Another one I’ve never played in real life, this was a pleasant surprise. I’m glad my first experience of Medici was on the iPad though, as the math-heavy and time consuming scoring is ideal for the format.
The game is quite basic in terms of actions you can take. Each round, players take it in turn to choose a number of goods randomly, up to 3, and bids are placed by all players, with the player who chose the goods bidding last (and hence getting final say so they can always outbid somewhere). The goods have varying values, from 0-5. The player who wins the bid then takes the goods they bought and places them in their trading boat. The trading boat can hold a maximum of 5 goods, so if you’ve already got 3 in there and the current bid is for 3 goods, you cannot bid. When all trading boats are full, or there are no more goods left (which occurs because no one bids on a particular good – they are thrown into the sea), then scores are tallied. This is the difficult bit, and I would have really appreciated a “tutorial mode” which explains WHY I’m getting so few points compared to player 2.
So, point scoring works as follows:
- Remember I said the goods have values? Well, points – sorry, Florins – are awarded for who has obtained the highest total value of goods each day when boats are unloaded. The player with the highest total value gets a whopping 30 Florins, while the player with the least value gets nothing. There are Florins for everyone inbetween though.
- Next, the quantity of goods is tallied. There are 5 different varieties. Florins are awarded to whoever has obtained the most of each good. There are 15 Florins for each good to be awarded, shared and rounded down in the case of a draw. The player with most (if there is only 1) gets 10, with the player who has the second highest quantity getting 5. As is often the case, 2nd place may be shared by 3 or more players, in which case the 5 is divided and each player gets just 1 point.
- There are bonus points for obtaining quite a lot of a single type of good – I think it’s from 6 onwards that you get bonuses (5,10,20 max)
- There are only 3 days (rounds) and then a total is revealed
Remember, the little numbers on the goods are the VALUE of that particular batch, not the quantity. The QUANTITY of one goods crate is always 1. The circular scoring chart is based on QUANTITY, not value. The value is only relevant when considering who has purchased the highest values (total) in one particular day. This is key to understanding the mechanics.
The graphics are clean and effective, with the whole game taking place on one functional but beautiful main screen. The graphic used to show receiving of points could be a little more creative than simple floating white text though – maybe a coin with a big number in the middle. My only real serious gripe in terms of the interface – one that could easily deter new players if they lacked determination – is that the text on the tutorial / help screen is so tiny that it renders it virtually unreadable, and there’s simple too much of it. In my opinion, most game designers could do with taking a page out of Small World’s instruction booklet, which is so good you actually want to read to the end.
The multiplayer options are limited to pass and play, which seems a little lazy given how easy networked gaming would be with this kind of game.
Additionally, the game makes no attempt to remember scores and winners. Again, this just seems a little lazy, especially given the otherwise simplicity of the game and especially considering the price.
Given the unreadable rules, I still didn’t understand how the scoring works after about 10 games – yes, I really should have read them, and frankly I was at the point of writing it off as a bad game and giving it 1 star rating. My wife however, who is Chinese and unable to read the English rules even if she wanted too, had figured out the scoring patterns after only a few games – so perhaps it isn’t as hard to grasp as I think. She explained it to me quite throughly, and then… well, then I was hooked. It’s such a simple game, with little variety in game actions (you just bid on goods, then take them if you win) – but I’m still scheming up my next winning strategy even as I sit writing this. I have yet to win a single game against my wife! For me, that makes it a winner…
For some though, the simplistic gameplay might be a bit of a turnoff. It’s essentially quite an abstract game, despite the trading / shipping theme tacked on.
It also has to be said that considering the iPhone / iPad HD version are sold separately, I think the price is far too high. Please developers, increasing the resolution of the same game is not justification for making a separate app, and certainly not for making it more expensive. If you want to charge $5-$10 for an iPad app, then you damn well better throw in the iPhone version too.
Disagree with me, or feel you have something to add that I haven’t mentioned? Please leave a comment and be sure to rate this gameMedici,