Concordia board game review: The Art of Trade

The ambitious group of merchants along with their witty leader Lucius, stood on the docks of Ostia, watching as their precious cargo was loaded onto the ships that were to carry it across the sea, where it could be sold for a decent amount of money for him and his crew. The spice they had acquired was rare and highly valued, sought after by wealthy patrons across the empire for its flavor and medicinal properties. Lucius had spent months carefully searching the empire, sourcing and negotiating for this shipment, and he knew that it could be the key to his eventual wealth and peace of mind.

As the last crates were loaded, Lucius gathered his team around to discuss the demanding journey that awaited them. They knew that the road ahead would not be kind, with many dangers and obstacles to overcome. The journey would take them through rocky coastlines, treacherous currents, and chaotic seas, where storms and pirates were observing the waters for a new prey. But Lucius was confident in his team’s skills and experience just as much as he trusted his own wits. He had assembled a group of the most talented and resourceful merchants in the empire, each with their own unique skills and strengths.

Their journey began quietly, with the ships sailing steadily across calm waters under clear skies. But as they moved further east, the skies began to roar. Storm clouds gathered on the horizon, and soon the ships experienced Jupiter’s wrath and were all but destroyed by fierce winds and waves. The crew worked hard and quickly to keep the ships from sinking, bailing water and repairing sails, but it seemed that they were no match for the judgement of gods.

Just as they began saying their prayers and kneeling in front of a tragic fate, the storm began to subside, and the dark clouds revealed the sun once more. The crew cheered and laughed and thanked the gods, grateful to have survived. Their relief however, was short-lived, as the captain soon spotted another ship approaching in the distance. A massive ship decorated with sails and flags as black as the night sky. As it drew closer, they saw the ruthless faces of the pirates onboard and the shine of their blades.

Lucius was certain of his team’s skills and believed that if Jove himself could not take his cargo away from him, neither will these vicious mortals. He gathered his team and together, they came up with the perfect plan to trick the pirates and hit them hard when they are least expecting it. They pretended to have surrendered and just as the pirates were about to examine the ship’s cargo, daggers and spears in hand, they struck from behind. After an epic showdown between the thieves and the crew, the pirates who were surprised to find themselves losing the fight decided to back down. The merchants were relieved again but this time they knew not to hold on to let down their guards easily.

Continuing their journey through the Roman empire, the merchants encountered many unexpected dangers and obstacles. They had to face rocky shores, vengeful winds and even bloodthirsty raiders. The road was long and tiring, filled with manly and godly threats that stood between the ship and dry land. Lucious however, strongly believed that they are accompanied by the gods’ favor and will succeed in delivering the goods. His team had decided not to question his ability in protecting his wares.

Despite all the challenges they had to resolve, the group stayed on their designated path, determined to reach their destination and take the hefty reward they had earned. They knew that the rewards would be great if they succeeded, but they also knew that the risks were as high as they have ever been. As they sailed ever closer to the land across the sea, the tension between the merchants led by Lucius and their rival teams began to heat up. The merchants were all seeking to acquire the valuable spice and were determined to outmaneuver the others. They knew that taking over this market would be invaluable to their businesses and they were not going to let that opportunity slide. The question is, which one of them is worthy of it?

What Is Concordia?


Concordia is an extremely popular strategy board game designed by Mac Gerdts and first published by Rio Grande Games. It’s a game of economic growth in the age when it was initiated for the first time ever. The story takes place within the ancient Roman empire and players take on the role of merchants trying to establish trade connections and expand their network of influence across the Mediterranean before it was cool to do so. The game can be played by 2-5 players and each session typically takes around 90-120 minutes to play.

In Concordia, players use a hand of cards to move their figures around the game board, build new settlements, and acquire resources and goods. The goal is to score victory points by completing objectives such as building more settlements than your rivals have or acquiring the most resources or as merchants call it, wealth. The game is highly regarded for the impressive balance between strategy, luck, and player interaction.

Concordia has rightfully been subjected to many nominations and awards, including nominations for the game of the year. Additionally, since its first release in 2013, it has been praised by both players and influencers to a point where it is now considered a modern classic in the board game community.

Prepare Your Wares


If you’re ready to dive into a world of trading and harvesting resources to expand your sales empire, here is a quick guide on how to set up a game of Concordia. May Jupiter be with you on your path.

1. Set the Board

Concordia offers players two entirely different map layouts to choose from depending on their personal preferences or the number of the players. You can play the game within the 30 cities of the glorious Roman empire or you may choose to establish your operation within the borders of the Roman Italy with its 25 cities. 30 cities is recommended for 3-5 players and for 2-4 players, it’s suggested that you use the other board. After choosing your map and setting it up, get the cards.

2. Get the Cards in Place

Cards play a very big role in your playthrough. Different types of resources that can be produced or traded, historical leaders and colonist personalities, as well as action cards or items that grant you permanent or temporary special abilities, as well as end game victory points, are all represented with cards. So, it’s important that you make sure all the cards have been shuffled, organized and placed within their designated, accessible location.

3. Gather the Resources

Pile the resources up next to the game board where you can see and reach them. You will be gathering and trading these resources for the majority of the game. Resources in Concordia include: coins, food, cloth, and bricks. Each of these materials can be found in special cities that produce them.

