CONCORDIA Published by PD verlag. Designed by Mac Gerdts. Price on Amazon: £49.00
CONCORDIA was first published around 2014, and my thoughts on playing it now that it has been launched again are "How the heck did I miss this Gem first time round?" There is a solid Ancient Roman theme that is adhered to throughout (with perhaps a little leeway here and there) and you get the feel that this is a deliberate proposition and not just chrome added to a game mechanic.
It is played on a double-sided board, the general side to use is the World according to Ancient Europe. The slightly harder game is played on the flip side, which is an expanded Italy. Both maps show the available routes - brown for overland and blue for sea travel - that the player's Colonists use for exploration. These routes are made of small square dots, but no matter the length of the journey the distance between two Cities is always just one movement point. Players have as many MPs as they have Colonists on the map.
Each player has their own colour components, meeple Colonists and ship Colonists, plus a set of colour coded starter cards.
The game's components are impressive in number. In design they are regular, basic meeples (ships, people, wheat sheafs, houses etc), a deck of cards, resource tokens, and cardboard coins. That's not a bad thing in any way, shape or form. They are easily recognisable for what they represent, they are made of coloured wood - each resource being a different shape and colour.
So I guess this is one time when the old chestnut 'colour me impressed' is actually true and of value.
So let's take a look at the rules, the mechanics, the lifeblood of every great game.
Rule 1. Play a card from your hand and do what it says on it.
Rule 2. Refer to Rule 1.
There is an amount of random in CONCORDIA, but only in the setup. What there isn't is a lot of (or any) luck; what happens in the game depends entirely on the card/s you play and the actions you take.
It isn't cooperative, it is challenging and competitive, and there are several ways to frustrate your opponents without ruining their game. I really like that you can cause minor upsets that mean opponents may have to rethink their strategy.
Frustration Fact: You only have a finite number of resource spaces on your player board, so it is often that you find opponents playing cards which create resources that you cannot take, even when you need them. In fact it's fun to play a card to hand out free resources when you know darn well that another player who desperately needs that resource cannot take it. Resources can be traded/sold by playing a Mercator card but may never be discarded. To gain more space for resources on your player board you have to get more Colonists on the board - each Colonist takes up one resource space.
CONCORDIA has elements of man management, resource management, card management, deck-building and area control.
Man Management: You have 6 Colonists each. 3 sea and 3 land. Once placed on the board they can be moved accordingly by the previously mentioned tracks. Each Colonist on the board gives you one MP that can be used on one or many Colonists.
Resource Management: Brick, Food, Tools, Wine and Cloth are all needed, usually a Brick and another resource (depending on what the city trades in) to build houses in different cities (each player may only build one house per city).
Card Management/Deck Building: Each player begins with their own set of 7 cards - each set being the same - and then buys cards from the display. Buying cards seems expensive at first as the cost is in resources (which are already quite difficult to gather) but you really need to boost your personal deck as many of the cards available will boost your score.
We really like the fact that although you build a deck by buying cards you get to choose the cards you want to play, no hoping the right combination will come along. However, once played the card stays played until you play the Tribune card. Playing this card counts as your turn but it does return all played cards to your deck.
Area Control. Playing a Prefect card gives either a cash bonus or, usually better still, all the resources from his houses in one of the Provinces (as long as the Province is still providing). If the player also has the Praefectus Magnus card - this passes round player to player on being used - in which case the player receives one extra resource.
The rules are easy to learn - already stated, play a card and activate its action - all it takes is a little time to acclimatise yourself with the different Personality cards (basically these are the cards you buy from the display and those in your starting hand).
Random: During setup the City Resource tiles are shuffled face down and placed one per City before being flipped over. Then the highest valued resource is located in each Province and the associated resource tile is positioned in the display at the top of the board. One of the player's actions can be to flip over one of these tiles and gain Bonus resources or, if there are tiles already face down (showing a coin value) then you can flip them all back up and collect the value of all the coins on show - gaining money in CONCORDIA is not easy and this is one very good way of adding to your bank. It's also a very good action to take if the next player after you really needs cash because you can keep them in the red.
For a game with so simple basic rules there is a lot of options for each player. The start player begins with less coins than the other players (+1 per player going round the table) but has the advantage of being able to select a route from all available. When you place/move a Colonist you can build a House on one or both of the Cities the track joins, as long as you have the necessary resources - which is possible if the City tiles have landed in harmony.
When moving a Colonist you move one piece of track at a time but can never land on the same piece of track as another Colonist (even your own) though passing pieces is allowed.
I have played this with core gamers and with fringe gamers, and everyone agrees that it is an excellent game-session's entertainment that all players can enjoy. It plays okay as a 2 player game but really needs 4 players for you to really get your teeth into it, and for the fun stuff to truly kick-in.
Is there anything I would change? Ther answer to that question is surprisingly 'yes'. Instead of having a score track around the board taking up 336 square centimeters, you only need pen and paper and there is no need for the optional mid-way scoring, I would have expanded the map so that the Starting Point of ROMA would be less congested by Player Colonists.
Thoroughly enjoyable and a real delight to play, CONCORDIA is a game I have no problem recommending.
Reference note from Wikipedia:
Concordia, a game about economics during the Roman Empire, is one of Mac's few games that does not employ a rondel. It was nominated for the Spiel des Jahres prize in the category Kennerspiel des Jahres (Connoisseur-Enthusiast Game of the Year)