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Pax Renaissance» Forums » General

Subject: Observations on the rules and what the game promises rss

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So… have people checked out the rules at the Sierra Madre website?

I haven’t played the game, but I had a read and wrote up a few observations about what looks like another fantastic game in the series:

First of all, there’ll be a sense of familiarity for Pax players, especially players of Pamir. Playing as banking houses, we will be purchasing cards from a market by putting coins (Florins, of course) on the preceding cards; we will be placing tokens when those cards are played into our tableaus - either Bishops onto our tableaus or Nobles, Knights, Pirates or trading house representatives (Concessions) onto the map; and the cards we have in play in our tableaus will dictate what other actions we will be able to take (and where, geographically, we will be able to take them). But it seems pretty clear to me that that familiarity will fade into the background as we embark in a cut-throat game of geo-politics which to me, at first glance at least, has echoes of that grand strategy behemoth Europa Universalis (on a computer, or possibly the boardgame, take your pick)… with the enjoyable benefit of ruining your friends’ best laid plans face to face in a matter of an hour or two!

So what’s new? Firstly – the victory conditions and the way we will take advantage of them have evolved further. Four seeded “Comet” cards will now provide us with the opportunity to activate one victory conditions card (there are four in total), which will then remain available to all players for the rest of the game. These victory conditions are combinations of prestige (of which there are several different types), tokens on the map, cards in play, territory under our control or the religious/political systems we have in place. Gone, then, are those chance moments, where you take advantage of a one-off situation, like Diaz being shot in Pax Porfiriana, or the regime changing to one favouring the Empire to which you are most loyal in Pax Pamir; in place of this, we will have Europe at the crossroads, the banking houses dictating the future direction of a continent (and the rest of the world). It seems fitting that in Pax Renaissance the win will not be off the back of one of those chance moments – however orchestrated these could be in the previous games - but the result of some more calculated strategic decisions open to all. Don’t like the victory conditions available? Wait for that comet and open up the one that works for you, but be mindful that your opponent will still be working towards that Imperial Victory. This new way of achieving victory is highly thematic – the scope of this game is wide, and represents a period of long-term changes. It therefore makes sense that the victory conditions will be visible and available to all, and that they represent different directions for the empires – and the banking houses that back them – to take.

On a similar thematic note, the political situation at the beginning is already active, with tokens already on the map to reflect the historical situation. This will change over the course of the game, but it’s an interesting nod to the realities of the time – locations are either Catholic or Islamic, and existing power bases are varied in nature and size - Constantinople already having three tokens present for example. Additionally, some areas of the map are already theocracies while others will begin in a medieval state but with the ability to flip to the theocratic side; the reformation looms on the horizon, but it’s also possible for things to take different turns from this fixed beginning point.

One of the interesting new actions players will be able to take will be the Trade Fair Action. Like in Pax Pamir, coins will collect on the first cards in the market rows as players purchase cards further down the line. The cards in this position, however, will no longer be bought for use in player tableaus, but will remain there picking up Florins until a player decides to use the aforementioned action. This will remove the card and then disperse the collected coins along one of the trade routes to players who have positioned their tokens in the right places on the map. This seems like a terrific idea to me – some good placement will net a little pile of cash (including some that automatically enters the market from China!), but I suspect you’ll rarely be able to fully monopolise a route as other players will have Concessions – or Pirates! - lying in wait to extort some of the profits. And of course this is an Eklund game so nothing is completely stable – these trade routes will be shortened or lengthened through actions which put certain trade hubs out of action.

