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Subject: Board Game Rumble: Why is Concordia Still Rising Up the Rankings? rss

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James Rumble
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IGUESSIMANERDNOW presents:
BOARD GAME RUMBLE with James and Mike

In this review James and Mike discuss Concordia


image courtesy of MarcelP


INTRODUCTION

James: Every once in a while, I like glancing at the rankings here on the Geek, seeing where my favourite games are and applauding the incredibly intelligent gamers here for ranking my favourites favourably…

Mike: …and getting angry at all the dummies for giving high ratings to games that I don’t like. These rankings are so broken! Kidding of course. I must admit as much as I like to say the rankings here don’t matter, I definitely still check them out when researching potential purchases.


J: Lately I noticed Concordia has steadily been doing quite well in these rankings despite the fact it was released way back in 2013.

M: A perfect excuse to do a review for one of the first ever euro style games we ever played together.



image courtesy of diddle74


COMPONENTS

J: Whenever I pull this game out I try to get the lid off and the board out as soon as possible.

M: The box art is…not great. That’s the thing with Concordia is it’s difficult to get people to play it because they look at the box and think “ugh”, but then you try to explain how the game works. “There’s this map and you put little houses on it and you trade goods and you get cards…”

J: … and then they ask if we can just play another game of Blood Rage. Once you get inside that box though.

M: BEAUTIFUL

J: The big, colourful board is one of my absolute favourites that I own. The cards are nice. There’s differently shaped tokens for resources.

M: It’s just lovely on the inside. THAT BOX THOUGH. Not only is it covered in drab looking art but why the heck does it need to have that weird, elongated shape that doesn’t fit nicely on my shelves?!

J: So to sum up: beautiful on the inside, not so much on the outside.

M: That was word-for-word my yearbook quote.




image courtesy of kilroy_locke



THEME

J: Uhhhhh

M: Ummmmmmm

J: (rushes to read the game description) You are guiding the expansion of a mighty Roman dynasty as you send colonists to remote realms of the Empire, develop a trade network and appease ancient gods.

M: What?

J: Okay, so the theme here isn’t super strong. The feeling of growing more powerful and expanding is certainly there though, as you see your colour slowly take over the map.

M: Do you see what I mean about trying to get people to play this though? I imagine people reading this right now who haven’t played are already thinking it sounds terrible. Let’s get to the gameplay.



image courtesy of henk.rolleman


GAMEPLAY

J: A lot of the time if I haven’t played a game in a while, I need to do a quick re-read of the rulebook. With some rulebooks this can take a while.

M: (cough) Robinson Crusoe (cough)

J: Concordia’s is only 4 pages!!! A staple free rulebook for a medium weight euro!

M: What you do on your turn is quite simple, making this game super easy to teach. Just play one of the cards in your hand and follow the instructions. Move around and build some houses, get some goods, money or more cards. Easy peasy.

J: But there’s much more to it than that. How can we possibly describe what it actually FEELS like to play Concordia to someone that’s never played?

M: Playing Concordia is like getting a nice, warm hug from Mac Gerdts.

J: You’ve hugged Mac Ger…

M: It just feels so relaxing and pleasant…

J: When did you hug Ma…

M: But at the same time there’s feelings of excitement and perplexity. Then when it’s over, you feel content. And just… happy.

J: I want to make fun of you for the terrible analogy, but you’re right. There’s no way to really explain to someone WHY playing Concordia feels so good, it just does. There’s this kind of serenity while playing partly due to the lack of fiddly rules that pervade so many games today, but that doesn’t mean it’s void of emotion.

M: Right. First there’s the feeling of “I want to do this, but first I need to do this to get that… is that really the best way to get that done? Do I even want to do that any more?”

J: Then there’s the moments of joy like when you notice the person after you eyeing all the shiny coins available from Prefecting and you swoop in and grab them first!

M: Or the high fives when someone causes your province to produce and everyone gets wine.

J: It’s just. So. Good.

M: One thing I see people often complain about though is the scoring.


J: I’ll admit it was tricky to figure out the first time I played. Each card in your deck is worth a certain number of points depending on the type of card and what you’ve accomplished during the game.

