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Subject: Ancient Rome Engine Builder with Stone Age & Power Grid ties rss

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Bob Blaser
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Concordia Game Review
Designer: Mac Gerdts
Publisher: Rio Grande Games
Date of Release: 2013

I have come to learn that I love “Engine Building” games. The spark came to me with Marvel Dice Masters in 2015. The fire grew with Orleans in 2016. I began to search for more of a similar type and the next game that I learned of was Concordia. My only problem was, it was out of print. I could only find copies which sold for more than $100, but I opted to wait. After what seem like an interminable delay, the game was reprinted and in 2017 I acquired a copy.

I was not disappointed.

I continue to find that I do very much enjoy the engine building games.
Concordia is set in the ancient Roman empire and as a player, you are building a trade empire. You start with a hand of cards which act as agents (personalities) of your organization, each allow you to perform a key task, like moving settlers, building trade houses or buying/selling goods. In a cool mechanic, these cards also serve as the victory point multipliers at the end of the game.

There are as many paths to victory in Concordia as there are many trade routes to ply. To be successful you may wish to diversify and build trade houses in different cities to gain access to a variety of goods. Alternatively, you may wish to focus on one single type of good, like cloth or wine, and specialize. You will need to move quickly as your opponents will be also be expanding. You are never cut off or completely excluded from building in a city, but coming late to the party will cost you much more to set up shop. Will you focus on one area of the map, or will you be able to expand?

What do I like about this game?

Every game is different. When you set up a game of Concordia the trade goods are semi-randomly placed, matching the letter of the city. The available personality cards are randomized each game. While you start with a certain, fixed hand of cards, those which you can purchase are different.

There is no luck in this game. No rolling of dice.

You will need to think ahead. Want to set up a trading house in a city? You are going to need certain goods to be able to do it. You will also need to be in position and you will need to have the money on hand. It may take several actions set up strategically in order to allow you to do what you want, when you want to do it. You have limited space in your warehouse, so you cannot hold unlimited resources. Need money or certain key resources? When you go to the market you can only buy or sell two types of goods. That may mean that you might not be able to sell the goods that you have on hand in order to buy everything that you will need. You will need to time the card playing correctly in order to be able to pull this action off. This may lead to frustration for some players.

You cannot be cut off. Ever play Settlers of Catan and because you could not get wood or clay you couldn’t build any roads to expand? Then some jerk hemmed you in so you had to sit there for the hour (or more) without a prayer of winning? In Concordia you cannot be cut off. You can always go around or through the other players and then build somewhere else. It may ultimately cost you more, but at least you are not completely hosed. In this fashion, this game reminds me of Power Grid, which is one of my favorite games.

It is natural tendency to build your trade houses in cities that are close together, because your settler is there. However, if you alone have trade houses in a province, then there is no motivation for other players to trigger that province to produce goods. In other words, it can be good to settle amongst your rivals. If they trigger production for their own cities to produce this will aid you by also triggering your cities in the same province to produce goods.

You can focus on getting victory points in areas where you are strong. The personality cards each have a victory point multiplier on the bottom of the card. One might reward you more for having a diverse trade good production. Another will reward you for having trade houses in different provinces on the board. You may seek out and purchase personality cards which will help augment your score for the areas where you are strong. In this way Concordia reminds me a lot of Stone Age where all players strive to purchase the cards to pad their score at the end of the game.

The artwork and component quality of the game are excellent.

The game is well supported by the publisher. At the time of this writing there are five expansions available to purchase to add longevity and new options to enjoy the game. Again, this reminds me of Power Grid with the new expansion maps.

The game is very approachable. I have played with a variety of different players of different ages and interests and this game has won a lot of praise. Even though I have played the most, I have only won a few times. I take away from this that the game is relatively easy to learn and there are a lot of different paths to victory. The rule book is only a few pages long. The rules are clear and we have had no unanswered questions or uncertainties.

As I mentioned earlier, I have come to learn that I really enjoy engine building games and I feel that Concordia is a strong offering in that arena. It may be a little challenging to acquire a copy, but I highly recommend it. With the expansions and the solid gameplay, I feel that it will have a long play life.

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Ryucoo
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StormShadow wrote:


There are as many paths to victory in Concordia as there are many trade routes to ply. To be successful you may wish to diversify and build trade houses in different cities to gain access to a variety of goods. Alternatively, you may wish to focus on one single type of good, like cloth or wine, and specialize.



Lolz, just chinwagging on a thread about this - in my opinion there aren't "many paths to victory" at all. This is not to slight the game, I think it's great. But it's really only one path that everyone is following, to build houses and buy cards, in order to score well in 6 criteria. Sure, your strategy may lean a little towards one category more than another, and my strategy might lean a little towards a different category, but in the end we are pretty much doing the same thing with only slight variance.

I mean, we will both be trying to build as many houses as possible (Jupiter). And we will inevitably try to end up in lots of different provinces (Saturn). By the end of the game good players will likely have picked up 4 or 5 different goods (Mercury). And to expand well players will have tried to get out as many colonists as they can (Mars). And it would be crazy not to try and pick up at least one specialist card (Minerva) which okay, means we might be going for a different good, but essentially one player going for wine and another going for cloth isn't really indicative of "multiple paths".

The game is about players getting evaluated in 6 different scoring conditions - but you can't really ignore any of them or follow just one or two - it's about examining your progress in each category and buying cards to maximise your variances or uptick your shortfalls. This gives the game a lot of strategic depth, but this isn't the same as breadth or multiple paths, imo.

Not knocking the game, just enjoy discussing it.
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Kevin Garnica
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StormShadow wrote:
The spark came to me with Marvel Dice Masters in 2015. The fire grew with Orleans in 2016.


"Concordia is the spark that will light the fire that will bring you more engine-builders."
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Ryucoo
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babydog wrote:
I'm not sure you are really building an engine.

This is also true. It’s weird how Concordia is so often described as things it isn’t. But maybe that’s what makes it special - it seems to scratch so many more itches than it should!
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If you specialise in at least one type of good, you can say you are building an engine.
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J. Atkinson
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Good review! I have to agree that I never thought of Concordia as an "engine-builder" per se, but I really do enjoy it. I also love how the Salsa expansion adds some variety. To scratch my engine-building itch, I prefer playing Terraforming Mars which also has a really good solo variant when I can't get anyone else to play
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Russ Williams
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A minor nitpick:
Quote:
There is no luck in this game. No rolling of dice.

Dice are not the only possible source of randomness in a game. The future cards come out during play in random order, so the game does have some "luck" = randomness.

I agree that there is no rolling of dice, however.

And I agree that Concordia is a very good game, with surprisingly short clear rules!
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alan beaumont
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Make your own luck
russ wrote:
A minor nitpick:
Quote:
There is no luck in this game. No rolling of dice.

Dice are not the only possible source of randomness in a game. The future cards come out during play in random order, so the game does have some "luck" = randomness.
Fully concur. This is why after set up you should take a good hard look at the card display in addition to the board, in deciding how to open.
 
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kos blaat
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love Concordia.
 
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tom tom
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Also love Concordia. Played the Aegyptus map today 2 player. FUN.
 
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