The trade routes are one of the things that put me in mind of a small scale Europa Universalis. But there are more than a few little details that contain a similar echo. Certain cards have “one -shot” actions that are triggered when played and this is where the intrigue of statecraft and empire building – or rather, backing – really comes out. Coronations and marriages, holy crusades and civil wars, peasant revolts and reformations, suzerainty and vassalage are all aspects of the period which will come out of the card play as a result. There’s a new layer of Empires here in which players, through these actions, will take possession of Empire Cards into their tableaus to demonstrate their influence with all sorts of repercussions. For example, playing a Queen card will enable a player to bring an Empire, through marriage, into his or her tableau; doing so will result in a regime change, which will allow the player to place Concessions within that Empire. Thematically what is happening here is that the banking house has engineered a marriage of convenience and is now taking full advantage of their new link to the Empire in question. Of course, that Queen could also be put aside and used not for her mercenary value, but for her prestige. Knights and Nobles, when pushed off the map by the actions of other players, won’t necessarily leave the game, but will sit on the Empires in player tableaus, brooding and perhaps contemplating a conspiracy. Having a majority of Concessions in an Empire might enable players to force out the incumbent ruler and perhaps even institute a Republic.

There are some other interesting parts of the new design that will be fun, and I imagine will create some great decision making and combinations of card abilities. In Pax Renaissance there will be a division in our tableaus between east and west (as there is in the market…. did I mention that?), and for one action we will be able to use an operation on each card in one of these two geo-political arms. Attentive readers will have noted that Bishops might be compared to the spies of Pax Pamir, but they will now have the added ability to, as well as trundle around the tableaus, travel directly to cards that are labelled with the same location, which seems eminently logical. One effect of a Bishop will be able to prevent any non religious actions occurring in their current location – thus representing the church clamping down on the banks during the period (with the sidenote that of course, it’s the rival banks who are directing these particular bishops… ). Then there’s beheading. Suddenly nationalising an enterprise in Pax Porfiriana seems somewhat tame…

As I mentioned above, I haven’t played the game, and these observations are based on a cursory read of the working document on the Sierra Madre website. I’m not sure what changes there might have been inside the last month or two, plus I might well have misinterpreted something … but it’s certainly whetted my appetite. The flavour and thematic experience of the previous games in the series has been maintained, but a new beast has been created with a range of new features. Looking forward to being able to try the real thing!
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Ken Sinn
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Fantastic job at encapsulating and analyzing the rules of the game, and comparing it to the previous PaxPorf and PamPam! Everything you've noted is completely on the mark.

You've alluded to one tactic that didn't even occur to me before -- by playing a Queen directly to your trading house (i.e. no marriage occurs, and she becomes an old-main queen), she becomes untouchable by the Beheading Op -- otherwise all other prestige-providing cards in your tableau are susceptible to removal via the Beheading Op or Campaign Op (in the case of Empires and Queens).

You're very correct in recognizing the historical basis, and Phil's previous post also noted this: the Ottoman empire is very very strong at the beginning of the game. Players should be very aware of any Jihad religious war one-shot cards that are available in the market early -- they can take some serious advantage of that starting Ottoman strength, using their knights to quickly sack the neighbouring empires. That also leads to early economic strength, as those empires are sitting on both trade routes, and sacking of empires provide your banking house with a concession (merchant) on those borders.

One of the concerns from a play tester was that a sudden appearance of a Comet in the market could allow a financially-stockpiled player to suddenly buy the comet and then trigger a victory on the same turn (since players have two actions turn). Two things can help address this: 1) use the Astronomy variant, and play with the draw deck face-up, allowing players to see the next upcoming market card before it hits the market 2) every few turns, assess the four victory conditions among the players, even if the victory condition is not yet in play (I did this as a game moderator) -- it also provides players with a sense of direction, in learning games.
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Brett Burleigh II
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Can't thumb it twice... Argh... Very nicely written! Looking forward to this one.

Your summation of the rules is much more digestible than the rules directly, but that is SMG. It takes a few reads and a few plays to show the staggering design goals and brilliance of the beast at hand.

Thanks for sharing!!
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brrrmanza wrote:
Can't thumb it twice... Argh... Very nicely written! Looking forward to this one.

Your summation of the rules is much more digestible than the rules directly, but that is SMG. It takes a few reads and a few plays to show the staggering design goals and brilliance of the beast at hand.

Thanks for sharing!!


