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Among Nobles is a game about family building in feudal Europe.
Each player starts with two character cards representing a married couple, the ancestral lord and his lady. Married couples have the wife placed beneath her husband - the wife boosts her husbands abilities.
Every turn the players take alternating actions, each time activating a character or a couple. An activation lets you pick an action series (row) and take all the actions in that series. Since women lend their actions to her husband, activating couples can be more efficient than activating single characters.
Players use their family to advance their influence on the game, wage war, earn gold and - most importantly - expand their family and thereby giving themselves more characters to choose from (more options) and access to more powerful nobles from later ages.
The game is played over 3 ages: I, II and III. Each age lasts until the current deck of cards run out. When the last card of a deck is put on the display line, the current round of actions is carried out, and a generation change takes place. When the last card of the III deck is put on the display line, the game ends after the current round of actions has been carried out.
Starting with the first player and going clockwise around the table, each player in turn activates a character. Each player has 3 action tokens, enabling the activation of 3 characters and/or couples. A player’s turn consists of activating a character by placing an action token on the card and choosing one of the 4 action series (which each may consist of 1 to 4 possible actions). The actions in the chosen series are executed in strict order from left to right. Any birth actions in the chosen series are mandatory. All other actions are optional.
The possible actions are
- Warfare: moving armies to attack provinces. Owner of a province earns income
- Piery: gain prestige points. Prestige points is a measurement of how big your influence on society is - and the player with the most prestige points at the end wins the game.
- Commerce: gain gold. Gold is used to buy extra actions, pay for the big wedding feasts, to muster armies, dowry and to pay for the education and finer upbringing of male heirs.
- Marriage: Games can be won and lost because of the right or wrong marriages. Note that families are defined by the line of the sword: daughters might get married off to other families while the sons continue the bloodline.
- Birth: gain offspring. Each character has one of the 4 traits in the game. A couple can only have children with a trait that matches at least one of the parents.
- Intrigue: Used to activate special rules. Some male characters have special rules that can only be accessed by intrigue actions. This is but one of the ways choosing the perfect bride for sons are important.
- Hire: sometimes flexibility is key. Some characters have Hire actions that let your choose between warfare, piety and marriage actions. It comes at a prise though, each Hire actions costs 2 gold.