F.X. SCHMID, approx £20

Most games involve a mixture of strategy, tactics, luck and psychology. This one is almost pure psychology and there will be quite a few people who dislike it because of that. It is straight "look them in the eyes and decide how they will react" stuff. However, if you do like that sort of thing, you will like this game a lot.

Each player represents the ruler of one of the mediaeval Italian courts. Each court has vacancies for 5 advisers (one cleric, one military, etc). These posts bring with them incomes of between 10000 and 100000 per turn. Each player also has 10 counters representing friends and relatives, two of each of the five types of adviser. The aim is to make money and you do this by getting your relatives into posts at other courts and by accepting monetary presents from people seeking posts at yours. (To call these presents `bribes' would be vulgar. All that the donors are doing is showing respect). Note that the posts that members of your family get have to be at other courts; you may not give them posts at yours.

On your turn you (1) collect the money currently being earned by your relatives. (2) assign posts at your own court (3) send two more of your relatives out to other courts. It is (2) that is the heart of the game. If, for example, your court has a vacancy for a cleric, and if there is only one cleric hanging round in your courtyard, he gets the job --- though you decide which of the available salaries will be his. If there is more than one candidate for the vacancy, you get to choose who will get it. If you already have a cleric, but there is a new candidate hanging around, you may ditch the old in favour of the new. It is at this point, when you are trying to make up your mind, that the other candidates offer their presents. In the official rules the amounts involved are announced, but we think that that is vulgar as well and leave it to the two players involved as to how open or discreet they wish to be. The money offered is up front and there are no rules to say that the recipient has to go with the highest offer.

Rejected candidates are banished, meaning that the marker can not be re-assigned. The game lasts seven turns --- after five all the markers will have been played, the sixth round yields the resultant income and the seventh evens up the advantage that would otherwise fall to the person who started. The game is for 3-5 players, but I don't think that it would work too well with just 3.

Stuart Dagger

On to the review of Olympia 2000 BC or back to the review of 800 Metres.

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