In Condottiere, does the Favor of the Pope (white token) begin in play or does it not come into play until the first Bishop card is played?
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It begins off of the board. The initial setup is illustrated on p. 4 of the rulebook. It is also worth mentioning that when a player plays a Bishop card, that player can choose to remove the Favor of the Pope token from the board (or leave it off) rather than place it in any region.