Game Buzz: Council of Verona

I think it’s safe to say that, thanks to Love Letter, small games are very much in style right now.  Here’s another one on Kickstarter:

image by BGG user unlpat
image by BGG user unlpat

Council of Verona is a new game from designer Michael Eskue and Crash Games.  It’s a 2-4 player game that takes 20 minutes to play, amd is set in the world of Romeo and Juliet.  The council is one formed to mediate the conflict between the Montagues and Capulets.  Council of Verona comes with 13 cards and 16 influence tokens.  That’s it.  Each player begins with 3-4 influence tokens of one color (valued 0, 3, 4, and 5 – the 4 is taken out in 3-4 player games).  In a 3-4 player game, players will be dealt one card, then will draft 2-4 more depending on the number of players, with one card discarded from the game.  With two players, each gets to choose three cards of five, and gives the other two to their opponent.

You are attempting to collect the most influence points in the game.  On your turn, you will play one card, use the action, and place an influence token face down.  To play a card, you either put it in The Council (the center of the table) or into Exile (set to the side).  Taking an action is optional, and only applies if there’s an action on the card you play.  Placing an influence token is also optional, and can only be done on a character card that has an influence icon.  There are three available slots on each influence card, so you can’t place more than that.

Once all players have played their cards, each player may place one final influence token if they can, and the Agenda conditions of each influence card are checked.  If not fulfilled, they are not scored.  Here are the cards in the game:

  • Prince Escalus (neutral): Wants an equal number of Montagues and Capulets on the Council, or four neutral characters.
  • Count Paris (neutral): Can look at any two influence tokens.
  • Mercutio (neutral): Wants more characters in Exile than on the Council.
  • Nurse (neutral/Capulet): Can move one Exiled character to the Council.
  • Friar Laurence (neutral/Montague): Same as the Nurse.  Both count as neutrals and the house they represent for Agenda purposes.
  • Lord Capulet/Lord Montague: Each wants more people from their family on the Council than the other.
  • Lady Capulet/Lady Montague: Each can swap any two influence tokens.
  • Juliet/Romeo: Each wants only to be with the other, and only scores if they are.
  • Tybalt/Benvolio: Each can move one character from the Council to Exile.

Whoever ends up with the most points is the winner.

The inevitable comparison is going to be to Love Letter, even though they seem to be very different games.  There are essentially eight roles in this game, as in Love Letter, but CoV adds the layer of having a split between the families.  There are other differences – CoV is more about doling out your influence than trying to figure out what others have in their hand.  The deduction in CoV looks like it comes from trying to figure out how much influence people are playing on certain cards.  Each role looks like it gives you a different way to play, either by messing with the board or giving yourself (and others) an opportunity to score.

Small games are on the rise.  Between Love Letter, Coup, the games of the Level 99 Games Minigame Library, Dungeon Roll, and so on, it looks like people are more and more in the market for small, portable games that have a lot of game packed in the box.  I think this is reflected in the SdJ nominees for this year, two of which are pretty small.  I think it’s great – these games may never rise above the status of “filler”, but they may help raise the profile of the noble filler game.  Council of Verona has been getting some very good buzz, so it’s probably at least worth a look.  You have until the 4th of July to back if you’re interested.  Thanks for reading!



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