Medici for iPhone, the latest of Dr. Knizia’s board games to make its way to the iDevice, has been released by Sage Board Games and is now available from the app store. This auction-based title offers Knizia’s traditional balanced strategy gameplay for a slightly confusing, yet ultimately wholly satisfying, experience.
Medici for iPhone Pros:
- Nice Renaissance-era theme
- Deep strategic gameplay
- Characters with unique styles and playing abilities
Medici for iPhone Cons:
- Bit of a learning curve
- No online wifi multiplayer
- Cannot skip “scoring” portion of each day
- Small text is difficult to read
Medici allows for up to 6 players (in various combinations of human and/or AI players) to engage in a 3-day bidding war for crates of goods to place aboard their ships, up to 5 per day. Of course, your goal is to obtain the most value while spending the least number of florins. Each crate contains one of 6 item types, and each crate’s item is also assigned a number value. Players take turns selecting up to 3 crates to open and then bidding on the lot. Each player starts Day 1 with 40 florins to spend. After each day’s auction, bonus florins are handed out for having the highest total goods value, as well as for having a greater number of crates of each type of good than your opponents, with extra bonuses for achieving specific amounts of said goods. This is quite a deep strategic game, as you try to force opponents to overpay, look for deals, and try to score bonuses that will put you over the top.
The layout has a nice Renaissance-era look and feel, as old-fashioned portraits of each player’s selectable character ring the screen. The left side of the screen contains a pie graph of the types of goods, with colored markers for each player to indicate how many of each good he has shipped. The unopened crates are on the right side, and it all sits atop a peaceful waterway with a gentle current of reflective water below. The items that are being bid on are front and center, and each player’s winnings appear next to their pictures. The player who opens the items gets the honor of bidding last, where he can claim the lot or pass to the previous bidder. If all players pass, the lot is discarded. This could result in some players not getting a full shipment, which is one of the strategic elements.
Another strategic element includes opening more crates than there are available spaces for some players, which precludes them from the bidding process. Once all but one player has a full boat, the final player is given enough crates (if available) to fill his boat at no cost, though he must take what is given and cannot pass them off. The avoidance of paying florins, balanced against the chance to get either great items or items of little value, is yet another element of strategy that must be factored in. Florins carry over from day-to-day, and a winner is declared after the third day.
The soundtrack is also Italian-themed, fitting for the game, though somewhat annoying after a while. There is support to play music from your own library if you so choose. Controls are all touch-based and simple to use. The bid counter increases and the bid button gets momentarily larger to indicate a bid raise. Similarly, passing momentarily enlarges the pass button, though if look closely, you’ll see that each player’s bid appears within their portrait, a detail that was not initially clear to us. A tiny icon also appears in the portrait of the player who gets to bid last. It would be nice if there was a clearer indication of what each player did on his turn, as the text can be difficult to read within the portrait. The lack of the ability to skip over the “scoring” portion of each day, and the fast-moving, tiny text that accompanies the scoring, are also a bit annoying. Otherwise, the gameplay is pretty solid.
Replay value is great, as this is yet another game that can take a long time to learn the ins and outs of all of the strategy involved. The AI characters each have distinct playing styles and strengths, so mixing and matching can really change up the gameplay and add replay value. Currently, you can play multiplayer only through pass-and-play, though the developers are working on adding wifi/Bluetooth multiplayer support in the future. We have yet to come across a Reiner Knizia title that we did not fall in love with, and Medici is no different. At $2.99, Medici for iPhone is a great value, earning 4.5 Dimples.Medici for iPhone Review,