Fidelitas is a card game from designers Jason Kotarski (Great Heartland Hauling Co) and Philip DuBarry (Revolution!, Kingdom of Solomon). It plays quickly, in about 20 minutes, and offers a great deal of finagling, backstabbing, and frustration – for your opponents!
The story of Fidelitas is one of treachery and cunning. The players represent usurpers planning to overthrow the king and claim power. However, they are seeking to muster the most support among the populace as possible. By playing cards and scoring Missio's, the players develop renown in the kingdom and begin to lead the charge to take back what is their's from the desolate monarch!
The game has 3 types of cards: Locations (there are 5 and they will be present in the middle of the table with 2 spots on each to play cards), Virtus (characters who have abilities), and Missio (which are objective cards the players are trying to fulfill.
Turns are relatively easy, but will occasionally present a dilemma. Most of the time you will have 2 Virtus cards in your hand to play to the Locations and 2 Missio cards you are trying to complete. Some of the Virtus cards have matching Location Guild crests and must be played to either of these 2 spots, while other cards, like the Miscreants guild, do not match any of Guild crests and may be played anywhere. After playing the card, the player will take the action on the card.
The Tavern is an alternate action as it does not have a Guild crest and any card may be played here to help the player cycle their more difficult Missio cards out of their hand. In doing so, they add another Virtus card from the top of the deck to the opposite side of the Tavern to help speed along the games' end.
Players will then try to accomplish their Missio cards if possible and score them to the side. The player will then draw until they have 2 Missio cards. They will also draw a replacement Virtus card.
The game can end when the Virtus deck is exhausted twice or when a player has earned a set number of points depending on number of players playing. The player who has earned the most points will have mustered enough support to usurp the monarch and lead the country into a new age of enlightenment, or not.
I played Fidelitas with 2, 3, and 4 players. The second time with 4 players, I used the “Recommended team variant.” This is highly recommended as it can take some of the luck out of trying to play with 4 players as it felt a bit chaotic. With 2 and 3 players, strategy is definitely possible, but you can watch as the Locations fill with Virtus cards that lead you away from your goal. There are a lot of snarky moves as far as blocking or disrupting what it appears opponents may be trying to do. Players who have played before will have an advantage in this regard as they will know the Missio cards, but that is not to say they are going to win. Sort of like knowing the Titanic will sink, but then having little control over how hard it hits the iceberg.
In all, I quite enjoyed Fidelitas. I would not play 4 player without teams though. I highly recommend it for players who enjoy a quick game with friends, it could well be played at the pub with a pint in hand or at a family gathering.
Disclosure: I know both Jason and Phil through twitter, @jasonkotarski & @pdubarry they were nice enough to send me a preview copy of Fidelitas, which will heading to kickstarter on August 1st. I plan to back it as well, because I think it's a great filler. My opinion is based on playing the game.