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The death of Carloman in 771 left his twenty-nine year old brother Charles in control of the Frankish Empire. What Charles did with that power over the course of the next forty-plus years is the stuff of legend. His unparalleled achievements in warfare, diplomacy, administration, and culture led to the sobriquet Carolus Magnus: Charles the Great: Charlemagne, King of the Franks and of the Lombards, and Emperor of the Romans.
In this solitaire strategy game, you assume the Frankish throne, and seek to duplicate - or exceed - Charlemagne's singular genius, while hopefully avoiding some of his mistakes, such as the famous defeat at Roncevaux (immortalized in the Song of Roland). As you conquer new territory and incorporate it into your empire, you'll need to contend with rebels and palace intriguers. Building public works and patronizing the Carolingian Renaissance will increase your prestige and wealth. Along the way you'll need to win the support of the papacy, buy off Viking marauders, convert the pagans in Saxony, contend with incursions from Moorish Spain (Al-Andalus), and maintain detente with the Byzantine Empire.
Like its spiritual predecessor Agricola, Master of Britain, this game models the consent of the governed (or lack thereof) with a series of three opaque containers, the contents of which secretly change in reaction to the actions you take. Do something that people like, and the populace leans friendly. Do something they don’t, and they lean in the other direction, inviting rebellions from within and invasions from without. Over the course of your long reign, these subtle adjustments will pile up, resulting in a game state that reacts to you and reflects the character and effectiveness of your rule. This makes it a solitaire gaming experience in which your decisions matter. You’re not fighting against the vagaries of an event deck, trying to outsmart a braindead AI, or finding loopholes in a flowchart. Your job is to govern a vast and fractious empire with a savvy combination of wisdom and ruthlessness.
One of our first big hits, Agricola was a clever and challenging little game about bringing order to a small island. Charlemagne, Master of Europedelivers on the promise of Agricola with a grand, sweeping epic, saturated with period detail, spanning decades and a continent.
Game Design: Tom Russell
Art: Ania B. Ziolkowska & Nadir Elfarra
Hex number: 22
Duration: 180 minutes
Solitaire Suitability: High