It’s About Time for a Renaissance (Man)

It’s About Time for a Renaissance (Man)

Disclosure

We’re usually pretty good about telling you of new games right after they are issued, or at least shortly after we receive a review copy. Renaissance Man from Rio Grande Games was a little different for us in that it took nearly three months to fully understand the game before we could begin to put pen to paper. We previously introduced you to Rio Grande Games with reviews of both El Caballero and Boxcars, with the latter being named our top game of the first half of 2014! Boxcars was easier to understand and get playing, while El Caballero took a couple reads of the instructions before we jumped into it. Renaissance Man however, for whatever reason, took me a bit longer to grasp. Not necessarily because of the difficulty, but trying to discover the hidden strategies that would lead to a win.

Renaissance Man from Rio Grande Games is not a game you can master in one sitting. Like chess, it will require multiple plays until you begin to get a grasp of the strategy. - SahmReviews.com

I think we all remember our first game of chess. All those pieces, all those different moves. Usually your dad teaching you (and maybe taking it a bit easy). It would be years until you finally had the grasp of the game to truly challenge him, and then one day you would do it – you would beat him fair and square. Maybe it was luck, but we all reveled in that victory, all that hard work learning the game, studying strategies and losing time and time again finally paid off. The first time I pulled out the instructions for Renaissance Man I felt like I was setting up my first chess game. I had no clue what to do.

Renaissance Man from Rio Grande Games is not a game you can master in one sitting. Like chess, it will require multiple plays until you begin to get a grasp of the strategy. - SahmReviews.comBut I really can’t explain why. The premise of the game is very simple – build a pyramid of cards with the first person completing their stack winning the game. You are limited in what you can play on top of the two cards underneath by the symbol on the card. That’s really it – so why was this so hard for me?

Renaissance Man from Rio Grande Games is not a game you can master in one sitting. Like chess, it will require multiple plays until you begin to get a grasp of the strategy. - SahmReviews.comEach person starts with the same five cards, each representing a trade skill. These bottom cards can be placed in any order and are aligned to a heavy-duty cardboard template. On each turn you perform actions depending on what trades you have available (recruit, train, etc.). As you cover up cards to build your pyramid, you lose access to those trades – so unlike many games where you open up more abilities as you progress, Renaissance Man is the exact opposite. The further you go the harder it gets because you only have access to a limited number of actions.

Renaissance Man from Rio Grande Games is not a game you can master in one sitting. Like chess, it will require multiple plays until you begin to get a grasp of the strategy. - SahmReviews.comYou hunt for matching cards to build your pyramid by recruiting (shown above), learning trades and saving up for a Renaissance Man card (wild), or by discarding and replacing from the deck. If you start building and feel you have chosen the wrong path based upon the cards available, you can remove any amount of cards from your pyramid and build anew. And this is where I was flummoxed. So many paths to build, which one was the best? Turns out, there is no right answer – it all ‘just depends’.

To help me better understand the game, I did come across a video from GenCon 2013 where the game debuted. If you’re interested in seeing a full play-through, check this out.

Advertised at 30 minutes and for 1-4 players, make sure you set aside a good hour for your first few games. Once all players have a hang of the rules, you’ll be able to get in a game in 30 minutes with no problem. Another very unique feature of Renaissance Man is the inclusion of rules for solo play! This ability to play the game on your own when you can’t find willing opponents is definitely a nice bonus, one we wish more games had.

And what did all this research about rules and strategy get me? Another loss. Maybe one day, after practice and studying I’ll be able to revel in a victory over HER!

Renaissance Man from Rio Grande Games is not a game you can master in one sitting. Like chess, it will require multiple plays until you begin to get a grasp of the strategy. - SahmReviews.comJust like Boxcars and El Caballero, Rio Grande Games continues to offer very high quality parts and pieces in this game. When you pick up a piece and think “wow, they really didn’t need to make this part so beefy”, you know they have pride in their product.

With a suggested retail of $34.95, you can find it on Amazon right now for under $28 shipped! Be sure to check out their website to see their entire current catalog. If you see something you’d like to see on SahmReviews, be sure to drop them a line and tell them!

Renaissance Man from Rio Grande Games is not a game you can master in one sitting. Like chess, it will require multiple plays until you begin to get a grasp of the strategy. - SahmReviews.com

Scott

About Scott

A former manufacturing executive, Scott now balances his family life with ownership and backend administration of websites such as SahmReviews.com, GiftCardCollector.com and a number of other online properties. He also is an occasional writer and full-time board game fanatic.

22 comments on «It’s About Time for a Renaissance (Man)»

  1. This is definitely my kind of game. Looks like loads of fun!

  2. Sounds like something my guys would like, so I’ll be sharing it with them.

  3. I love games that require stategy. I’ve never heard of this one. I’m intrigued by the learning curve. Wow. Maybe I’ll check it out. Thanks!

  4. Vince says:

    Great review of the renaissance man game. I have never played it but it looks like it could be fun.

  5. Robin Wilson says:

    Sounds like an intriguing game, but $35 really? That would take me longer to understand than the game. Just sayin. Your reference to being taught by/playing chess with your dad could have been written by me. My son does have this game. I thought the box looked familiar so I checked his games. He loves this type of game so I’m not surprised. You did a great job of putting pen to paper!

  6. Crystal says:

    I appreciate the ability to play the game independently. My kids love to play games, but I don’t always have the time (sad, but true). It’d be a great way for them to build their skills at the game while waiting for me.

  7. Yet another game I hadn’t seen before. It does sound like it could be interesting if you understand it properly.

  8. MEllisa says:

    What a fun game! I could really see myself getting into this one.

  9. Looks like a neat game to learn to play. My husband and I were recently talking about getting our board games out. They’ve been in boxes for a long time even though they used to be a lot of fun playing together. This game looks like it would be great to add to our game collection for family game night.

  10. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    This is right up my husband’s alley. I am telling him about this for sure.

  11. WOW – that seems like a game that requires a lot of dedication, but I am ready – winter will be loooong

  12. Heather says:

    Looks like a fun game. Will have to keep this in mind when we start family game nights.

  13. kungphoo says:

    Pretty interesting. This is definitely different and I’m all for anything Renaissance!

  14. Looks like a really fun and interesting game. I know my family would really enjoy it.

  15. That looks like a fun game. I have never heard of it before.

  16. Caitlin says:

    This game sure does look like fun! I love getting to play games like this with my family! Looks like a good one to add to the stack:)

  17. This game looks really interesting. I’m obsessed with that era of history, among others, so I love games like this. 🙂

  18. This sure looks different than anything I’ve seen. I think it would be fun once I figure it out. I have that problem sometimes, where I need to play a few times to really get it.

  19. Melanie K. says:

    That looks like a great game to play! I’ve never heard of it before, so I’m heading to check it out now!

  20. looks like there would be a LOT of pieces involved…

  21. I’m usually on board with most every game but this one….lol I am scratching my head trying to figure it out. I bet if I brought it home I would struggle and my kids would totally embarrass me.

  22. Nicole Dz says:

    Very interesting game, looks like something new and different to give a try, I always like trying new games, sometimes we like them and sometimes we don’t, and when we don’t we just pass them along.

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