Fidelitas is a hipster city if there ever was one…it existed way before you ever heard of it. In fact, before anyone ever heard of it. The citizens decided to formulate a way to take back power from the political elite, but being dividing into 9 guilds throughout the city made alliances rough. In Fidelitas, you pick up where the citizens left off by completing hidden objectives and manipulating influence throughout the city to acquire victory points in their quest to lead the city.
Fidelitas comes in a small 4″x6″ box and contains the following:
- 1 rulebook
- 5 location cards
- 1 Castle card
- 1 Harbor card
- 20 Missio cards
- 50 Virtus cards
- 1 start player token
- 8 Manu Forti expansion cards
- 3 reference cards
The artwork for Fidelitas was done by Jacqui Davis. The game was funded via Kickstarter.
How to Play
Alright – so the townsfolk had a great idea to overthrow the political elite, but can’t organize themselves. It is up to you to swoop in and organize these fools for a true revolution. You will do this by way of manipulating various members of the guilds to have them meet in certain locations to acquire victory points. If you are sneaky and do so enough times, you may find yourself the leader of a successful political overthrow. Let’s get started on how to do this.
You’ll set up the board as seen in the photo below : Castle on one side, then the 5 main locations in numerical order, with the Harbor on the opposite side. Here is your little never-before-heard-of city of Fidelitas. Shuffle the Virtus cards, then draw 10 cards, placing one card face up on either side of each location card, also seen below.
Give each player two Virtus cards to start the game. Shuffle the Missio cards and deal 2 of these to each player. Make sure you keep these separate from your Virtus cards, and keep them secret from other players. Put each of these piles in reach of all players to the side. Randomly choose a starting player – perhaps the one who most recently forgot an important engagement due to intoxication. Or the oldest/youngest. Or whoever owns a green couch.
Each turn has 3 main parts.
- Play a Virtus card and follow the printed action.
- Score one or more Missio cards if possible
- Draw replacement cards (unless instructed otherwise)
Simple enough. Now, the details.
When you play a Virtus card, the guild symbols must remain visible for all players. Virtus cards must be played to locations containing their guild’s symbol. They can be moved elsewhere with other actions, but must be played on “friendly territory”, if you will. If you have a card with a guild symbol that is not present on the board, you may play them anywhere, unless the card says otherwise.
There is a special location in the grand city of Fidelitas : the Tavern. While this is normally a common place in other games, the Fidelitas Tavern has some great powers. You may play any card to the Tavern to activate its ability rather than the card’s. The active player can drop a Virtus card in the Tavern to discard a Missio card, place it at the bottom of the Missio draw deck, and draw a new one. Maybe someone proposed a heinous idea that is simply not possible – throw the idea out and open the floor for another. When this happens, a Virtus card is drawn from the draw deck and placed on the opposite side of the Tavern from where the initial card was played. More people = more manipulation.
Scoring Missio cards is pretty straightforward – they will say you need to have certain cards in certain locations in order to score the card – if you have done so after playing/moving cards in the first step of your turn, claim what is rightfully yours – a well-executed feat of revolution.
Unless a card specifies otherwise, you’ll draw a new Virtus card from the deck -OR- draw a face-up card from either side of the Tavern. If a card was played to the Tavern that turn, you may draw from it in the draw step, but only from the opposite side of the Tavern. Missio cards are also replaced, but players may only have 2 Missio cards at a time.
The game ends in one of two ways : If a player reaches 10 pts in a 2 player game, 8 pts in a 3 player game, or 6 pts in a 4 player game. The other way is exhausting your resources. The first time the Virtus deck runs out, reshuffle any discards for a new deck. The 2nd time the Virtus deck runs out, it is game over. The player with the most victory points is the winner!
Stop Messing With My Pawns! Er, I mean…Fellow Townsfolk
So, let me just tell you something. When this game hit my table, I was a little unimpressed. The artwork is nice, but I’ve found small box games to be so hit and miss that I didn’t understand the way a card game in a tiny box could present a whole city to work with. I was of the “…go on…” club once we got it open, however, and started setting up the board. I found the game easy to learn, yet challenging to master. With the other players constantly moving strategically placed Virtus cards when their turn come around, your strategy is always shifting.
I really feel like the sweet spot with this game is 3 players. Just enough to throw a little bit of madness into your careful planning, but not so much that you give up hope of accomplishing that one Missio card by the time it gets back to your turn in the spotlight. Fidelitas is quick to set up, pick up, and play again and again. We frequently play 2 games every time we bring it out. No two games have been alike and I think it is hard to try to have the same approach every game. You really have to be flexible with it.
The mini expansion that comes in the box features Virtus cards that you can hold in your hand and play for victory points instead of playing for their abilities. These can be difficult to obtain for their VP value, but not impossible, and can really make a difference in the outcome of the game!
The gameplay is just very smooth. Fidelitas is solid and provides a challenge to seasoned card players, yet is fairly simple to learn for new players. I believe there is balance here because with the varied card draw, a fair game can be had between the two. It is advertised for ages 13+, but could probably be for younger ages. Gamers generally know their kids’ capabilities and I think with some guidance this could be picked up at a younger age.
I think the folks at Green Couch Games created a quality, compact card game that is perfect for your regular game nights at a proper table or on the go in the corner at your favorite tavern. You can pick up Fidelitas for about $20 USD, and is well worth it. I think that with the amount of strategy in such a small box, the price is right, and the time spent playing the game is also right.
- Near flawless gameplay – straightforward and easy to follow
- High replayability with rule variants and draws
- Structure allows players multiple approaches and keeps you on your feet
- Lots of game in a little box without taking up your whole night
- Card stock is a bit flimsy – or maybe we’ve just played it too much