The new Doge has invited you to attend a prestigious masquerade ball at his palace during the Carnival of Venice! It’s the perfect escape from the boredom of noble life, and it provides an ideal opportunity to conspire your way to a position of power! While the various guilds mingle under the moonlit arcades of the ducal palace, you must utilize every means at your disposal to gain their support.
Masques is a card game in which two to four players take on the roles of influential families as they plot, scheme, and outmaneuver their opponents for the favor of powerful Venetian guilds. Formerly released in 2010 as Intrigo, Masques lets you hire agents to carry out your dirty work assassinating, wooing, and robbing members of the court as you work to become the secret power behind the throne!
Manipulation at the Masquerade
As the head of an ambitious Venetian family, you have sent your most influential representatives to mingle at the Doge’s masquerade ball. By cleverly positioning these guests (and by manipulating the guests of your opponents), you’ll vie for the attention of Venice’s elite guild masters, ensuring the most political power for your family!
Gameplay revolves chiefly around the clever use of guest cards with varying levels of influence. Players begin by arranging palace cards, representing the rooms of the manor, in a large square. Each of these rooms offer guild favor or valuable ducats to be won by ambitious nobles. The spaces between each palace card represent the hallways of the Doge’s estate - the areas in which guest cards are placed to compete for adjacent resources.
At the start of the first round, the first player shuffles the deck of guest cards and deals four to each player. Each guest card has an influence value ranging from two to four, and higher influence means greater clout at court. Each player’s hand consists of a mix of cards representing members of any of the families currently in play. Use a rival family’s guest cards against them, and watch for chances to set up your own house for success.
The guest cards are played in the palace hallways in order to compete for the ducats and tokens of guild influence contained therein. While money is nice (we’ll see more on where to spend your ducats later), getting into the good graces of the guilds of Venice is the key to success in this power grab. The guilds consist of the clergy, the vintners, the merchants, the military, and the scribes. A player can win by currying favor with these powerful groups in one of two ways. If you want to cast a wide net with your influence, then you can seal your path to greatness by gaining at least one guild token with four out of the five guilds. If you’d rather focus the efforts of your manipulations, muster all your strength with a single backer by gaining four guild tokens for any one guild.
Dirty Deeds Done for Ducats
The nobles aren’t the only ones looking to get ahead at the masquerade ball. The palace abounds with opportunistic commoners whose loyalty can be bought for a bit of coin. Accruing ducats is the only way to secure the skills of nefarious agents, allowing a savvy schemer to frustrate the plans of his opponents and create advantageous situations for himself. These agent cards will give you a leg up on your competition.
- The Assassin forces a player to flip over any guest card adjacent to it, neutralizing any influence that they might have had.
- A Courtesan can call out any guest card not currently in play and forces the hapless attendee to accompany her by occupying a space adjacent to the agent.
- The gregarious Gondolier is capable of swapping any adjacent guest card with any other guest card on the board.
- If a player bribes the Palace Guard, he can have a guest card adjacent to the Guard escorted to any empty hallway in the palace.
- The Thief slips in and flips one of the two tokens adjacent to it, either a ducat or a bit of guild favor, thereby negating the prize for any would be winners.
- If you’d rather win favor than riches, or if you’d rather the opposite for your rivals, a Trader can swap any adjacent token with any other token on the board.
Take care to time your purchases wisely, however, as each time you buy the services of an agent, that individual’s price goes up in cost, and each agent can only be used three times.
The Doge’s masquerade is sure to be a lively one with all of this action behind the scenes! Frustrate the plots and schemes of your rivals as you manipulate, maneuver, and bribe your way to power in the cutthroat Venetian court in the mysterious game of Masques!
45 - 60 minutes
2 - 4 players
The copyrightable portions of Masques are © 2013 Dust Games Ltd. © 2013 Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc. Masques is a trademark of Dust Games Ltd. Fantasy Flight Supply is a trademark of Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved to their respective owners.