Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Avignon: Pilgrimage (Button Shy Games)

If you know anything about me, you know my three biggest interests are religion (primarily Catholicism and Orthodoxy), reading, and playing games. When two or more of those areas intersect, it makes for a very fun experience for me. Last year, Button Shy Games released a two-player wallet game called Avignon: A Clash of Popes. Side Note: Button Shy Games specializes in wallet games. Wallet games are composed of about 20 cards and fit in a little plastic wallet for ultimate portability. This year Button Shy Games is kickstarting a standalone expansion to Avignon: A Clash of Popes called Avignon: Pilgrimage. It plays two players and takes about 20 minutes to play. The game can be yours for a pledge of $12, or you can get the original, the expansion, and several different promos for a total of $30 ($12 + $12 + $4 + $2).

1. Setup the map card between both players. The order of the map should go Avignon, Nice, Genoa, Florence, and Rome.
2. Shuffle the twelve character cards and place five face-up in a row extending from Genoa. The remaining cards form a face-down deck.
3. One player is Rome and the other player is Avignon. Rome always goes first.

Game Play - On your turn, you may perform two actions listed below, not taking the same action twice.
1. Beseech - Pull a character one space closer to you.
2. Chastise - Push a character one space away from you.
3. Excommunicate - Choose a character in play, and place it in the discard pile. Draw a new card and replace it in the exact spot as the excommunicated card.
4. Petition - Use the unique ability on a character to perform their specific action.

If any of the four actions causes a character to move past Rome or Avignon, that character enters the appropriate congregation. The game ends when someone has three characters in their congregation or specific situations revolving around the noble. If you have the noble and your opponent has the knight, you win. If you have the noble and the peasant, you lose.

The setup and game play is the same for both Avignon: A Clash of Popes and Avignon: Pilgrimage. The big difference is the characters. In the original game, you have Bishops, Cardinals. Inquisitors, Knights, Peasants, and Nobles. In the expansion, you have Vicars, Nuncios, Canonists, Courtesans, Ascetics, and Scribes. This not only adds new roles with new artwork, but new petitions which they can perform. This creates a unique game experience from the original, and some of the petitions seem to also add a bit more depth to the game concept.

There are several things I like about this game with the first thing being that the game is based on actual historical events. The Papal Schism did actually occur, and it lasted approximately 40 years. During this time, there was great contention over who the real pope was. The fact that it lasted this long, also meant that the original pope and antipope involved in this schism passed away and new ones were elected. This was definitely a black mark in the history of the Catholic Church. The next thing I like about this game is the ease of teaching and learning. The mechanics in this game are simple, but there is a subtle strategy in not only knowing what moves to make, but when to make them. Finally, the strongest point for me is the interchangeability. If you own both games, you can mix and match the characters (based on their faction) to create different versions of the game, creating an ever-changing strategy you need to develop to win. If you are a fan of history, Catholic history, and/or portable games, this is one you'll want to check out and back on Kickstarter!