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Store:  Family Games
Edition:  Medici
Series:  Medici
Genre:  Auction & Bidding
Format:  Board Games


English language edition

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
10+ 30-60 minutes 3-6

Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games

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Product Description

You are buyers for different merchant houses in the competitive, but profitable age of the infamous Medici family. Ships sail throughout the Mediterranean and beyond in search of rare and valuable merchandise and profitable markets for the goods you buy. Every day you go to the wholesale market where you must compete with other buyers for the merchandise available that day. Bid at the markets for the best prices on valuable and not so valuable goods. Corner the market on a commodity and reap additional rewards. Fill your ship and set sail for foreign markets where your goods will fetch high prices. After three trips to the market, the player with the most money wins!

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Family Strategy Game Nominee, 1999
Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 1995
Deutscher Spiele Preis
5th place, 1995

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

  • Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games

  • Artist(s): David A Cherry

  • Year: 1995

  • Players: 3 - 6

  • Time: 30 - 60 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Weight: 630 grams

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English.


  • 1 game board
  • 35 cards
  • 6 ship mats
  • 36 playing counters

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.1 in 19 reviews

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Awesome Knizia game!
January 08, 2006
This is a 10 year old game which I have found, very few gamers know about. That makes it extra special -- it is an excellent gem, which has been sitting under your nose all these years...)

Its a simple 30 minute bidding game, hehe... as are most of the games Knizia's games. I've played many many, Knizia games and many more bidding games and this is one of my favorites. But, unlike Tom Vasel, I don't fall in love with every game I play. I am very picky, so trust me, this is a Must Buy!

Other games also on my Must Buy list:
High Society - Knizia game which is even better than For Sale
Kingdoms - also by Knizia
Magellan - Wonderful bidding game
I'm the Boss - Another amazing gem, by the designer of Acquire, which no one seems to know about
Caylus - Its a good game. As good as Puerto Rico, you ask? Time will tell.

These are all great games. With the exception of Caylus and Kingdoms, they are not well-known. I recommend you run, don't walk and pickup a copy of these unknown gems!

Great Game, BUY German
December 18, 2002

Absolutely a great game. Buy the German edition. Higher quality production, easier color distinctions, and you get a translation. But for those content with the Cheapass Games (James Ernest) philosophy of buying only the rules . . . go ahead and buy any copy of this GREAT game! Buy it, play it, you'll love it! Read other reviews. This is one game that everyone will be willing to play at least once (and then again, and again).

A truly elegant design
March 03, 2002

Many of Dr. Knizia's games have an uderlying elegance to them. Their mechanics are well thought out, and usually have a couple different levels of innovative mechanics that dovetail together to make a unique and interesting game. While some of these game are a little messy, there is no doubt of their brilliance. Want proof? Look no further than Taj Mahal. Other times the game itself is quite simple to grasp, yet using an innovative scoring mechainc, such as Katzenjammer Blues or, most especially, Samurai.

In Medici, Dr. Knizia has created a lean, mean auction game that is both invative and elegant. There is no fussiness to it at all, instead stripping down to the essentials of the auction genre. As in many Knizia games, there are plenty of tough choices to consider each round. Nothing comes easy, and since one is spending one's inheritance (victory points) in order to make each purchase, it behooves the player to make sure each ducat counts.

Between trying to maximize one's holding for cargo value and the attempt to corner various commodity markets, there is much to think about in this game. Any more layers to it would detract from the elegance and streamlined design. This one hits all the right notes. Highly recommended.

this game rocks
March 01, 2002

I also would simply like to add my point of view about this game. I am a big fan of many of Knizia's games such as Ra, Tigris & Euphrates, Samurai. They all have a charm of their own, with great strategic value. I would very much place medici in this category also. It sometimes seems mindbendingly difficult to decide what to bid on a turn, but the rules are so terribly simple. How does he do it?

I don't know whether this is Knizia's best game. He seems to have created so many that demand respect. I do believe however, that it deserves to stand proudly in my collection, and I look forward to many more games of Medici.

A Psychological Thriller!
February 24, 2002

I'm writing this review for two different reasons. First, I think it is unfair that people wrote bad reviews just because they think a particular VERSION is inferior. That is like saying that Monopoly is a bad game because the $8.00 off-the-shelf version isn't as well made as the Franklin Mint solid gold version! I want to see this game make it up to the top 50 highest rated games!

