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Store:  Strategy Games, Card Games
Edition:  Condottiere
Format:  Card Games, Board Games


3rd edition

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Ages Play Time Players
12+ 45 minutes 3-6

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Product Description

In Renaissance Italy, armies of mercenaries fought to conquer the fragmented city-states for the highest bidder. Elite mercenary leaders, known as Condottiere, led these armies to victory under such fabled banners as Medici, Sforza and Colleoni.

Recreate this era as you, an elite Condottiere, strive to carve out your own Renaissance kingdom! Using a unique deck of cards and a map of Italy, you must exploit the assets in your hand and thwart the traps set by your adversaries. Your task is difficult, your mercenaries are unreliable, the Church may intervene, and you are surrounded by others who envy your position! This game is loaded with intrigue and subterfuge. To win, you must be both a clever diplomat and a daring general. Succeed at both, and you will triumph!

Fantasy Flight Games is proud to publish a 3rd edition of this classic bluffing game. The new edition features new art, new card abilities, and new rules to enhance game play.

Product Information

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.3 in 26 reviews

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A small card game package offering a fun auction experience
June 19, 2012

Condottiere is a card game in which players are trying to control provinces in Renaissance Italy, in an effort to be the first to acquire four such connected regions. Gameplay sees players use numbered cards to bid for a particular territory through auctions, and this is kept interesting with the help of special cards with unique abilities.

While far from ideal with two or six players, it's best with four or five players, and decent with three players. With these numbers, it offers a lot of game in a small and easy to learn package. The game has randomness, but it is mitigated by good hand management and the quick play time.

The bottom line: Especially for four or five players, this is a quick little card game that offers a lot of replayability and strategy in a small package.

EndersGame, BGG reviewer
Profile: Reviews:

3rd Edition - compact and interactive
September 13, 2007

I haven't ever had a chance to play the first two versions of Condottiere, 3rd edition (Fantasy Flight Games, 2007 - Dominique Ehrhard), but I've read that only a few cards were added, the artwork changed, and the whole package made smaller. Ratings were high for the game, so I played with a cheerful and hopeful attitude. The first time I played I was immediately familiar with the style of play - similar to that of the recent game Iliad.

While Iliad is a more interesting and confrontational game, Condottiere takes a simple concept, with easy to use cards, and allows play of them in clever, interesting ways. There is a luck factor, and a bad hand can only be played so many ways; but the game is quick enough to be enjoyable, as players are basically playing a game of area control mixed with the age old "Chicken" game. An enjoyable, light card game - Condottiere is one that will appeal to gamers, especially when in a group of five or six.

A small board of Italy is placed on the table, made up of seventeen territories. A 110 card deck is shuffled and ten cards are dealt to each player. The youngest player takes a Condottiere token, and a "Favor of the Pope" token is placed near the board. Players take six control markers of their color, and the first round is ready to begin.

To start a round, the player with the Condottiere token places it on any empty region, delineating the region that will be fought over this round. Starting with this player, each player places one card face up in front of them in the battle line or passes, which means they can no longer play cards in this round. Once all players have passed, the round ends. The cards a player may play include:

  • Mercenary Cards: These cards (of which there are 58) are numbered "1" through "6", and "10" and simply add to the strength of a player's army.
  • Drummer: These cards double the value of all Mercenaries in the battle line.
  • Winter: Cancels spring; changes the value of all Mercenary cards to "1".
  • Spring: Cancels winter; adds three strength to the highest numbered Mercenary card(s) on the table.
  • Bishop: Discards the highest numbered Mercenary cards in play, and gives the player who used it the Favor of the Pope token, which may be played in any empty region.
  • Scarecrow: Is discarded, allowing the player to retrieve one Mercenary card back into their hand.
  • Surrender: Immediately ends the battle.
  • Courtesan: Adds "1" to the strength of the battle line but is not affected by cards that attack/help Mercenaries.
  • Heroine: Adds "10" to the strength of the battle line but is not affected by cards that attack/help Mercenaries.

At the end of a round, the player who has the highest value on their battle line conquers the region, placing a control marker on that region. They also take the Condottiere token, unless another player has the most Courtesans in their battle line, at which point they receive the Condottiere token. The Condottiere token may not be placed in a region where the "Favor of the Pope" token lies. All cards in battle lines are discarded, and any player with no Mercenary cards in their hand may discard the remaining cards. If there is only one player left with cards, then that player keeps up to two of those cards; and ten cards are dealt to each player. Players also receive an extra card for each region they control. The game continues until one player controls five total regions (six in a 2-3 player game) or three adjacent regions (four in a 2-3 player game); at which point, they win. If all regions are filled up before this happens, then the player with the most regions wins.

Optional rules which may be added:

  • Players start with seven cards but draw up to three cards at the end of every round - not exceeding ten (+1 for controlled region). Players who go down to 0 cards draw ten next round.
  • Assign points for each game - turning a game into a round of a larger game.
  • Increase the number of regions needed to win.
  • Capture regions by other players. The defender may pass as many times as they want before they play their first card, and they win ties.
  • Players may play Mercenary, Drummer, Heroine, and Courtesan cards face down - turning them face up the next time they play a card in their battle line.

