Today we're taking a look at the flagship game for the brand-new publisher, Green Couch Games. Jason Kotarski, designer of games such as The Great Heartland Hauling Co. and Frog Flip, has thrown his couch errrr... hat into the indie publishing ring and will be Kickstarting Fidelitas starting tomorrow, August 1st, 2014.
Fidelitas is a filler for 2-4 players, and is a game of hidden agendas and influence. It plays in about 20-30 minutes and features some amazing art and graphic design. It takes place in the small town of... wait for it... Fidelitas, where the townsfolk have grown disgruntled with the powers that be, and are organizing an upheaval. As a player you're trying to convince everyone that you have the influence to gather the right folks in key locations to pull this thing off!
So how does it play? Did we like it? Keep reading and we'll fill you in!
The Quick Review
Title - Fidelitas
Designer - Jason Kotarski and Philip DuBarry
Publisher - Green Couch Games
Number of players - 2-4 (Plays well with any amount)
Ages - 10 and up
Play time - 20-30 Minutes (This is spot on and usually closer to 20 minutes.)
Category/Genre - Hidden Agenda/Influence
- Quick setup and FAST learning curve!
- Awesome artwork and graphic design.
- Lots of tactical decisions, but with little Analysis Paralysis.
- Wonderful for gamers and non-gamers alike!
- A little swingy with card draws.
- Not super strategic.
Family? Yes, there's a lot of reading, though, so definitely not for the young ones.
Youth Group? Maybe! The only drawback is it's for 4-players, but in a small setting, definitely.
Gamers? Yes! This is a GREAT filler for game night!
Nongamers? Yes! We highly reccomend this as a gateway game!
* Firestone: 7.5
I'm a fan of games that let you do clever things, and thanks to the hidden missions, I spend the whole game trying to do clever things. Good game.
* Jeremiah: 9
I love games that I can teach quickly. I love games with hidden agendas. Fidelitas has a great learning curve and offers awesome gameplay, I love it!
The Full Review
Cards!! Yep the whole game is made up of cards!
50 Virtus Cards - These are the characters in the game.
20 Missio Cards - These are the hidden agendas or "missions" that you're trying to complete.
5 Location Cards - Which make up the play area and represent ten locations and five of nine unique guilds: Judiciary, Academic, Tavern, Artisan and Commerce.
Setup is quick and easy: Place the five location cards on the table--they're numbered 1-5 to help out. It's worth noting that there's a road sign on the 1 card that points toward the Castle, and one on the 5 card pointing toward the Harbor. This is important because some cards interact with the Harbor and Castle.
The Virtus cards are shuffled and then one random card is dealt to each of the 10 locations.
Then the Virtus and Missio cards are shuffled and each player is dealt two of each--then the remaining cards create draw piles. Choose a starting player and remember in some fashion who that person is.
Game play is seriously easy; it goes like this:
Play one Virtus Card and do what is says.
Score one--or more--of your Missio Cards if the conditions have been met.
Draw a new Virtus Card, unless the Virtus Card you played tells you otherwise.
The game play mechanic is super simple. The strategy is where the game heats up. Each card you play has a different ability. Some allow you to move cards from one location to another, others allow you to draw more cards--increasing your hand limit-- while others allow you to remove a card or cards from the game entirely. So why do all of that? Well that brings us to...
The Goal/End Game Conditions
The goal is to score a set amount of points--dependent on the number of players--or to score the most points should the Virtus draw deck be depleted twice. You score points by satisfying the requirements on your Missio cards. The Missio cards will require you to have certain characters in certain locations at the same time in order to score points, or to clear out certain areas, etc. This represents your influence on the folks of the town to get the right people in the right places in order to overthrow the elitists controlling your little town.
Firestone--The first thing that struck me was the artwork and graphic design. I'll talk about the art in a second, but with such great character art, it would have been understandable if they'd make the shield icons small. But those shields are the game, so they made them big and colorful and can't-miss. And that's good.
Now the art. It's terrific. Jacqui Davis' characters are unique and interesting. I don't know if they purposely went for a Disney feel, or not, but these characters look like something straight out of a movie. I think that can only help with crossover appeal. A young girl might not generally care about manipulating citizens into different positions in the city--but she might if she sees the artwork.
That's not to say it feels like a "princess" game. It doesn't at all. The art is just very well done.
Jeremiah-- Yes. This game is just awesome to look at. It's highly accessible simply because of its aesthetic appeal! Folks who are more casual gamers can grasp a card game. There are no bits, no complicated board, just really nice-looking, well-designed cards! I also love that even though the entire game--including the playing area--is made up of cards, the setup time is really easy and doesn't take much time at all. That's not always true with games that try to be clever with only using cards.
Firestone--But this game is way more that just the great art. The plans and maneuvering are fun.
This would easily work as a gateway game. The gameplay is straightforward and easy to pick up. It can also be a filler at game night. The decisions are still interesting, and it plays quickly. It's highly tactical. Every turn will be you looking at what you have, and the state of the board, and doing the best you can with what you have. I like games like that.
Jeremiah--We've always wanted to play more than once when Fidelitas hits the table. My group loves hidden-role/agenda-type games so it suits us perfectly. I agree, Fidelitas could very well be a gateway game but it also hits home with gamers because there is so much depth in the decisions of each turn. That is such a hard balance to strike and Fidelitas does it about as well as any game I've played.
Firestone--My one real complaint is that it can be a little swingy. You're drawing cards, so you could pull a Mission card that has no aspect of it already on the board--while someone else draws one that's already done. And if you don't like your plans being undone, you might want to steer clear. What makes it palatable is that people are tearing things down here in order to build it up there. So you never feel someone is messing with you for spite; you know they're doing something to help them.
Jeremiah--The luck of the draw is an issue to some level with any card game. Someone can typically just have better draws and walk away with a victory because of it. The Tavern seems to mitigate that to a good degree allowing you to draw a new Missio card, which could very well score for you... With a bunch of new players, it's nearly impossible to guess what someone is working towards--unless it's painfully obvious they keep moving characters to one location--so a lot of the malice and meddling isn't as strong. I could imagine a scenario where a lot of players get familiar with the Missio cards and begin to really start shutting each other down. The good thing in that scenario is that the game times itself out with two depletions of the draw deck, so the game is always working itself toward an end.
I think it's also worth mentioning that I can't remember a game that was a blowout; we've always had nail-biters with everyone in contention to the end. I love that.
Jeremiah's Final Verdict--Fidelitas is a lightweight hidden-agenda game that doesn't go easy on the fun! It looks amazing, it plays great, it's not fiddly, and offers tons of decisions without inflicting analysis paralysis on even the newest of gamers. Keep it in your collection as a fun filler, or for a night with casual gamers. Fidelitas is a home run for Green Couch Games!
Firestone's Final Verdict--"Great little games that make great big connections." That's a terrific tagline for a game company, and Fidelitas certainly fits the bill. Jason and Philip have given us an evocative, light cardgame you could play anywhere, with anyone. If you're looking for heavy, strategic depth, look elsewhere. But if you're looking for a fun card game that appeals to nongamers, spouses, families, and Disney fans--but is still interesting enough to play on your regular game night--then look no further.
Fidelitas will be on Kickstarter starting August 1, and you can score a copy shipped to your US door for $19. You can back it by clicking RIGHT HERE!
We'd like to thank Green Couch Games for supplying us with prototypes of the game. This in no way affected our opinions.