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Subject: Review: Principato rss

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Mikael Vintermark
Sweden
Göteborg
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Principato is a medium weight game by Touko Tahkokallio, who is also involved in the upcoming game Eclipse. In Principato you manage a town, building up your strength using agriculture, military, economy, culture and favours.

Components
The components in this game are of good quality, with the exception of the player boards, which is on the thinner side. The artwork and colouring of the cards, tokens and player boards is really nice and was one of the reasons this game caught my interest. The military victory bills are made of paper, a la Monopoly money and where a small disappointment. I plan to replace those as soon as possible. But the overall impression of the components is good, I really enjoy putting those nice tokens on my player board and create a thriving town.

Game play
In Principato you play a game over three years, which is made up of three different piles of action cards. These are laid out in a display containing 5-7 cards depending on how many players there are. The action cards come in two types, either with an exchange symbol or not. In your turn you’re allowed two actions, which can be either to play an action card, exchange an action card or to take a favour cube. If you play an action card with an exchange symbol on it, you must replace it with a new card from the display. If you play an action card without an exchange symbol on it you may either keep the card (or even play it again) or spend another action exchanging the card with a new card from the display. After you have taken your two actions you remove the leftmost card in the display, move every other card one step to the left and put one card from the pile in the rightmost spot.

You start the game with 1 field, 1 farm, 1 palazzo, 1 bank, 1 food cube, 1 money cube and 1 favour cube as well as 2 action cards (of which 1 is different for every player) and 2 goal cards (which is all different). A field gives you 1 food cube if you use the harvest action and every farm you have can store up to 2 food cubes. The same thing goes for palazzos/banks, where every palazzo gives you 1 money cube if you use the market action and every bank can store up to 2 money cubes. A favour cube can be used as either a food cube or a money cube and you may have a maximum of 3 of those stored in your church (which is pre-printed on your board).

The Military tokens that you acquire during the game consist of militia (which needs to be supplied with food cubes), condottiere (which need to be supplied with money cubes) and catapults (which are self-sustained). The cool thing is that when you take a recruit/hiring action you get to take as many militia/condottiere tokens as you want to for free, since you score negative military victory points if they are not supplied with their respective cubes. Catapults need to be paid for with a combination of cubes as you take them.

Military is one of the three achievements you get VP’s for during the game (the other two being culture tokens and goal cards). You score military five times during the game, once after each year and twice with military scoring cards that are shuffled into pile two and three. The scoring consists of a fixed number of victory points awarded to the player with the most points in military strength. These points varies depending on how many players there are and if you are more then two players the runner(s) up also score some points.

Before the scoring takes place, each player is allowed to move cubes from his farms and banks to his militias and condottieres. Then every player gets one point for each militia/condottiere that has a supply cube on them and -1 point for each one that hasn’t. In addition, catapults always score 1 point. These points are summed up and the winner gets a fixed score. After the military victory points have been awarded, all cubes are returned to the stock. At this point you may also remove any military tokens of your choice.

During the late game turns you may also buy culture tokens, there are three different types to collect (painting, book and monument). All three are worth a range of VP’s, so it’s a good thing to get these as early as you can. As well as being worth VP’s on their own, the culture tokens are also collected as sets depending on what goal card you got and you score additional points at the end of the game for fulfilling those.

The two goal cards that you receive at the start of the game come from two different decks. The first deck contain cards that award you for either the amount of fields + farms, palazzos + banks, number of catapults or military victory bills you have. The second deck is made up of cards that award you for collecting different combinations of culture tokens.

Summary
Principato is a game that is both fun and has a short playtime. It’s quite cheap (around 20 Euro) and the components are of good quality. It reminds me a lot of Glen More, but that probably has to do with using tiles/tokens and putting cubes on them. I find it quite fun to select the right action cards and putting down tokens in your principality. That aside, I still have a big issue with this game and that is replayability. I’ll explain why.

1. The action cards
There are 16 different types of action cards, but if you break it down they just do one of two things. They either give you cubes or tokens (by paying cubes). Sure, there are four different types of tokens and two different types of cubes (not counting purple as it’s a joker), but I would really like to see some other types of action cards, doing something completely different. Maybe a card that interacts with your opponents or maybe just a random event? I think it’s unfortunate that no such cards exist, as it would greatly increase the replayability of this game.

2. The goal cards
The same goes for the goal cards. There are just eight in total, which means in a four-player game you’ll be using all of them. If you look at deck #1, two of the four cards reward military and this is already scored five times during the game. In deck #2, you get a card that lets you score for different sets of culture tokens (1+2, 1+3, 2+3 or all 3). The goal cards are just not interesting enough. This is also unfortunate, as more and different types of goal cards could really extend the replayability of Principato.

All this said, I don’t know if there is an expansion planned for. This would seem like a good idea to get the most out of this game.

In short, Principato is a fun, cheap and easy game to learn and if you like Glen More I would suggest trying this. I’m really glad for my copy, although I don’t expect to get more than a couple more plays out of it.
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Andy Andersen
United States
Michigan
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Thanks for the review. Now that it looks like it's getting close to being distributed in the US, I'll be taking a close look.
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Luis Fernandez
Venezuela
Caracas
Miranda
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Good review, the game looks pretty interesting in theme and seem as an FAST eurogame. GREAT!
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