De Vulgari Eloquentia by Mario Papini is back after almost ten years since it’s first release, in a new Deluxe English edition that also includes the Ritmo Bellunese expansion. De Vulgari Eloquentia is a game for 2-5 players and last about 2 hours.
De Vulgari Eloquentia has been enriched with new gorgeous components and an improved rulebook thanks to suggestions given by many gamers over the years. Now the game includes a new board, new expansion, new player screens, extremely useful player aids, metal coins, new tiles, and custom shaped wooden meeples.
Italy, late Middle Ages. The fabric merchants need to write down their contracts in a language that everyone can understand and the literates are looking for an alternative to the elite of the traditional Latin language. So, the Volgare, the language spoken by the common people, taken from the dialects spoken in the various Italian regions, starts to gain relevance.
During this period, Francesco D’Assisi writes his famous Canticle of the Sun and Dante writes the Divine Comedy
– both written in Volgare.
The players will have to do their part in the creation of this new language! But who will provide the proper knowledge to understand the manuscripts in the different dialects? Who will succeed to uncover the secrets of the books inside the Papal Library? Who will embrace the religious life and who will remain a merchant? Some of the players can become a famous banker, someone else can climb the church’s hierarchy to be the next Pope! But in the end, who will be the most appreciated and respected for his status and his culture?
The objective is to gain the most victory points, here called Volgare Points! Such points are gained collecting various manuscripts, improving your social status, earning wealth, earning the support from politicians, nobles, amanuensis and abbesses.
A game of De Vulgari Eloquentia lasts from 13 to 16 turns. Every turn of the game is divided into four phases:
- Turn Order
Event: on the board, there are two tracks useful for better planning your turns and travels along the Italian peninsula. The first track shows what cubes will be available during each turn. The cubes, depending on the color, represent the influence and support given by politicians, nobles, abbesses and amanuensis and it is of vital importance to acquire the right amount of each color. The second track shows future events that will occur in certain Italian cities and will give bonuses if visited.
Charity: since those who took a religious path have renounced all wealth and may not gain monetary bonuses from any city, the richest merchant or the bank will have to pay 5 or 10 Ducati to the priest.
Turn Order: the turn order is determined depending on the knowledge possessed by the players, beginning with who accumulated the least. It is possible to influence this order with the “Rest” action, allowing you to act first during the next turn.
Actions: this is the main phase of the game, in which every player may do five actions on the board, choosing between:
- Traveling: by spending one action per movement, you can move to an adjacent region or across the seas traveling from port to port. The various cities are important as they reward your visit with coin, knowledge, special actions, and sometimes unique events.
- Manuscripts: depending on your level of knowledge and on the region you are currently in, you can acquire a manuscript that will give you Volgare Points at the end of the game. The higher the level of the manuscript the more actions it will cost.
- Politicians/Nobles/Abbesses/Amanuensis: with each of these actions you can take a cube of the corresponding color, as long as it is available during that turn.
- Salterio: here you can study and increase your knowledge, that will allow you to acquire manuscripts of a higher value.
- Affairs: this action will gain you 10 Ducati from the bank, an action used a lot by players who choose the religious path.
- Riddle from Verona: if you find yourself in the north of Italy, you can spend actions to try to decipher the Riddle, but only the two players that have the most clues will receive Volgare Points at the end of the game.
- Canticle of the Creatures by Francis from Assisi: during the game Francis from Assisi will travel through the Italian regions and if you meet him, you will advance on the Canticle track. At the end of the game, the player that will have studied the most with Francis, will receive the Volgare Points.
- Vatican Library: you can study within the Vatican Library to advance on this track and gain access to books hidden within. These books will give you Volgare Points at the end of the game, but your knowledge level will limit the number of books you can hold.
- The Messenger: here you can study to ultimately send a messenger to the University of Bologna for your graduation. If you complete this track, you will have access to special rewards in Bologna and you will able to earn Vulgar Points at the end of the game depending on the university cities visited.
- The Orient: spending actions here will advance you on this track. If you complete this track, it will grant you a bonus in Ducati from every city you visited and a vulgar point bonus at the end of the game, if you are the Merchant who has visited most harbors.
The game ends between the 13th and 16th turn, with the Pope’s death, after which there will be elections: all Friars can become Monks, all Merchants can become Bankers, a Cardinal can become Pope while the rest can become Camerlengo. All this is possible if the players accumulated enough support from nobles, politicians, and abbesses.
Volgare Points are then counted up and the winner is determined, who will be the most esteemed player for their knowledge or their social status?