Recommend
38 
 Thumb up
 Hide
18 Posts

Leonardo da Vinci» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Review by Comparison (and Some Personal Thoughts) rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
jbrier
United States
Aventura
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
What do you get when Princes of Florence and Caylus have a baby? Leonardo DaVinci, of course! For me this presents a particularly interesting situation, since PoF I rate a 9 and Caylus I rate a 5 (I would rate it lower but I admire some aspects of the design greatly and I loved playing it the first 50 times- right now I have no desire to ever play it again).

My initital rating of Leo after two plays with three players is going to be an 8; whether it goes down or up is still unclear, and will require further plays in order for me to find out. However, I noticed there aren't that many reviews, so I thought I'd chip in my two cents...

The game is like Caylus in the following way- the actions that are available to you are represented as locations that you put your apprentices (read: workers) on. By placing an apprentice on a location you get to take the action or get the resource associated with that location. My concern is that this might be the source of Leonardo's downfall, given that I became disenchanted with Caylus in large part because of the repetitive nature of placing workers over and over again the whole game. However, Leonardo might be safe from this defect because it really does last only about an hour and a half tops and feels much shorter than Caylus.

So anyways back to the actual mechanic... Leonardo takes the worker placement idea one step further with this twist: several players can go to the same location, but it will cost more money (which in this game is also your VPs) for players who have placed fewer apprentices (workers) at the location to take the associated action. SO to backtrack a little bit, you are actually allowed to place more than one apprentice at a location during the placement phase. In the case of a tie, the person who arrived there first wins. SO if I arrive first and place 1, then you arrive and place 2, and Maria arrives last and places 1, then you go first, then me, then Maria. The first person to take the action pays 0, the second person pays 2, the third person pays 3, etc.. so getting to take the action first is a big deal.

The main way to get money is by fulfilling the requirements listed on invention cards (read: profession cards). SO here we arrive at the similarities with Princes of Florence. But here there are a couple twists as well. First off, you don't have to own an invention card in order to fulfill it, but rather you can work towards the fulfillment of ANY invention card. The only catch is that when you finish working on the desired invention the corresponding card has to be one of the few cards lying face up on the board. If you've finished working on the invention card AND it is one of the face up cards, THEN you get to take it and get the money reward. (as an aside- any other players that were also working on that card get to continue working on it and will upon completion receive a slightly lower money reward, but they won't get the physical card which in itself confers some additional advantages).

Perhaps the most unique aspect of the game is the way that completing an invention works. Each invention card has a combination of resources listed on it and a number of "weeks" that must be spent in order to complete it. The resources you must already own prior to beginning work on the invention and are placed secretly under your laboratory. So other players know that you are working on an invention but not which one. Since the resource cost of each invention card is unique, there is no room for confusion regarding what invention you were pursuing (once you finish work on it and reveal that you're done). In order to complete an invention after you've placed the resources under your laboratory, you must spend the indicated number of "weeks" working on it.

The laboratory is another one of the locations you can send apprentices to, and each apprentice at Laboratory will contribute one week towards the completion of that invention. This is cool because you must balance the number of apprentices you send into the city to get resources, privilveges, etc, and those you put into the laboratory in order to get work done on your invention cards. Herein lie the truly fundamental similarities to Princes of Florence: firstly, you must know how much to invest in making yourself more efficient at generating VPs versus how much to invest in the actual direct getting of VPs, given the limited amount of time available.

Ideally you want to get those things that increase your efficiency as early as possible (similar to getting things like Jesters and Recruit Cards as early as possible in Princes of Florence), but competition over these is stiff at the outset because everyone wants the same thing, which leads to the second grand similarity with PoF which is that you must know when to pay more for something right now versus waiting to get it later at a cheaper price, knowing that getting it now will allow you to use it for that many more turns.

The interesting part about Leonardo is that there are really two forms of currency- money (one and the same as VPs) but also your apprentices. If you spend several apprentices to beat out other players and get to perform an action first (and consequently for free, without having to spend VPs/money), then that is less apprentices you have for use towards the completion of your inventions.

