Recommend
13 
 Thumb up
 Hide
3 Posts

Il Principe» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Il Principe - First Impressions rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Merric Blackman
Australia
Waubra
Victoria
flag msg tools
designer
Ramping up my reviewing.
badge
Happily playing games for many, many years.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The other new boardgame I got to play on the weekend was Il Principe, another Eurogame. This one's ranked #468 on boardgamegeek.com with a rating of 6.8 out of 10.

Il Principe was designed by Emanuaele Ornella, is for 2-5 players, ages 10+, and according to the box should take 60-90 minutes. The rulebook is short (two pages of text), and unclear in a few areas. As a result, I was very glad I could go to the 'geek to understand what was going on prior to my first game of the game on Saturday.

Greg Schloesser had praised the game highly, which is what had prompted me to pick it up. (I'd downloaded a copy of the Mind Games catalogue, and Il Principe was one of the better reviewed games that was in stock). So, along with Randy, Rich and Mike, we had our first game of it on Saturday night to close out proceedings. (Well, except for Rich and I and a quick game of Lost Cities, of which more later).

The theme of the game is that you're the leader of an influential Italian family in the Renaissance Age. You're trying to build the most magnificent buildings of the city, and from them exert your influence over the country. In a nice touch, the markers for your score and influence aren't the regular monochrome colours, but instead are the family crests of five important families of the era: the Medici, Carraresi, Visconti, D'Este and Gonzaga.

In the four player game we played, I took the D'Esta, Randy the Gonzaga, Rich the Carraresi, and Mike the Visconti. This had no effect on the actual game, but it did cause Randy to refer to his crest as "the Bee shield" - it was horizontal stripes of yellow and black!

Once you've explained the theme, the actual mechanics of the game don't really simulate anything of it. What the theme does is give meaning to the mechanics. This is not a simulation, this is a game. I think it's one that I can like quite a bit, but the first game really just got us used to how it works. Like In the Shadow of the Emperor, there's more going on than initially apparent, but you do start to get the hang of it just before the first game ends.

The game revolves around the "building" cards. These are in four colours: Green, White, Red, Blue and Yellow. Each turn, you draw 2 cards, and then have the chance of winning an auction or two for more cards. In actual fact, each player draws 4 cards and then places 2 cards up for auction - so what cards are up for auction each turn can vary quite a bit.

So, the first part of every turn is getting building cards into hand.

The next step is to get cities. Now, if you win an auction, you immediately can claim a city. There are four city cards available at any time. To claim a city you need to pay from 3 to 5 gold, and play cards that match the buildings depicted on the card. So, Perugia requires you to pay 3 gold and play green, white and red building cards. When you do so, you claim the city card and score victory points, and you can place one to three influence token in regions adjacent to the city; the number depends on the size of the city.

Otherwise, each player has one final action after the auctions, where they can either claim a city, or play some of their building cards from hand to the table in front of them (to join the ones they may have played by building).

The third part of the turn allows you to claim the role cards. This is why you've been playing all those cards in front of you: whoever has the most cards of a colour takes the "major" role, whoever has the second most cards takes the "minor" roles. Ties are broken by auctions.

When you claim the role card, you get two benefits. The first is this: whenever another player builds a city of the colour of your card, you gain victory points! (2 for the major role, 1 for the minor role). These points are extremely significant in the game, and you can gain a lot of points from them - something that we didn't really realise until later in the game.

The secondary benefit is immediate upon claiming the card, and depends on the role. The yellow (Banker) role gives you 2 money chips immediately - whether you've taken the minor or major role. The red (Notary) role allows you to draw a building card. These effects are minor when compared to the victory points that they can grant you.

What makes this really unusual is that if you get the major role, you have to turn half of the cards of its colour face down! So, if you have the major role, you're unlikely to have it again next round. The cards remain in front of you, however, and the green role (Master) allows you to flip one of them face-up again, and they may be worth Victory Points in the final scoring.

Victory points are gained for the following:
* Claiming a city (4-8 points)
* Matching roles with a city just claimed (1 or 2 points per role)
* Most influence counters in a region at end of game (5 points)
* Most
* Secondmost influence counters in a region at end of game (2 points)
* Card colour you have played the least of by end of game (2 points per card of that colour)
* Most money at end of game (2 points)
* Most unused building cards at end of game (2 points)

Roles were the most confusing part for us. We could see how influence counters worked: you put them on the board adjacent to the city you've built, and that region would score points for you at the end of game.

Cities were easy: you built them, you gained points.

Roles? Oh, dear. The thing is, you concentrate on their minor ability first. The Banker gives you 2 gold? Cool. That's really nice in this game, because you only get 5 gold a turn... given you need 3-5 gold to play a city, and then extra for auctions... money is tight!

Randy and I leapt out of the gates with claiming roles and building cities. I don't think I'd shuffled the building cards enough at the beginning, for there were lots of blue (Castle) cards about. It was about the third turn that everyone was claiming cities and taking roles. At that point, victory points really began to stack up from the role cards, and the disadvantage of being first in a role - having to "lose" half your cards of that colour - didn't seem so much of a disadvantage after all, compared to the points we were scoring. Well, mostly Randy and Mike, it turned out. Mike hadn't done much for the first two or three turns, but after that he caught up with a vengeance.

Rich wasn't doing so well. We weren't building in the colour of his roles, and he overbid for a lot of cards - that's a big killer in this game, because money really is that tight.

The game ends when either the city deck or the building card deck runs out. In our case, it was the city deck. Randy and I scored a lot of points for regions, and we all scored between 2 and 6 points for our weakest colour - I'd played only two white cards, compared to 3 or more for every other colour, so that gave me 4 points.

Rich knew he'd lost by this point. Randy had managed to lap him on the scorechart.

Final scores: Randy 76, Merric 67, Mike 51, Rich 36

I haven't got a breakdown of how the points were scored, but I'd say about 30 points of my score came from cities, 14 from regions, 4 from played cards, and 19 from roles. Randy and Mike got a lot more from roles; Mike lost out in the regions.

For a game that really has only three steps and a very small number of decisions, there's a lot of things happening. I actually find it a fascinating game, but it's really one you need to play more than just the once to understand how the relationships work between the mechanics. At one point, Rich claimed a small city and gained 6 points from it - but Mike gained 4 points from that city, and Randy 3, due to the distribution of role cards.

The game pieces themselves are unprepossessing. They're more attractive than those of Puerto Rico, although possibly not by much. At least the colours are bold and vibrant on the cards. The board is surprisingly small - it doesn't fold, so it's the size of the box (perhaps the size of half a Monopoly board?)

It's a game I'd like to play again, and that's what counts.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Charles A. Davis
United States
Greeneville
TN
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
MerricB wrote:
These are in four colours: Green, White, Red, Blue and Yellow.


That would be five colours, of course. Nice report.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Philip Clayberg
United States
Arlington
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
Victory points are gained for the following:
* Claiming a city (4-8 points)
* Matching roles with a city just claimed (1 or 2 points per role)
* Most influence counters in a region at end of game (5 points)
* Most
* Secondmost influence counters in a region at end of game (2 points)
* Card colour you have played the least of by end of game (2 points per card of that colour)
* Most money at end of game (2 points)
* Most unused building cards at end of game (2 points)


And most telling, you don't get any points for #4. :)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.