Updated: Dec 4, 2019
Concordia (PD-Verlag) comes in a big box with a big board and lots of cards, cardboard and wooden pieces. It looks complicated. Looks can be deceiving, however.
Concordia is a game that’s remarkably easy to learn and play, but also a game where there is ample scope for strategy.
In this game you are growing a trading empire. The attractive colourful board displays provinces: on the Roman Empire on one side and just in Italy on the other. The double-sided board doesn’t just provide variety: the Italy board has fewer provinces and so is more suited to play with fewer players. There are two or three cities in each province, and what each produces is randomised in every game.
Players start with a hand of ‘personality’ cards. Each turn, players play one of these cards and take the action set out on that card. These can variously include moving colonists and building trading houses in adjacent cities, placing out more colonists, trading goods, buying higher powered cards from the board, replicating the action taken by another player, and picking up the cards that have already been played.
Because the actions each turn are simple, play is usually brisk. It only slows a little when players pause to read the new personality cards that get laid out for purchase, or when a previous player’s movement has effectively blocked a route another player had planned to take.
Personality cards that are bought using an action each bear the name of a Roman god. Scores at the end of the game are calculated by multiplying the number of cards a player has for each god by the scoring condition for that god. Saturnus, for example, scores a player a victory point for every different province in which he has a trading house, so a player ending the game with houses in eight different provinces and with two personality cards assigned to Saturnus, would score 16 victory points.
Quite often games themed around trade become tussles of attrition where it can be a struggle to eke out resources sufficiently to survive. Not so in Concordia. In this game, every action you take rewards you with some benefit: the trick is in maximising the opportunities you are given with every card you play.
The most unusual thing about Concordia is that no scores are calculated till the game ends and it may not be entirely obvious who is winning until those final scores are calculated. Few players will remember exactly how many of each god card every player has accumulated. Since it may be within a player’s power (through their actions) to hasten the game’s end, this injects a tension to the endgame that is lacking in games where the score is recorded through the course of play.
The 360º Board's Eye View photo shows the standard game but expansions have introduced several alternative (two-sided) boards. You can now choose to play using a Britannia board (Germania on the other side), Byzantium or Hispania boards, and Gallia or Corsica boards. A new Egypt/Crete board has also now been added to the range.
The Concordia Salsa expansion also introduced salt as a ‘wild card’ resource and forum cards which added special abilities. The forum cards add a little to Concordia’s complexity and do noticeably slow play but not so much as to bog the game down.