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Subject: Should I Bother? - Medici rss

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Ben Pinchback
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Well at this point, our gaming group is just tearing through Knizia games like it's our job. In fact, during our last trip at lunch to the FLGS, I noticed at the register that all 3 games we bought were Knizia, and this was not on purpose in any way. One of these games was Medici, and needless to say we couldn't wait to try it out. After more than a few plays we've stretched its legs considerably, and the verdict is pretty much in. So, should this tile drawing auction game of goods, surprises, and yet another boring European looking guy on the cover make it into your collection? Short answer: ..... Meh.....

Components
You get a nice looking board with a VP track around it and 5 divided sections representing the 5 goods in play. These sections track the amount of goods each player has acquired, and points are awarded each round based on who has the most or second most of each good. There's a pile of tiles (the goods), a black bag to draw from, some little wooden money bag things in each players' color, and little player mat things with ships printed on them for each player. Overall I would say the components are very nicely done. The art is attractive and I have no complaints at all about any of the bits.

Play
The first thing I'll mention is the clever way money is handled. I've seen it in other games like Tikal, but it's still cute. Money = VP. Everyone starts at 40 VP, and when you spend money you just move down that many VP. There are 3 total rounds, and you score VP/money at the end of each round. It's very quick and seamless. This beats paper money or even coins for simplicity. Each round is simple. The players are bidding on goods to fill up the 5 spots on their respective player mat/ship. A good can have a 0 up to 5 printed on it. One major way to score points is to have the total of those numbers on your ship be higher than the other players have on their boats. (or 2nd or 3rd as well depending on number of players) The other way to score points is to get a bunch of the same good regardless of number and have more (or 2nd most) of that good than everyone else. You do this for 3 rounds and that's the game. How do you get tiles? Auction. I love auctions. In this one, on your turn, you can put 1 to 3 tiles up for auction. You reveal one then decide if you want to reveal another. Then another up to 3 max. There's some press your luck here. You reveal 1 tile. You like it. Do you keep going or declare that the auction is just 1 tile? This part is fun. Especially since it’s a once around auction and on your turn you get last bid. This is very slick. Buuuuuuuuuuut, there's so much luck in what comes out of the bag. Especially considering that there's this 1 single 10 coin tile thing that changes the game each round. It’s worth 10 coins and furthermore 10 towards your total boat count. If you get this 10 thingy, you’re gonna win the 30 points for biggest boat count. When it comes out is so random it's annoying. I mean it can be funny and cute, but most of all it's annoying. So then people are afraid to buy tiles because god forbid your boat starts to fill up and someone else pulls the 10 thingy on the cheap. I get it, people like luck. It can be cute. But not our group. Not this much. There’s too many other games to play to spend much time on this one. Oh, but that’s a positive. The game plays super quick. Like under 40 minutes for 4-5 if everyone knows how to play.

Verdict
I was waiting for a major Knizia game I didn’t particularly like, and I finally found one. This isn’t a complete slam though. Great components, it plays very quickly, we just didn’t like all the luck of the draw. I get it, skill, niner, whatever, but at some point there’s just huge luck of the draw and that’s not for me.

Medici - Should I Bother? - NO Unless you really prefer a bigger luck element, then this one might be for you.
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Chris Johnson
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There are two parts to Medici; managing the auctions, and managing the "luck" of the draw.

The deck is a known quantity (especially with 6, the ideal player count AFAIC), and you should be counting it, at a minimum for the items you are interested in.

Managing the deck is an easily learn-able skill, and the 10 is not at all game-breaking.

There is some luck in the game, but it is much more a game of skill; I usually play 6-player, and come in first or second about 70%-75% of the time...

