Fidelitas is a card game for one to four players ages 13 and up. It’s designed by Jason Kotarski and Phillip DuBarry, with art from Jacqui Davis. The game is published by Green Couch Games and retails for $20.
Players try to wield influence in the city, manipulating key players into specific locations to gain points. The first player or team to a specific number of points, which varies depending on the number of players, wins.
How it works:
Five cards make up the nine locations in the city. The center card is a tavern, the others have two locations on either side, and they have a shield symbol.
There are nine guilds in the city, each with a different shield. Four of those shields must be played to a location with a matching symbol. The others may be played anywhere.
Players draw two cards with characters and two mission cards. The mission cards give players from one to four points when a player can fulfill their requirements. Missions generally require players to gather character cards at certain locations.
The character cards have an action, which often involves moving character cards that have been played.
Why you might buy Fidelitas:
Fidelitas has a cheery look that lets you know right away that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is a game about moving cards around and trying to block your opponents, though you won’t always know what they’re doing.
The puzzle in Fidelitas is continually shifting, which is both fun and frustrating.
If you like games where it’s easy to destroy what another player is working on, and they can do the same to you, this will be a good fit.
The team variant for four players is particularly strong. The two players can talk about what they’re doing, and one player can score a mission on a teammate’s turn. But talking too much will leave the team’s plans open to their opponents. This creates more opportunities for bluffing.
Bluffing can be dangerous, however, because sometimes the points come quickly.
Why you might not buy Fidelitas:
The point system can feel quite arbitrary. Depending on which cards are on the table, a three-point mission can be handed to a player, while a one-point mission can take several turns to complete. Players can discard a mission and draw a new one at the tavern, but this burns a turn while the opponents are still working.
To play the game properly, you might feel mean. If you see your opponent working on a mission — and you will likely see it as they move cards to a specific location — you should move cards away. But then you’ve just undone several turns of their work. You can also destroy someone’s work without trying. You have to decide if you like that style of play.
There is a one-player variant, but the end goal is to beat your own score, so it’s rather open-ended.
As a team game, Fidelitas is fun, and it works. If one player is thwarted, the other can often take advantage of the situation. The table talk and bluffing adds to the experience.
For two and three players, it’s too mean for me. Disrupting a player who’s already losing just to gain another point for myself doesn’t feel satisfying. And at the end of the game, if I win, I feel lucky. If I lose, I feel unlucky. I rarely feel my skill had anything to do with it.
The game feels too long for what it is, especially with two players.
I wanted to like this game, but it left me wishing it was more balanced.
Full disclosure: I received a review copy of Fidelitas from Green Couch Games. I was not required to write a positive review. These are my honest opinions.