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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!
Eurogames Descartes USA
Players: 2 - 6
Time: 60 minutes
Ages: 12 and up
Weight: 766 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.
Average Rating: 4.3 in 24 reviews
Condottiere is my favorite boardgame for good reason. It captures the feel of Machiavellian Italy. It is a strategy game with a bit of chance thrown in. What makes it particularly interesting is that it is a completely different experience depending on the number of players. If you have only played a two player game, you havent really played the game at all. With two players, the game is mostly luck with little strategy. But add in a third or more players and the games subtlety shines. The more players, the more Machiavellian it becomes. Players must manage their cards as well as maintaining the balance with other players. You cant allow any one player to get too far ahead... or behind. You have to know when you can afford to play your cards. Play too many and you will not be able to defend your provinces from attack. Play too few and you may end up not being able to play them at all that hand. Use your scarecrows to return army cards into your hand to make your opponent think you arent really interested, then play the same army card again. One of the neatest features is that the player that controls the province being attacked can chose not to participate in the early part of the battle by waiting to see how things develop. However, they risk having an opponent play a 'Surrender' card and loosing the province to the largest force with no chance to defend it. Or they may allow the other players to run out numerous army cards then play the 'Peace' card and send everyones committed armies to the discard pile. And now for the truly brilliant part. A three player game is different than a four player game, which is different than a five player game, which is different than a six player game. The mechanics stay the same, but the strategy changes. You can manipulate the other players into attacking provinces that have no strategic interest for them because they cant allow another player to take it. You can pit player A against B this round only to force them to work together the next. The weaker players will naturally band together to thwart the stronger until one of them becomes a threat. Truly Machiavellian.
Condottiere is rapidly becoming one of my favorite games. I've played it three times now, all were four player games, the the variety and tension produced by the game are great. The competition is high, but conflict is somewhat indirect, so it should have a wide appeal. The map is lovely and the cards and counters are excellent. Some people have complained about the tall cards, but our group has no problem shuffling them and we line they way they look. I highly recommend this game.
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