Tasty Minstrel Games pull a lot of my money, more than I’m ok with, but as long as they continue to put out good games I’ll probably continue to throw my money their way. So when I found out they were partnering with H@ll Games to release Il Vecchio, I immediately asked my local game store, to be on the look out and let me know when it arrived.
It’s Florence during the 15th century and the Medici family controls the most powerful dynasty in the land. You become the head of another family that is trying to work it’s way to the top and gain influence through different cities and infiltrare the Medici empire to become the new leader.
You’ll lay out the board in the center of the table, which side you use is entirely up to you. The only difference is the coloring of the different areas.
Sort the Province tiles by region and place them in the corresponding spaces in the corner of the game board.
Separate the Florence tiles, which are divided between City Council Tiles and Nobility Tiles and place them face down on the corresponding spaces. Place the x3 tile on the City Council Tiles.
Depending on how many players you have, you’ll take a specified amount of Medici crests and place them face down on the space marked below the Florence location. These will act as a timer for the game.
You’ll distribute the 5 Middlemen among towns with the color-matching symbols. Most of these will match, don’t let the red Middleman throw you off, the space it will go into looks brown.
Give the starting player the First player marker, this never changes or moves throughout the game. Then give him 2 Florins (money), the player to his right will get 4 Florins and everyone else will get 3 Florins.
Put the rest of the tokens (Follower, Scroll, Carriage and Bishop) and place them next to the game board accessible by all players. These tokens are not limited, so if you run out, find a way to substitute them.
Each player will choose a color and take all of the family members of that color, 1 Carriage token, 1 Bishop token and 3 of the City Council Tiles. You’ll choose to keep only 1 of the 3 City Council Tiles, which will provide a benefit throughout the game. Shuffle the City Council tiles that players do not pick and place them back into the City Council pile.
To finish up set up, each player will place 4 family members on the board. Beginning with the starting player, each person will roll 2 dice and place 2 family members in town adjacent to the area indicated by the dice roll. If you roll a 7 place your family members anywhere you want. Once all players have placed, they take turns placing 2 more family members. Your family members can be in the same city as other players. There is no restriction to how many family members can be in one area.
Game Play Overview:
During your turn you’ll take one of 5 actions available. They’re pretty straight forward and easy to learn. Before I get into the actions you can take, I want to cover movement. Before you actually have to take most actions, you’re allowed to move around the board. To move you’ll pay 1 florin per town to move from location to location. You may also use a carriage to move anywhere you’d like, regardless of distance.
1. Collect Tokens
If your family member is at a location with a Middleman you can choose to lay down your family member, you’ll then move the Middleman to the next matching location. You’ll collect the tokens based on the location you’re at.
Purple: You’ll collect either 2 Bishop tokens or 2 Carriage tokens.
Red: You’ll collect either a scroll or 5 Florins.
White: You’ll collect a white follower token, which has praying hands on it.
Black: You’ll collect a black follower token, which has crossed swords on it.
Gray: You’ll collect a gray follower, which has a helmet on it.
There are also green locations on the board in which you can collect 3 Florins.
You may also turn in a Bishop token to take the tokens from a location where there is no Middleman, you also do not have to lay down your family member when using a Bishop Token. Additionally if there is a Middleman, you may use your Bishop token and not move the middleman, effectively setting you up to use that location again next turn.
2. Gain a Province Tile.
You’ll travel if need be to one of the three provinces on the board. You’ll place your family member on the Region track. Pay the required # of followers (white, gray or black tokens as mentioned above) and the required amount of Florins. Each Province has a different follower cost, and each location on the Region track will have a different Florin cost. These will allow you to gain victory points at the end of the game, depending on your position on the Region track and also allow you to take a Province tile of that region. A province tile will give you a one time benefit.
There will be locations on the Region track that are yellow, if your family member if placed in one of these spots you’ll trigger a Medici event.
When triggering a Medici event, you’ll take one of the Medici tokens and follow the instructions on the back. There will be 3 different options that will effect all players.
3. Gain a Florence Tile
You’ll travel to Florence if need be. Place your family member on the City Council (Left track) or the Nobility Track (Right Track). To place a family member on one of these tracks it will cost 2 Scrolls and possibly 3 Florins.
When the game starts there is a X3 tile on top of the City Council pile, once the first Medici event is triggered it moves to the Nobility tiles and stays there the rest of the game. Again, if you place in one of the yellow spots you’ll trigger a Medici event.
Gaining a place in Florence will give you two options. City Council will give you benefits throughout the game, Nobility will give you a secret scoring victory conditions at the end of the game.
When you place on one of the tracks, you’ll take the top 5 tiles of that track and keep one.
You’ll roll the dice and place a Family Member in a valid town, just as in the beginning of the game.
If all of your family members are laying down, you may raise all of them and collect one Florin.
So how does it end and how do you win? When the last Medici token is triggered, you’ll finish the current round. Then in the Final Round, each player in order may take a double turn beginning with the starting player, and taking two actions in a row. A player may decide to pass on his entire double turn and just gain two power points at the end of the game.
How do you score the end game?
You’ll check any Nobility tiles that you have and see if you score any points.
You’ll gain power points for your family members on the region tracks for each province. The amount of points change depending on your location on the region track.
You’ll get 2 power points for each of your family members on the City Council or Nobility tracks.
You’ll get 3 power points per Majority on the Region and Florence tracks. If theres a tie, the person who has the earliest family member on the track wins.
You’ll get 1 point for each Medici crest you’ve triggered.
The 2 points if you decided to skip the double turn.
The player with the most points wins!
I’m not sure how I feel about Il Vecchio, it’s made it to the table a few times and I enjoy it. It may be that it’s just so much lighter than I expected it to be, I don’t know why I’m so torn on it.
Il Vecchio definitely offers a variety of decisions that may change the outcome of the game. There are different ways to build engines to gather followers and take your positions on the Province tracks. It can be extremely competitive if playing with the right people, or extremely laid back, it will all come down to your group. There are numerous paths to victory, though you’re not locked in to a particular path if you choose to change strategy mid-game.
It’s a game that has a great subtle learning curve to it, as mentioned before there are numerous paths to victory. I think that it’s simple straight forward mechanics will fool a lot of players into not digging deeper into the variety of ways you can win, or more importantly block other players from winning. The more you plan, you realize the importance of planning ahead, and really thinking about what your next move should be.
Il Vecchio has earned its place on my gaming shelves along with its TMG brethren. In fact, I think my review has convinced me that it’s defiantly a game that should be hitting the table more and that I’ll be introducing to more people. If you’re looking for a light/middle weight game, that’s easy to teach and has much more depth than appears on the outside, this could be a possibility for your next game purchase.