One of the more apparent similarities to PoF is the fixed number of rounds- here as well it is of great importance to plan out your last couple turns, especially because you can no longer visit the city to gather resources after turn 7 (of 9).

So how does Leonardo da Vinci compare to its predecessors? Because of my experience with Caylus- loving it at first and then finding it virtually unplayable after a couple months- I am reluctant to give Leonardo TOO much praise after just a couple plays, but I am optimistic about Leo's chances of breaking into my top 10, and (just maybe) my top 5. Here's why:

The main reason Caylus doesn't work for me is because it is too long for what it is- the continual rinse and repeat of worker placement fills me with tedium. If Caylus took half as long it might be a game I'd look forward to playing. Leonardo, on the other hand, is a notably short game. Seemingly shorter than Princes of Florence even, and on top of it all simpler rules-wise. If Leonardo turns out to be the best of all three of these games, it will be for that reason.

Even though Leonardo is a more distilled game mechanistically than Princes of Florence, it doesn't feel as narrow in terms of possibilities and is more interactive by far...

The game doesn't have downtime between players turns like PoF does (another good trait passed down by Caylus. So maybe, just maybe, Leonardo is actually the best aspects of these other two games without much of the bad. But the jury is out until I've also given this newcomer the "freshman fifty" plays.

UPDATE: Well, it's been over a year and sadly I haven't even come close to 50 plays, but I have come close to about a dozen and the verdict is very positive: Leonardo is one of my favorite games, and for me the best "worker placement" game. I think the comparison to Caylus is actually a bit weak, since the area-majority competition in each region makes for a considerably different experience than just slapping your worker down somewhere and getting stuff. In this regard Louis XIV is a much more apt comparison, and much of the same timing issues - asserting yourself in an area versus waiting to see what others do - apply here as well (because of ties being broken by who goes in first it is actually more a dilemma here than in Louis XIV, where by contrast it is almost unequivocally better to go last).

One of the game's best features is that the value of investments is astoundingly opaque- it is so difficult to determine whether paying those extra couple bucks for another item at a location is worth it. I also think Leo does the tense juxtaposition of depth and chaos better than El Grande, which goes a little over the top in terms of other players' ability to undo your hard-thought decisions. Here in Leo the balance feels right between interaction and careful planning. There is also an aspect of trying to be out of phase with the other players, which is a dynamic I really enjoy in games.

And by the way, I think I was a little too harsh on Caylus. Although it's not really something I will suggest, I don't mind it as much as I did before when I was clearly in a burnout stage.

8 
 Thumb up
4.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matthew Watson
Scotland
Edinburgh
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Hmm, 5 is quite a low score for a game that you enjoyed playing 50 times! There's very few board games I've ever played that many times.

I suppose you're reflecting how you feel about it right now, as opposed to the average of all your games of it.

Anyways - I too think Caylus is a little long, but I'm still enjoying it at the moment.

But more to the point - that's an informative review of Leonardo. Thanks.

[edited for typos. sigh]
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scholle
Australia
St Ives, 2075
NSW
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
HisDivineShadow wrote:
What a strange way of rating games. A game that you can really enjoy 50 times only gets a 5? A game that you enjoyed playing for more than 100 hours?

So you grade it lower than the average on here for Ker Plunk. Most strange.

I suppose you're reflecting how you feel about it right now, as opposed to the average of all your games of it.


Not so strange - obviously a case of burnout. He certainly got good value out of it though.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matthew Watson
Scotland
Edinburgh
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
You're right - I'd already edited my reply to reflect it, but you beat me to it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Deleted User
msg tools
badge
Avatar
Thanks for the review John. This pushed Leo onto my "buy" list.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
jbrier
United States
Aventura
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
HisDivineShadow wrote:
Hmm, 5 is quite a low score for a game that you enjoyed playing 50 times! There's very few board games I've ever played that many times.

I suppose you're reflecting how you feel about it right now, as opposed to the average of all your games of it.

