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Dopey68 Gerty Wouters
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I once went on a hiking-holiday to the isle of Sicily. During a short bus trip, our Dutch tour-guide told us, in Dutch, a bit about the history of Cosa Nostra (meaning ‘Our affairs), which is the “umbrella name” of Sicilian mafia-families. The Italian bus driver picked up some of the words and reacted, annoyed, by saying: “there is more history to talk about on this beautiful island than the subject you are talking about right now”.
Even the bus driver was not very eager to utter the name of this organization. Though the mafia is often surrounded with romantic ideas it is nothing more than a ruthless criminal organization.
 
But now we could become one of the most powerful mafia Families of New York (though this will happen in a more peaceful way), designer Eric M. Lang will take us back to the New York City of the 40’s, to compete with other families to become the most notorious of them all. Of course, it still will be Vito Don Corleone who will play the lead (can you hear the Corleone Waltz already?)

 


The set-up:
 
The game will be played on a big board reflecting a map of Manhattan. The map is divided in 7 thugs (or us we know them as boroughs), some of them relate to each other. In these turfs, you will see some standard ‘stores’, though, there are some blank spots which will be filled with building tiles during the remainder of the game, thereby expanding the number of stores available.
 


Adjacent to this board, are the so called ‘job-cards’ and ‘allies’, which will be placed face-up. The job-cards come in 4 different colours and they show you a job or assignment which can be fulfilled. The ally cards represent potential corrupt police-officers, a mayor, or accountants (more about this later).
 
The players receive, in their chosen colour, 2 thugs (3 in a 2 player-game). Those thugs resemble the ‘captains’ of the competing families and 1 Family-member. Both thugs and family members are the so-called figures in the game. The figures are nicely detailed minis (for a CMON-game just a normal and regular size). The thugs have a square standard and the family member comes with a standard round stand. The players also receive a metal suitcase in which to store their hard earned ‘black money’ and the fulfilled job cards.
 
To fulfil a job card, you need some resources. The resources are: alcohol, weapons, and blood money (or a combination of these) and those resources come in cards which are also stacked next to the gameboard. You will also find one stack of bonus cards. These bonus cards can be used as one of the resources needed. The bonus cards are identified by means of a drug-needle and a spoon!
 
What about the money? Sure, there is money in a game when the mob is involved. Money comes in values of 1,2,3, and 5 dollars. Pretty annoying in this game: No change is given!
 
 
The game-play?
 
The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire will be played over 4 rounds in which, in turn-order, the following actions can be taken:
 
- Placing a thug in a store
 
If you are talking about a worker-placement element: this is the thing.
A thug can only be placed in an empty square next to a store.
So, when you find that a store is already occupied by another figure, that is pity for you and you must find yourself another store.
 
One store is divided in 2 parts. The upper one shows you the backlot and the lower part the front of the store. Mainly, the front part will show you the exact same benefits as the backlot of the store. Though there are a few spots that show you a front which shows an extra dollar as benefit.
The backlot of the store is only in effect when a family member has been placed (see below).
 
Depending in what kind of store a thug is placed the following will happen: when a thug is placed in a regular store, he will rob the store and takes the loot (as pictured in the store) from the general supply. The loot must be taken into hand. When a thug is placed in a laundry store, the player can put some hard earned ‘black-money’ in his or her suitcase (this can be either 1 or 2 money cards)? When a thug is placed in (let’s just call it) an ‘employment agency’ he can take 2 new job-cards from the stack and keep 1. The one returned, will be returned face-up.
 
- Placing a Family-member in a turf:
 
A family member can only be placed at a round spot. The family member then gains all the benefits from all the stores within the turfs directly adjacent with the spot one just placed that family member. Placing a family member on a strategic spot, can be very helpful for gaining (a lot of) money, job-cards, job-cards accessories of laundry-opportunities.
 
- Playing a Job-card:
 
When you decide to play a Job-card, you put this card, face-up on the table, together with the accessories needed to fulfil this job. This job can be e.g. to assassinate an opponent’s figure (either a thug or family member) or steel some money out of an opponent’s suitcase. After one fulfilled the job, you take your ‘fee’ out of the general supply on hand and put the fulfilled job-card in your suitcase.
 
After all figures have been placed on the board, it is not allowed to play anymore hand-cards. Once all families placed their figures, the round has ends.


 
End of a round and end of the game:
 
At the end of each round all turf will be evaluated meaning that each turf will be checked to determine which family gained the most dominance during the round. You gain domination when you have placed the most Figures of your colour in a turf. The family may place a domination-token in that area, the advantage of placing such a token is that in the next round when a figure of a rivalling family invades the turf of the dominating family, that family will also receive the earnings. Quid-pro-quo!
 
Also, we will try to bribe some police-officers, the Mayor, or accountants (they all can come very handy for expanding your influence). The bribery will take place during an ‘auction’. All players, secretly, bid some money out of their suitcase and simultaneously place the money open on the table. The family with the highest bid can ‘recruit’ this ally to their family for the rest of the game. The ‘allies’ have some nice abilities, e.g. a police-officer can kill 1 member of a rivalling Family or even worse ‘Kills all members of a Family located within 1 Turf”. Yes, they have some nice police officers out there in NYC.
 
When all figures are returned to their families (even the ones that have been killed and dumped into the Hudson river (there is an after-life for these figures) we can start with the next round. But first we should check our hand-limit. No more than 5 or 6 cards are allowed at the beginning of a new round (this hand-size limit depends on the round we are about to start). Pretty annoying this limit, because in this game all cards can be very useful in one way of the other!!
 
After 4 rounds the game ends. From the money-cards you still got on hand you can put a maximum of 2 cards in your suitcase.
 
At the end of round 4 there is still one more normal evaluation of the turfs, but after this one the end-valuation starts.
 