M: I think just stressing to first time players that getting cards gets you points and doing a scoring halfway through really helps.



image courtesy of 3EBC


SCALING

J: There are quite a few maps out there, so the game scales well from 2-5. Just choose the appropriate map for the number of players.

M: I’ve experienced games with 5 players with a couple of first timers where the game dragged on a bit long for my taste. Still great that 5 is an option though.



image courtesy of SpaceTrucker


FINAL THOUGHTS

J: I think it’s obvious that I LOVE this game. Concordia is one the first games that pulled me into the hobby and I have only grown to appreciate it more as time’s gone by.

M: The first game felt blah to me, I’m not going to lie. Then you made me play again and I liked it. Then over the next few games, like you I fell in love. It’s rare for me to find a game with so many interesting decisions with so little rules overhead. A game that feels simultaneously light and complex. Mr.Gerdts, don’t ever let go.

J: …



To check out more of our reviews, click here!
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Curtis Frantz
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Everything you said is true. It's easy to learn, elegant, and has depth of strategy. But I just found it fairly boring and lacking excitement. And this is coming from a hardcore, cube-pushing euro gamer. I was very surprised that this one missed the mark for me, but I'm glad so many other people find this game so enjoyable.
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J H
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This is one of my favorites. Nice review.
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Gerry Daigle
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This is still my favorite game, one of the few games I will always play. It’s beauty is in its elegance and simplicity. I have never had a bad time playing this game and glad to see it still gets love.
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Carthoris Pyramidos
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Concordia is definitely one of my favorite games--probably in the top 3. There's infinite replayability in the base game, but I still get all the expansions because I enjoy them so much.

I think the reason Concordia's popularity started modest and has just relentlessly advanced is because people are coming to learn and like it the old-fashioned way, by actually playing it with other people. It never had a kickstarter-fueled, front-loaded popularity with people clinging to the fruits of their "investment." It didn't even sell great on its arrival at the shelves, with its uglyish, hard-to-display box. (I got in early because I sought it out, hearing on BGG that there was a new Mac Gerdts game that was focused on trading in the Roman empire.) Instead, people have come to the game because other people have had such a good time playing it, and because it's such a pleasure to teach and to learn.
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Greg Clensy
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tribefan07 wrote:
Everything you said is true. It's easy to learn, elegant, and has depth of strategy. But I just found it fairly boring and lacking excitement. And this is coming from a hardcore, cube-pushing euro gamer. I was very surprised that this one missed the mark for me, but I'm glad so many other people find this game so enjoyable.


I own, but have yet to play Concordia, so I can't comment on it specifically, but it is always interesting when a game that should be right in one's wheelhouse fails. Sometimes it's an intangible, but often, if I really think about it I find the "flaw".

This has nothing to do with the review (great review style, by the way). Just morning musings about gaming in general, but I do find it interesting.
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Ben Phelan
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This kind of thing is exactly why I could never be an effective reviewer. I find it hard to articulate why some very popular games just don't click for me. Having said that, I do love Concordia!
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David Janik-Jones
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Up Front fan | In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this | Combat Commander series fan | The Raven King (game publisher) ... that's me! | Fields of Fire fan
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One of my top 10 or so games.
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arah
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tribefan07 wrote:
Everything you said is true. It's easy to learn, elegant, and has depth of strategy. But I just found it fairly boring and lacking excitement. And this is coming from a hardcore, cube-pushing euro gamer. I was very surprised that this one missed the mark for me, but I'm glad so many other people find this game so enjoyable.


You should try it at 3-4 players with competitive people, that have at least played one time, and are capable of strategizing, on a proper 20-25 city map. And add the salt from Salsa.

With 4 players it is a bit chaotic, and way too much at 5. At 2 there is not enough interactivity. But 3 is the sweet spot for playing to your strategies and react to what others are doing. If you do not feel the tension of timing the prefect magnus, buying cards before others ruin your scoring card, racing to the salt cities, agonizing whether to grab coins or activate a region with prefect, tracking who has a diplomat available, be greedy or smart with tribune, and feel the rush for the last cards near the end of the game, then it was not played properly and can be dull and boring. The settings detailed above are meant to encourage this. Play with 3 if you want it to be very deterministic or with 4 if you want a bit more chaos and tightness in the map.

