecking order of payoff. These attacks will preferably yield an 'overwhelming' type of victory which moves 'your' city up two and moves the defeated city down two in the ratings.

The above strategy is based upon the likelihood you will not pay too much for the city tiles in their auctions during the first two turns since their 'current payoff' (if the game ended with that turn) is low.

It may be necessary with this strategy to start the battles earlier than the third turn since each turn is limited (with some exceptions) to 'only' five battles. You can only directly initiate a battle on your turn.

For the above strategy to work it essential (!) to have either a strong attack yourself, or the ability to bribe another player with a strong offense to do it for you. You may also have to bribe players with strong defenses to stay out of the action, or have a really poor defense yourself.

The strategy of buying mostly in the tiles of only one city is probably not a good idea. Two of the six players in our game tried this (including me), but this left us extremely vulnerable to being perceived as being 'good' attack targets as the other players contemplated their battle targets. Playing with six players also meant it would be another five turns before we could try some sort of battle to 'fix' a downgrading of standing of our dominant city. (Unless of course you can bribe another player to launch a 'desirable' battle for you on their turn.)

You may have noticed how many times I mention bribes. Although your results may vary, it is critical in this game to be able to get other players to do what you want, and bribes are what ensure this. If your group has trouble with such table talk, you need to find a less confrontational game to play.


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Other Resources for Princes of the Renaissance:

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