Train and develop a group of bakers, scholars, knights, and merchants to produce a master of all trades, the Renaissance Man. A quick and brainy game for up to four players.
|Renaissance Man||Rio Grande Games||Card Game|
In The Box
We fawn over games with high production values, but this is easily one of the more attractive and interesting designs we’ve seen in a while. The most unique element is a scoring board for each player made from two heavy cardboard pieces that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. This board is really just used to track your progress through the game, so one could argue that it’s almost over-designed. We don’t believe there’s any such thing as too much design!
The accompanying components are also beautifully done, with wooden carved characters depicting knights and wooden pawns used to show turn order. These are all stained to show the four colors assigned to players. The cards packed in are actually divided into two decks, one small set for the initial setup and another larger one for regular play. The final elements of the game are cardboard tokens that represent skills you can teach or barter on your way to developing a renaissance man.
How It Plays
Games sporting original ideas present a challenge in the sense that your initial session takes a little longer and involves more rulebook checks. We’ll help flatten the learning curve by telling you that Renaissance Man reminded us of why we love Solitaire. The concept is similar, but played in reverse. Your goal in Renaissance Man is to build up a pyramid from your initial tableau of five cards. This foundation is always a mix of the four basic workers (baker, merchant, knight, scholar) plus a renaissance man. Each worker has a certain set of symbols–similar to suits in traditional Solitaire–that you must consider when playing cards that build your pyramid.
Renaissance Man plays up the job theme by forcing you to use your workers’ skills, so the quickest way to add a new card to the pyramid is to have an exposed merchant who can hire others. Abilities can also be stored by using the baker’s bartering ability or you can use the scholar to teach your way to a renaissance man that serves as a wild card. The other unique ability comes from your knight, who can throw his weight around to recruit new workers from a central board where all players share access and can bid.
There are some random elements, but much less so than something like Solitaire. Along with random draws you have the ability to use your workers and obtain needed recruits on your way to building up the pyramid and placing that winning 15th card, the ultimate renaissance man.
The number of possible strategic angles can make your brain hurt, but that means there are all kinds of ways to win, including a solo variation where you play against the odds of a shuffled deck.
I really like strategic games and there is tons of strategy here. There are times when you need to keep other players from getting a specific card, and it’s important not to fall behind in building your pyramid.