Second, this is by far the best game I own! I own 17 of the top 50 best selling games of all time. (according to That includes Tikal, Acquire, Settlers of Catan, Torres, Elfenland, Bohnanza, Rage, and Apples to Apples. (Just to name a few) I stumbled on this game by accident. We normally play games with one other couple, but we were expecting additional company for a weekend gaming session. We had enjoyed playing Alladin's Dragons, and were looking for an auction/bidding game for six players. Luckily the Funagain search engine was cut out for just such a task! We read some reviews and bought the game. It has far exceeded our expectations. It is the best value of all time. We have played the game over 100 times already! We bring it whenever we go out of town to visit people. Everybody we play with ends up buying their own copy!

This game is very psychological. You have to discern how badly your opponents want an item, and then make them pay even more than they thought they would! It is a very delicate balance, because they might let you choke on it! Only one round of bidding really makes the game suspenseful and nerve-racking. Games only last 30-40 minutes. We play at least two games everytime we get together with out friends. You'll love it!

I also happen to think that the game is fantastic with 3 or 6 players. The game dynamics change drastically. You remove cards from the deck depending on how many people are playing. That means there might not be any of the commodities that you are trying to collect! With six players, you can throw more items into the harbor (by not bidding on them), but people are paying so much to get what they want, that you are better off collecting low cards and not paying much for them.

You will never find a better game!

Especially for 3-6 players!

by Rick
Flawed in some views, but still looks great from here!
November 30, 2001

I wrote the first review for this game. Now, two years and a number of plays later...

I agree with myself and others: 5 stars. And ditto say a slew of friends and relatives (brother, sister-in-law, etc.). Medici is still an inspired and enjoyable balance of simplicity and medium depth. And the theme-game connection is one of the better from Reiner Knizia.

One of the reasons Im weighing back in is the knock on the Rio version has lowered the score on this wonderful game. Some take (understandable) exception to confusing layout/colors of the Rio version vs. the pricier German version. Sounds reasonable, but that hasnt bogged down the game for us. I say, let folks see that this is a great game and they can decide how much they want to spend.

Id still get the cheaper (and maybe flawed) Rio version. For the same cost vs. the perfect $40 German version, use that extra money to get another game, maybe Lost Cities, a solid 2-player Knizia title that has also had lasting power around here. Net result: 2 Knizia classics for the price of one.

Whatever you decide, Medici is still a great strategic way to spend your game bucks. And if you like (or think youd like) Medici and can stand more complexity, then theres Knizias Ra, which is Medici on Egyptian adrenaline.

by JF
Awesone Auction game!
April 19, 2001

What a great game this is. Works best with 4-5 players; not so well with 3 or 6. It's full of tension and fun. It requires skill, but has some luck as well. Lots of nail-biting decisions, and bluffing. It has simple rules, and a simple scoring system unlike Knizia's more recent games like Stephensons Rocket or Taj Mahal.

Too bad Knizia stopped making games like this.

by Greg
Great Auction game
January 15, 2001

I like Medici more than Ra. It's less convoluted, more tense, and a blast to play. What's especially interesting is it's not just that you want to buy efficiently and score well, you must also hamper your opponents. This is the only auction game I've seen where you have the ability to control what the others may buy.

Say an important item comes up, sought after by 2 opponents. Just turn up another card, or maybe 2. You can reduce their chances of scoring by doing this. Plus there is some bluffing and risk taking, as you can bid up (a little) a good that someone needs just to make them waste an extra $2 here and there. Knowing when to stop is the key.

It's a psychology game as well as an auction/buying/risk taking game.

It's superior to games like Ra because it's a clean simple system, that requires skill. Ra's claim to fame is that it has many ways to score, but I think it's just a cluttered design, just like some of Knizia's newer games like Stephensons Rocket and Taj Mahal.

by Mike
If You Like MODERN ART, You'll Love MEDICI
February 06, 1999

MEDICI is one of the great bidding games of all time. Reiner Knizia expertly captivates us in the role of merchant captains and traders in the Mediterranean in the 1500's. We vie for rich cargos of spice, fur, china, dyes or metals. The winner of the game is the one with the most money at the end of three rounds.

Each player has five spaces available for cargo on his ship. Game play starts with a player slowly dealing one to three cards face up. On each card is a number value (from 1 to 5) and a commodity (spice, fur, china, dyes or metals). The dealer decides after each card is turned up if he wants to bid on the cards face up. Each player in turn either bids for the cards or passes, until the bid comes back to the dealer. The cards are then sold to the highest bidder or discarded if no one wants them. The number of cards bid upon is limited by the number of players. Clever players soon learn which cargo is valuable or how to buy cards cheaply.

