09 November 2017
A small game that deserves a big place in your heart
Medici: The Card Game is an outstanding stripped-back version of Reiner Knizia’s classic auction title that’s quickly becoming one of my favourite travel games.
I say ‘stripped-back’ – Medici was hardly the most complex title to begin with. Significantly, Medici: TCG takes out the original’s bidding between players over a variety of goods – spice, dye, furs, silk and grain – to create an interesting press-your-luck variant built around the ‘shall I, shan’t I’ decision of drawing up to three cards each turn.
Players are forced to claim the last card they reveal, but can also choose to take either, both or neither of the two preceding cards – including those drawn by other players. This change shifts the dynamic between players away a little from head-to-head competition to a more nuanced and strategic position, with the role of luck making for a tense and thrilling half-hour.
Players only get a certain amount of room on their ship to fill up, but new bonus cards grant goods that don’t take up any space, encouraging more ballsy play when it comes to drawing cards.
With enough wiggle room to avoid too many frustrating forced pickups and the interesting division of points scoring between ship value and stored goods, this remains a game of strategy rather than luck – but the random aspects add in a sense of amusement and pace that some may have found was missing from the drier original.
The top-notch presentation completes the package, with the simplified set of cards improving hugely on the unnecessarily complicated (and often ugly) visuals of Medici’s scoring pyramid boards. The box could be a little better at holding them, but it's hardly a problem.
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve played the original Medici or not – this compact spin-off absolutely deserves the small space it will fill in both your collection and your heart.
Publisher: Grail Games
Genre: Set collection
Time: 30-45 minutes
This review originally appeared in the October/November 2017 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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