Council of Verona Review
Council of Verona is a card game set in the Romeo and Juliet universe. Featuring the legendary star-crossed lovers as well as their supporting cast, this is a card game revolving around your actions as citizens in Verona trying to influence the events between the Montague and Capulet families. This may not be the most obvious focus for a Romeo and Juliet game, but does that make for a game that could catch you by surprise?
This game is played with a small deck of cards and a set of tokens for each player. The Council and Exile cards are placed in the middle of the table to represent the two different areas where cards can be played. Each player will get five cards that represent a character, as well as their agenda or ability. More on that in a second. Finally, each player will get a set of influence tokens with varying point values.
The ultimate goal is to have scored the most influence by the end of the game. This is done by applying your influence tokens to Agenda cards that ultimately come true by the end of the game. For example, Romeo’s agenda is to be with Juliet by the end of the game. If this Agenda is completed at the end, you’ll score the amount of influence you put on that card, plus or minus any bonuses on the card itself. Generally, the sooner you place your influence, the bigger the reward.
On your turn, you’ll play one of the cards in your hand onto the Council space or the Exile space. If it’s an ability card, you can resolve it now. For example, some cards let you peek at other people’s influence tiles, or allow you to move characters between the Council or Exile. Before you wrap up, you can place a token on an Agenda card that you think will be achieved by the end of the game. After all of the cards have been played, the Agenda cards that have been completed are scored based on the tokens played on those cards and the player with the highest score wins.
There are competing agendas that you’ll have to contend with throughout. For example, Lord Montague’s agenda is to outnumber the Capulet’s on the council, while Lord Capulet’s agenda is the polar opposite. Over the course of the game, you’ll want to manage your cards in a way that allow you achieve the agendas you influence while sabotaging the agendas of others where possible.
I’m not disappointed that the romance between Romeo and Juliet is heavily downplayed in this game. However, I am disappointed that the game doesn’t do much to engage or excite players. The exercise of playing cards, backing agendas and thwarting the efforts of others is rather dull. Its theme also failed to draw me in further, as many of the characters don’t possess abilities that are indicative of what they actually do in the source material. Even when I won, the journey to get there just wasn’t that enjoyable.
Council of Verona may allure you with its Romeo and Juliet theme, but the game itself won’t keep you interested for long. While its elements of hand management and bluffing are functionally sound, they fail to come together in a way that makes for an exciting or interesting game. With so many other games of this price point and complexity on the market, there’s little reason to dig this one up.