Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Ren Multamäki

Dragon Dawn Production

No. of Players:

EVALUATION - based on a prototype of the game


G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

England in the 16th century: The religious movement of the Reformation reached the land. From Queen Mary I over Queen Elizabeth to James I the reigns adopted the idea to reform the corrupt practices of the Catholic church. Well, probably it was not only the wish of fighting the corruption. The monarchs also wanted to have more wealth, more authority and more power for themselves.

Tolerance from Ren Multamäki is the game that adopts the theme of this interesting time-period of the reformation. An era that has become quite popular due to some great movies and books in recent years. I must confess that I haven’t known much about England’s history before I began to read Rebecca Gable’s and Ken Follet’s great series. Although those books play some years before the reformation, my interest was aroused. So, I needed no second invitation when Ren asked me to test the prototype of Tolerance, a game he put some heart and soul into – as he told me.

The cover of the game already looks promising, or better interesting: a painting of all the different method of tortures of human mankind in the late Middle Ages and God with the Last Judgement on top of that all. Inside the box we find a lot of cards with more artwork. Artwork in form of engravings that are taken from the Cleveland Art Museum. This looks awesome.

But wait: only cards? No board? Yeah, that’s right! Tolerance is a pure card game, a trick-taking game for three to five players. A trick-taking game? Didn’t you tell us something about reformation and monarchs and so on and so forth?


Click on image to enlarge!

You’re right. I didn’t believe it myself. But Tolerance actually succeeds in telling us some history with a simple trick-taking mechanism. How does that work? Well, let’s dig deeper into the game:

The main mechanic is a typical trick-taking one. In all three rounds of the game you deal each player twelve cards. A player starts the round by playing one of his hand cards, and all other players must play a card of the same suit, if they have one. The highest card of the suit wins the trick. Pretty much straightforward, isn’t it. Oh, I forgot: there is a wild suit that is a kind of joker that can be declared as any suit. A small detail, but an important one, as you will see.

The trick of the trick-taking game is that winning the trick is not the end of what is happening. Instead, whenever a trick is won, the cards of the trick interact, and a scoring takes place. When you look at the cards, you will see that there are a lot of symbols on each card. Two of them are important for the trick: the suit and the rank. According to the theme the suits are nobles, clergy, townsfolk, peasants. A special suit are the wilds, as they serve as a joker with the player choosing the suit after playing the card. The rank is simply the value of the card.

As far as the trick-taking mechanism is concerned that’s all. The highest card of the suit led, wins the trick. No trump, just follow the suit of the first player and playing the highest value to win the trick.


Click on image to enlarge!

So, what are all those other symbols? The affiliation determines the religious views of the card. Catholics, protestants and prevailing persons, next to guild members. Then there is a piety and a money value.

And then there are the effects: the effects that happen at the end of the trick or at the end of the round. This is where the party begins: Cards kill, convert, condemn or collect taxes or piety. All of this follows an order that is given by the rank of the card, independent of the suit. Naturally a card that has been killed before it’s their turn does no longer perform its effect. All cards are sorted by their affiliation and their living status at the end of the trick and placed in the matching places next to the player board of the trick winning player.

You see, winning the trick is not the only thing to do in the game. Playing a card to the trick of another player that destroys his ambitions is another valid strategy, at least it will decrease the victory points for your opponent.

Victory points are awarded at the end of each round, next to the total round taxes and the round piety points. And these round end scorings vary during the game. On the one hand, the time period changes from Mary I in the first round, over Elizabeth I for the second and James I for the last round. Mary was a steady Catholic, Elizabeth undecided and James the first Protestant reign. This changes the way of the round taxes as well as the victory points for the round, while piety is always collected for each affiliation separately.


Click on image to enlarge!

You see there is a lot going on next to the simple trick-taking game. You might call Tolerance a trick-taking game for the experienced player, although this is also not well and truly. For the trick-taking mechanism does not get complex, only the result of the tricks must be considered before playing a card.

To sum it up: Tolerance has really surprised me. Although you cannot really call me a trick-taking fan, I didn’t want to stop playing another round and still another round of the game. The effects of the cards – once you are familiar with the symbols – make the game much more tactical than I have thought. And I even was inspired to read some more of the background of the reformation in England and about the conflict between Catholics and Protestants in that time. The game will be on Gamefound on the 19th of March 2023. Have that in mind, if you like unusual, advanced trick-taking games or if you just want a game with an interesting historical background of the reformation time in England.

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Copyright © 2023 Ralf Togler & Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany