Medici is a strategic game based on combats and diplomacy. It's a game initially designed for 6 players. The rules are simple and the game is fast (around 45 minutes and not 2 hours as written on the box). The game material is nice and it's easy to use it for game variants.
The box illustration is really nice and unusual: It's probably a queen in armour (or a young king). I tried to find some images from kings and queens of the middle age and the renaissance, starting with Catherine de Medicis of course, but I did not find anybody looking like this picture. The most similar was a statue of Blanche d'Evreux from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New-York. But Blanche d'Evreux was not a warrior at all.
Opening of the box
There was 2 different boxes similar externally. The box with the white interior was the first edited, with a rulebook in 4 languages. The box with the red interior was the second edited. The rulebook was only in French but it included the advanced rules.
The counter tray was clearly better in the second edition.
Each player starts the game on the rectangle above his coat of arms.
The counters illustration is the same for each player, only the colour background is different.
Other counters: The Medicis Pope King of France Arabs Emperor
The first edited rulebook is not sufficient. So I rebuild the second rulebook in French and in English.
Each player starts the game on the rectangle above his coat of arms with 6 "regular army" counters. During each turn:
- he builds alliances,
- he buys mercenary counters (3 coins per counter)
- he moves his counters: he throws 2 dice that will give his movement factor to be spend fully during the turn (without possibility to do a U-turn).
- he collects as much coins as he has a regular army alone in an area
- he resolves the combats.
The game material is very nice and the rules are simple. It's possible to imagine variants around rules coming from Risk-like boardgames.
- this game is based on a random movement factor (2 dice to be fully spend) and combat solved without dice. In most of the strategic game, this is the opposite: fixed movement factor and dice used during the combats (like for Risk).
- in the end of the game, the movement makes problem because all the movement points have to be used. So the player is obliged to separate armies. But globally, facing a greater army, a weak player can only run away or lose.
- the alliances are mainly useful at the beginning of the game (with a side player) or in the end of the game (marriage between two weak players).
- the game was build for 4 5 or 6 players but it's easy to play with 3 players: each player takes 2 colours opposite one from the other. With 2 players, just use half of the board for each player (3 countries) and forget any alliance, just fight !
My variant proposals:
- About the mercenaries unit, the rule is unclear. To avoid long games, my proposal is the following: when a mercenary unit is lost in combat, he is removed from the game. So each player will receive a maximum of 6 mercenaries. The other possibility could be to put back in the bank the lost mercenaries. So it’s possible to buy them again and little armies may slowly rebuild forces.
- As a complementary point to the last proposal, when a player has bought his last mercenary unit, he stops to receive coins. This rule avoids building fortunes that may only be used for enemy corruption.
- The game very often starts by three « one on one » battles, on the external board frontier (black circle on the picture). It is fun to reduce the board: the black circle is forbidden. The player starts on the second rectangle above the coat of arms. So the armies are not far from each other, with many attack opportunities.
- The end of the game is decided between the players: when the game is not interesting anymore, the most powerful player is the winner.
- As a variant, we could use a fixed movement factor instead of dice (1,5 x the number of counters). But in fact, after some test, it’s not funny. But to my mind, the rules related to dice double (black plague and forced marches) increase to much the random aspects of the game and I do not use them: a double 1 is already a serious handicap during one turn !
- A weak player has no fun in the end of the game, because there is no possible chance in a combat resolution. So an interesting variant is to use the dice to resolve the combats, using the rules of the game risk (3 dice maximum against 2) or using the following table (or any kind of variant):
An article published in Jeux et Stratégie n°6 (Dec 1980 Jan 1981):
A game for 4, 5 or 6 players from 13 years on
Time of game: 2 to 3 hours
Medici on boardgamegeek
Medici on spotlightongames
Medici on Jeuxsoc
Medici on trictrac
A game start:
Here is the board after the first turn. The pope (in yellow) is already in a bad situation: he is attacking the king of France and he is attacked by the Medicis (in Red). During the second turn, he should have stopped the attack against France but he did not make it, he became weak and finally lose.
The winner was the Arab (green). He avoids to fight as long as possible, by creating an heavy defence in the direction of the Emperor (in Black). On the other side, he just waited until the king of France lost some forces against the Pope.
Some price (2004-2006):
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