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Subject: Two games in a month…and shows it's age rss

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Zack Boatman
United States
Tesuque
New Mexico
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I remember when this game came out and we played it several times over the course of several months. I thought the game was great and loved the complexity and uncertainty of play.

Fast forward a decade; during the past month I have been able to get in two games of Princes of the Renaissance at the Bistro.

Both games were 6 player games and I was excited when it hit the table for the first game. We randomly got our starting families and we started the game and I was almost immediately bored. Our turns kind of plodded along and I bought tiles and started some wars and the game progressed and someone won.

On the drive home TG and I talked a little about the game, but we talked more about the two shorter games we played before and after than we did about Princes. I thought about the game off and on over the month and wondered why I wasn't as taken with it as I had been just 10 years earlier.

So I sat down Tuesday night at Kevin's (The Game Bistro) and the 6 of us decided to play Princes. I thought, "Last time was just an anomaly. This game is solid and I know that it plays well." We got our families and we were off and running. And the game fell flat again. Kevin, at one point in the game said, "I can't get a handle on the value of these auctions. It's like Modern Art." (I am paraphrasing). And I found myself agreeing with Kevin. And as the game progressed, I found myself more bored than I was with the game a month before. What I once considered player interaction seemed more like solitaire with a small dose of "help me help you." The longer the game went, the less it was able to create a rewarding gaming experience for me.

Don't get me wrong, I really don't like losing games, but the experience of the game is where I create my idea of value. And I have a vast, complex and contadictory relationship with value and gaming.

I hate race game, I really do. They offer me nothing in my personal valuing of games. However, I really like Viva Pamplona. To me it transcends the race genre and creates a wonderful and unique gaming experience every time it is played. It is funny and engaging and creates a value that enriches the playing of it.

But sit me down in front of a solid war-game and I get the same level of value in a completely different way. I get lost in the complexity of the rules and the vastness of possibility. I advance and retreat within the confines of the board while exploring the possibilities the game has to offer. I get to play differently with even the same opponent, not to mention the intrigue of playing against someone new.

But Princes, a game that I used to like to play, just doesn't have the value of play anymore. The complexity seems forced and the gaming experience wanes even in the first handful of turns.

Two games in a month and this game really shows it's age. Mechanics that at one time seemed polished and interesting now seem clunky and bothersome; kind of like a new game that isn't quite finished.
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Shane Larsen
United States
Salt Lake City
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zboat wrote:
...just doesn't have the value of play anymore.

Since you don't value it anymore, will you sell it to me for really cheap?
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Morten K
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thedacker wrote:
zboat wrote:
...just doesn't have the value of play anymore.

Since you don't value it anymore, will you sell it to me for really cheap?


Dammit, I was about to say that. Interested to hear if others share the opinion though as that might save me a lot of money!
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Neil Helmer
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Windsor
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Still love this gem. Happy to take it off your hands...
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Tiggo Morrison
United Kingdom
Bridgnorth
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One of those games that I have always wanted, but never played and never owned.

Sigh. What'll I do know?
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Randall Monk
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Leesburg
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Hasn't gotten old for me, at all.
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Bill Eldard
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Burke
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stuarttigger wrote:

One of those games that I have always wanted, but never played and never owned.

Sigh. What'll I do know?


Don't be discouraged by this review. The game is solid; that's why it's in high demand, as evidenced by posters offering to buy it.

For example, the reviewer states that the "complexity seems forced" (I have no idea what that means) and "seemed more like solitaire with a small dose of 'help me help you.'" This latter assessment makes me wonder if they were playing the game similar to the way we do, because this game is rich in meaningful player interaction.

-- It has auctions for numerous things, from determining who will represent the attacking and defending cities in a war, to the purchase of powerful personality tiles (i.e. the Medicis, the Borgias, famous artists, and even the Pope). As in most Wallace designs, resources are very tight, so these auctions are critical.

-- The players directly battle each other. Players build and tailor their armies to their game strategies by purchasing professional military specialists from a variety of types (e.g., artillery, cavalry, archers) and then fight for glory and profit (as condottierri, even the losing side gets paid). The results from the wars alters the prestige of the warring cities (i.e., the winning city increases prestige while the losing city loses it), which in turn directly impacts the investments all the players have made in them (In other words, the value of the various personality tiles they have purchased).

-- In keeping with the historical flavor, there's also treachery that players can wield against each other.

The reviewer is disenchanted with the game; it's just not fun for him, and that's fine. He compared it to the satisfaction he gets playing wargames, and that may be unintentionally misleading because PotR is definitely NOT a wargame, despite its conflict component. It's a very interactive multiplayer Euro game (some call it a 'hybrid') game that's rich in theme, and still in high demand. IMHO it's Martin Wallace's best design.
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Abdiel Xordium
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zboat wrote:
Kevin, at one point in the game said, "I can't get a handle on the value of these auctions. It's like Modern Art."

I can't think of a more ringing endorsement. Yet you make it sound like a bad thing.
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Tiggo Morrison
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Bridgnorth
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Bill,

Quote:
Don't be discouraged by this review


I'm not at all discouraged, this will stay on my want list

I think Zack's is a very sharp review (thanks for the effort btw!). It is always sad when you revisit anything only to find the intervening years have tarnished some of its lustre.

I'm not discouraged by Zack's thoughts as I have never played this in the first place. I'm still hoping it'll turn up in a local charity shop for £5.00 or so!

Cheers Both!
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Rob Derrick
United States
Los Alamos
New Mexico
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zboat wrote:
Two games in a month and this game really shows it's age.

Well, obviously, there is something you had in the games you played long ago that you don't have now.


Spoiler (click to reveal)
me.


Spoiler (click to reveal)
Of course, I was more interesting and polished (and fun) back then too.
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Zack Boatman
United States
Tesuque
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Rob, that made me laugh!
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Gerard Mulder
Netherlands
Voorhout
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Zack,

I used to love the game then and even though Superior games have come (Imperial)and even though the light wargame segment has blossommed (Antike, Runewars, War of the rings, Starcraft, civilisation)I Find Princes an all time classic.

We tweaked the rules a bit to promote interaction.(One can always buy one or more treachery card at the start of his turn, the pope must be auctioned before each decade ends, and each condottiere can participate in all war auctions as long as he is not representing the other city) We use a settler like mechanism where the person to choose condotiere last (in counterclockwise)order plays the first turn.

Our games do show some wear, the merchant strategy is often victorious(unless someone wins 7 battles or so of the merchants are split). Still the race for being the top city is always a gutwrenching, nailbiting affair with the french invasion looming over the heads of the mighty as much as the very first game we played over 10 years ago.

I have taken records of quite a few games and I think prices payed in auctions are by no means a modern art affair, even though there is a similar aspect to both games. I like both games but Modern art is much more speculative.

What I have found is that people that enjoy the German style of games with more predictability, fairness and computability will often not like POTR as well. One other thing that POTR is vulnerable to is crony-ism. You need everyone in it for the win so that even a late game kingmaker action feels sweet and deserved.

Anyway, enough of these musings. Keep on playing and enjoying all that good stuff that comes out.

Take care,

Gerard



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Dennis Ku
Canada
Toronto
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I understand what you're saying about forced complexity. I love the game, even though I've only played it twice, but I know what you mean. I think games have become more complex, but the complexity feels more natural from the game play.

I recently played a game that I hadn't played since 2005 - Attika - because, at the time, I disliked the mechanics. That was when I was first getting into modern board games. After playing it with 8 more years of experience under my belt, I really appreciated its simplicity and how the decisions weren't driven by a multitude of options. I kind of enjoyed it, actually, and I've played it again since then.

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