Date: 27th February 2004
Game played: Princes of the Renaissance ( Warfrog ) BGG Id: 8045

We have been waiting for a while to get Martin Wallace's latest game to the table, without much success. As we all wanted to play it, I have been waiting for the opportunity for all five of us to get the chance to try it. This week looked to be it but John called off at the last minute. Unfortunately, I had not brought anything else to play, having expected five, so we decided to go ahead with just the four of us. John will hopefully get a chance to play it soon.

Princes of the Renaissance is surprisingly enough set in Renaissance Italy, so we immediately knew there was likely to be lots of backstabbing and treachery. Each player represents a powerful family from the era and seeks to establish the most power by recruiting characters in the most lucrative cities, participating in battles between the cities, gaining the support of the pope, amassing gold etc. There are two types of currency in the game: gold and influence and these are used to bid for the opportunity to do things during the game. You can buy troops or action cards that allow you to perform various acts of treachery; you can auction off city characters and event tiles, or you can star wars and bid to represent the cities involved. Even if you lose a battle, you will earn gold for supporting a city and if you win, you gain laurels that translate to victory points at the end of the game. The game is played over three decades and the length of each decade is determined by how quickly the event tiles for that decade are auctioned off. At the end of each decade, players receive income in the form of gold and influence depending on what they have collected during the game, and after the third decade, victory points are totalled.

Our game lasted a full three hours and, on balance, this felt just a bit too long. There are lots of options and multiple ways of gaining victory points and this is a bit confusing at first. We all began by building up our armies, but this depletes your gold reserves quickly. I decided to force a couple of wars and used influence to ensure I was able to get my fair share of gold at the end of the first decade. Nige decided to keep his army weak and was concentrating on building up his influence. Mark G decided he fancied the role of pope and together with the most powerful army, this meant he was able to dictate how the various wars went. Mark K went for a fairly strong army and concentrated on being involved inwars. Nige and I acquired cheap city tiles in Naples and Rome and then set about trying to raise the status of those cities. This proved to be very tough and we felt the cities became polarised too easily. Venice quickly rose to status 10 and nobody felt able to afford the minimum 20 bid to acquire city tiles; Naples and Rome city tiles became cheap but there wasn't enough opportunity to push the status up once you'd had chance to acquire a couple of tiles. Maybe with more experience, we'll find the right balance. At the end of the game, Nige grabbed a strong advantage with his city tiles but lagged the rest of us in laurels. He also clearly had the most influence, gaining him a bonus 4 VPs but, surprisingly, I managed to pip Mark K for most gold. This enabled me to gain three extra VPs and grab the win from Nige by just 1 VP. Gut wrenching for him but highly satisfying for me. I liked the game quite a bit and would like to try out other ideas in the game now I have a better idea of how it all fits together. The others felt a bit less keen than me due to the game length and the difficulty in affecting city statuses. However, we all thought it was another worthwhile, meaty game from Martin and Warfrog.

Mark K
Mark G

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