Anyways - I too think Caylus is a little long, but I'm still enjoying it at the moment.

But more to the point - that's an informative review of Leonardo. Thanks.

[edited for typos. sigh]


Well, there is en element of unfairness to my Caylus-bashing because most games in my collection haven't been played that many times, including many that I rate higher than Caylus. But see- I've played Puerto Rico well over 500 times, and I still consider it to be my favoerite game by a longshot. I've played Princes of Florence more than 200 times, and I still enjoy playing it. SO considering that Caylus is the same "type" of game which is supposed to reward repeated plays and all the expectations that it was the "next Puerto Rico", I felt quite disappointed at the fact that I lost all desire to play it again. At this point I feel that it was the cleverness and novelty of its mechanics that kept me playing a game that was always too long for what it was.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Webb
United States
Western Mitten
flag msg tools
designer
badge
GET A SILK BAG FROM THE GRAVEYARD DUCK TO LIVE LONGER.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice review John.

One thing I like about Leonardo that you didn't mention is the way you can often spend extra money (VPs) to collect more things. This is one of the key interesting decisions in this game to me: when do you go crazy and buy the extra items at 2/3/4$?

The choice at clear at some points, but not so clear at others. If you spend too much on items, then your net profit from completing inventions goes down, and money is all that matters at the end of the game.

On the other hand, if you simply take one item every time you go into an area, then you are going to fall behind people who are buying more.


The other thing that interests me in this game is the worker placement. I guess it is sort of Caylus, but I think of it more as Louis with more decisions. You have to commit at least one piece to the board, but you can commit more. You want to spend few pieces because then you can play later in the order (preferably after everyone else has run out), but if you do, then the areas you initially placed pieces in will likely end up being expensive purchases.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Frank Burbach
United States
Atlanta
Georgia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Wow John. That was a great review/commentary. I just played the game last night and, like you, I have high hopes for this one. Judging by your top ten, it looks like we have similar taste in games, but I don't get to play nearly as much as you. I think the only boardgame I've played 50 times would be Settlers and that was when there was no real competition (1997 or so).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
jbrier
United States
Aventura
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
CortexBomb wrote:
Nice review John.

One thing I like about Leonardo that you didn't mention is the way you can often spend extra money (VPs) to collect more things. This is one of the key interesting decisions in this game to me: when do you go crazy and buy the extra items at 2/3/4$?


True. What I also like about this is that you have an incentive to not let someone into an area by themselves.

CortexBomb wrote:
The other thing that interests me in this game is the worker placement. I guess it is sort of Caylus, but I think of it more as Louis with more decisions. You have to commit at least one piece to the board, but you can commit more. You want to spend few pieces because then you can play later in the order (preferably after everyone else has run out), but if you do, then the areas you initially placed pieces in will likely end up being expensive purchases.


I own but have never played Louis. The timing issue is very interesting in this game, and similarly to Caylus there are conflicting incentives when it comes to wanting to be earlier or later in the turn order.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Justin Robben
United States
Spring Hill
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I will strongly second the notion that Loius XIV is "involved" here as well. In fact I was going to type as much until I read all the way through the discussion here...beat me to it
Anyways, I played Leonardo for the first time last night with 2 others that had played twice each previously (with 4 players total).
I was able to win and really, really enjoyed it.
The only "problem" I see with the game (my only play, mind you, so take with a grain of sea salt ) is that if you make a mistake at one point it could KILL you...
Other than that, a solid game that my group has enjoyed and I will enjoy as well!
I don't want to rate it yet; I'd like to play at least a couple more times before I do, but my early inclination is about an 8.5 or so...I liked it enough for that at least for sure!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
John (Verandi)

Hi, sorry to see you are not in DC area any more but am pleased to see you have discovered Leonardo. I really haven't tried the Codex variant as I kind of like the balance between the four Council positions but I do recommend you try the markeplace expansion. One geek buddy of mine (Larry Chong) suggests an additional variant where you refresh the market from turn to turn, like Pillars, which seems to work.) There is also one post from a Mayfair rep who suggests you flip new inventions between turns 8 and 9 although the official rules interpretation is that you do not. Your overall rating of 8 coincides with mine after about 10-12 plays so far (the first 6 or 7 with a hand-made version, and the last 3-4 with the markeplace expansion). Look me up if you are in the area, maybe will see you at PrezCon in February!

