If you’ve been reading my beginner reviews, then you should have a good handle on German-style games by now. And if you can handle those, then you’re ready for a slightly bigger challenge with The Princes of Florence.
Picture it – the Italian Renaissance. As a wealthy patron, you want to encourage culture in the city of Florence by providing a proper environment for creativity. You may have artists, craftsmen and scientists working in and around your palazzo, but they each have their own peculiar preferences. Some may like a quiet park, others crave the freedom to travel and others may need a proper studio.
Each one of 7 rounds begins with an auction phase. Players bid on landscapes and jesters, but also can choose to hire other professionals. In addition there are two special types of cards that are up for bids – a Recruitment card (where you can hire an opponent’s professional) or a Prestige card (which can give you bonus points at the end of the game). The other crucial thing up for bid is a Builder – depending on the number of Builders you employ, you can reduce the price of Buildings, and allow you to place them in adjacent spaces on your game board. But only one of each type of item can be won each round, so the bidding can get very competitive!
In the second phase, each player can perform 2 actions. Your options are to buy and place a Building, a Freedom (Travel, Religion and Opinion), Bonus cards (which I’ll explain in a minute), or produce a work.
To produce a work, you select one of your professionals to do their thing (write a play, for example). A professional creates a work of greater value based on how happy he is in your space – the value increases if you have the right combination of Freedom, Building and Landscape, as well as for any Jesters you employ. But each round the minimum Work Value you must achieve increases, so it becomes more difficult as the game progresses. This is where Bonus cards come in – they can potentially increase the value of your work. As an example, a card may say that you can increase the Work Value by 2 for each type of Landscape you have on your property.
At the end of the phase, the player who produced the highest valued work earns bonus victory points. Then each player is given an amount of money equal to the value of his work. However, this is where you must make a crucial decision – you can elect to take only part of the money, and instead take the difference in victory points, at a rate of 2 to 1. For example, if your Work Value was 16, you could choose to only take 10 Florins, and then trade the balance (6 Florins) to take 3 victory points. Victory points can also be earned for placing buildings, for placing more than one of the same type of Landscape, or through Prestige cards that you have fulfilled at the game’s end. And naturally, the player with the most victory points wins the game.
The Princes of Florence is a good match for players with moderate to advanced experience in gaming. This game is pretty easy to pick up the first time, although strategy and intricacies will take time to learn. It is designed for 2-5 players; I definitely prefer it with either 4 or 5. This is a medium-length game, which can run from 60 – 90 minutes depending on how quickly the bidding goes. The Princes of Florence is published by Rio Grande Games.
If you are ready for a game that offers a good amount of interaction and a low element of luck, then I heartily recommend this one. This is one of our regular favorites, assuming we’re ready to scream and shout a little bit during fierce auctions!