Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 Hide
6 Posts

The Godfather: A New Don» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Area Control You Can't Refuse rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
One of my favorite things about mobster movies is the dichotomy between the violence in the streets and the smoke filled rooms where powerful families slice up New York like a salami. Deals are struck and favors exchanged according to unwritten rules and back alley politicking. Yes, these are enforced with the business end of a tommy gun but that’s a messy business best avoided where possible. Godfather: A New Don approaches the genre through that smoke filled room, and it’s a top-notch experience.

At the start of Godfather, New York is sprawled before you ripe for the picking. Neighborhoods like Chelsea or Midtown Manhattan are clustered into areas. While these areas are sometimes poorly delineated graphically, they’re clustered by dice symbols. To take control of an area with one of your soldiers you have to make a set or straight that includes the appropriate number. The area that requires sixes is more valuable than the area requires ones, but other than that they’re roughly equal.



New York, ripe for the pickings


If that’s all there was to this game, I’d be recommending it but I wouldn’t love it. From Yahtzee to King of Tokyo, creating dice sets has been done over and over again. Godfather: A New Don elevates this genre high above the fray in a few important ways. For one, this isn’t a dice game it’s an area control game; this is inherently more exciting than racking up arbitrary points. The dice are also multipurpose. If you can’t make a set, or you don’t want to make a set, extra dice can be spent to buy muscle. If you’ve got more muscle than an opponent, their neighborhood is yours.

Not violently though, no. As Virgil Sollozzo says: “I don't like violence, Tom. I'm a businessman. Blood is a big expense.” Any time you remove an opponent from a space, they get a favor. You owe them one, so to speak. The six favors correspond with the numbers 1-6 and their respective areas. If you get kicked out of a 1-pip neighborhood, you get one use of the weak 1-pip favor. Get kicked out of a 6-pip neighborhood and you get access to the strongest favor in the game. These favors do everything from change dice faces to duplicate dice you have and are critical to manipulating your turn and New York City. You can also use extra dice to go to Vegas. Every round the Godfather will roll the Vegas dice and potentially award them to other players. Dice are important, so this is both a fun little mini game and a critical action to take.

Before all that happens though, you’ve got the Godfather round. This not only justifies the theme but makes this game great. Each round, whoever has the most muscle becomes the Godfather, the unseen king of New York. And every round every other player must offer the Godfather one of their dice. It’s good to be king. This is my favorite part of the game because of how critical the decisions are on both sides. Players may decide to offer the Godfather a 6-pip die because if the Godfather takes their die, then the player is owed a favor. They’ll get one of those powerful 6-pip favors. On the other hand, you’ve just given them access to the most valuable neighborhoods in New York.



Moody and dark. Soldiers offer "protection" in New York neighborhoods.


You might think to offer a 1-pip die instead, but that comes with its own problems. See, the Godfather is a powerful person and you owe them respect. If they don’t like your offer, they can make one of their own. They can ask for any number they want and you must give it to them if you have it; this offer is one that can’t be refused. You’ll still get access to the appropriate favors, there are rules to this business after all, but it’s tough to lose one of the dice you were hoping to use. To balance this out, the Godfather must act first and can’t use any of the favors he’s accumulated or head to Vegas while he holds the title.

This system of favors and options is the quiet brilliance of this light game. Nothing ever feels bad or punishing because you’re always getting something. Lose a neighborhood, gain a favor. If you can’t play to the board, you can head to Vegas or climb the Muscle track and become the Godfather yourself. You can always do something even if it’s just scheming and plotting for a powerful future turn. The game isn’t perfect; the graphic design can lead to some confusion with who is in which neighborhoods and you are at the mercy of the dice, but they’re minor and the game rises above them.

It’s rare that a game that’s this good slips under the radar but it definitely happened. Godfather: A New Don is not just a good game, it’s a great one. The area control field is a crowded one but A New Don has made a powerful move into the “Best Gateway Area Control Game” neighborhood. It punches above its weight class while still being approachable and accessible. For justice you might go to Don Corleone, for gaming I’m going to A New Don.




___
This review was originally posted on Ding & Dent! A list of my reviews that you can subscribe to can be found here.
For those who like podcasts, we discussed it on Episode 30 of Ding & Dent. Godfather discussion begins at 31:00
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Halsey
United States
Toledo
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree with you. This is such a fun game. It seems to get no love. I only encountered it by accident when a friend, new to gaming, simply bought it because he likes the Godfather movies and dice.

I do have an issue with turn order however. I feel like turn order should be more than just who is the Godfather. It should be in the order of the muscle track always, IMHO.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
TWrecks wrote:
It should be in the order of the muscle track always, IMHO.


Yeah I'm curious if that was tested and disregarded. I could see where it would lead to the people ahead of the track always being ahead of the track, with no chance for people behind to ever catch up (since non-Godfathers could hop up the track before the people in last could hop up to muscle people out).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Halsey
United States
Toledo
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Ohh. I didn't think of that. I was thinking just at the beginning of the turn. The GF is on 3 and everyone else is on the letters. That turn order would make sense to me. But if the 3rd person in line decides to spend dice on the muscle track, you would need something else to keep their place in line. Hmm this is interesting. What if the muscle track markers were dice? Then at the beginning of the turn the side would be set to turn order so you know who goes first? Oh man. This is interesting. Sorry, I was having a moment there.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Haha no problem. The other issue that remains is that the poor person in last place may end up forever stuck behind people, unable to muscle anyone out on a turn unless they're forced to over-invest in the muscle track for a future turn. As it is now, if I'm last on the muscle track but the player to the left is Godfather, all it takes is a 1-pip die and I can at least muscle out most of my opponents for a halfway decent turn.

The counter to that is games where no one hops ahead to take Godfather and the same person is Godfather over and over. It can happen, but it feels to me like there is a little more control this way?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
AD .
United Kingdom
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I really think role selection/reservation would be a good addition to help mitigate players lower in turn order and give more options
 
 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.