At the beginning of the 17th century Armand Jean du Plessis - better known as Cardinal Richelieu - and Queen Maria of Medici are fighting bitterly for supremacy in France.
Both want to gain influence over as many parts of the country as possible to reinforce their political position. The players take on the roles of the two protagonists, trying to outdo each other at every opportunity. But no sooner does one of them have backing of the majority of a region, than the other manages to achieve the same...
48 playing cards (in 9 different colours)
12 square property markers (3 per player)
14 round discs (9x "shields", 3x "symbols", 2x "property markers back")
The playing cards
represent nine different regions of France. Each region is shown by a different colour and has a different shield. Most of the cards have at least a second shield or a symbol representing the individual region's military (sword), clerical (cross) or political (tower) power. The number on the cards states how many shields there are in this colour. Each of the three symbols occurs nine times.
The aim of the game
The two opponents try throughout the game to acquire most of the shields and symbols, as they score points for each one and these power points help them to victory.
The winner is the player with the most power points at the end of the game.
Shuffle the 48 playing cards well, and then lay them face upwards, one after the other, in four rows of 12 cards.
Shuffle the 14 discs (round), then place 8 discs face down on certain cards (as illustrated above). The remaining 6 discs are not needed in this round; put them back in the box without looking at them.
The 12 property markers (square) are divided between the players. Each player gets 3 property markers of one kind. If there are less than 4 players, the remaining property markers will be taken out of the game.
Playing the game
One player goes first, then the game continues with the players in turn. The player whose turn it is must take at least one card and may take a maximum of two from the set in the middle of the table, and places it face up on the table. Please note:
- You may only take the cards on the left and right ends of the four rows.
- If you take two cards they must be in the same colour, and there may not be more than 2 shields on them. At this point you do not need to pay attention to the three symbols (sword, cross and tower)!
The first player may only take one
card when moving for the first time, regardless of the numbers of shields on the card.
Order the cards by colour and place them on top of each other with the shields and symbols clearly recognisable.
Once a player has taken one or two cards, he may place one of his property markers on anyone of the playing cards in the set on the table. This may also a card that has a disc on it, but it may not be one that already has a property marker on it, either this player's or the opponent's.
If a player has no property marker left, he may move a marker from one card to another on if he wants to.
By placing a property marker on a card, the player makes it more difficult for his opponent to take the card as this would now "cost" him a marker of his own.
So if a player takes a card that has one of the opponent's property markers on it, this player must then hand over one of his markers, either by taking it from his stock or from a card and putting it back in the box.
The marker on the card taken by the player is returned to the opponent for his further use.
Note: If a player "used up" all three of his property markers - i.e. put them back in the box - he may not take any more cards that have one of the opponent's markers on them. In fact, it could be that he is unablbe to take any more cards at all. In this case, this player stops playing until he is able to take at least one card.
The player is free to choose whether to take a card with no markers or with one of the opponent's markers on it. If he takes a card with one of his own markers, he takes the marker back to use later.
Important: If playing with 4 players each player may only place two property markers on cards at the same time.
If a player takes a card with a disc on it, he may look at it and then put it face down in front of him.
- The discs with shields or symbols are turned over at the end of the game. They then count as 1 shield or symbol (see score).
- The two "Property marker back" discs may be used during the game. A player who gives up one of these discs (by putting it back in the box) is given back one of the property markers he has already "used" (takes it out of the box) for further use.
These discs are not counted when doing the evaluation.
The players continue playing until all of the cards have been taken from the middle of the table, and then the points are added up:
1.) Shields: Points are scored region after region. The players count how many shields (not cards!) they have for each region. If one of the players has the matching disc, this counts as one shield.
The player who has more shields than his opponents credits the number of his shields as power points.
The other players gets nothing (see example 1).
If two or more players have the most number of shields from a particular region each of this players credits the full power points (see example 2).
Playing with 3 or 4 players: For each region for which a player has at least one card (a matching disc won't help!),
he gets 2 power points.
Playing with 2 players: For each region for which a player has no cards at all (a matching disc won't help!), he deducts 5 power points from his total number.
Example 1: Andreas has 5 shields from Bourgogne and the matching disc. Bernd has the other 5 shields from Bourgogne. Andreas is credited 6 points; Bernd gets nothing.
Example 2: Two players have 4 shields from Normandie. Both scores 4 power points.
3.) Symbols: Then the three symbols are all counted seperatly - sword, cross and tower. A matching disc counts as one symbol. The player
who has the most symbols of one kind is credited his number of these symbols as power points. the other players get nothing (see example 3).
If two or more players have the most number of symbols of a kind each of this players credits the full power points (see example 3).
2 players: In the event of a player having no cards at all of a particular symbol, he loses 5 power points.
Example 3: Andreas has 5 crosses und Bernd has the remaining 4 crosses. The matching disc was not in the game.
Andreas is credited 5 points; Bernd gets none.
(If Bernd had had the disc, both players would have scored.)
End of the game
The player with the most power points after the evaluation is the winner. In the event of a draw, the player with the lower number of cards is the winner.
Variant for 2 player game
The game is more demanding when working out the score if three of the four rows of cards are completely removed.