Wow, so this is what you get for 100 pieces of gold.
Before, when we first saw the Chivalry card, we thought it was pretty hard to get working: you would need at least 2 available red dice in your district for it to be effective. Plus for a four player game, if all players competed in the palace, then on average you would only have 1.5 citizens each. However, this game featured some boneheaded citizen placement on my part, which allowed one player to get 3 citizens in the palace.
Going first, my secret character card was Thibault II, which rewards money. I put a citizen in the 2/4/6 row of the Bishopric, since I figure that citizen would last for a while. Don going second, placed a citizen in the 1/3/5 row of the Bishopric. Jean placed one in City Hall, while Gary placed one in the Palace. Gary then put one in City Hall, Jean placed one in the Palace, while Don whistled and put one in the Bishopric (he was still living the glory of his self declared degenerate Bishopric strategy, but what are the odds he would have Urbain IV (rewards cathedral cubes) again? I was pretty sure I could get one citizen in the palace, so I put two citizens in city hall, but when it came back to me, the palace was full! Note to self: when going first, always make sure you have a red dice to combat the black dice.
Here were the seedings of our citizens:
Norbert: 3 yellow, 1 white
Don: 3 white, 1 red,
Jean: 1 white, 2 red, 1 yellow
Gary, 3 red, 1 yellow
The activity cards were Priest, Chivalry and Artisan.
The event cards were Skirmishes and Theological Conflict. My rolls in yellow were 1, 3, 5. My white die was . The three black dice were headed by . So I had to spend my yellow 5 to combat the first event and pass the rest on. That's why I regretted not getting at least one red dice so I could keep my high yellow. I paid $4 to take Don's , and used my to put 2 cubes and a tradesman on the Priest. Don simply 2 white cubes in the cathedral. Gary bought someone's red dice, and was able to use Chivalry to put 3 cubes on event cards, and he was off to the races.
Round 2: Activity cards were Templar, Hunting and Innkeeper.
The event cards were Skirmishes and Interruption of Work. Gary was able to put 2 cubes on the Templar to set up for his big move next turn. Jean had tradesman on the Artisan and Innkeeper to manipulate both and get high in money and influence.
Round 3: Activity cards were Procession, Joust and Sculptor.
The event cards were Brigands and Civil War. It was here that Gary used a cube off the Templar, bought one of Don's white 6 for $2, and Gary had 2 red dice in his district, so that allowed him to play 6 cubes onto event cards! He had captured something like 3 or 4 event cards by now. I could have written 'Game Over' right here, but of course you want to read about the secret character cards. I was guessing Gary had Henry I (rewards for captured event cards), but I wasn't sure.
Round 4: Now going through the motions, the event cards were succession conflict and Drought. To add insult to injury, I was kicked out of multiple buildings and down to playing with 2 or 3 citizens. Both Gary and Don were high in influence, so it was possible that one of them could have had Hughues de Payns (rewards influence) as their secret character card. But Don was playing like he had Urbain IV. Don managed to get the first tradesman into the sculptor, while I was able to get the second tradesman into the sculptor.
Round 5: Event cards were Brigands and Wayfarers. Jean and Don were manipulating the Procession cards to get VPs. Jean made a late surge with red dice and Chivalry to combat some event cards, so there was a possibility that Jean had Henry I, which would be bad news for us, since we didn't know Gary's secret card.
Round 6: Don and I filled up the cathedral so that we got all levels. Gary was able to get two levels filled in one move. Gary captured his 6th event card, while Jean got to 3. All that was left was to score: Don's secret card was Urbain IV, which was no surprise there. Jean revealed Henry I. Gary revealed Hugues de Pyans.
Gary 49 (1 cubes, 4 activity cards, -2 cathedral, 31 VPs, 3 for Thibault II, 0 for Urbain IV, 6 for Henry I, 6 for Hugues de Payns.
Don 43 (14 activity cards, 11 VPs, 6 for Thibault II, 6 for Urbain IV, 0 for Henry I, 6 for Hugues de Payns)
Jean 39 (8 activity cards, -4 cathedral, 23 VPs, 6 for Thibault II, 0 for Urbain IV, 3 for Henry I, 3 for Hugues de Payns)
Norbert 31 (13 activity cards, 5 VPs, 6 for Thibault II, 1 for Urbain IV, 0 for Henry I, 6 for Hugues de Payns)
Gary beat us as expected. But Don made the point that if Jean was holding another secret character card, say Le Florentin (rewards tradesmen), then Gary would lose 6 VPs, and Don would gain 3 VPs, so that Don would win. Don't point was that Jean having Henry I was a detriment and if Jean had another secret character card, Don would have won. Jean replied that perhaps the secret character cards shouldn't be secret, but placed faced up at the beginning of the game, so everyone knows what VPs are available. So yeah, the secret character card can bugger up a well played game - I figure about 20% of the games have been won by the randomness of the secret character cards. We enjoy the game, and have fun with it. The next level of trying to consistently win is extremely difficult since it is possible that good play, good card combinations could be thwarted by the secret character cards.
Hey! Thanks for the review! For us, the revelation of the hidden character cards was necessary to give the suspense and fun of suspicion during the game. If you want absolutely play with visible chararacter cards, I suggest you to make the cards visible at the beginning of the fourth turn. But, I prefer without. But everybody plays as he like
Good session report. The key to the secret cards is to try to keep pace with everyone on all of the bonuses so that they become a wash.