You can find Concordia in the highest regions of my top 50 and every time I play it I like it even more. So, It’s time for a review of this fantastic game from Mac Gerdts.
In Concordia you are colonists of some sort in Roman times. The game revolves around your deck of cards. Every turn you will play a card and execute its action. Every player starts with the same set of cards, but will buy more of them during the game. The game ends when one player places his last house on the board, or if a player buys the last card from the market. That player gets seven points and all players, except himself, can take one more turn and then every players looks how many points he or she has scored and the player with the most points is the winner of the game.
All player start with 2 colonists in Rome, one ship and one dude. Everyone also places two ships and two dudes in their warehouse, plus a couple of starting resources. Players also get some money depending on player order.
I will explain the rest of the game by looking at the card actions. Let’s start with the Architect. When you play an Architect card you may spend an x amount of movement points, to be divided between your different colonists. X is the amount of colonists you have on the board.
When you’ve finished your movement you can build houses in neighbouring cities. For every house you built you have to pay some resources and an amount of money. How much money depends on the amount of houses already in that city and the type of city you build in.
Whenever you play the Prefect, you choose either to let a province produce goods, by turning over an active bonus token, or to reactivate all bonus tokens and claim the money that was on their inactive side. When you choose to let a province produce, every player who has a house on a city in that province gets the resource that the city produces. The player who played to Prefect gets an additional good, the most valuable one that is produced in that province.
The Mercator is a card that lets you take three money and trade two different goods.
With the Senator you can buy up to two new Personality cards from the board. These new cards might be a bit better than the ones in you hand, or they might be entirely different. All cards have their cost printed one them, plus you’ll have to pay some extra resources depending on the position of the card in the market row. You put these new cards in your hand and they will allow you to do more or other actions, but they will also give you more points (more on that later).
Two basic cards left. The Diplomat card allows you to copy a card on top of someone’s discard pile. You activate a card by placing them on you personal discard pile and you can’t use them until you play the Tribune card. Only then you can take them all back into your hand. Plus, by playing the Tribune, you get x minus three coins, where x is the amount of cards in your discard pile. Additionally, you can place a new colonist in Rome by paying the required resources.
This is basically the game, you move around with your colonists, you build houses, let your cities produce goods and you buy more cards.
Like I already said, these card will also give you the points you need to win. Every card belongs to a certain deity and every deity has its own way of scoring points. For every Jupiter card you have you get one point for every non-brick city you have a house in. Every Saturn card you own gives you one point for every province you’ve built at least one house in. Mercury give you points for every different good you produce and Mars gives you points for every colonist you have on the board. Minerva is special, there are only a few of them in the game and these cards give you points for a house in cities that produce specific goods. Lastly, every player has one Vesta cards, which give one point for every ten coins you have at the end of the game.
So, you’ll only score once, at the end of the game, and the player with most points wins Concordia.
This is one of my all time favourites. Why? Well, first because of the simplicity of the rules. You don’t even need the rulebook, the cards themselves have all the text on them you need, so going through them will explain everything about the game you need. This means that, although Concordia is not a light game, it is a game that you very easily can introduce to new players (no, not players that are new to gaming).
The only thing new players might not understand fully is the way you score points, or what is important for them if they want to score points. That’s because the scoring will happen at the end of the game and the way you score points is through the cards in your deck and those cards are pretty much hidden throughout the game. This means that during the game you won’t have a clear idea about how good or bad your opponents are doing. You have to remember every card they have bought. Can you? Or do you want to do that?
Concordia is a game where there’s pretty much no luck involved. Maybe you can be a bit lucky with the cards from the personality deck. A card might pop up just in time for you to buy it, but this has hardly any effect on the outcome of the game. Being the starting player also has a minor effect, because the players that can use their architect earlier might be able to build a house or houses in the ‘better’ cities, but on the other hand, there are so many paths to take.
So, because there’s little to no luck, the better player will win most of the times. You have to buy the cards that fit your situation on the board, or the other way around, do the things that the cards you’ve bought ask you to do. If you’re not planning to have a lot of colonists on the board, it makes no sense to buy loads of Mars cards. Or you’d better get that Minerva card that gives you points for brick cities when you have houses in many brick cities, because your Jupiter cards won’t give you any points for them.
In addition to the fun of building your deck of cards, there are many small elements in the game that need careful planning and thought. First of all, your warehouse can store a limited amount of goods. You can’t keep everything you’ve produced in there. You need to produce and then spend, produce and then spend. So, resource management is an important aspect of the game. The second thing that requires your thought is the order you play your cards. Well, that’s pretty obvious, I know, but playing your Tribune too much can kill your chances of winning the game. It’s basically a lost turn.
That makes us get to the third thing and that’s the very fun Diplomat, the copy card. You have to make sure that you play this card at the right time and keep an eye on your opponents. What have they played, what do they still have in their hand. That’s important.Did the other player bought that card with that nice action just before you could? No problem, you can still do that action when you play your diplomat at the right time.
You also have to make sure that you are not the only one who has houses in a province, at least try to have some in province that you share with others. You then also get resources when they activate production in that province. But it also works the other way around, so you have to think about when you trigger production in which province.
Concordia offers simple gameplay, you’ll only do one thing per turn, but the choices you make and the timing of your actions really matter. Every time you’ve done your thing, you can’t wait for your turn to come up, hoping that, in the meantime, your opponents don’t do the things you want to do next.
It’s great. One of the best games ever made in my opinion. It is as themeless as can get, so I recommend it to everyone who likes a good Euro-game, but don’t let this be a discouragement if you like more thematic games. It’s a game everyone should try at least once.
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