4. Pile the Tokens Up

After you’ve gathered and placed all the resources, it’s time to do the same with the Victory Tokens. These tokens are very important for keeping count of your overall score and they should all be kept close to the board.

5. Collect Your Initiative

Each player starts the game with a limited number of coins that’s been set to 10 coins by the game’s default setting. I wouldn’t recommend changing the amount of the starting money but I have seen people do it where it serves their personal play style better. After reaching a common ground about the starting money with your group, give each player the amount they will start the game with.

6. Choose a Color

Finally, you are ready to pick a color, organize your pieces accordingly and determine the order of turns. Each player will have pieces such as settlements and character figures with their own color. Place them as you wish and randomize or choose the order in which you want to play.

Your game is all ready to be played and your players should also be ready to dive in.

What’s it like out there?


Concordia is a game filled with different possibilities and outcomes. Each strategic decision that you make will impact the final results of the playthrough and each move your competitors make is made with that fact in mind, so you should always keep a close eye on what the other players are doing and how it contributes to their strategy, as well as how it affects yours.

The objective of the game is quite obvious. You want to become the most famous, wealthy, successful and resourceful merchant throughout the entire great empire of Rome. This is not an easy task in the times before express transportation vehicles or the internet have been invented. You’ll need a big group of skilled merchants who you can trust to represent you. Additionally, you need to build a wide network of settlements and warehouses where you can store and showcase your goods. Finally, you need to keep tabs on each and every trade if you want to maximize your profit.

Working towards the ambition of emerging victorious, in your turn, there are quite a number of actions you may choose to take.

You may move your figure to discover new borders and expand your colony of merchants. You can also produce or trade the resources that you own or have invested in. Trading can be done with both other players and the game’s self-functioning “market”. You may also choose to build a settlement and stick your flag of ownership in of the provinces. Lastly, you will encounter leaders throughout the game that you can hire for services and even gods from whom you can ask guidance. Each leader comes with their own special properties and each god grants you with and can help you work more efficiently towards your goal.

Once all personalities have been dealt and purchased or at least one of the players has built fifteen settlements throughout the empire, the game comes to an end. The winner is the player who’s scored the most victory points by the end of the last turn. Victory can be achieved using a number of different strategies such as having the biggest network of clients or owning the majority of the empire’s resources. Decide on which path suits your style and follow it to triumph!

The Business Grows

Concordia features seven expansion packs up until now and the base game has become available to play in more than just the Roman empire. Each expansion pack brings entirely new territories for the skillful merchants to conquer. New cities, empires and colonies even entire new continents are available for you to further your economic ventures in.

However, Concordia’s expansion packs are not limited to new maps only. Some of them bring fresh new mechanics to deepen the gameplay by another layer and some even introduce new game modes that allow the players to experience the game with a wider range of choices regarding player number and dynamics. Below, you will briefly read on the expansion packs that I believe are worth checking out sooner than the others.

3. Concordia: Salsa

Byzantium and Hispania are now available to sail to and conquer. Fresh markets await your arrival and in this new land, you shall discover new materials for trading. New materials that will not only establish your name as the biggest merchant in the continent, but also add considerably to your wealth.

Salt is the brand new profitable good on the market and it’s taking over very quickly. You’ll need to be fast, wise and experienced if you want to jump on this new train of cargo and get the most out of it.

2. Concordia: Venus

The goddess of love and intimacy encourages family and couple businesses. In this expansion, players will face each other in up to 3 pairs in a game all about strategic decision-making and coordination. The additional pieces for the 6th player have also been included so you won’t have to worry about using kitchenware as game tokens.

But that’s not all. This pack also brings an entirely new game mode for 2-5 individual players and can also be integrated with the base game and all the other Concordia expansions released prior to Venus, including Salsa.

1. Concordia: Solitaria

In Solitaria, you compete alone or in a team of two against the game’s new challenge, an opponent called Contrarius. The cards you play will determine the reactions of your adversary. So, keep in mind that only skillful planning of your every move may lead to winning. In a two-player game, you can choose to face Contrarius as two individuals or as a team of two. It’d needless to say that if challenged individually, the player who beats Contrarius first is the winner.

Final Thoughts

Concordia is a game that requires masterful planning of actions and strategic competition. It’s a game that successfully challenges each player’s decision-making skills as well as their economic knowledge and understanding of profit all while providing a friendly environment around the board where players will engage in fun trading or persuading conversations.

If you’re considering getting yourself a copy, keep in mind that given the abstract nature of the game, low-effort components have been criticized by some players, but that’s nothing one can’t find ways to deal with. Additionally, it is my suggestion that you don’t rush through the expansion packs, as the main game has a lot to offer but is also semi-predictable for seasoned players. In order to get the most out of the game, I usually advise new players to take their time with the base game and move on to the expansion packs when it gets truly monotonous.

For fans of empire/network building games and strategic games with a historical setting, Concordia is on top of many lists. The great thing about it is that it’s practically never too old or out of fresh content. With the base game being a replayable delight to experience and the expansion packs that expand the game’s horizons, Concordia is an untimely title.

If you have any experiences, thoughts or notes regarding Concordia that you’d like to share, we’d be happy to read them down below!

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