Thankyou - I was going to just start a thread for discussing some of the differences but got a little carried away in my excitement

It's probably a gaping hole that I could call it "observations on the rules" and _not_ mention the digestibility of them somewhere but i'm used to the style now and know full well the value of the glossary so I didn't even think about it.... I know the payoff once you get there is worth every furrowed brow or flip back and forth.
 
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mooken wrote:


One of the concerns from a play tester was that a sudden appearance of a Comet in the market could allow a financially-stockpiled player to suddenly buy the comet and then trigger a victory on the same turn (since players have two actions turn). Two things can help address this: 1) use the Astronomy variant, and play with the draw deck face-up, allowing players to see the next upcoming market card before it hits the market 2) every few turns, assess the four victory conditions among the players, even if the victory condition is not yet in play (I did this as a game moderator) -- it also provides players with a sense of direction, in learning games.


Thanks for your kind words - and that second option was what I envisaged happening. It's not like you don't know which victory conditions will come out when - they're there for all to see.
 
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Jack
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Agree with the above. Well-written and just getting me more excited to get another Pax game in my greedy mercantile hands! The complexities and all of the moving parts of the Pax games are so mind-filling, it's like a big pot pie for my brain.
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Mark Turner
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I am intrigued by this for sure, and very much enjoyed the few games of Pax Pamir I played (not to self: need to play more!), but am a little concerned with the fiddliness.

I'm getting the impression that this is rich and elegant, but without a dedicated group of players willing to invest in a learning game or two, it will be a struggle to convince others to play.

I eventually learned a quick enough system of teaching Pax Pamir (pre rules changes!) and it wasn't too bad, if you introduced certain concepts as they appeared, and the players didn't mind not knowing everything ahead of time.

But I wonder how easy that will be here - it seems there are just that many more moving parts.
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Carlo Marinozzi
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Hi, how much "war" is represented in the game?

Also, how much the player has to say about the military operations, if there is something like that?

Sorry if I ask here, maybe it's already made clear elsewhere, but it's a hot summer day and I'm frankly lazy...

Thanks

 
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Ken Sinn
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Carlo M. wrote:
Hi, how much "war" is represented in the game?

Also, how much the player has to say about the military operations, if there is something like that?

Sorry if I ask here, maybe it's already made clear elsewhere, but it's a hot summer day and I'm frankly lazy...

Thanks



Hi Frankly Lazy!

There is quite a bit of territories changing hands.

The Number of Empires under your control is one of the four winning conditions. The most common way to win an Empire is by using the Campaign Ops (Operation) in your tableau. This is also the most costly way, as you need to pay 1 Florin for each Knight you send into battle.

There are other ways to win Empires, through One-Shots. You can declare a Religious War, which calls all neighbouring Knights of the same religion to battle. You can instigate a Peasant Revolt. You can try to overthrow an Empire through a Conspiracy.

The actual combat isn't particularly strategic - like Pax Pamir, you cancel out units, and whichever Empire has units remaining is the victor.
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Carlo Marinozzi
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Cool, thanks.

I've got pax porfiriana but it didn't click with my group (a pity, I liked it), maybe they'll like the reinassance more
 
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Jack
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My gut tells me that if they didn't like PaxPor, they aren't going to like PaxRen.

You can always play PaxPor solo!
 
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Ken Sinn
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senorcoo wrote:
My gut tells me that if they didn't like PaxPor, they aren't going to like PaxRen.

You can always play PaxPor solo!


I'll concede that at the beginning of most PaxPor and PaxPam games, I feel a bit lost/clueless about how to proceed and how to get the ball rolling. It feels slightly less so with PaxPen, as racing to grab empires is often a easy way to get yourself situated, via one-shot cards.
 
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Carlo Marinozzi
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I'll probably wait and see some after action reports, we already have a lot of unplayed games but I hope that the empire - grabbing thing can ease the acceptance path.

I can't play solo, I'm such a lousy player that I lost interest after a couple of turns whistle

 
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