Medici Board Game Review: A Timeless Auction Adventure

As someone who truly loves board games, I’ve explored all sorts—from the deeply complex giants of the genre to the quick, fun little games that brighten an evening. Medici holds a special place among them. This game perfectly combines the excitement of auction-based strategy with simple, welcoming mechanics that appeal to both beginners and experienced players alike. Let’s delve into what makes this game a standout favorite in the gaming community and see how it holds up in its latest version.

Game Overview

First released in 1995 by Reiner Knizia and rejuvenated by Steamforged Games, Medici involves 2-6 players acting as merchants in 16th century Florence, striving to fill their ships with valuable goods to maximize profits. With its vibrant new art while retaining the beloved core mechanics, this edition sparks interest both as a nostalgic piece and as a fresh experience for new players.

Table Setup and Components

The game includes a set of beautifully illustrated boards, each representing a player’s merchant ship, and is played using a deck of 36 cards, ship tokens, and player counters. Despite the aesthetic upgrade, some components, like the new ship tokens, struggle with practicality, not fitting well on the shared board when scores align closely. Below is a comparative table highlighting the changes in components from the original to the current version:

ComponentOriginal Medici2020 Re-release
CardsStandard designEnhanced artwork
Ship TokensSimple wood piecesStylized but bulky designs
Player BoardsFunctional with basic graphicsColorful and detailed

Gameplay Mechanics

At its core, Medici is about buying low and selling high, using a simple yet profound auction mechanism. Players bid on lots of cards representing various goods. Each card has a point value and the total points in a player’s ship determine their scoring at the end of each round. The dynamic auction system requires players to be shrewd, predicting competitors’ moves and valuing lots appropriately to win the most lucrative bids.

Strategic Depth and Player Interaction

What sets Medici apart is the strategic depth hidden beneath its seemingly straightforward auction system. Players must manage their florins wisely, as these serve both as bidding currency and as points for winning the game. The strategic nuance is particularly evident in games with the maximum six players, where card counting and bid timing become crucial. Here’s how the gameplay depth varies with player numbers:

Player CountStrategy ComplexityInteraction Level
2 PlayersMore luck-based, less strategicMinimal interaction
3-4 PlayersBalanced strategy and interactionModerate
6 PlayersHighly strategic with intense interactionHigh

Pros and Cons Pros:

  • Easy to Teach: Makes it an excellent introduction to auction games.
  • Fast-Paced Gameplay: Keeps all players engaged and the game moving swiftly.
  • Ideal for Larger Groups: Best experienced with six players for full strategic depth.


  • Limited Player Aids: Could use more aid cards for smoother gameplay.
  • Component Fit Issues: New ship tokens do not integrate well with the board.

Final Verdict

Medici remains a staple in the board game arena, boasting a robust auction system that thrives on player interaction and strategic bidding. While best experienced in larger groups, its fast-paced nature and easy-to-learn rules make it a fantastic choice for game nights seeking a mix of light strategy and competitive fun.

Whether you’re a fan of the classic or a newcomer to the auction genre, Medici offers a delightful blend of tactical decision-making wrapped in a quick, approachable format. It stands out not only for its engaging gameplay but also for its ability to bring players together in a spirited battle of wits and bids.

  • Buy If: You enjoy fast-paced auction games with a healthy dose of player interaction.
  • Skip If: You prefer games with more complexity or predominantly play with just one other person.

Medici proves that a game doesn’t need to be overly complex to be deeply engaging, making it a worthy addition to any game collection and a must-play for those who appreciate the art of the auction.

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