When bidding is concluded, players score points for having the most valuable cargo. Points are also scored for having the highest cumulative totals in each of the five commodities.

Game play is furious and tense. We have played many games where the outcome is determined by only a couple of points. This makes MEDICI the most satisfying of games, one in which the winner isn't determined until the last moment, where winner and loser alike smile at the outcome and quickly shuffle the cards to play again!

A quick note. I agree that the original Amigo version is the one to get. The Rio Grande version is hard to read.

If you like MODERN ART, you'll love MEDICI!

by Rick
Well-paced and deep
January 31, 1999

In Medici, several simple elements combine in a thoughtful bidding game of superior depth. The players fill their ships in three rounds with 5 commodity cards of cloth, fur, grain, dye and spice in various values. Players set the sell price of a group of 1 to 3 cards using a nifty method: In turn, each player selects the number of cards to be bid on and gets to make the last bid.

After all ships are filled, scores are tallied on an attractive board using wood pawns, done by ship totals as well as with bonus scoring from cumulative totals for each commodity. Profits are made through careful planning and opportune purchases. Keep mindful of monopolies in commodities.

The game plays fast as tension builds right from the start--this is serious fun! The more I've played, the more I appreciate the thoughtful decision-making needed, and I've yet to explore the added depth of defensive buys. It's yet another winner from designer Reiner Knizia.

If you like suspenseful thinking games, then you'll profit from Medici.

by Mirta G
Fun bidding game, but not addictive
January 13, 2005
We had lot of fun playing Medici the other night. It fosters involvement of all players, and everybody has a chance to win even late in the game. But, I am not sure it would keep me interested again and again. The rules are quite simple and there are probably not so many winning strategies. Good for occasional playing, but not addictive as some other games.
One of our favorite bidding games.
December 21, 2002

Medici is one of my more recent additions to my Knizia-design collection, despite it being one of his older productions. Frankly, I had held off because I already owned Ra, Money, Katzenjammer Blues, Taj Mahal, and Modern Art, and I just assumed that Medici couldn't provide so different a bidding experience that it was worth the investment.

Well, I was dead wrong. Out of curiousity, I finally bought a copy of Medici, and it has rapidly become one of our group's favorite games, surpassing Ra and Modern Art amongst the Knizia auction/bidding designs. While I personally still prefer Modern Art (albeit slightly), I must admit that Medici is a great game in its own right, and quite better than Ra.

We do have some problems with the components of the Rio Grande edition, as has been noted in earlier reviews. But beyond that, this game is a tense, FUN contest that inspires a number of strategies, and some deadly tactics --- and demands that players keep thinking all the time in this game, and plan turns ahead. It gets lots of replayings, often in the same sitting. We've played well over a dozen times, and keep coming back for more.

Taj Mahal -- it's not. But this is a wonderful auction/bidding game that won't collect dust in the game closet.

Highly recommended.

by Steve K
Don't bend the fur, Rube!
February 28, 2001

I think Maureen Stapleton said it best in 'Bye Bye Birdie.' Of course, she wasn't referring to the fur in MEDICI, but she could have been. Let me explain. I have a friend, a female member of our gaming group, who is such an animal rights activist (actually, a cat-lover) that she won't bid on fur when it comes up for bid during the game. There is no exception to her rule. If you haven't played MEDICI, suffice it to know that bidding on five different commodities is how you ultimately earn money, thus determining who wins the game.

One would think that limiting oneself to four commodities, while all other players can bid on five commodities would be disastrous. Not so, not in MEDICI. She won't bid on fur, even if the other two items up for bid are ones she's collecting. But get this... she always does well in the game! Everyone knows she won't bid on fur, but she is never last and usually finishes in the top 3 during a 6-player game.

Try this strategy yourself sometime. Several things will happen: (1) you will rarely be the first one out of the bidding, (2) you will never get into bidding wars when fur is involved, and (3) most important, you will have to focus on fewer commodities.

This is another Knizia game where the volume of choices, with limited resources available, can drive you nuts. Limit your own choices, exercise much self discipline, you will do well, Grasshopper.

Bottom line: I like this game. Simple rules, lots of group involvement (with the auction phase), numerous strategies to pursue. But remember, 'Don't bend the fur.' You heard it here first.

