Concordia is the board game to play if you want to have mid-life crisis

Instead of David vs Goliath, today you’re reading David taking on a goliath. That is the game of Concordia. A game that gets praise from a lot of reviewers. Often touted as one of the best games of all time. So let’s see how it fares against my slingshot and sandals.

Designer: Mac Gerdts

Publisher: Rio Grande Games

I am currently typing in a pair of welding gloves, because this is the hottest take I’ll have on this website. But…

Concordia did nothing for me.

An empty experience from such a celebrated game, I was so disappointed.

But…

Concordia during the game, it's a map of Mesopotamia with blue, green, and red cities sprinkled across the board.
There are a number of ways this isn’t set up right. Leave a comment if you think you know them all!

I can see why it’s so liked. As in theory, this should be my type of game. It’s simple to play and teach, and revolves around three things:

  1. Managing a hand of cards: buying, using, refreshing cards in your hand.
  2. Managing the board state: moving pawns around the map and building cities.
  3. Managing currency: which comes in the form of goods or money.

What did you expect? It’s a Euro game, and follows a lot of Euro game staples with its mechanics, and its theme – trading in the Mediterranean. But it’s not as dry as you’d think. It gets a bit salacious over it’s card effects.

You see, the map is broken down into 12 areas (provinces) made up of a number of cities. Playing a Prefect card allows you to choose a province, and then all cities in that province generate goods for all players who have a house in those cities. Meaning, if I put a house in a province which has goods that Bob wants to generate, then I also get goods when he plays a province card. Which is great, because I hate that guy.

After generating goods in a province, that province becomes used. That province now generates money. But only if someone plays a Prefect card, and only if they choose money over the goods. Which if they do, they get all the monies from all of the used provinces, and those provinces refresh. That’s right, the same card used to produce goods is also the one used to give you megabucks. It’s also the same card which makes everyone’s eyes grow a little wider whenever someone produces, and the same card that the table groans when someone recalls all the money. It’s like a really bad game show where you can either win a million dollars… or some bricks.

Yaaaaaaaaaaaay bricks.

Up close shot of wheat, fabric, bricks, wine components on a player board.
Also included: the most wooden fabric in board gaming

The other odd-ball card you can play is the Diplomat, which copies the last card another player played. Giving you access to the same card twice. Like a good joke, the most important part about playing the Diplomat is timing. If someone plays a card that you want another of, brilliant. If not then there’s really no point. This creates a sense of urgency when someone plays something good as you can’t be certain when you’ll see it again.

This all sounds great. So why did I bounce so hard off of it?

Well the theme does it no favours.

But that’s not the issue.

Artistic shot of Concordia meeples.
Token up close shot.

What makes me feel like a kid who got apples instead of chocolate is the scoring. You only score once. Which is both the most boring Bond movie ever, but also a reality in Concordia. And because of that, I never felt like I knew how I was doing throughout my plays. Most board games I enjoy revolve around having a plan, executing that plan, and sitting back to let the serotonin flow over me as I move my marker up the score track. In Concordia, you have a plan, you execute a plan, and instead of serotonin you get a paranoid thought in the back of your brain saying:

Was that a good move?

It’s Anxiety: The Board Game, and I really struggled to engage with it. What makes it worse is that scoring isn’t that easy to figure out either. Your hand of card acts as multipliers of stuff that you have on the board. It’s not as though you can do quick maths to figure it out either. Instead you have to feel your way through the game, like you’re walking through the dark when there’s no walls around – how can you tell if you’re going the right way?

I have a feeling that with more plays, most people would be able to get past this feeling and understand what is a good move, and what’s not. But I’m part programmer, I live on instantaneous feedback – I write some code, does it compile? Does it pass the tests? Concordia is the antithesis of that way of thinking, and therefore I don’t think we’ll ever get along.

Thanks for reading my review, I’m currently ranking all my board games in one brain burning list. You can see Concordia’s initial ranking below.

Initial Rank: 9

For more board game content, make sure to hit the follow button down below. And if you’d like to: say Hi, how was your day? Then I’d say: It was good, how was yours? And then we’d intimately share secrets like who your first celebrity crush was. Then leave a comment down below.

David Norris

Lover of dogs, books, comics, movies, anime, television, video games and most importantly board games. My site is all about the latter, and my journey through the glorious hobby.

7 thoughts on “Concordia is the board game to play if you want to have mid-life crisis

  1. I do enjoy Concordia, but it’s kind of bland and I’m never really excited to play it.

    When it comes out on digital (I think Acram Games is doing it?) that may change.

    But my reaction when it’s suggested is usually “yeah…ok. Sure.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I feel that’s my thoughts on it as well. I didn’t have a bad time with the game, just I’d rather play something else haha.

      So Dave, what’s the game that makes you go ‘YEAH LET’S DO IT!!”?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like Concordia but agree it can be hard to tell how well you are playing. I’ve found the best way to mitigate this is to pick one or two card sets to aim for and them do things that match that set. So if you have several cards that give a bonus for having towns in each province, work on getting to each province. This made what I was doing feel more purposeful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Melanie! Thanks for the comment. This was my strategy going into the game but I think I might just suck haha. Or I got distracted, which is probably more likely. Go for boring new cards, or shiny new cities. I will always pick the later – haha. Glad you enjoyed it though.

      Like

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