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Who will get the most guilders? Augsburg in the year 1367: The Dynasty of the Fugger begins with Jakob the Rich. Through him this bank- and trading-house becomes the most important in all of Europe, because it loans large sums of money to popes and emperors. Become one of the buyers, who transact business with the Fuggers in jewels, copper, cloth, spice and wine. Only the best merchants will be welcome in Augsburg. Who will become the most successful buyer?
Players: 2 - 4
Time: 30 - 45 minutes
Ages: 10 and up
Weight: 114 grams
Language Requirements: Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in multiple languages (including English).
- 9 price cards
- 1 Jacob the Rich card
- 5 goods value cards
- 45 goods cards
- 4 merchant cards
Average Rating: 4 in 2 reviews
This is a very clever game. The game board is created by laying out cards. Players compete to control commodity prices by playing commodity cards. The first two rounds give you the option of playing 'investment cards' which can change the outcome of the game when counting out the final score.
On a players turn, you have the option to play a card or replenish your hand. Sounds simple, but if you play too many cards of the same commodity the value may collapse. Don't play enough and you'll miss out on making money. Your tactics change as other cards are revealed.
Plays well with 2 players. It's fun and very portable.
Adlung Spiele is an interesting company in that they only produce one very specific type of game: card games containing exactly 66 cards. This rather quirky characteristic is one part of what makes Adlung interesting, but the other factor is far more pertinent to you and I, the consumers: Adlung makes some great big games in their little tiny boxes. Games like Verrater, Meuterer, Von Kap Bis Kairo (and from what I’ve heard, Im Auftrag der Konig) manage to cram a boardgame-like experience into a little deck of cards. Of course the flip side of that is that Adlung has produced some rather forgettable games, and some downright odd ones (their pinball game, and their beach volleyball game come to mind). So what about die Fugger (pronounced “dee Foo- ger”)?
Well, the game comes in a small box of 66 cards…like every other Adlung game. The cards come in several types, best listed by describing the game itself. First, the Price cards are laid out in a circle from 1 to 9. Then 5 price marker cards, one for each commodity, are placed by the “5” card. The supply deck, containing commodity cards and merchant cards is placed in the middle of the circle. Players are then dealt a starting hand of cards from that deck, and “Jakob the Rich”, an additional “player”, is dealt 2 cards face-up. Play then begins.
A player may either draw a card from the supply deck, or lay a card face-up in front of him. Cards laid in this way are the player’s holdings. Cards come in two types: merchants, and commodities. If a player plays a merchant, he will get two additional cards into his hand at the end of the round; if he plays a second merchant in the same round, he will get 5 extra cards into his hand at the end of the round. Merchants are few in the deck though, and the majority of cards played will be commodity cards. Commodity cards can be plain ol’ commodity cards, or they may have a royal seal on them. Royal seal cards can be worth double value at the end of the round, but only in special circumstances.
A round ends as soon as one commodity has 5 face-up cards showing amongst all the players’ holdings (including whatever Jakob has). When this happens, commodities fluctuate in price, and players are awarded points. The 3 commodities with the highest number of cards showing increase in value according to how many cards were put down. The other 2 commodities decrease in value by 1. A commodity can not go below “1”, and any commodity that goes over “9”, comes to a complete stop at “1”, and must start climbing the proverbial ladder in the next round. For example, if there are 5 red, 3 yellow, 3 green, 2 brown, and 1 blue, then red goes up in value by 5, yellow up by 3, green up by 3, brown and blue down 1 each. So by laying down cards, players are trying to increase their holdings while also manipulating the prices. After prices have been changed, players are awarded points for their holdings. Each card is worth points equal to the current position that commodity occupies in the price circle. If a commodity has 3 or less cards face-up this round, any card of that commodity with a royal seal is worth double. All cards on the table are then discarded, and then players are dealt 2 cards (plus bonus cards if they laid down merchants), and the next round begins.
The game ends when one player goes over 100 points. Then bonus points are awarded. For, in the first two rounds only, a player, on his turn, may place one card face-down in front of him per round. Anytime a player does this, Jakob gets one additional card face-up. These face-down cards are worth bonus points – big bonus points! Each card is worth double the point value of the final position of that commodity. Clever stuff, wot! By introducing this mechanic, players have a bit of uncertainty as to how the round will play out, since it adds a card to Jakob’s supply, and it also means players must balance short term gains and the long-term goal of ensuring high value for their two bonus cards. Rounds are short and trying to balance your holdings (long and short term) and manipulate the prices at the same time is neat trick. This tension is a very nice part of the game.
