Date: 6th February 2004
Game played: Prince, The: Struggle of House Borgia ( Phalanx Games ) BGG Id: 7720

Having not won a game so far this year, Nige was beginning to get desperate and so brought along a game that he felt he stood a good chance of winning, as none of the rest of us knew very much about The Prince.

The game is set in renaissance Italy and is by Richard Berg, although published under the name Alexander S Berg. Each player represents one of the powerful families from the era and are seeking to gain the most power over three rounds of card-play, by controlling city states, having artists live in their cities, recruiting outside families to your cause, building offices in the cities and ultimately winning elections to the office of pope. You start with a small hand of cards which show these various resources and each round consists of a series of auctions at the end of which the cards you control gain you income votes towards the papal election and victory points. In addition there are military cards which enable you to attack other players' cities and other action cards that when played help your cause or hinder another. The three rounds follow an identical course at the end of which whoever has gained the most victory points is the winner.

The first round was quite slow as we were trying to establish the relative value of the cards being auctioned, without really knowing how they would affect the game later. Mark K acquired an army card very early on for a paltry sum of ducats, whereas later armies went for several times the amount Mark paid. Nige's scouring of the hints and tips beforehand enabled him to gain a handsome lead by the end of the second round. However, Mark K and I had cards in hand suggesting we had powerful armies just waiting to pounce. First Mark G attacked but Nige had just enough to defend himself. However, this left his cards depleted and then Mark K successfully stripped away Nige's most powerful city. My turn next, but a powerful army came up for auction at the start of the turn. Nige paid a hefty 41 ducats to grab the card (his only one in hand) only then to find me play a spy to snatch the card away, leaving him defenceless to my subsequent attack. Another lost city for Nige. This restricted his third round scoring to just 13 VPs, while Mark K and I both claimed over 50 VPs. Mark K just managed to keep ahead of me to claim the win.

We all thought there were some interesting aspects to the game but there were a few things that prevented us from rating it that highly. The game took a bit too long, and the final papal election was a non-event as everyone knew to hand it to the person with the fewest VPs. Also, there was often not very much to do on a turn as many of the cards won at auction had to be played immediately and the choices were fairly obvious. However, the military threat was an interesting aspect but I felt there weren't enough army cards to battle often enough. Nevertheless, it was a fairly good game and we ensured Nige's losing streak continued. Where did he finish in this game again? Oh yes........

Mark K
Mark G

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