When you’re playing a game, it’s usually nice to know who’s winning, isn’t it? With some games, that’s really hard to determine. In Concordia, it’s practically impossible.
And that’s one of the things I like best about Concordia. There is no in-game scoring, so you have to wait until the very end to see who the winner is.
I don’t mind telling you up front that I really like Concordia. It’s one of only two (the other being Hamburgum) Mac Gerdts’ games that I’ve ever played. Mac hasn’t produced a lot of games, but you might recognize other titles like Antike, Imperial, and Navegador.
Let’s take a look at the game play of Concordia.
How Do You Setup Concordia?
You get a double-sided main board where much of the action takes place. The setup shown just below has 12 provinces (each a different color) around the Mediterranean. The flip side, shown in the next picture down, has only 11 provinces in Italy.
You can play the Italy side with 2, 3, or 4 players. The Mediterranean side is best with 3, 4, or 5. It just depends how crowded you want the board to feel when it comes to 3 or 4 players.
In the first picture above, I have only setup 1 player. Obviously, at least one other player is needed, but I wanted to keep it simple for this review. Each additional player has identical cards, player board and starting supplies, a reference card, houses, and 1 soldier and 1 ship in Rome on the main board.
The only real difference is the amount of money that each person gets at the start. The starting player gets 5 coins (sestertii, so…coins) and each person after him (going around the table clockwise) gets one more than the previous player. In the picture, I just laid out one of each of the 4 values of coins.
I realized after playing a few games, that you need to know your Roman numerals to be able to figure out the value of each coin without someone helping you. It’s not that difficult, since I = 1 and II = 2, but it is just a little quirky. Also, the backs of the coins do not have any value designation – a very minor annoyance.
The Praefectus Magnus card goes to the last player in turn order during setup.
You may be able to see on the Italy board that each city has a letter (A, B, or C) attached to it. On the Mediterranean board, these letters (A, B, C, or D) are covered semi-randomly by tiles that look to me like arched windows. The backs of these tiles have corresponding letters. You set them out, face down, and match them to a city with the same letter, and then you flip them over so you can see which type of goods each city produces. Rome does not get a goods tile.
Then, to determine which smaller, square goods tile goes in the upper left section of the board, you check each province to find the most valuable good shown there. You can find the relative values across the top of your player board. Since brick is the least valuable (only 3 coins), you will rarely place a brick tile in this section of the board – though Germania does get one in this particular setup. Actually, food (wheat) won’t show up there very often either – and doesn’t in this setup.
On the backs of these square tiles is a picture of 2 coins for all of the goods except the blue cloth. The cloth tiles only show 1 coin. This is handy to know later when working with your Prefect cards.
At the top right of the main board are 7 cards that you can purchase. There is a stack of additional cards just off the board to the right. This stack varies in size, depending on the number of players.
The other card just below that stack is the 7-point bonus card that will go to the player who triggers the end of the game. The reason for this bonus is to offset the fact that each other player gets one more turn after someone triggers the end game.
How Do You Play Concordia?
You have a starting hand of 7 action cards.
On your turn, you lay one of these cards on the table in front of you and then take the action described. Sometimes you have a choice between two actions.
When you’re done with your turn, you do not pick up the card again. In fact, you cannot use that action card again until you have played the Tribune card. So let’s take a look at that card first, and then we’ll look at each of the others as well.
The Tribune card lets you “reset” your hand of cards. You simply play the Tribune to the table and then pick up all the cards in your already-played pile. If you have played more than 3 cards (including the Tribune), you get a coin for each card above 3.
At this time you can optionally move another soldier or ship from your player board to Rome by paying 1 food and 1 tool (anvil). If you do, this will free another space on your player board for more goods.
The Architect card lets you move your pieces around on the main board (initially out of Rome) and then build houses in cities adjacent to your pieces.
Your soldiers may only move along the tan, land lines. Your ships may only move along the blue, water lines. You get as many movement points as you have pieces on the board. So initially, everyone can move 2 “spaces” because each player starts with just 1 soldier and 1 ship. You can assign movement points to as many of your pieces as you like. If you have just 2 points, you can move your soldier twice. Or you can move your ship twice. Or you can move your soldier once and your ship once. You don’t have to spend all your movement points, but normally you will.
Movement is not from city to city, however. After leaving Rome, you treat the connecting route lines as “spaces”. Thus you will end your movement in between cities.
After moving, you can optionally build one of your 15 houses in each of the cities your pieces are adjacent to by paying the appropriate cost. Your reference card shows the costs.
The type of city you want to build in (see setup above), determines the cost. Additionally, if someone else has already built a house in a given city, you have to pay double the amount of coins (not goods). If 2 players have already built there, you pay triple, and so on. This can get expensive, but it can also be worth it.
Your starting hand has 2 identical Prefect cards. Prefects work in conjunction with the square goods tiles at the upper left of the main board.
One option when playing a Prefect is to pick a square tile showing some goods, like wine (red jug or amphora). In such a case, you get a wine token from the supply and place it on one of the empty spaces on your player board, which is really a warehouse. If you don’t have an empty space, you can’t take more goods.
Here is where the Praefectus Magnus card may come into play. If you own the card, you get a second good of the same type shown on the square tile. Then you must pass the card to the player on your right – thus the long arrow shown on the card.
Then you look at the province attached to the square tile you chose. If there are any houses in that province, the owner(s) get goods that that city produces.
You also flip the square tile over to its coin side.
The other option when playing a Prefect card is to take a coin for each coin showing in the upper left area (initially, none). You then flip all the tokens showing coins back over to their goods side. If you own the Praefectus Magnus card, nothing happens to it. You keep it until you use a Prefect for the goods.
