Medici is the iOS adaptation of Reiner Knizia's classic bidding game, a board-game simulation of a dockside auction over the course of three days, in which three to six merchants bid to fill the cargo holds of their ships.
As with adaptations of similarly complex, European-style board games, existing fans of this popular game will have a much easier time with this app--but thankfully, comprehensive rules (perhaps overly so) along with nine different AI choices (each with varying skill levels and tendencies) help to make the learning curve a little less steep. Gameplay is actually very simple once you've learned the basics, and the richness of the game comes in anticipating the bids of your opponents while correctly valuing what each auction is worth. Players (any mix of human or AI) take turns putting up goods for auction, choosing either one, two, or three unmarked crates, which each then reveals a certain amount of cloth, fur, grain, dye, spice, or gold. Then each player bids on the lot of crates, with the starting player getting the final bid. Because each player's ship only has space for five crates on each of the game's three days, there is also a lot of strategy in how many crates you choose to put up for auction. Players are scored both on the overall value of their hold, and on how much of a relative monopoly they can establish in a particular good.
In most ways, Medici is an excellent adaptation of the original, with even better visuals and lightning-fast play times, thanks to the fact that the app handles all of the piece-shuffling and bookkeeping. One of the few advantages of the tabletop version, however, is the ability to make side deals and more-subtle negotiations--but the iOS Medici's gameplay and presentation largely make up for that. We would love to see online multiplayer, and even just a local leaderboard, but overall this is a solid adaptation of a well-respected, well-designed game.