This game, on paper, sounds very clever, and opinion of the game is generally favorable. The rules are simple, gameplay in unique and clever, and it all fits into a tiny box. What’s not to like? Well the game isn’t perfect. For one, it suffers from “Goldilocks syndrome”: 2 players is too unpredictable (due to Jakob getting a card every second turn), 4 players is too chaotic (due to shortness of rounds), leaving 3 players, and only 3 players as really the only number to enjoy the game with. The other problem I found is that I never really felt engaged in the game. It is kind of clever, but it’s not quite as polished and interesting as I thought it might be. Of course, my preconceptions are not the fault of the game itself, and I can see how, when played with experienced players, this game would be fairly tight. But rounds are very short and feel rushed, and the game itself is very repetitive. Even the artwork, sort of a watercolor deal, seems indicative of gameplay: pleasant, but washed out. If Anne of Green Gables played this game, I’m sure she’d say there’s not much scope for the imagination here. It’s just a clever idea for a simple game, and doesn’t pretend to be much more than that. If you like the description of gameplay, you’ll like this game. It may not be groundbreaking, but it is pleasant.
The Fuggers were a merchant and banking family from Augsburg whose legendary wealth made them important figures in 15th and 16th century Europe. When Charles V became Holy Roman Emperor it was their financial backing that secured his election. However, nobody stays top of the pile for ever and their fate now is just to provide a title for this little 'supply and demand' card game from the designer of Carcassonne.
The idea is that players influence the demand for various goods, driving up prices and seeking to sell at the top of the market before over supply causes it to crash.
Nine cards numbered 1 to 9 are arranged in a circle. These are the possible price points for the five suitably medieval commodities in which the players will do their trading. Another special card showing Jakob der Reiche, representative of the Fugger dynasty, is placed face up near the circle.
To start the game each player is dealt four goods cards, and a further two are placed face-up next to Jakob. Players then take it in turns to play or draw cards, with the restriction that drawing is only an option if they currently have no more than 4 cards in their hand. Played cards are laid face-up in front of you and represent the goods that you are bringing to market. The round ends when one commodity is showing 5 face-up cards. The three commodities showing the most cards then have their prices 'increased' by 1 for each card they have on display. The others each 'fall' by 1. And in case you are wondering why I have put quotation marks round the words increase and fall, it is that while they are accurate most of the time, they fail to be so on the 9/1 boundary. Because the price cards are in a circle, one up from 9 is 1 and one down from 1 is 9.
After the price adjustments each player cashes in the goods cards that they have on display, and a new round starts with the drawing of some new cards and the dealing of two fresh ones to Jakob. This continues until one player's score reaches 100.
The basic strategy is therefore to try and play those cards which will produce good returns at the end of the round and to try and ensure that any commodity that is looking too profitable for anyone else gets pushed past the 9 mark. With people inevitably pulling in different directions, this would be enough to guarantee an interesting enough game, but there are a few extras to spice things up a little further and give you extra things to think about.
The first of these is that in each set of commodity cards there are a couple with royal seals. A card showing a royal seal will pay double provided that no more than 3 cards of this commodity are on display at the end of the round. Denying other players these bonuses by laying a fourth card thus becomes something else on your agenda, as does deciding when best to play your own seal cards.
The second is that in each of the first two rounds you may use one of your turns to play one of your cards face-down rather than face-up. This card then stays there until the end of the game, when it will pay out at double its then market price. Having played these cards near the beginning of the game, your aim towards the end will be to try and manipulate the market so that the size of these bonuses is as large as possible. They could well be decisive and the fact that they are there adds a welcome element of uncertainty to the finish, sparing everyone those scenes where the table's resident accountant keeps wanting to know everyone's score so that he can decide whether this is the moment to end the game.
Of less strategic importance than either of these, but still a pleasant enough addition, are four merchant cards. These are in with the commodities and if you have one or two in front of you at the end of the round you draw more new cards than you would otherwise do. Getting one of these is a welcome piece of good fortune, but they don't unbalance the game unduly for two reasons. In the first place they are 'one use' - at the end of the round they go back into the deck - and in the second, playing one of them means that you are playing one fewer goods card and so although you are drawing extra cards at the end of the round it is at the price of less money.
Fugger is not an essential purchase, but it is a good, enjoyable game with the additional virtues of being inexpensive and taking up very little space. As with all card games there is an element of good and bad luck in the cards you draw, but it is not the case that a bad hand will doom you, more that you have to adapt your play to what you hold. As with Modern Art (which is where you have seen the '5 types, 5 of one type to finish a round and best 3 score' set-up before) what you hold matters, but how you respond to what the others are doing matters more. The best of this year's Adlung crop.