P.S. it sounds like you might be playing the 10 wrong; it counts towards largest boat, and that is it; it does not also give you 10 points when you win it (or later). That "extra" 10 points might indeed be game-breaking...
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Gareth Reynolds
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bno70_1 wrote:
Buuuuuuuuuuut, there's so much luck in what comes out of the bag. Especially considering that there's this 1 single 10 coin tile thing that changes the game each round. It’s worth 10 coins and furthermore 10 towards your total boat count. If you get this 10 thingy, you’re gonna win the 30 points for biggest boat count. When it comes out is so random it's annoying. I mean it can be funny and cute, but most of all it's annoying.
From what I read your group never plays with the full count of six players. Have you ever tried playing without the 10 gold tile at all? Seems like a simple fix for the problem you seem to have here.
Also, on second read of what you wrote I get the impression that your group is giving someone 10 on the track when the tile comes out (either the person drawing it or the person that gets it on their boat), I never came across that in the rules.
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Patrick C.
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I've played this game with someone who many would consider an extreme expert game player - teacher, owner of many games, and writer of rules for some major published games. He finished his bidding early and had to leave the table. About 15 minutes later he came back to discover he had won the game. He didn't seem the least bit surprised.

I doubt very much that this was luck or mere accident.

I see that you rate 7 Wonders pretty high. I do as well. There's as much luck in 7 Wonders if perhaps not more. So maybe you just don't like the game which is fine. I do think far too often people dismiss games for having "too much luck" before really discovering how to truly play.
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Ben Pinchback
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Avron wrote:
bno70_1 wrote:
Buuuuuuuuuuut, there's so much luck in what comes out of the bag. Especially considering that there's this 1 single 10 coin tile thing that changes the game each round. It’s worth 10 coins and furthermore 10 towards your total boat count. If you get this 10 thingy, you’re gonna win the 30 points for biggest boat count. When it comes out is so random it's annoying. I mean it can be funny and cute, but most of all it's annoying.
From what I read your group never plays with the full count of six players. Have you ever tried playing without the 10 gold tile at all? Seems like a simple fix for the problem you seem to have here.
Also, on second read of what you wrote I get the impression that your group is giving someone 10 on the track when the tile comes out (either the person drawing it or the person that gets it on their boat), I never came across that in the rules.


True we haven't had 6. I will make a push to get it out at lunch if we have 6. I can see it possibly being better this way. Also, ya it looks like I might have been taught wrong with the 10 thingy. It's still ridiculous when it comes out randomly near the end, but it would be less powerful and a better game scored correctly.
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Ben Pinchback
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travvller wrote:

I see that you rate 7 Wonders pretty high. I do as well. There's as much luck in 7 Wonders if perhaps not more. So maybe you just don't like the game which is fine. I do think far too often people dismiss games for having "too much luck" before really discovering how to truly play.


Absolutely correct. I guess it's probably my issue with expectations. What I expect out of 7 wonders is a quick, random, fun lunchtime filler. I went into Medici expecting another Knizia grand slam like Through The Desert or Samurai or etc, etc. It's probably my bad. But, still, I wasn't that intrigued or had that much fun with Medici.
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Eric Brosius
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Medici is my favorite game. It does take a table of intelligent, engaged players to shine. The 6-player game has more skill and less luck; in fact, the luck generally varies inversely with the number of players.
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Dan Drontle
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Medici is my least favorite of the auction trilogy- Medici, Ra, and Modern Art.

With that said, though, it is still a fun game- especially with 5 or 6 players. One problem you might have is that you have played it with 4 or fewer players. I wouldn't recommend doing that. You have to pull out so many tiles that it truly does become very random.
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Ben Pinchback
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crazypumaman wrote:
Medici is my least favorite of the auction trilogy- Medici, Ra, and Modern Art.

With that said, though, it is still a fun game- especially with 5 or 6 players. One problem you might have is that you have played it with 4 or fewer players. I wouldn't recommend doing that. You have to pull out so many tiles that it truly does become very random.

I am going to make it a priority to try this game with 6.
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bno70_1 wrote:
Buuuuuuuuuuut, there's so much luck in what comes out of the bag.
The fix is easy.
Simply make sure all commodities are affected equally when you pare down for smaller games.

Of course, you should still remove some random tiles so "tile-counting" doesn't get out of control.

Suggested setups for 3-5 players are in this thread:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/110825/reducing-luck-in-medi...

