Michele Quondam


No. of Players:
2 - 4



The Italian publisher GIOCHIX had introduced its resource management cardgame Medievalia at the SPIEL 2007, and because of some ambiguity and unsolved questions in the rulebook the online version of the rules has seen quite an evolution over the last two years. GIOCHIX was eager to improve on the clarity and quality of the rules as much as possible, and here it proved to be a blessing that the playing cards in the game do not contain any text, but instead all possible uses of a card are shown by symbols. Thus, the rules have seen several new versions and clarifications, and in Summer 2009 GIOCHIX even moved on to a new second edition rulebook, making some considerable changes especially to the mechanics around the playing decks while at the same time retaining the identical set of playing cards. It is great to see that a publisher still invests so much time after a game was released in order to improve it as much as possible...

As might be guessed by the title of this expansion, the included 80 cards are used to enhance player interaction in the game. In a way, this was a necessary step because the rules of basic game basically intended interaction to appear through military conflicts between the players, but quite often the players restrained from using their military forces because of the fear of a quick defeat and thus concentrated on securing victory by a build-and-defend strategy. Thus, "turteling" was and is a valid option in the basic game, leaving interaction as a voluntary option to those who are more war-minded.

Remembering the ancient first version of the Warcraft computer game, the two networked players in this game also followed a military buildup strategy for the first half of the game. However, playing fun and interactivity considerably increased during the second half, since the game only could be won through an ultimate military defeat of the other player. Thus, players had to invest in offensive and defensive capabilities alike, and although Medivalia as a cardgame hardly can be compared to a computer game, I would have wished nonetheless for more incentives and powers which push Medievalia players into the same general direction.

As it seems, my silent wishes have been heard, and now I had my first chance to test the new Medievalia Action. It has been a long wait after the initial proclamation of an upcoming expansion had been made at the SPIEL last year, but as it seems the waiting time was worthwhile. In effect, the expansion adds 3 new buildings and 3 new characters to the game, but its backbone are a total of 18 different action cards which are meant to increase interactivity.

Here the revisioning of the first edition rules proved to be invaluable, since the use of this new type of cards required a re-structuring of the card-drawing mechanism in order to prevent the game to become too much luck dependent. Thus, apart from the already known separate building decks the players now also can chose to draw cards from a Civil Character deck, a Military deck or an Action deck. This separation of the main deck into several decks was absolutely necessary to retain some degree of control on the balancing of a player's hand of cards, but at the same time it also allows the players some general strategic orientation since they now have the option to draw from specific piles instead of totally relying on their luck.

The different available actions range from straightforward options like a temporary boosting of a character's attack or defense capabilities, the stealing of a card or the forced discarding of cards to slightly more complex changes of conditions like the doubling of maintenance costs for a full round, the recruitment of mercenaries for gold or a temporary peace declared by the Church. Due to the number of available actions the game gets somewhat less predictable and players may be faced more often with unexpected situations, but at the same time this comparatively small reduction of stability really increases interaction and playing fun. It now becomes possible to catch other players unaware with small surprises, a factor which was missed quite strongly once the basic game had been played several times in a row without any player going for an attack. And if action cards are played in a proper sequence, the surprise may even get bigger!

As indicated, the GIOCHIX team has tried to counterbalance the increase of luck by separating the available cards for drawing into several different decks, and first playtesting revealed that this comparatively easy change of the game's setup really adds some stability at that point of the playing mechanism. However, there also are some subtle incentives which gently push the players into more confrontational play, and here for example the new Innkeeper character can be mentioned, since players with this character gain a free action card when the Innkeeper is activated. Likewise, an action card can be acquired by discarding only two hand cards, and thus it is cheaper in comparison to cards from the other decks.

Overall, I will gladly make the step forwards to use Medievalia with the new edition rules and the expansion set. As I had drawn the comparison with ancient Warcraft the entertainment value of the game has been increased considerably, although the chances to win or loose now are a bit less calculable. But here the individual preference of other players is a matter of taste!

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

[Gamebox Index]

Google Custom Search

Impressum / Contact Info / Disclaimer


Copyright © 2010 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany