“None of the principal states were armed with their own proper forces. Thus the arms of Italy were either in the hands of the lesser princes, or of men who possessed no state; for the minor princes did not adopt the practice of arms from any desire of glory, but for the acquisition of either property or safety. The others (those who possessed no state) being bred to arms from their infancy, were acquainted with no other art, and pursued war for emolument, or to confer honor upon themselves.”
- Niccolò Machiavelli, “History of Florence, book I, ch. vii”
It is 13th century Italy. Trade is flourishing between the city-states and the Levant. Venice, Florence, and Genoa are all bursting with wealth. However, each city-state is also plagued with a weak national army, leaving them defenseless against invasion from their envious neighbors. Enter the Condottiere.
As veteran English soldiers returned from the Crusades, Italy found itself with an influx of desperate and capable men. These hired swords were contracted to fight for individual city-states by an agreement known as a condotta. The most elite of these men were the mercenary leaders known as the Condottiere.
Become one of these elite mercenary leaders in Condottiere, a clever card game of bluffing and military strategy for 2-6 players. Each player takes on the role of a Condottiere out to claim the most land for their noble patron. Utilizing easy-to-learn card play mechanics, Condottiere is a quick game of conquest and territory control.
Condottiere comes with a deck of custom cards containing cards for mercenaries, seasons, scarecrows, and political figures. These cards are used to resolve battles. Victories result in the winner claiming control of the contested region. Whoever has the most regions wins. However, players controlling adjacent regions need to control less regions to win. Only the most daring Condottiere spreads his armies too far apart.
Battles are played out by each player choosing to play one card from their hand into their battle line, or opting to pass instead. This continues around the table until the battle is ended, which can be when all but one of the players pass or when someone plays a Surrender card. Victory is determined by calculating and comparing the strength of each player’s battle line, with the highest total winning the battle, thus claiming the region.
While they might seem rather straightforward, battles can quickly become a game of strategic bluffing. Certain cards can quickly turn the tide of battle, such as the Scarecrow card that allows the player to return a mercenary card from his battle line back into his hand. Or the Drummer that doubles the strength of mercenaries in the controller’s battle line. With only a certain number of these cards in play you can constantly keep your opponents wondering what tactics you have up your sleeve.
Also included in Condottiere is a colored map of Italy on a fold out game board. This board is used to track which players control which territories, distinguished by colored markers. This simple component adds a visual flavor that enhances the game’s theme, giving players a sense that they are in fact a group of Condottiere planning their military efforts across Italy.