Dirk Hillebrecht


No. of Players:
2 - 4



"Mille Grazie", "Thousand Thanks" - that's the humorous way by which the gallant rogues of medieval Italy say goodbye to their robbed victims. And indeed, these times were dangerous for noblemen who wanted to travel from one city to another, since some foul scoundrels might be waiting right behind the next tree, ready for stealing the poor noble's purse…

The comparatively small novel game from ZOCH makes its players assume a double role: on the one hand the players take the dangerous position of noblemen who are daring travels from one city to another, but on the other hand each player also becomes a robber, ready to steal the purse from one of the other players' noblemen. All this action takes place on a small part of the Italian map, encompassing the area between Milano, Venezia, Firenze and San Marino. Each of the players receives one travel-card at the beginning of the game, and this card lists a starting city where the player places his nobleman figure, and a destination to which the nobleman wants to travel. These cards are placed openly in front of the players, so that everybody can see to which city the player's nobleman wants to travel. To finish preparations, four additional travel cards are also drawn from the deck, and these cards will be placed openly into the starting cities listed on each card.


A nobleman figure is moved during a player's turn, and apart from the active player all other players assume the roles of robbers. At the beginning of the game each player only possesses a single travel card which lists one destination to which the player's nobleman wants to travel, but if the nobleman should visit a city in which a travel card has been openly placed the player may opt to take this travel card as well, thus giving him an additional travel destination. If this happens, an additional new travel card is immediately revealed from the deck, since an equal level of four available travel cards is kept at all time.

As indicated, the travel cards list the destination(s) which a player wants to visit with his nobleman, and the players are free to hold up to three such travel cards at the same time. Whenever a nobleman successfully reaches one of his destinations, the player may discard the fitting travel card(s) listing that destination, and he may record some victory points as listed on each solved card.

During his turn, a player may opt to move his nobleman for a distance of up to five cities, but travelling is not as easy as it might sound. There are only a few roads which interconnect the different cities on the gameboard, and before the active player starts moving his nobleman he must give his fellow players time to decide on which roads they want to lie in ambush for the traveller. Thus, the robbers now have the possibility to openly discuss their strategy, and after they have finished their discussion each of the robbers must mark the road he wants to watch on a special "ambush-indicator" which lists all roads on the map. The discussion between the different robbers is one of the key elements of "Mille Grazie", since the active player will have a chance to listen to the plans of the robbers, and so a lot of bluffing is involved here. This effect is strengthened by the fact that the robbers are not bound by any announcement they make in the discussion, and so they may announce a placement at one road but instead place their robber at a quite different position.

When all robbers have chosen their roads, the active player can start moving his nobleman figure, moving from one city to the next in the hope of avoiding all possible ambushes. As indicated, the active player may move his figure for up to five cities, but he may also chose to hire a bodyguard for one specific leg of the voyage. A bodyguard can be hired for free, but the player's movement allowance will be shortened down to a maximum of four moves for the turn. To hire a bodyguard, the player simply announces his decision and secretly marks a road on his own ambush-indicator on which he wants to get the bodyguard.

When the nobleman is moved onto a road where one or more robbers are lying in ambush, the robbers will announce their presence by a joyful cry of "Mille Grazie!", meaning that the nobleman will lose one or more of his travel cards, and in addition each successful robber will receive a swag of three victory points which are marked on the victory points track. However, if the active player has hired a bodyguard, and if he should be escorted just on the current road, then he may announce the presence of his guard and the nobleman can pass the robbers' ambush unharmed.

Thus, the players have two options how to gain victory points. On the one hand they will receive points for each travel card they can cash in when reaching its destination city, and on the other hand points can be gained through successful robbing other players' noblemen. Regardless of the main source of a player's victory points - the first play to reach 30 victory points or more has instantly won the game.

Guessing, bluffing and second-guessing are the elements on which "Mille Grazie" lives, and playtesting quickly revealed that the game certainly is no strategic heavyweight, but instead a modern and communicative form of Don't worry! where the players try to outwit each other by the use of their communication skills. If played with a talkative gaming group who is enjoying this setting, some rather comic instant roleplaying can be experienced, but as indicated this depends very much on the taste of each individual player. A problem the game faces after several rounds is the somewhat monotonous course of action, since each players' turn is based on the same principles of discussion, movement and (possibly) scoring. Thus, the whole situation of travelling through Italy is reduced to a constant movement exercise, and after some time even the role-play elements will start to wear off. So, to keep a good fun factor, it seems advisable to put some resting periods between each game of "Mille Grazie"

[Gamebox Index]

Google Custom Search

Impressum / Contact Info / Disclaimer


Copyright © 2011 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany