Gameday First Play – Argent: The Consortium
Actually, I waited for the second/third play for this one.
There’s a lot to it!
The time has come for the selection of a new Chancellor at Argent University of Magic, and you are among the likely candidates for the job. Gather your apprentices, ready your spell-book, and build your influence, while secretly discovering and competing over the votes of a limited Consortium of influential board members. Only the one who is able to fulfil the most criteria will be claim the title of most influential mage in the World of Indines!
To become the new Chancellor of the University you must gather the most votes from the 12 members of the Consortium. Each of the members requires something… Knowledge? Gold? Spells? We never really know they want in most cases.
Two of the members are quite predictable and everyone knows what they are looking for. The other ten keep their motivation hidden but with a bit of work you’ll soon find out what they are looking for.
We have 5 days to get what we need to influence the Consortium voters and we do this by sending our mages out to various rooms in the University. If I need to learn something I’ll send them to the Library. Need an item to help me out? Off to the Vault they go.
The mages will need to compete with other mages sent out by other candidates so we need to rely on the Magic they know.
The aggressive Sorcery mage let’s you damage another, sending them out of their spot to the Infirmary. But, the Natural Magic mages are tough and can not be wounded this way. Those following the path of Divinity Magic are immune to spells, Planar mages move through the planes with speed and those of Mysticism Magic gain strength by casting spells.
At the end of the 5 days the Consortium will vote. Each member will reveal their hidden requirement and the Candidate with the most votes will be the new Chancellor at the Argent University of Magic.
I usually just have one play before writing anything. But this game is quite big with lots of bits, plus, I won the first game we played and I didn’t feel I deserved it. I generally don’t like that so I wanted to play it again to see if it was a fluke. The second game I played bad and lost, the third game I played well and won. So I’m happy with that.
Firstly, the variety in this game is HUGE. You play with 8-10 tiles in the university and there are 15 to pick from… and they are double sided. Each colour Mage has a card showing you their ability which are also double sided.
You could play this game a lot and never have the same set up.
Each player starts the game with a player board and 2 mages of your player colour. As the mages are all different it means drafting a colour to start with which leads to me not playing Purple every game… boo! (Purple is actually my favourite in this game, based on mage ability)
Each colour also has a starting spell which relates to the colour of Magic you have chosen.
You then snake draft mages. So you can go for Red (Sorcery) mages and take an aggressive strategy, or go Green/Blue (Natural/Divinity) for a defensive one or a mix of all of them.
On your turn you have 2 actions…
You MAY take a fast action. Certain Spells and other cards are fast actions. Placing Purple (Planar) mages is a fast action too which is why I like them, you can place 2 mages a turn.
You MUST take a regular action. This is placing a mage or casting spells, using abilities etc If you have nothing to do you have to take a Bell Tower card. There are 4-5 of these depending on the number of players and they give you a bonus but when the last one of these is taken, the round ends immediately.
With these actions you can chain them so you could play a Purple mage as a fast action, Cast a spell as a regular action then play a Grey (Mysticism) mage as a bonus action as they can be placed when you cast a spell. That’s 2 mages and a spell in one turn.
Some times you think players will put out all their mages and start taking Bell Tower cards and end the round before you’ve done enough. But, that just doesn’t happen. It’s quite well balanced here. You can’t take more than one Bell Tower card a round so it’s not like you can end the round after 2 or 3 turns.
Like some worker placement games you don’t activate a space when you place a mage, but unlike most you activate the mages ability when it’s placed. This means there is a lot of competition as players use Red mages to wound other mages to kick them off their space and take it from them. There are also different types of spaces…
Regular ones that are just normal spaces.
Shadowing spaces are next to a regular space and allow you to take the same action as a mage that has already been placed. Also, a mage in a shadow space can’t be targeted by spells. You need to use a spell or ability to ‘shadow’, it’s not a normal placement action.
A merit space is a little different. To understand these you need to know that after the last Bell Tower card has been taken, THEN the mages take the rewards for the spaces they are on. A merit space can be placed on mby any mage, but the player must have an unused merit badge to take any reward.
Spaces are activated in order by tile starting with the top left, going down that tile in order, then moving right to the next tile. A merit badge is awarded for each 7 Influence points you have.
This means you can play a mage on a Merit badge space even if you don’t have a merit badge if you know you’ll gain enough influence to gain a Merit before that space activates.
Got it? 🙂 This system is another very clever thing I like about the game.
Due to each colour mage being controlled by any player, you put a little token of your colour in the slot of that mage to show it’s yours. One of the downsides of this is that if you are side on to a mage it’s hard to see who controls it. Also, in bad light, it’s hard to tell Purple from Red. Check this out on a picture from Board Game Geek.
The user HyperionHuxley has even coloured in the edge of the tokens here to make them stand out more. I don’t have the expansion (yet) but check out the Red and Orange mages at the back… Those tokens are quite similar. It’s a shame those Gold bases weren’t coloured. You’re limited to 7 mages each so 7 bases in each player colour would be great.
The voters basically want most of a thing. Most Influence, Most Gold… 2 of them want 2nd most of a thing which is quite interesting.
By the end of the game most players will know what most of the Consortium needs… But it’s still tense as you flip over one member at a time seeing who gets the vote. The Consortium member looking for the ‘Most Influence’ is always in the game, and the Influence track also breaks ties for other members so this is quite important. But it’s not a game winner on it’s own.
So, I really like this one. There’s a lot to it in a fairly compact box. I’ve played it 3 times and only ever used the base set up so it’ll be interesting using some of the other tiles available. I’m also looking forward to using alternate versions of the mage abilities.
There is a large expansion available which adds even more stuff, including a 7th colour of mage which is interesting.
But, for now at least, I’m very happy with the base game.