The Diplomat has no action of its own, per se. Instead, you can use the action another player is currently showing on top of their already-played pile exactly as if you had played that card yourself. The other player (normally) does nothing.
This card is a sneaky way to save your own action cards for later and to use another one-of-a-kind card that someone else has bought from the card track at the upper right of the board. (See Senator and Consul below.)
The Mercator card can be a little confusing at first, primarily because you’ll want to do more with it than you’re allowed. The Mercator in your hand gives you 3 coins and then lets you make 2 transactions. (The Mercator available for purchase gives you 5 coins, making it sort of an upgrade card.)
Your 2 transactions can be 2 purchases of goods, or 2 sales of goods, or 1 purchase and 1 sale. In each of those transactions, you can buy/sell as many of one type of goods as you want.
For example, if my warehouse has 3 wine jugs, I can use 1 transaction to sell them all to the supply and, based on the prices shown at the top of my player board, get 18 coins for them. If I then had, say, 5 empty spaces in my warehouse, I could buy 5 bricks (or less) from the supply and pay 15 coins.
What often happens is that you’ll sell a certain type of good and then want to buy both a brick and a wheat, but that would take 3 transactions, and you only get 2.
The Senator card lets you buy any of the 7 cards in the row at the top right of the main board. You pay the cost shown in the red bar near the bottom of the card. Plus, you pay an additional cost, unless the card you want is the one at the far left of the row.
If you look again at the picture above, you’ll see question marks and/or blue cloth icons below 6 of the card spaces. To acquire any of these cards, you must also pay (from your warehouse) a good of your choice to satisfy the question mark and a blue cloth whenever shown.
After you have bought one or two cards via your Senator, all the remaining cards shift to the left to fill in the gaps, and new cards from the stack at the right fill in the spaces at the right end.
Cards you buy go directly into your hand and are available for play on your next turn.
The Colonist (and the Senator and Specialist cards below) are not in your initial hand. The Colonist lets you place a soldier or ship in any city (or Rome) in which you have already built a house. You pay a food and a tool for each placement.
Alternatively, you can get 5 coins plus 1 for each of your soldiers and ships on the main board.
The Consul is similar to the Senator, except that you can only buy 1 card, but you don’t have to pay the extra cost. You only pay what’s shown in the red bar on the card. This is a great way to get those otherwise-expensive cards at the far right of the row before they shift to the left and become cheaper for everyone else to buy.
There is a specialist card for each of the 5 types of goods. Each of these cards gives you (and only you) one good of the given type for each corresponding city in which you have built a house.
For example, if you have houses in 3 food (wheat) cities and you play the Farmer specialist card, you will get 3 food to add to your warehouse, if you have room. Note that you can never swap out existing warehouse goods for new goods coming in. If you don’t have the space, you simply discard some of the incoming goods.
When Does Concordia End?
Concordia can end in one of two ways. If one player builds his 15th house, he gets the Concordia card and each other player gets one more turn. If a player buys the last card in the track, he gets the Concordia card and each other player gets one more turn.
Hopefully, on your last turn you can score at least 7 points to make up for the bonus that the game-ending player got.
Speaking of points….
How Do You Score Points in Concordia?
You may have noticed in some of the pictures above the name of a Roman god at the bottom of the action cards. The type and number of each of those cards will determine your final score.
The back side of your building costs reference card looks like this.
At the end of the game, each player (usually everyone together) works his way through the scoring shown on the card above.
There is only 1 Vesta card for each player. Before scoring this card, you convert any goods left in your warehouse into coins, using the exchange rate shown on your player board. Then you get 1 point for every 10 coins, rounded down. Move your scoring marker along the track around the edge of the board accordingly.
This will normally give you just a few points and (in my experience) is not a strategy to use to win the game. It’s really just a consolation award for any goods and money you didn’t have time to spend.
Next, count how many non-brick-producing cities you have built houses in. You get 1 point for each of them. Then multiply that number by the number of Jupiter cards you own and add that to your score.
Each of the other types of god cards is used as a multiplier in the same way.
For each of the 12 provinces on the Mediterranean board or 11 provinces on the Italy board in which you have built a house, you get 1 point. Use your Saturn multiplier and score.
For each of the 5 different types of goods your cities with houses produce, you score 2 points (maximum = 10). Use your Mercury multiplier and score.
For each soldier and ship (“colonist”) you have on the main board, you score 2 points (maximum = 12). Use your Mars multiplier and score.
If you bought any of the green Minerva specialist cards, you get points as indicated on the card(s). Use your Minerva multiplier and score.
The player with the most points is the winner. If there is a tie, the winner is the player who owns the Praefectus Magnus card. If that isn’t one of the tied players, the win goes to the player who would next have received that card as it is passed around to the right (counterclockwise).
Is Concordia a Good Game?
Well, I already mentioned at the start that I thought this was a good game. Will you think it’s a good game? That will depend if you like this style of game, of course.
Concordia means “harmony” or literally “with the heart”. There is only a little interaction in Concordia, so you will most often play the game in harmony with each other. You can’t lock someone out of a city. You can only make it more expensive by getting there first.
Probably the most contentious thing is buying a new card that someone else was hoping to get before you. Even then, they can still use that card during the game (after you do) by playing their Diplomat.
I’ve still only played Concordia a handful of times, but it seems that the winner is often someone who can collect a relatively large number of one type/color of god cards and then maximize the points awarded by that type of card.
I want to play Concordia many more times to see if this is really true.