PS: This also fixes the 10 gold problem.
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david landes
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Agreeing with others, this game still does not have that much luck with 4 or 5... better players will win. If other players are bidding well, the 10 costs more, it is quite self balancing.
 
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J C Lawrence
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sightreader wrote:
Of course, you should still remove some random tiles so "tile-counting" doesn't get out of control.


The game works because of tile-counting. Without tile-counting it isn't worth playing.
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Sight Reader
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In the reduced luck version, we only remove 1-3 tiles randomly before each round: enough to be reasonably safe in assuming a sought-for tile waits for you in the bag, but not quite with 100% certainty.
clearclaw wrote:
The game works because of tile-counting. Without tile-counting it isn't playing.

Agreed, but the game breaks if players can completely enumerate the bag, especially towards the end of rounds. To see why, try loading the bag with only 0's and 4's - you'll be in for a rather dull game.

EDITS: Clarity
 
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J C Lawrence
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sightreader wrote:
clearclaw wrote:
The game works because of tile-counting. Without tile-counting it isn't playing.


Agreed, but the game breaks if players can completely enumerate the bag, especially towards the end of rounds. To see why, try loading the bag with only 0's and 4's - you'll be in for a rather dull game.


Been there, done that, had it occur in live games, did not find it a problem, do not consider it a problem.
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clearclaw wrote:
Been there, done that, had it occur in live games, did not find it a problem, do not consider it a problem.

Cool. Glad ya like it.
 
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Maybe I'm reaching for a game that just isn't there, but what if the tiles were selected and placed into line face-up for everyone to see. Someone would have to win and the others lose, would it be interesting? Would the binding issues become a problem?
 
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Grant Faustus wrote:
what if the tiles were selected and placed into line face-up for everyone to see.

Sounds like a great idea for a new game! Might be worth a variant post after giving it a test run...
 
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Ben Pinchback
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clearclaw wrote:
sightreader wrote:
Of course, you should still remove some random tiles so "tile-counting" doesn't get out of control.


The game works because of tile-counting. Without tile-counting it isn't playing.

I think you are 100% correct here, which is why I didn't like the game with 4 or 5. I bet I change my tune if I can get in a 6 player game. That will tell the story for me.
 
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bno70_1 wrote:
I think you are 100% correct here, which is why I didn't like the game with 4 or 5. I bet I change my tune if I can get in a 6 player game. That will tell the story for me.

It is very easy to make the game 100 percent deterministic. Just make sure all commodities are affected equally when you remove tiles for smaller games.
 
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Eric Brosius wrote:
Medici is my favorite game. It does take a table of intelligent, engaged players to shine. The 6-player game has more skill and less luck; in fact, the luck generally varies inversely with the number of players.

It isn't my "favorite" game, but it is way up there. Best boat is important, or at least getting some high scores for boat over all three rounds, but most important in all regards is correctly bidding for the right cards for bonuses on goods. I've played this game so much with many die-hard players where it becomes evident that there are many strategies towards this end. Some players are willing to drive the bidding prices up to make other players pay highly for what they really need. Other players don't bid at all, and take what they can get cheap or free (I've seen that strategy win on several/many occasions). It's amazing how variable the game play can be and still net strong results if done correctly.

I must admit the game is more fun/playable with the original Amigo Spiele edition, wheras other editions might be flavoring some player's negative opinions about this game.
 
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Ben Pinchback
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Ok, finally got this one on the table with 6 players. It for SURE made the game way better, but I will say I still found the game flawed. It was fun though. The couple more games we played with 6, the layers started to reveal themselves. Really though, one could complain about the draw in any tile game, so reacting to the situations as they arise is kind of fun. I'll upgrade my thoughts to, sure, why not buy Medici.
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bno70_1 wrote:
Really though, one could complain about the draw in any tile game

I take it you didn't try the face-up version the guy suggested earlier?

At any rate, try the deterministic tile removal for less than 6. That should allow you to count tiles down to the bottom of the bag, no matter how many players.

Hopefully that would make games with less than 6 just as fun as the one you played.
 
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