Council of Verona (+ the Poison Expansion) Review

Designer: Michael Eskue

Artist: Adam McIver, Darrel Louder

Publisher: Crash Games
Number of Players: 2-5
Playtime: 15-45 minutes
Price (approx.):  15 Euro (??)
A review of the Kickstarter version.
Verona. Romeo and Juliet are madly in love, their families can’t get along very well. Somebody’s got to change that. You know the drill.
What you get for your money:
17 Character cards, 1 Council and 1 Exile card, 20 influence tokens, 5 reference sheets and the rules.
How do you play the game:
In Council of Verona you are going to influence characters with specific agendas and you are going to manipulate the outcome of these agendas by using the abilities of other inhabitants of Verona.
In a three player game, as an example, every player starts with three Influence tokens in their colour. These tokens have a value, 0, 3 or 5. (the 4 is added in a two player game)
Then each player is dealt a random Character card. After that, there will be a draft (everybody takes a card and hands the rest to the left) until all players have four cards. The one card that’s left is put aside.
There are two types of Character cards; Influence cards and Ability cards. These characters can belong the Montague or Capulet family, are Neutral or even both (Neutral and a Capulet for instance).
The table is divided in a Council area and an Exile area and then you can start the game.
In your turn you must place a character on the table, either in the Council or in Exile.
When you placed an Ability card, you can use that ability (you don’t have to). An example of an ability is: ‘Move one character from the Council to Exile’ or ‘Swap two Influence tokens’.
When you placed a Influence card you may put one of you influence tokens on that card. You may also place a token on a card that is already in play. A card you place on the table is never yours, remember that. Also, you may only replace a token when an Ability card says so.
Why do want to place a token? Well, that’s how you get point at the end of the game. Influence cards have an Agenda like ‘More Montagues than Capulets on the Council’ or ‘Romeo and Juliet are together’ or ‘More Exiled than on the Council’.  When these Agendas are met at the end of the game, these characters will give you points if you have a token on it.
There are three slots on an Influence card and sometimes one of these slots give you an additional point or maybe even negative points. You will place the tokens face down, so no one knows how many points you will get if that agenda is met. Example: you placed a value 4 token on a +1 spot and that agenda is met, then you’ll get 5 points.
Every turn players place cards, use abilities and place tokens. Every player has other interests, there will be a little bluffing and when the last card is placed on the table, the game ends. Everybody has one more chance to place a token and then you are going to check which Agenda is met.
The points are added together and the one with the most points wins Council of Verona.
Verona. Romeo and Juliet. All the characters from Shakespeare’s play are there. Juliet always wants to be with Romeo and vice versa. Rosaline wants the opposite. The two major families in Verona, the Montagues and the Capulets, want to be, it doesn’t matter how, the most powerful family in Verona. Escalus, the prince, just wants them to be peaceful.
Yes, sure the game can turn out differently than the play and it’s not that you are going to re-enact this epic story, but the flavour of the story is there.


This game is very easy to teach and to play. There only so much you can do in your turn. Play a card, use ability, place token, that’s it.
You have to be a bit tactical, when to place which card, but there’s also a lot of luck involved. You don’t always have control over the play area and the situation can be very different when your next turn comes up. For some players it might feel too random.
Bluffing is another important aspect. You can trick people in thinking you are trying to meet a certain agenda when you are not by placing the zero token on a strategic card.
You do have a big advantage when you are the last player, you have much more control. You can have a better idea what everybody is up to and especially when you lay down the last card of the game; you know exactly where to put it and no one can stop you.
The game plays quick and you can play just one round or you can play best of three (or more) rounds.
When you play with five players, you add four extra cards. When you play with two, you have some different rules and you play with four tokens instead of three.
I would not recommend playing with two, the game lacks substance in this setting. Three, four and five players are nice.
The character illustrations are cartoony. They are in black and white (greyish), but they look very nice. There are, in addition to the light brown background, only two colours on the cards, red and blue, and that’s clean and very appealing.
The tokens are ok, five different colours, but some of these look similar in low light or with some forms of artificial lighting.
As a whole, when the game is on the table, CoV doesn’t look very special though.
Quality of the game parts
The cards, the tokens and the reference sheets, all are very high quality.
The stickers are fine.
The box top is a bit too small, so it’s very hard to get the box open.
Council of Verona is a micro game, in the same vein as Love Letter and Coup. It tends to be more like Love Letter than like Coup. It adds a couple more mechanism to the idea of playing cards with special abilities. You have bidding and cards placement. You don’t have player elimination.
Once you’ve got the hang of it, Council of Verona is an interesting game, with a little bluffing and messing up your opponents plans. These are the most fun aspects of this game.
The game can feel a bit out of your control sometimes, a bit random, especially when you aren’t the first and certainly not when you aren’t the last player. You are just doing your stuff, hoping it works out. It is a very short game, so it doesn’t bother me that much.
After the first game, I thought: “This is cool!” After a couple of plays it’s still a fine game, but it misses something and can’t really grasp what it is. Maybe it is the fact that there is confrontation, you mess up peoples plans, but it is only visible at the end of the round. Maybe I’m a bit indifferent concerning the outcome of the game? I don’t feel very involved. I just don’t know.
Council of Verona is a game that I enjoy, but not love.




The Poison Expansion

When you backed the project on KS, which I did, you got a little expansion with it. The Poison Expansion. This is a cool, little, thematic expansion. It gives every player two new tokens, a poison and an antidote token. Normally, when an Agenda is not met at the end of the game, the card remains in play. Now you can kill a character. You just place these tokens face down on a card, if you want to. The same as the other tokens and when, at the end of the game, there are more Poison tokens  than Antidote tokens on a character, the character is out of the game.

So when a character gets killed and removed, his agenda is certainly not met, but maybe others aren’t either.
These tokens can turn the end game situation totally upside down. You can bluff more, make people afraid they might not get certain points. The end game situation is even less predictable than it was before.
This expansion makes CoV more exciting, it brings more tension.
With this expansion, the game is more fun.


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