Council of Verona: The Poison Expansion Game Review

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The Basics:

  • For ages 8 and up (publisher suggests 13+)
  • For 2 to 5 players
  • Variable game play length

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading
  • Pattern Matching
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Hand/Resource Management
  • Bluffing and Misdirection

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Dirty and deadly politics

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

Long have the heads of family yelled and threatened each other over the council table. All for not. The bitter rivalry between the Capulets and Montagues runs too deep to be easily fixed by words. Diplomacy has failed and poison is being used to permanently silence the opposition. Exile, it would seem, is now desirable since the alternative is an early grave.

Council of Verona: The Poison Expansion, designed by Patrick NickellMichael Eskue and published by Crash Games, is comprised of 5 Poison tokens (1 per color) and 5 Antidote tokens (1 per color). The new tokens are identical to the Council of Verona Influence tokens, which is required to play.

Of Poison Most Foul

Note: We will not discuss how to set up and play the base game, Council of Verona, in this review. Read our review of the base game for full details on how the game is played, won, and enjoyed.

Council of Verona: The Poison Expansion is added during game set up. Give each player 1 Antidote and 1 Poison token of the same color as their Influence tokens. All the tokens are placed face down so opponents cannot see the number values or identify which token is the poison and which is the antidote.

When the game begins, each player is still only allowed to place 1 token on any Character card that has an available Influence slot. Remember, this is an optional step. Determining which token should be placed depends on the player’s intent.

  • Influence tokens will award the player points at the end of the game IF the Character card’s agenda is met and IF the Character card survives
  • Poison tokens will remove (i.e. “kill”) the Character card from the game and any tokens on it at the end of the round
  • Antidote tokens will remove (i.e. “cure”) 1 Poison token placed on the same Character card at the end of the round

Before placing an Influence token, a Poison token, or an Antidote token, the player needs to consider a few things.

  • A player will only be able to count the Influence token’s value if the Character card’s agenda has been met at the end of the round AND the Character card is still alive
  • Some Influence slots have modifiers that will change the Influence token value before scoring, but have no impact to the Poison and Antidote tokens
  • The only limit to the number of Poison and Antidote tokens that can be placed on a Character card are the available Influence slots
  • All players have the same number of Influence, Poison, and Antidote tokens with the same values, but all values are hidden until the round ends

Note: A player can look at the tokens they have previously played at any time, but cannot remove them from Character cards. Some Character cards allow players to look at their opponents’ tokens as an ability. Very useful…

Counting Points and Corpses

The endgame for the round is triggered when all the players have played their Character cards. Any remaining tokens may now be placed in turn order sequence (placement is optional). The round ends and scoring now takes place.

First, flip over all the tokens. For every Poison token a Character card has, it must have at least 1 Antidote token (1 to 1 match). If it does, remove 1 Poison token and 1 Antidote token from the card. If the Character card has more Poison tokens than Antidote tokens, it’s removed from the game along with any tokens that are placed on it.

Second, evaluate each surviving Character card to determine if the described agenda condition has been met. If the agenda condition has been met, the Character card and Influence tokens remain. If the agenda condition HAS NOT been met, the Character card remains, but the Influence tokens on the Character card are removed from play.

For those Character cards that remain and have met their agenda condition, the Influence tokens are counted. Players now calculate the total Influence they have in both card groups by adding their Influence token values, adjusting the total using the Influence slot modifiers. All the scores are recorded on a piece of paper and a new round now begins.

Note: If both Romeo and Juliet die of poison, they are NOT considered “together” per the agenda requirements. It’s a romantic idea, but this tragedy has no happy ending.

After a number of rounds equal to the number of players in the game have been completed, the final score is calculated by adding all the points together. The player with the highest score wins the game!

To learn more about Council of Verona: The Poison Expansionvisit the game’s official web page.

Final Word

The game expansion was well received by all our players. It added a new option and tactics that every player immediately recognized as powerful and troublesome. Powerful in the sense that players now had the ability to remove Character cards from the game. Agendas could now be met either through card plays or through poison. Token placement on cards no longer indicated a player’s possible interest in the Character card’s agenda. Now tokens could represent a player’s strong desire to keep the Character card in play or out of play. Troublesome in the sense that the game expansion made deducing what was going on in an opponent’s head all the more difficult.

Which every player, again, really enjoyed.

Child, Parent, and Gamer Geeks all suggested that the game expansion be permanently included in the game. I agree. Every once in a while, a game expansion comes along that elevates the base game to new outstanding levels. Council of Verona: The Poison Expansion is such an expansion. The base game is solid and was enjoyed by all our players, from the Child Geeks to the most elitist of Gamer Geeks. The expansion adds more complexity without making the game more difficult to play. This is exactly what you want out of an expansion. It should “expand” the game play depth, tactics, and strategy without adding more weight and time. Council of Verona: The Poison Expansion adds a new, sinister level to the metagame that one cannot help enjoying. Best of all, the expansion fits seamlessly and feels natural. The few expansion rule changes do not rock the proverbial boat, nor disrupt the game’s flow.

Excellent. Simply excellent. This game expansion is a game changer in a very good and exciting way.

With the introduction of this expansion, the subtle art of influencing both the game and opponents jumps to a new level. Individuals who are already fans of the game will be most pleased with this expansion. Individuals who have not yet played Council of Verona should demand that this expansion be included from the very start. Do play Council of Verona and Council of Verona: The Poison Expansion at your earliest convenience.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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