During this end-evaluation the family that gained the most domination per turf during the game will earn 5 dollars per turf. When there is a tie for a turf, the family with their domination token on-top earns those 5 dollars. The money earned this way will be directly placed in the suitcase.
 
Now the set-collection part of this game: The family which obtained the most fulfilled job-cards per colour in their suitcase will also earn 5 dollars per colour they have the majority in. Also, this money will be placed in the suitcase.
And then it is just counting money! The family with the most money at the end of the game in their suitcase will be the most notorious Family of NYC. This is to say until the next game because revenge is a dish that tastes best when served cold’ Mario Puzo).
 
 
My “Judgement”:
 
This is such a smooth and easy game to play!
Though the rules may look complicated, they certainly aren’t. When you have read this review (or whatever you would like to call it) you are ready to play the game (except for some details which I left out). And this is the strength of the game; the rules are simple, but OMG the depth in this game is deep: The worker-placement, the area-control, the set-collection, the laundry (not too late and not too soon) and finally the hand-seize limit. There are so many aspects in this game to consider. But also keep paying attention to the other players how much money they store in their suitcases and memorize it, (before money is stored it should been showed to the other players!!!) cause if you don’t you might get yourself a fool’s bargain!
 
About the minis in this game; they are small but detailed and functional. My beloved wooden meeples might have done the job also, but I think that the minis match the theme perfectly. The theme which btw. emphasis the game beautiful. For those familiar (or maybe unfamiliar) with The Godfather-trilogy, this game will put you in the mood of competing families right from the start, especially the starting-player: he (or she) gets a token reflecting the head of a (dead) horse on a pillow and for some extra atmosphere you can always play the soundtrack while playing this game.
 
The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire!! I give it two big thumps up

This is a game you can’t refuse! 
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mikael mordai
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I think the only minus in this game is the card quality...
 
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Jack Francisco
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It's ok. Nothing memorable. If it was a no-name designer or company, it wouldn't be as hyped. I also think that the price point is VERY high for what you get. Considering they have an in-house artist, there also wasn't enough unique art pieces in the game. Looking at Marlon Brando on EVERY card wasn't exactly an inspiring graphic design choice.
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Joel Berg von Linde
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The price really is way to high. But the game and the way worker placement and area control works together deserves all the praise and hype.
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Remus Rhymus
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I think that this situation absolutely requires
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a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part!
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senorcoo wrote:
It's ok. Nothing memorable. If it was a no-name designer or company, it wouldn't be as hyped. I also think that the price point is VERY high for what you get. Considering they have an in-house artist, there also wasn't enough unique art pieces in the game. Looking at Marlon Brando on EVERY card wasn't exactly an inspiring graphic design choice.


Disagree. It's a fantastic design. The mechanics blend together in real interesting ways. It might take a few plays before realizing the depth of the game, but it is deeper than it first appears. It's fun to play. The designer and publisher have no impact on my enjoyment of the game. The graphic design choices could've been improved in certain cases; but in general, it's fine and doesn't ruin the game in any conceivable way.
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Jack Francisco
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Fantastic design? I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to disagree. It's ok design and ok to play. That isn't condemnation. I just don't think there is anything all that amazing going on here.
 
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Dopey68 Gerty Wouters
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senorcoo wrote:
It's ok. Nothing memorable. If it was a no-name designer or company, it wouldn't be as hyped. I also think that the price point is VERY high for what you get. Considering they have an in-house artist, there also wasn't enough unique art pieces in the game. Looking at Marlon Brando on EVERY card wasn't exactly an inspiring graphic design choice.


It’s funny that you bring up the subject of designer and publisher vs game-design and game play. It was JUST because of the fact that Eric M. Lang was the designer and CMON the publisher that I wasn’t interested at all in this game (I’m just not a big fan of the games published by CMON and the games designed by Eric Lang).

But after finding out about the mechanisms used in this game and the fact that just ‘normal seized mini’s’ are used my interest in this game increased. I bought this game after some consideration for my wife’s birthday (she had it on her ‘wishlist, thinking about it’), but some of my great gaming-pals conviced me that she (and me) would love this game mainly because of the used mechanisms. So I bought the game a bit in the blind (except for the info I found on bgg). My wife was surprised when I gave her this gift (she couldn’t remember putting it on her wishlist) so you can understand that I got a bit nervous! After the first play we were convinced: this is just a great euro-style game, which we both will love. And yes maybe the ‘art-work’ on the cards is not the best and when it was designed by some lesser known designer and published by another company it might would not have the attention it received now. But that is something we will never know! Although I think that a good game (which this game imho is) always will finds it way to us gamers.

And about Marlon Brando on every card: This might be done for not showing the other players what card you are holding onto. It doesn’t really bother me at all to be very honest (they might have used several characters form The Godfather, but don't you think it will get a bit edgy?). As for the cards itself: they are a bit thin, but as we sleeve all our cards this also is not a big issue for me (and my wife). The pricing of this game is, I think a very personal thing: in general if you think the price of a game is to high than don’t buy it. This is btw also one of the reasons I don’t own many CMON games.

 
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Jack Francisco
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I don't care that Brando is on the back of every card, but the face?
 
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Mr Suitcase
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senorcoo wrote:
I don't care that Brando is on the back of every card, but the face?


Yeah. It would have been nice to have different art for the different jobs. And it was about 15% more expensive than what I would expect to pay (however - I'm guessing that's the "unique" suitcases, which are a novelty).

That said, it was a big hit with everyone in my group. Rules light, plenty of interaction, multiple strategic layers to think about.

Time will tell.
 
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Louis Brenton
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I've enjoyed it so far. I haven't gotten it to the table with my big group yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

We just bought a new house & we're moving into it this weekend, so it will take me another week or two.
 
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