Age of Renaissance (Video Review & Play Through)
In Age of Renaissance, each player takes the role of one of six commercial capitals of Europe: Venice, Genoa, Barcelona, London, Paris, andHamburg. Initially each player controls one city, their capital. As the game progresses, each player’s financial empire grows to a larger number of cities which provide income each turn. Each region where a city can be established also produces one of a number of different commodities:stone, wool, timber, grain, wine, cloth, metal, fur, silk, spice, gold, or ivory. Control of commodities doesn’t do anything alone, but when a commodity card is played, every player with stakes in that commodity cashes in. Commodities and income from cities provide players with their two main sources of income. Players then use that money to buy counters to expand their empire, and to buy civilization advances that have various effects on the game.
There is a deck of cards that players draw from. Once the deck is depleted, a new batch of cards (and some of the used cards) are shuffled in and the game progresses to the second epoch. Once the deck is depleted again, more new cards (and again some of the used cards) are shuffled to form a new deck for the third epoch. Once the deck is depleted a third time, the game ends and the player with the highest score wins. Score is determined by adding up the values of a player’s advances and cash, less a penalty for the “misery” of their people. The rules also suggest shorter versions of the game that end after either one or two epochs.
The game has many complexities and interesting rules that add to the gameplay. For instance, each player secretly bids for the number of units they want to control in a given turn. The player with the fewest units goes first, and the player with the most goes last. However, the rules for combat give a significant advantage in effectiveness to the players going early in a turn rather than later, leaving players with an interesting choice. Another noteworthy rule is the clever requirement that all diplomacy take place in the open at the table, which dramatically improves gameplay by keeping things moving.
Strategically, it is critical in a game of Age of Renaissance to recognize the player in the lead. There are many cards that can significantly hurt a specific player, and these are best used to keep the leader(s) in check lest they run away with the game.
I use the term ‘review’ a bit differently from most game reviewers.
The reason lies in the history of how these came about (along with a demand for semantic precision). My videos started out as pure DARs (During Action Reports – based on the wargaming concept of AARs). People wanted me to try and distill some of the commentary and impressions which surfaced during those, and requested a formal ‘review’ of the session – and the game itself. Given that my reviews didn’t provide a good overview of the rules that many were familiar with, further requests expanded to include that – but I cheat on these, using them to improve my own understanding of the game.
How should you use these? Damned if I know. Some people want to see the rules overview in the intro.Some desire the thoughts in the review. Some want the whole replay, so they can see how I got from point A to B. Do keep in mind however, in my mind; the DAR is indeed the heart of this. I’m inviting you into my game. If you don’t want the whole thing, hey, I understand (I wouldn’t want it all), but by the time of the review, I’ll be referring back to events in the playthroughs.