The first thing to mention about “Renaissance Wars” is that it is a beautiful game. The components, including the box, game board, playing pieces and even the rules, are all top notch. The artwork and overall quality make this a standout product even before a game is played. Not surprisingly, the game itself really does live up to the hype.
“Renaissance Wars,” while a board game, actually does invite us to take a historical journey back in time, as the game highlights “conditions” that were paramount to those critical years that generally include the 14th to the 17th century. The five “conditions” are Religion, Culture, Economics, Politics and Seeds of Enlightenment. Players will even get to choose one of six luminary cards, each representing one of the key figures from the period, including William Shakespeare, Martin Luther, Ignatius of Loyola, Filippo Brunelleschi, Christopher Columbus and Francis Bacon. Each of these luminary cards has a special value and can provide added scoring opportunities during the game. The object of “Renaissance Wars” is to acquire more Florin coins than anyone else by the end of the game. Players compete by playing cards from their starting hand, trying to win skirmishes by collecting the cards of their opponents. Players are trying to build scoring melds, made up of certain card combinations, each having a different value that will earn Florin coins from the bank.
The second phase of the game is called the “Battle phase,” which is very similar to the skirmishes in the “Encounter phase.” However, when a player wins cards during this phase of the game, he does not attempt to form melds to earn Florin coins. Instead, each player totals their Florin coins from both the “Encounter phase” and “Battle phase”. The game continues until one player accumulates 1637 Florin coins, which corresponds to the year that is considered to be the end of the Renaissance Period. Although not discussed in this review, the game also includes several special playing cards that can help or hurt a player along the way.
We found “Renaissance Wars” to be a fascinating game to play, with surprisingly easy to follow guidelines for the skirmishes and battles. There is also a lot of historical and biographical information on the cards that certainly enhances the overall playing experience. A typical game with experienced players can be completed in 45 minutes or so, and the game is recommended for 2-4 players ages 12 years old and up.
—R.J. Cullen, Toys Bulletin