Courtier is like a very complicated dance all explained in words on paper. The rules are simple but the execution is a different story.
The Tempest games are a clever idea. A story arc played out as a number of board games. The first of which, well the prequel really is Love Letter. You’ve probably played love letter at this stage, if you haven’t it’s worth gambling a tenner and picking it up. A number of the characters in the game appear in courtier with the same artistic style. It’s noteworthy, like the finding cadburys fingers in a mini market whilst on holidays.
Courtier is like Steve Jackson’s Revolution. In fact I think it’s by the same designer. The game is all about placing influence cubes on various courtiers, (members of the court) each of which are themselves members of a grouping like the church, the merchants, the royal court and so on. Having the most influence in a group grants you some special abilities like placing two cubes rather than one, gaining one bonus point per turn and so on. Some of these are more valuable earlier and later in the game.
Each player starts with a secret petition and a communal pool of four visible ones each of which involves having control of a number of specific courtiers.
Completing these Petitions scores points. This part feels a bit like ticket to ride or Lords of Waterdeep.
The game IS pretty simple rules wise however keeping everything in your head, abilities, other players abilities, your moves, what others are angling for, what could happen, completing petitions before someone else… It’s hard work requiring a sharp brain and a number of replays. It’s certainly way beyond the normal gaming decisions of should I have crisps or biscuits
I like this game. It’s neat. It’s tidy. It’s not exceptional but it’s a solid game and if you’ve never played revolution it’s definitely worth a look. The game has charm and the whole story arc idea is something I like. I do think revolution has the edge but I believe they both need a good replay to be sure. Which I’ll do