Agree with Justin's last post about the similarity (at least in placement mechanism to L14) although most players in games I've played take the first spot when winning the Council to both go first and win the patent bid tiebreaker. Also agree that a bad mistake, like (1) not counting the resource cards or (2) not putting the right ones under your lab or (3) not remembering what invention you stacked where can kill you. Wish the help cards listing the 25 different inventions had been larger.

JCWeb
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian MacInnes
United States
Jamesville
New York
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Leonardo da Vinci rocketed into my top ten as fast as Caylus did last year. Our tastes are slightly different though as the latter has remained number one for me after hundreds of online plays and 20 in person (perfect as a two player game for people of similar skill levels). Louis XIV and PoF are also in my top ten so it is not surprising that I like Leonardo.

While Leonardo does not have the elegance or replayability of Caylus (again we probably differ on what makes a game elegant or replayable), it may appeal to a broader range of players as it puts greater emphasis on long term planning with surprises and variability (i.e. luck) about what may come out. This should help keep the interest of those who are less experienced (although they will make many mistakes in their first games and, like others have said, they can destroy any chance to compete). Leonardo is optimal for 3-4 players. 5, while interesting, will surely be frustrating for the player getting the fifth choice on a given turn. I do not find that there is enough scarcity on the board for a 2 player game, although surprisingly my wife, who does not particularly enjoy games, liked it with 2 because it was not cutthroat and had a compelling theme.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
The Fiend
United States
Avon Lake
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
John,
Based on your outstanding review I'm going to buy LEO (been sitting on the fence).
But, the ONE THING that drives me nuts about the geeks here is no documentation. You played CAYLUS X50? PUERTO RICO X500!!!!!! You've logged three games in your profile.

BTW, I played CAYLUS once and that was enough for me. What LEO has that PoF doesn't is it can be played by 2-players.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Justin Robben
United States
Spring Hill
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I am guilty of this as well...

I only log about 1% of the games I actually have played...and I go through phases where I forget for months, then get on a kick, log every game for a couple of weeks or so, then forget for months on end again!

Jeez...I have no short term memory...

zombie
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
jbrier
United States
Aventura
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'll note that I played this recently with 5 and it was a painfully long experience, partially owing to one player who suffered intense AP but also just because with so many players competing for the same stuff each player gets less accomplished and ultimately the combination of not feeling like you are doing much and the game taking longer can really sour the experience unless all veterans are playing without sitting down to ponder moves too long.

In conclusion, I think this will become a 3-4 player staple in my collection but I would rather choose another game like Amun-Re or Princes of Florence when I have 5.

UPDATE: After some more 5 player games, I think the 5p game is just fine, probably stronger than 3p.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dominic Crapuchettes
United States
Bethesda
MD
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
North Star Games designs party games that don't suck! Play them with your non-gamer friends over the holidays.
badge
First there was Hearts, then there was Spades, and now we bring you Clubs. The suit of clubs finally gets some respect!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
John, nice review! Your review is what prompted me to try the game several weeks ago. Now I own it and LOVE it!! Although POF was one of my favorite game for years, I have a feeling that this one will replace it. Not just because it is shiny and new, but because it is also a little more elegant (in my opinion). Thanks for bringing attention to this one.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Damon Asher
United States
Jefferson
MA
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Very nice review. I was wondering if you've played Emira, which also seems kind of PoFy, and what you thought of it in comparison.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
jbrier
United States
Aventura
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
drasher25 wrote:
Very nice review. I was wondering if you've played Emira, which also seems kind of PoFy, and what you thought of it in comparison.


nope, have not played Emira, but will look into it!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.