Fun bidding game
January 14, 2001

There are several factors that make each bid you make an agonizing decision: First, it's the only bid for that lot of goods you'll get. Second, should you go for points or types of goods? Third, how much do you need to bid to push your opponents higher without accidentally buying goods you don't want? Fourth, how little can you bid for what you do want? Fifth, will there be enough goods for everyone? and Sixth, what goods might turn up next that you are foregoing?

For all of these reasons I like this game. Some in our group complain they never know how much is the right amount to bid, but isn't that the point?

The luck is in the flip of the cards, which can be annoying when junk flips up on your turn, but the luck can be ameliorated by forcing others to pay more when they have the right cards flip on their turn. There must be a good bit of skill, because two people consistently win this in our group.

So simple but still good
July 13, 1999

The rules for Medici are quite simple. You bid for goods as they arrive - in lots of one, two or three cards - and load them onto your ship. But as soon as you play Medici, you discover that it's not that simple. First, lots aren't separable, so if you don't need that low-value grain, too bad, you have to take it if you want the high-value gold. Second, your ship only has room for five cards, which means that you might not be able to bid for some lots because they would overflow your ship. Third, you only get one chance to bid for the goods, so if you go too low someone is going to outbid you.

The board could be a little clearer - there is a little confusion over which commodities are which. Amazingly, given the highly respected author, there is no mention of Reiner Knizia's name anywhere on the outside of the box. Or, for that matter, how many players can play. These are all niggling complaints though, and the game has a depth that you can only appreciate by playing it. A great filler game, provided you can stop at just one session!

Good Game but not Great
September 25, 1999

I love [page scan/se=0042/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Modern Art and I love Ra, but something about Medici seems to fall short of these two. I guess the fact that Medici only has once around auctions causes it to lose some of the excitment that the different auction types have in Modern Art. Also, since all the goods in Medici score in the same fashion it loses some of the excitment that Ra possesses with many different types of goods that score in different ways. However, Medici is a good game, but if my funds were limited I would buy Ra and Modern Art before I bought Medici.

Warning! Warning, Will Robinson!
August 15, 1999

Hit your Back button right now, and go to the German edition of Medici! This fabulous game is greatly shortchanged with the cruddy components of the English version.

Medici is a classic; this version is not
February 03, 1999

Medici is a great game which I heartily recommend. The problem in this case is not with the game, but with the graphics in this particular version. The original Amigo version is reasonably functional, but in the Rio Grande version everything is hard to read - the board has scoring pyramids for each commodity, but they do not show the color of the commodity card and so it's hard to figure out what you're doing well in. The cards themselves have illegible fonts for the commodity names and the numbers' values don't stand out. Players I have played with routinely buy the wrong commodities in error because everything is so unclear.

If this is the only version of Medici available to you, by all means buy it because the game is very good. But if you can get the Amigo version instead, do so.

Counter-intuitive auction game
April 04, 2004

To summarize the game play of Medici, there are three auctioning rounds during which each player is trying to fill their ship with five cargo good cards.

These goods can be one of five different commodities. The scoring mechanism rewards high points (0 to 5) for each commodity leading to the highest point value ship each round (up to 25 points per ship = 5 times 5 point commodities, plus more points if one of the five cargo cards is a 10 point gold card), but it rewards even more buying cargo cards in only one commodity, even if they are worth a face value of one or zero.

In the game I played with five players, the player who won hardly bid, and was not in the lead until the final tally. How did this happen? While everyone else was madly bidding over high point cargo cards, he bid low on what no one else wanted if it was the one commodity he was stocking up on. As a person who goes to actual auctions, he said it was obvious the other players were bidding way too high for their cargo cards.

Part of his success was due to the fact that commodity hoarding can be of the 0 and 1 point card variety.

He probably would have done even better if there was open auctioning rather than just one fixed round.

I found the scoring mechanism counter-intuitive since hoarding junk is rewarded better than paying a decent price for valuable cargo.

Game play as each round progresses can also leave out a lot of the other players once they have at least 3 of their 5 cargo goods. This is because the auctioneer can deliberately turn over a lot of cargo cards knowing only a few of the players will be able to make a bid, and in fact not intending to bid on that set of cargo cards themselves.

Forget the complaints that the American version is inferior to the German version. The game components were functional enough to easily play the game. If you choose to pass on this game let it be because you would prefer a different type of scoring mechanism and game play in an auction board game.

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