If you are more into engine builders then there are better engine builders like Terraforming Mars. This one has a bit of it with the cards and map, but it is mostly for people who like tactical interactivity, strategic depth and balance. If you like a lot 'take that', then this one doesn't have as much, and is mainly about who buys cards first and who builds a house first in a city. For that, there is The Expanse Board Game. Euros tend to have a mix of all of those, so another possibility is that you are more into engine builders or 'take that' interaction.

Carthoris wrote:
Concordia is definitely one of my favorite games--probably in the top 3. There's infinite replayability in the base game, but I still get all the expansions because I enjoy them so much.

I think the reason Concordia's popularity started modest and has just relentlessly advanced is because people are coming to learn and like it the old-fashioned way, by actually playing it with other people. It never had a kickstarter-fueled, front-loaded popularity with people clinging to the fruits of their "investment." It didn't even sell great on its arrival at the shelves, with its uglyish, hard-to-display box. (I got in early because I sought it out, hearing on BGG that there was a new Mac Gerdts game that was focused on trading in the Roman empire.) Instead, people have come to the game because other people have had such a good time playing it, and because it's such a pleasure to teach and to learn.


It can be hard to distinguish hype from real substance with a glance for the regular person who just looks at the topmost items. But you know it is good when it just keeps pressing forward with just person to person recommendations, and as you said, because people actually get to try it mostly forced by the owner since it is so unappealing until they get the virus, too. This game really deserves a deluxe version with a regular sized box (just fold the map in 6 parts to make it square), professional graphic design and 3d player boards. 2023, hoping for a 10th anniversary edition .
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Paul M
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There are some polls out there on the best maps per player count. I threw them together into one image:



I'm guessing you pick one of the bold numbers for the best experience. I own all of these and love it when they get to the table. I had to sleeve the cards they were starting to get a little crunchy.
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arah
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ipgyst wrote:
There are some polls out there on the best maps per player count. I threw them together into one image:



I'm guessing you pick one of the bold numbers for the best experience. I own all of these and love it when they get to the table. I had to sleeve the cards they were starting to get a little crunchy.


Hispania for 3 and Byzantium for 4, both from Salsa. I concur. And since the salt resource is a very good add on, the more reasons to get it. No need for more maps, unless they are the most recent Creta and Egypt, since 3-4p is already the best count.
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Don Lynch
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Bought this game over 3 years ago, simply because Mac Gerdts designed it. Finally started playing it, and 2 player at that. This is a stunning and surprising game. Stunning in its simplicity and surprising in its options. And cards are the new rondel.

There is a feeling while playing that is both zen-like and tense at the same time. My advice to new players is to just do stuff and have fun. And don't worry about scoring. At the risk of sounding heretical, scoring could be optional if players wish. The main thing is just to play it and enjoy. That is, everybody wins just by playing it. But for the competitive souls out there, score away! That works too.

And I gave it a great rating.

edit> and the answer to "Why is Concordia Still Rising Up the Rankings?" is simply that it is a great game. And the word is still spreading.

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arah
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donlyn wrote:
There is a feeling while playing that is both zen-like and tense at the same time. My advice to new players is to just do stuff and have fun. And don't worry about scoring. At the risk of sounding heretical, scoring could be optional if players wish. The main thing is just to play it and enjoy. That is, everybody wins just by playing it. But for the competitive souls out there, score away! That works too.


For me, no scoring means people won't feel doomed if they are far behind, and a sudden scoring count at the end allows everyone how they did in each category, it is newbie friendly. Also, because there is no real hard block or take that, it is low in spite, or zen as you say. If another player builds a city first, you get to build for a bit more, or in another city of the same region, getting something when the region is activated. If someone buys a card you wanted, you just diplomat it.
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Gillum the Stoor
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Arah wrote:
Also, because there is no real hard block or take that, it is low in spite, or zen as you say. If another player builds a city first, you get to build for a bit more, or in another city of the same region, getting something when the region is activated. If someone buys a card you wanted, you just diplomat it.

