The year is 1492. It is Sunday. The old pope is dead and now the race is on for the election of the new pope. You’re one of the hopefuls in this election, however not everyone is on your side… yet. But don’t worry, they’ll come around once you show them a little financial appreciation…
So your goal in this game is to elect a new pope. Every player has one vote, and there are three non-player cardinals with a vote each as well. Everyone can be bought, and everyone can sell their vote.
And once the new pope is elected, the richest player wins — just like in real life.
How the game works in detail
This is a short overview over the most important rules of the game. You probably won’t be able to play it after reading this, but you’ll understand how the game works.
Before the game starts, set out the central game board with cardinals C1, C2 and C3 on them, as well as the pope position. Put the initial pope salary card on the pope position. Every player chooses their character and gets the cards for that character, the vote tokens for each character in the game and a player board. Shuffle your cards and put them on the player board. Keep your vote tokens next to your board. Everyone picks up the first five cards off their stack.
The most catholic player is the first ceremonial master and starts the game.
On a player’s turn, the player does the following things: Play their cards to the field (C1, C2 and C3), increase the pope position, make offers to other players or play actions. You can play all your cards, in any order, to any of the options mentioned. You may keep up to three cards in your hand for the next turn. Your options in detail are:
- Play a card to the field: Place a card face down on C1, C2 or C3. Each cardinal will vote for the player that pledged the most amount of money to them during this vote.
- Increase the pope position: place a card face down in the middle, on the pope position. A newly elected pope will get all these cards and double them when counting their money.
- Make offers to other players: Buy the vote off of other players by making them an offer they can’t refuse. Simply place the offer in front of them — you’ll see whether they accepted it when it comes time to vote.
- Play an action: Some cards have actions denoted on them. Play them face up and follow the directions. These cards are discarded and put back into the box once you’ve played them. To finish your turn, pick up all your vote tokens and shuffle them slightly. Select your vote and put the token face down on your board. Note that this is the only time you get to change your vote! The other tokens are kept next to the board. Finally, pick up the next five cards from your stack. If there are fewer than five cards left, you can only take as many as there are left. Possibly even no card at all.
The vote (and end of the game)
Once every player has picked up all their cards and played the same number of times, it’s time for a vote. Every player turns over their vote token. They take the offer from the player they voted for and put it in their account. The offers they didn’t accept go back into the respective player’s account.
Then the cardinals C1, C2 and C3 are counted. They vote for the player that put the most amount of money over them. If there is a tie, no player gets that vote. Finally, votes are tallied. If a player managed to get more than half the votes, they’re elected pope. In that case, they take the pope salary from the middle of the table and double it. Everyone counts their money, and the richest player wins.
If no player was elected, the money from the cardinals C1, C2 and C3 is returned to the player’s draw stacks and shuffled. Then the ceremonial master hands over to the next player, who will start a new voting round. If no pope is found after three votes, the game ends without a pope, but still the richest player wins.