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Subject: Gonzaga: Executive Review rss

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L F
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With my "executive reviews" I try to distil the essence of a game in a brief summary, adapted to time-challenged gamers (like myself).

Introduction
The Gonzaga family was one of the more famous and active in Europe during the Middle Age and the modern era. In this game the players try to replicate the successes of one such family, gaining control of vast territories, cities and ports.

Theme
The historic theme is not too deep in the game, which undoubtedly has some quite abstract elements in it. We are however pretty much within the average for a typical Euro. Think about, say, Carcassonne or Thurn & Taxis and you get the idea.

Components
Very good quality components here. The board, which represents medieval/modern Europe in a hex-ized way, is sturdy and beautifully illustrated. Cards and chits are very good. The most unique components are certainly the plastc "fiefs", 12 for each color. They are quite big, but are not a symptom of overproduction: they are functional and work really well.

Mechanic
The game is a mix of card-drawing, placement and action-choosing elements. In each turn every player draws a card which indicates the fief he has to place, and then he choses secretly, using his set of action cards, where and how the fief will be placed. This requires some planning, since the fiefs have quite different and complex shapes, and the placement rules are very specific. Moreover, the action cards used in one turn cannot be used in the next. If you cannot place the fief, there is always the possibilty to donate it to the church, which will compensate you with some victory points. Points are scored both during the game, for cities and ports controlled, but also at the end. In this final scoring every player gets points for his controlled cities that were in his secret mission card (every player gets one such card at the beginning, with 6 target cities on it). A special bonus is finally given to the player with the most connected fiefs.

Complexity
The rules of the game are fairly simple both to learn and to explain. After watching two or three rounds played you are ready to go.

Length
A standard game is quite short. You should never go beyond the 60 minutes mark.

Replayability
Good, I'd say. There are two elements which contribute to that. Every game starts with a different random scenario, which reflects a specific historic moment, showing which parts of Europe are rich (i.e., give more points) and which are suffering. Moreover, in each game every player gets a mission card requiring him to concentrate on different parts of the board.

Number of players/Solo playability
The game cannot be played solo, it's for 2-4 players and seems to work well in each player configuration.

Language-dependant elements
None. The rulebook is the only thing you have to read. I got the German and the Italian ones in the box, but the English rules are available to download.

Final take
A good family game, quick, easy to play and to learn. The mechanic is nice, the production value very good. I would have loved a little bit more theme, but even as it is the game deserves at least 7,5/10.
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Fabio Guerini Rocco
Italy
Milano - ITALY
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A really sound analisys, well written, clear and concise. thumbsup
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Guglielmo Duccoli
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Thanks for this fine and very well detailed analysis. The only thing I could add is about scenarios: active nations have most to do with the personalities of the title than with the prosperity of single areas. So, Colombo has Italy, Spain and Britain as active nations for he operated in these areas.
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Nicola Lepetit
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I agree with your statement:

Quote:
The rules of the game are fairly simple both to learn and to explain.


But this is not true when we talk about winning strategies. There are not winning strategies and every strategy will award some winning point from one or two of the four possible sources, while forcing you to renounce scoring other types of points.

In every game I played there were no clear winning moves and I found myself many times force to switch from one objective to another because of the development of the game.

Simple rules for a sophisticated game. thumbsup
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Corin A. Friesen
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nicolepe wrote:
I agree with your statement:

Quote:
The rules of the game are fairly simple both to learn and to explain.


But this is not true when we talk about winning strategies. There are not winning strategies and every strategy will award some winning point from one or two of the four possible sources, while forcing you to renounce scoring other types of points.

In every game I played there were no clear winning moves and I found myself many times force to switch from one objective to another because of the development of the game.

Simple rules for a sophisticated game. thumbsup

Many times, a simple game is very sophisticated one as well. Note that this mostly applies to spatial games, like Go and Gonzaga.

Hey, maybe that's why Gonzaga is sophisticated... it's got "Go" in its title!
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Paolo Desalvo
Italy
Country side area north of Rome
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I'm a feder-allergic and I blame the Klingon for not having smashed the Federation in time to save us from Star Trek serials.
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Really nice explication of the mechanic!
vegaz wrote:

Mechanic
The game is a mix of card-drawing, placement and action-choosing elements. In each turn every player draws a card which indicates the fief he has to place, and then he choses secretly, using his set of action cards, where and how the fief will be placed. This requires some planning, since the fiefs have quite different and complex shapes, and the placement rules are very specific. Moreover, the action cards used in one turn cannot be used in the next. If you cannot place the fief, there is always the possibilty to donate it to the church, which will compensate you with some victory points. Points are scored both during the game, for cities and ports controlled, but also at the end. In this final scoring every player gets points for his controlled cities that were in his secret mission card (every player gets one such card at the beginning, with 6 target cities on it). A special bonus is finally given to the player with the most connected fiefs.
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