- Christian HeckmannGermany
To read up on the concept of and motivation behind this review series, check up on the first review I posted under the „Everything that sucks about...“-banner.
What is it about?
„Der Pate“ is a dice allocation game based on Mario Puzo's novel (or perhaps rather Francis Ford Coppola's cinematization of said novel) of the same name. It plays two to four players, takes a half to one hour and incorporates mechanics like dice rolling and area control.
Everything that sucks about it:
- „Der Pate“. Yes. Not „The Godfather“. As far as I can see, there's no international version of this game, it's only available in German. Doesn't suck for me, but might suck for you.
- You want to know what it feels like to control a city by pulling the strings behind the scenes? What it feels like to embody a powerful mafia Don who stilishly coerces legions of henchmen to do his bidding? Well, tough luck. You won't find answers to these questions here. „Der Pate“ is not really light on theme, everything in the game makes kind of sense, but it just doesn't feel like you're an all-powerful crime boss.
- As in every dice allocation game, luck looms large in „Der Pate“. The problem is, this game has very restricted means of mitigating bad luck. Couple this with the fact that the limited game length ensures the importance of every single die roll and you get a game that readily torpedoes it's own strategical component.
- The event cards are also a big part of random luck in the game. Too often do they benefit or punish just a single player.
- Although luck plays a bigger role than strategy in this game, there can be AP abound. Especially the first die roll of every single round. Not only do you need to ponder which number you want to utilize, you'll also have to plan ahead for the other three rolls, which colour you'll need to further your plans.
- This also leads the game to not being that easy to teach. The ruleset isn't complicated but you'll want to make sure that the players understand the effect and importance of every single available action, because of the diversity and the "problematic" way of activating those.
- Some dice are more situational than others. Especially the red die can be rather useless, while the gray and black dice for example are almost always great.
- The game works with less than four players, but including dummy players isn't that interesting. It's also strange that there's no balancing mechanism for less than four players in place when it comes to the tracks you need to advance on, to be able to win the game.
- Also the whole track-scoring-mechanism comes across a bit strange. I've read that people complain about being unable to win the game from time to time, but in our games, it has never been a real factor, because everybody wanted to grab the bonusses that are provided by advancing on the track. Well, at least the red bonusses, because they are much more interesting than the gray ones.
- To dwell on the track-issue for a bit longer... The income- and friend of the family-tracks are neat ideas, but they don't really work that well. The game is too short and every single action too important to really get some mileage out of them. They might fit in better in a longer game where there's more building up, but „Der Pate“ has got some merit in not being any longer than it is.
- Also paper money? Why? I mean, it's okay as far as paper money goes, but it doesn't look that good (and not the least bit authentic, which might be the only merit that paper money has over chits), it's rather hard to keep concealed and it's flimsy as hell. Also why are there mafia Dons on the bills? And why am I only on the 1,000$-bill, while that guy over there is on the 10,000$?
Things that especially suck not:
- The roll-and-move gangster car is actually a pretty cool idea and works surprisingly well!
What I think:
I'm a sucker for dice allocation games and therefore I might let „Der Pate“ get away with a few problems. But I do really like this game. It doesn't evoke the theme that well (although you'd be hard-pressed to call this game unthematic), it's rather conditionally balanced and some of the mechanics don't work that well in the short timeframe, but it's a quick, fun game with enough dice-rolling and opponent-screwing to keep you interested during the very manageable playing time. It's a filler. Nothing more, nothing less. And it works well as a game where you blank out the bigger picture in favor of more interesting short term decissions. As said, I like „Der Pate“ quite a bit and am almost always up for a game, despite everything that sucks about it.
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- [+] Dice rolls