While attending the Spiele Faire in Essen, I stopped by the Adlung Spiele booth and briefly examined their new offerings. The best appeared to be Die Fugger, so I purchased that one, along with Zauberschwert & Drachenei. We went to dinner with Leon Hendee on Friday night and afterwards returned to my home for some games. He stated that he had played Die Fugger and really enjoyed it. He promptly offered to teach it to Jim, Keith and I and we thoroughly enjoyed the game.
When Leon arrived for this session, he was happy once again to teach the game. This time, his fellow merchants were Lenny, Shanna, Michael Aucoin and Michael Labranche. Yes, Leon understood that the game was designed for only four players, but saw no reason why it wouldn’t work with five. I don’t think anyone complained, so it must have worked fine.
Die Fugger is designed by Klaus Jürgen Wrede, the creator of Carcassonne and its multitude of spin-offs. Like all Adlung Spiele games, this is a small card game. Like a few others in the series, however (Verrater and Meuterer, in particular), it plays much larger.
Players represent merchants in the medieval city of Augsburg in Germany. As wise merchants do, they will attempt to drive prices up for their goods by influencing demand, making handsome profits in the process. Achieving the greatest wealth assures a luxurious lifestyle and fame and fortune within the town.
Cards represent the five different goods that are available on the market: copper, fabric, wine, spices and jewels. There are nine cards of each type of good, two of which have a special “royal seal”, which can yield additional profits if certain conditions are met. It is the price of these goods that the players will attempt to manipulate in their favor and to the detriment of their opponents. There are also four merchants in the deck, which yield more goods to the players who control them.
Nine price cards – numbered 1 – 9 – are set in numerical order in a circle. The value for each good begins the game valued at “5”, and their price cards are set beside this number. Jacob the Rich, the town’s most prestigious merchant, receives two goods cards, which are dealt face-up next to his portrait. Players then each receive four cards and the game begins.
A player may perform one of the following options on his turn:
1) Draw one card from the deck. This can only be executed if the player doesn’t already possess more than four cards.
2) Play a card face-up. The only restriction here is that a player may not have more than two merchants in play.
3) Play a goods card face-down. This can only be done once per round and only during the first two rounds. These face-down cards will yield double bonuses at the game’s end, based on the current price level of those goods.
This process continues until there are five cards of a particular good face-up on the table, including those in front of Jacob the Rich. At this point, an evaluation of the market conditions occurs and money (points) is earned.
The three goods with the most cards face-up on the table will increase in value. The amount of the increase for each good is equal to the actual number of cards that are face-up. For instance, if copper is one of the top three goods and there are four copper cards face-up on the table, the value of copper will rise by four. This is indicated by moving the copper marker four spaces in a clockwise direction around the price circle. Note that this may cause the price to exceed nine, in which case the market for copper plummets, reducing its price to one! Even if the value change would have carried it beyond the value of “1”, it stops there.
The value of the remaining two commodities drop by one, but it cannot go lower than one; nor does it climb suddenly from “1” to “9” in value.
It is this fluctuation in the value of the goods, which is based on the number of cards that have been played for the goods, that players must monitor carefully. Monitoring, however, is just about all you can do, as there is little you can do to actually control the actions of your opponents. The actual results can be quite chaotic as the number of cards of a particular good played can increase suddenly and ruin your plans. In spite of the chaos, however, this process is quite enjoyable.
Players then receive income based on the cards they have played face-up and the current value of the goods on the price circle. If a player has a card or cards with a royal seal on it, this scores double – but ONLY if there are EXACTLY three of that type of good face-up on the table. There are no currency markers included, so scores must be tallied the old fashioned way – quill and parchment. If no player has reached 100 points after scores are tallied, a new round is held, with the price of the various commodities remains at their current level. Each player draws two new cards from the deck, with additional cards being drawn if the player had played any merchants during the round. All face-up cards are then discarded and a new round is held.
Play continues in this fashion until at least one player tops 100 points after an evaluation round. At that point, players reveal their face-down cards and score double the current value for those goods. The player with the greatest accumulation of wealth at this point is victorious and rises to a position of great prominence. Well, at least until the next game!
I’ve only played once so far, but was very pleased with the game. It is fun trying to manage your cards and manipulate the prices to your favor. Still, I’m not suffering from the delusion that you can actually control the prices. You can’t. Yes, you can influence them, but the actions of the group in total will ultimately determine the final price of each good. This frequently will burst any designs you may have been harboring and render your plans moot. Still, the process is fun, and it sort of has that same “pleasant frustration” that I experience when playing games such as Take 6 or Raj. So long as you understand the exercise is one with little control and not try to analyze it as a serious market game, you should have some fun with this one.
The group of five played a very competitive game, with Leon and the Labranches having about as close a finish as possible. It was Shanna who squeaked out the victory.
Finals: Shanna 138, Leon 137, Michael L. 136, Lenny 106, Michael A. 106
Just a rules point: You get double points for seal cards if there are NO MORE THAN 3 on display, not 3 exactly, as in the report. Both the German and English rules say this.