I lost my last game (4-player) in part because I couldn't build houses in Britain because the other players' colonists were clogging up all the routes!

They weren't trying to block me - they were off moving other pieces and left others in my way, by chance.
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Carla
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We love this game and own every expansion. Not going to lie, our favourite game of all time is War of the Ring, but for every day play, Concordia and Castles of Burgundy are our evergreens.
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mortego
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This game is a recent add for me (Origins 2018) and I had heard about it for a while and always thought it looked too drab....then I played it at Origins and loved it!

I got my wife to play it and she doesn't like games heavier than Cottage Garden. She also liked Concordia though she admitted the cover box art made her dread playing it first until we actually started to play, what a good sport! LOL

Thanks for the review, I'm a first time reader and like your bantering format.
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Steve Froud
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Concordia continues to rise in the ratings because it manages to combine all of the following: quick to teach; High ratio of decisions to be made per rule learned; Everyone gets the satisfaction of building something significant (but will it be good enough to win?); High player interaction and competition but no viciousness; Enjoyable from start to finish (rare to see a clear leader before the end).

The good looking board and playing components set the tone of the game - uncluttered and satisfying; We have played with 2, 3 4 and 5 players and these games have been chatty, full of friendly rivalry and laughter. Everyone leaves feeling satisfied.

I bought it for my wife after reading the SUSD review for Brass, that closes by recommending Concordia: (https://www.shutupandsitdown.com/videos/review-brass/; https://www.shutupandsitdown.com/videos/review-concordia/)

It is her game, so my rule is that I don't take it out to play unless she is around. Should have bought it for myself. cry


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Ryucoo
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Solanum wrote:
We love this game and own every expansion. Not going to lie, our favourite game of all time is War of the Ring, but for every day play, Concordia and Castles of Burgundy are our evergreens.


Lol, for the same reason I swerved Concordia to begin with (before it became one of my favourite games) I'm still using to swerve CoB - as in it looks dry, boring and old fashioned.

When will I learn.
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arah
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gillum wrote:
I lost my last game (4-player) in part because I couldn't build houses in Britain because the other players' colonists were clogging up all the routes!

They weren't trying to block me - they were off moving other pieces and left others in my way, by chance.


Yeah, that is a possibility arising from the combination of peculiar spots on some maps and high player count. You always have at least 2 colonists, one by land and one by sea, though so it would be very rare if both were blocked.

It is also part of the little bit of chaos arising in 4 player games. In 3 player games it wouldn't have that, unless Mac wanted it to be, like the southern part of Egypt.
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Ben Vaterlaus
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Great review. This and the constant uptalk from kayvon makes me want to finally try this one out.
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Carla
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bivaterl wrote:
Great review. This and the constant uptalk from kayvon makes me want to finally try this one out.


Did you try it yet?
 
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Dane Barrett
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I totally want to try Concordia too. I keep watching videos and reading/watching reviews of it; I watched both Shut Up and Sit Down's review and Gamenight's play through; and yet this isn't clicking for me. I'm almost sure its just because I haven't fully cottoned on to how it plays, but I'm reluctant to purchase it based on what I've seen so far. Graaah! Frustrating, lol
 
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Paul Catley
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db-one wrote:
I totally want to try Concordia too. I keep watching videos and reading/watching reviews of it; I watched both Shut Up and Sit Down's review and Gamenight's play through; and yet this isn't clicking for me. I'm almost sure its just because I haven't fully cottoned on to how it plays, but I'm reluctant to purchase it based on what I've seen so far. Graaah! Frustrating, lol


You can try it online at http://boiteajeux.net/. I'd suggest a smallish map such as Italia or Hispania with 3 players to get the feel. I think it's a game that needs to be played to find out why it's so well regarded, as it doesn't look like much.
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Jimmy Hensel
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I remember hearing about Concordia five years ago as I was preparing for my first BGG.CON. I wanted to try the game, but didn't get to the table with it. When I finally tried almost a year and a half later, I instantly liked it. I've only played the base game, no expansions or add-ons. It is still one of my favorites, and I'll gladly play it at any opportunity.
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