Some comments on the game…

  1. Components: I really liked the packaging job that Fantasy Flight did with this game. They manage to fit the small board, the cards, and the other pieces into a slender, small box. The board is small but functional, with a map of Italy on it. The rest of the artwork is good - although not great, it's a little generic for my tastes. The cards themselves are very easy to differentiate from each other, with simple to understand symbols on them. The control markers are small wooden cubes and function well, since they are used rather infrequently.

  2. Rules: Condottiere comes with a twenty-page rulebook, which may seem intimidating; but it's really full of pictures and large text - the game itself is very easy to interpret. When teaching it, I found that new players often missed some of the subtle effects of the cards, and I really wished that there could have been a reference sheet included that explained what each card did exactly, but most people picked it up after a few turns.

  3. Board: I understand the reasons for the board existing, but it really isn't as big a deal as you might think. Two of the inner provinces are certainly important, as they each border seven other provinces; but once a player has two adjacent provinces, they are difficult to stop regardless of how the "Favor of the Pope" token is placed. In fact, I didn't find that there was much strategy with the pope token; it has some obvious placement occasionally, but the main reason most players will use the bishop card is for its destructive power.

  4. Luck: Occasionally a player will be dealt a bad hand during the game. This can be devastating on a final turn/battle, but hands are often not quite so bad as they seem. A good player can use their cards as a bluff, attempting to cause their opponents to pass before they need to. For example, if I have a drummer in my hand but no good numbers to back it up, I can play the drummer first, causing my opponents to think that I have some high firepower to play. Getting all three heroines might be powerful (it is), but usually a player will get some sort of combination that they can utilize to great effect.

  5. Tactics: Condottiere allows a player some neat flexibility with their cards. Examples include:
    • Playing a scarecrow to take a card into your hand, only to drop that card back onto the table on your next turn.
    • Playing a winter card after your opponents have played some large mercenary cards. When they pass, play a spring card and then the rest of your army.
    • Play a large number card; and while your opponent is scrambling to start up their own armies, end the round.
    • Encourage everyone into an arms war, until you see several "10" mercenary cards on the table. Then play a bishop.
    All of this can be exceptionally fun. There's nothing that's really mind blowing about the strategy, but it's not just simple card playing. The scarecrow cards in particular can be very useful, as they allow players to drag out a round or possibly retrieve troops from an impossibly lost battle.

  6. Optional: Two of the optional rules, capturing regions from other players and hidden cards, are almost a requirement when I play. I understand that they draw the game out a little longer, and one of Condottiere's charms is that it's a quick little game. However, the option for capturing regions suddenly makes the "Favor of the Pope" a much more powerful device, as you can defend your lands with it. Also, the hidden cards allow a bit more bluffing into the game - a mechanic I adore.

  7. Fun Factor: Condottiere is a decent game with three or four players, especially as it finishes in about half an hour. However, with five or six the game seems to work especially well, as cards such as winter and spring have greater and far-reaching effects. More importantly, a larger group of players means that the diplomatic aspect of the game becomes more important. Players can make deals (not trading cards) but are not required to abide by them, which slightly lengthens the game but also adds a bit of a cutthroat feel to the experience.

I think Condottiere will have a wide appeal, not because of its theme or artwork, but because it can be played quickly and has a huge amount of interaction. The cards, while appearing simple on the onset (and this is a good thing for player level entry), actually can be used in several combinations to great effect. An engaging game that can fit into half an hour, Condottiere allows players the feel of war - but without a lot of dice rolling and epic battles. The card system makes the game what it is and will be found enjoyable by many.

Tom Vasel
"Real men play board games"

Condottiere: Quick & Intelligent
May 23, 2006
Condottiere Condottiere is a trick taking card and board game by designed by Dominique Ehrhard (Serenissima and many more); the object of the game is to seize an amount of connected provinces on the board through battles (4 for a 2-3 player game, 3 for a 4-6 player game). At the beginning of every turn players are dealt a hand of cards, the initiating player, or Condottiere, chooses the province over which everyone fights, players must play their cards one at a time player by player, each of the cards are either numbered, or have a special effect. The player with the highest total when such a battle is concluded wins the province. One of the great challenges of the game is due to the fact that the cards a player is dealt each turn must be used to ‘fight’ through many battles. The winner of the battle becomes the new Condottiere and gets to choose the next province that is fought over. When only one player has cards left the turn ends and a new hand is dealt. It is always a challenge deciding whether to try and beat an opponent outright – if it is a battle for an important province – or whether to try and whittle down the cards they are holding and draw out their best without giving away too much of your own hand so you can take provinces easier later on. Condottiere claims to be a game for 2-6 players – although it is by far better when played by 3-5. It is a quick game that offers brilliant game play, sure to impress anyone who enjoys high quality card games; it has been compared to poker and stands up well to such comparisons. The aesthetics of the game are quite pleasing, the cards are long and large, the board is beautifully stylised and mounted on nice thick cardboard, as well as this the card and box art is gorgeous and provoke the theme of the Condottiere commanders of old well. This would have to be one of a few games both designed and illustrated by the same person; Ehrhard displays his skills as an artist and designer well in this great game. Condottiere comes with a deck of large, long cards, a map of Renaissance Italy, a Condottiere marker and six coloured lots of round wooden ownership tokens as well as a clear, colour rule- book. Condottiere is a regular in my gaming group, it is quick, intelligent, and offers a good balance between light enjoyment and tactically rewarding play, this, added to the fact that most games are resolved in around half an hour to forty five minutes makes it a great game to play between heavier sittings.
Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.

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