The Empire’s three kingdoms are going through a time of rapid innovation and prosperity. Trade routes are opening throughout the land, allowing merchants to hock their wares. However, setting up a new business to sell your goods takes more than just walking into town and finding an open location. The three kingdoms each have their own Council, made up of members of the various ruling houses, and to get a license to sell goods, merchants must make deals with the Council. When necessary, the Council can be bypassed, as the Queen rules over all the Empire. When the Council is being too stubborn, merchants can go directly to the Queen for the required permits. The race is on, as the various merchants race to create the largest trading network throughout the entire land.
In Council of 4, players take on the role of merchants who are trying to create a trading network throughout the Empire. To do this, they must manipulate the Council in the various Kingdoms, acquire cards that match the Councilors sitting on those Councils, and maneuver the Queen around the board, whenever the Council is just not working out the way they wanted. By dealing with the Council and the Queen, the players’ networks will grow, allowing them to set up trading hubs across the three Kingdoms. As their networks expand, so do the bonuses they get when a new city is added. In the end, the player with the largest network is declared the winner.
Council of 4 is played over a series of rounds. Each round, players have a turn that consists of two phases. During the first phase, they draw a card from the Politics deck. These cards represent influence that the player has over a certain Council Member. They become important when players seek to gain a new Merchant Permit. In the second phase, the players take an Action. There are four Actions available to them. They can manipulate the Council Members in a Kingdom. To do this, they simply take a Council Member miniature of their choice and slide it onto the end of the Council Balcony in a Kingdom (the Balcony being where the Councilors reside). This will bump off the Council Member on the opposite side, creating a sort of conveyor-belt effect. The second choice for Action is acquiring a Business Permit tile. To do this, the player plays Politics cards from their hand and pays coins to the Council in one of the Kingdoms. The more Politics cards they play that match the color of the Council Members in the Balcony, the fewer coins they have to pay. The third Action is that they can play a Business Permit tile from their collection. Acquiring the Permit is only the first step in getting a new business hub. The player will spend their Permit in order to place a small merchant figure in the city that matches their Permit tile. They immediately gain a bonus, depending on the city they just played to, as well as the bonus from all the other cities that are connected via roads to that new city. Obviously, it pays to have an interconnected trading network. The fourth Action is the player can request the aid of the Queen. The Queen has her own Council Balcony, and the process is much the same as acquiring a Business Permit, however, instead of just getting the Permit tile, the player can place their merchant figure immediately into the city where the Queen is. This can fast-track them to building that trade network, but at an added cost, as moving the Queen to the desired city can be very expensive.
Being wealthy merchants, the players also have access to servants that can do their bidding. By acquiring and then spending servants, players can also do a Quick Action on their turn. These special Actions let players do things such as hiring on more servants, exchanging their Business Permit tiles for others, and manipulating Councils. Managing those in their employ is a great way for players to quickly build their trading empire.
They say that money makes the world go ‘round. In Council of 4, players are trying to acquire wealth via their expansive trade network. But who will have the greatest business empire at the end? That’s for the Councils to decide.
Council of 4 will be available in your FLGS on May 25.
You can read up more about Council of 4 here.