Concordia got another run out this week, new players to the game being Steve and Gordon, who I gather has it but had not played until now, this was my third play of the game, having also played last Saturday evening.
The game is by Mac Gerdts, famous for his games using the rondel mechanism, I have only played two of those, the first being Antike, which I had no desire to play again after one attempt, the other being Hamburgum, which was OK, but somewhat bland. Of the others, Imperial sounds interesting, but I have resisted because, from the very beginning I have thought that the rondel mechanism is, frankly, one of the most ridiculous ever seen in a board game, due to the fact that it imposes a need to do certain actions in a particular order (unless you are willing and able to pay for it) without any logical reason that I can see. I can see the function of preventing someone from doing the same thing again and again, but I remember commenting at the time the rondel was new in a conversation in the bar at the Townsend (or Conservative club as it probably was then) that I thought a better system would be for players to have a set of cards which they could play to perform actions, which would be refreshed at some point to allow the actions to be repeated, this I thought would achieve the same result of not allowing repeated actions, but would not constrain the order in which they were played. All these years later, it seems that Gerdts has done, in Concordia, what I thought all those years ago, although I hadn't envisaged the addition of further actions by buying new cards from the deck, which demonstrates how this system is more flexible as it wouldn't be possible with a fixed rondel.
Anyway, after all that rambling, Concordia is a game of settling colonies in the Roman empire, not by military conquest but peacefully as the game envisages the empire at what is essentially its full extent. On each turn a player plays a card allowing them to perform actions, the basic actions which everyone has access to at the beginning of the game, include moving their colonists and placing settlements, producing goods from provinces and cities (or get money), trading of goods and buying additional cards from the track. They also have a card that allows the copying of an action just used by another player and one to recover the cards they have played previously, also giving a monetary bonus depending on the number of cards recovered and the allowing the placement of another colonist. Different abilities can be acquired from cards gained from the track including the ability to place colonists away from Rome and gain additional cards at a cheaper cost (if they are not the first card on the track), there are also specialist cards allowing the production of one of the 5 types of goods, if the player has colonies in cities of the correct type.
So that's a quick run down of what the cards do, how do you win? The cards are actually dual use providing actions in the game and also scoring you points at the end, based on what you have done during the game. So when playing, you have to consider both what a card will do for you in the game and what it will score for you depending on what strategy or strategies you pursue. When the game ends, either by the exhaustion of the card supply or by a single player building all of their 15 houses, everyone divides their cards into six groups according the name of the God which appears at the bottom of the card, points are now scored for each god in turn, with the points being multiplied for each card a player has for the appropriate god.
Vesta provides points for the amount of money a player has (including the value of goods in their storehouse) at the rate of 1vp per 10, each player will have exactly one of these cards which is included in their starting hand. Jupiter gives 1 points for each city the player has on the board (excluding those that produce the least valuable good, Brick). Saturnus gives 1 point for each province where a player has at least one city for a maximum of 11 or 12 (depending on the side of the board used) per card.. Mercurius gives 2 points for each different type of good produced for a maximum of 10 per card. Mars gives 2 points for each colonist the player has on the board for a maximum of 12 per card. Finally Minerva has 5 cards corresponding to the different goods giving, for example, 3 points for each brick producing city a player has up to 5 points for each cloth producing city.
Moving on to the game we played, I started last and while everyone else had played Architect to move colonists and place cities, this left me with a reduced choice of movement and placement if I were to also play Architect, so I played Mercator to trade and get me a bit of money and also to buy and sell, giving me more option for an Architect play the following turn. I did wonder after the game if Tribune might have been a viable play, this card allows the recovery of cards previously played, which obviously I had none of, but it also would have allowed me to get an extra colonist on the board straight away allowing me to move further next turn and also meaning I still had a full hand of cards enabling Mercator to be saved for later.
As the game went on I felt I initially fell behind in the race to place colonies, but I was able to catch up toward the end of the game and I was able to acquire a good few cards, concentrating on Saturnus and also looking to grab Mars cards, but Steve was competing with me and I was only able to get 1 of those beyond the one in my start hand. I also picked up the Farmer, the Minerva card giving points for food producing cities and this served me well.
Moving to the end of the game, we got to the situation where there were 2 cards left to buy and I expected that Steve and Gordon would pick them up triggering the end on their coming turns, I knew that neither Mark or I would be able to. However it turned out that Steve did not have a card in hand to buy cards, so as Gordon was not able to buy both cards, the game went on and I had an extra turn, allowing me to gather the goods necessary to build 2 cities on my final turn, both of them food cities in provinces where I didn't previously have a presence, advancing my scores for Jupiter, Saturnus and Minerva, if the game had ended a turn earlier, I would only have been able to build one of these cities, which would be decisive.
In the final scoring I scored well with Saturnus and my 2 Mars cards also scored well, as I had all 6 colonists in play, the Farmer gave me 21 points for Vesta. Steve scored a load of points for Mars (4 cards I think) and also scored well for his wine cities, having the Vintner. Gordon scored heavily for the early gods up to Mercurius, but fell away on Mars and Minerva. Mark scored reasonably for most of the gods, except Mars and was the one who eventually ended the game, giving him the Concordia card worth 7 points, which just got him ahead of Gordon for third place.
Having now played 3 times this was my first win and I think that the game is certainly going to be played again, it will be interesting to see what the extra contention for cities is like, if we play with the maximum player number (4 on the Italia board or 5 on the Imperium).
Also played were Viticulture, currently the most played this year and Magnum Sal, which Mike is still pushing.
Details of the 3 games played
|Concordia - 120 Mins.|
|Magnum Sal - 130 Mins.|
|Viticulture - 150 Mins.|
Full details for March 2014
Monthly list at BGG for March 2014