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Princes of the Renaissance

Princes of the Renaissance

Game Information

Year Published

The game is set in Renaissance Italy. Each player takes on the role of one of the minor condottiere princes, such as the Gonzagas or d'Estes. Then there are the big five major cities, Venice, Milan, Florence, Rome, and Naples. These are not controlled by individual players but players will gain 'interests' in them as the game progresses. Each city has six tiles, most of which represent a famous character such as Lucrezia Borgia or Lorenzo Medici. Each tile has its own special properties which are linked to the character on the tile. Thus Cesare Borgia will help you to become more treacherous, while a Venetian merchant will increase your income. These tiles are also worth victory points, depending on the status of the city at the end of the game.

A city's status will change as a result of war. When two cities fight they will each need a condottiere to fight for them. Players bid, using influence points, to decide who will represent each city. The outcome of the war will depend on a little luck and the size of each player's army. Each player also gets paid for fighting, no matter what the outcome of the war is. Thus players can turn influence into gold, which in turn can be used to buy more City tiles.

No game on the Italian Renaissance would be complete with an element of treachery. Players can be openly treacherous by buying Treachery tiles, which will allow them to do nasty things like steal influence, bribe troops, or knock players out of an auction. However, the game allows players to be devious in other ways, that still remain legal. Making sure that a war goes the way you want it to is an important part of the game, and it is not always the player with the best army that ends up fighting. Want a city to lose, well become Condottiere for them and make sure you have a really bad army, or use Treachery tiles to bribe your own troops not to fight. At some point some player will become the Pope, which means they can form a Holy League, (i.e. join one side in a battle). Want to make sure the Pope is on the 'right' side, well why not bribe him. What player negotiate over is up to them. The game does not force negotiation and works perfectly well without it but it remains an avenue for players to explore.

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Machiavellian Auctioning
This is a great one. Players are the scheming mercenary princes that Machiavelli found so fascinating. It is an auction game were the princes try to gain wealth and power by fighting on behalf of the various cities of Italy. The players start wars between the cities and then choose which side they will fight on. Each prince is looking to better the position of the cities he has invested in. He can fight to win glory for a city but in a great twist he can purposefully enter fights to lose and so ruin the reputation of the city he was meant to be defending. The scheming, back stabbing and temporary alliances of convenience make for a great experience.
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Born to be kings, we're the Princes of the Renaiss
(Updated: December 08, 2008)
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Top 100 Reviewer 2 reviews
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...More Sand Has Escaped From the Hourglass...
"The more sand has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it." -- Nicolo Machiavelli

I played Princes of the Renaissance once and found it a boring waste of time. We had six players, and my five opponents were former AT and CCG players who fully embraced Euros in the late '90s.

PotR just didn't entertain me. It was long, slow, complex, and offered a bewildering array of options to a new player. Due to the complexity, none of the options seemed particularly better or worse than each other, so I made fairly random decisions form turn to turn. Combat was abstract and lifeless. The treachery tiles didn't feel particularly treacherous, and I usually enjoy games with an element of deceit or treachery. The VP element separated the mechanics from the theme. Worst of all, the interaction was minimal, and this was with a group that once enjoyed spirited table talk during board games and card games.

I realize that there is a lot of game there, and it did seem to entertain my opponents, in a quiet and introspective way. Perhaps with additional plays, I could come to grasp the subtle interplay of the mechanics and the diversity of strategies that my opponents spoke of when talking me into playing. But that first game was just so boring that I don't feel like giving PotR another chance. There are so many other games that I would rather try or play again.
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