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Machiavelli The Prince | Merchant Prince I | Review

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Merchant Prince is a turn-based 4X strategy video game franchise set in the Republic of Venice during the Renaissance. The first Merchant Prince was published in 1994. Machiavelli the Prince in 1995. Both were developed by Holistic Design (HDI) but had separate publishers. In general, the games are trade simulators where items are bought low, transported, and sold high. They achieved notability, however, for their representation of Venetian and papal politics, with players able to bribe senators and cardinals for political, military, and religious power. Overt attacks against other players can destroy one's popularity and influence, but the game offers a thieves' den where covert options include arson, rumor-mongering, and assassination. The games are won after a predetermined number of turns (years) by the player with the highest net worth, including the value of bribed senators and cardinals. The game's world map has been praised as "capturing what exploring is really like", as the player expands beyond the known and certain world into distant seas and lands which have been filled in only by rumor, legend, and wild speculation.
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