The Emperor is dead. The throne is empty. The courts are out of order and power is in the hands of whoever holds the sword. Everybody asks: Who will be the new Emperor? Four kings claim the throne. Who will have it?
Barbarossa (translated to Redbeard) was the nickname of Emperor Friedrich I, who lived from 1123 to 1190. He was crowned as king in 1152, and Emperor in Rome in 1155.
The players take roles of medieval kings, trying to get rich by conquering cities and castles. Possession of cities and castles gives the right to claim taxes. Taxes are used to buy knights, squires and archers to protect the kings interests.
Before the game starts, the players agree on a playing time. Whoever is the richest (cash plus value of knights, squires and archers) by that time wins the game. In addition you can win by being the only player with a live king, or by having a certain numbers of cities and castles (2 players = 16, 3 players = 14, 4 players = 12).
There are rules for movement, which depends on the unit, and the terrain moving through. Combat, which depends on the units, and the defenders position. Tax collection, including the ability to bleed the peasants, and their possible revolt. Pillaging of cloisters, buying now units, and drawing a chance card at the end of each year.
Marketed as a family game, but rather complicated for that.