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Subject: An Enigmatic Filler rss

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Craig Hargraves
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Morayfield
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The Enigma of Leonardo, designed by Sergey Machin and published by Russian publisher Rightgames RBG SIA, is a simple filler but with a couple of levels as you get into it.



Gameplay is quite simple. Players lay out five of the beautifully illustrated cards in a cross in front of them and hold a hand of five other cards. The top left quarter of each card contains two of twelve different Da Vinci sketches and these are what players will be focussing on.



On your turn you’ll play one of your cards from your hand down to replace a card in your cross with the aim of getting a matching set of three sketches along either (or even both) axis of your cross. Getting a set of three allows you to claim one of these “keys” in the form of a small (rather thin and somewhat confusingly double-sided) card containing an image of the sketch in question (five of the same even allows you to claim a key of any type you don’t already have). Getting seven of these keys wins you the game. Simple and easy.



Of course, thankfully, it isn’t quite that easy or simple. What’s makes this game interesting is what happens to the card you’re replacing in your cross: it moves to your left hand neighbour’s cross replacing their card in the same position. So, while you’re hopefully advancing your own position, you’ll also hopefully be messing with one of your opponents. Of course what goes around, comes around. Just as you’re messing with your left hand neighbour, your right hand neighbour will be messing with you.

While initially feeling a bit chaotic, this simple touch makes for a much more interesting game as you can learn to be mindful of both how you can hamper one opponent and benefit from another. Of course in a two player game these opponents will be one and the same which can make for an interesting game. But, while interesting, the game can, as any other card game, be dominated by the luck of the draw. However, with the fairly short playing time of 20 to 30 minutes this isn’t that big an issue for me personally.

While originally a Russian game, Right Games has recently produced an English version. While it’s obvious the rules have been translated into English they are clear enough to explain the game and they’re a quick read which will get you playing in just a few short minutes. The cards, while a little on the thin side, look great with beautiful renditions of sketches by Leonardo Da Vinci. There’s no denying that it’s a pasted on theme for a simple card game but it looks great and works well for what the game is. The game also plays perfectly well with two, three or four players and I’m glad that they didn’t throw in more cards just for the sake of taking it out to five or six players.

The Enigma of Leonardo is a nice filler which plays just that little bit differently than other games I’ve played and it’s well worth a look if you get the opportunity.

* The copy reviewed was generously provided to my boardgaming club The Boardgamers by RightGames (www.russianboardgames.com). The English version of The Enigma of Leonardo will be being demonstrated at Essen 2011 (HALL №7, booth 7-05).
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Hank Panethiere
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Kirkwood
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I agree...good filler, especially with non gamers and younger family members.
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Jason Smith
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As a 4-player game, I found it a bit too reliant on luck. It was very difficult to strategically place cards when it was very likely the card would end up being moved before the next turn was started. In the game I played, none of the players really utilized the additional strategy of screwing over their neighbor. Perhaps in a 4 player game that is the better route to go instead of concentrating on what you can personally do with your cross.
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