Mac Gerdts. The type of guy that in another universe is being played in a movie by John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, or maybe Billy Zane. The very name strikes fear into those who wander the streets of gameland avoiding anything vaguely circular, around which you can move up to three segments at a time.
But fear not, Rondelphobes, because here into the light of the table comes Concordia, Mac's latest effort that dispenses with the rondel entirely in favour of a A Castle For All Seasons type card-management thingy (other comparisons are available). In ACfaS you decide which card to play and reveal simultaneously, and at some point you play a card (Master Builder) that allows you to return your used cards to your hand. In Concordia, you play cards alternately, and at some point you play the Tribune - which allows you to return your used cards to your hand.
But apart from that it's nothing like A Castle For All Seasons, which despite mine and Andrew's soft spot for it, has proved a bit of a dud for more than two players at GNN.
There are two sides to the Concordia board - Italy (2-4 players) or Europe (3-5). With the best will in the world Andrew and I couldn't pretend to be more than two people, so tonight we played Italy.
It's great. There is a page of set-up and then literally 4 pages (4 sides!) of rules. Admittedly the text is a little dense, but that's 14 pages less than Last Train to Nuremberg.
Despite the brevity, at the start I didn't really understand what the hell I was doing. Andrew professed to be in the same boat, but he certainly wasn't staring at his cards with the same stupid expression I was. It took a few rounds but suddenly everything clicked. This is what you do.
1. Play a card on your turn and do what it says.
2. If you played a Prefect and you were in possession of the Magnus card, double your goods rewards and pass the Magnus card to your right.
That's pretty much it. The theme is fairly light - we didn't really register it - but you're kind of expanding with colonists, building houses and getting resources. Very Euro-y and maybe not one on Gonz's Christmas list, for instance. But for those who like a bit of juggling short-term rewards with long-term gains and a nippy speed-of-play it was actually quite rewarding.
I thought from about a third of the way through the game that Andrew was going to cakewalk it - but the one thing I did concentrate on paid off - the end-game scoring.
Each card in your hand - as well as being something you play in the game - represents a God; and the Gods supply your end-game bonuses, which are varied depending on what you've done in the game and what cards you've ended up with. So extra cards bought in the game will both reward you and notify your opponents of your strategy. I'd got 5 of the 7 Saturn cards, which rewarded expansion - and I'd expanded into all of Italy's territories bar one.
It was enough - just - to overhaul Andrew's multiple bonuses:
We were both impressed with this one. The feeling on BGG is it's fast-moving but quite long, and I can certainly see that on a first play (we finished in about 90 minutes). But although it is long the downtime is pretty minimal and the board is really lovely. One for a Tuesday night soon!