Welcome to my review of "The Enigma of Leonardo: Quintis Fontis". This is another part of my review series sparked by RightGamers' "An Offer you cannot refuse" deal through which I received this copy for free. I have never played the original "Enigma of Leonardo" before and only played this one three times so this will be a fresh perspective on the game in several ways.
The game consists of:
* 67 cards
* 36 secret keys
* Veto counter
* Rules of the game
The cards are of standard quality. The artwork is very stylish, making good use of Leonardo's drawings. Each card features 2 or 3 symbols in a small box and the artwork on the rest of the card mirrors the symbols. While that has no impact on gameplay I found it pretty neat. The cards have two different backs but are shuffled together into one deck. I believe that's because they're from the previous game and the expansion. While this is a bit confusing at first we found it didn't affect the gameplay.
The secret key counters however could use a bit more attention from the publisher. For one thing they were not punched well so when I tried to separate them from the sheet I often took part of the sheet with it or if you're not careful small parts of the counter might stay with the sheet. The perfectionist in me had to get the scissors to clean up the edges. Also the counters are double sided - which in itself is a good thing - but the two sides never show the same symbol. Since you never need more than three counters of the same symbol I assume this was done so you could dump them in a big pile and rummage through when you needed one. I personally found that an inconvenient solution as 36 tokens are a lot to search through and you'll still have the problem that if you hand out different sides you will end up with too many of one symbol in the pile and too little of another. But this may be nitpicking and I do appreciate the idea.
Each turn you have to play a card into a 5x5 grid on the table and may then place the veto marker on a card.
You can play your card:
* on a free spot adjacent (orthogonally and diagonally) to an existing card
* on top of an existing card
* in place of an existing card (putting the previous (top) card in your hand)
If your card produces a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line of 3 or more identical symbols you will receive a secret key of that symbol. In the beginning 3 symbols are enough but for every secret key of that symbol already received by any player you will need one more symbol to receive a key.
Next you may place the veto marker on any card of the grid. The veto marker means that the next player may not play cards that share one or more symbols with the card under the veto marker.
There are also some event cards that allow you to use a special action.
The game ends if any player manages to collect a set of 7 keys or if the deck runs out. The game determines the winner first by number of keys collected. Secondly the different symbols have different values to break ties.
The game is essentially multiplayer tic-tac-toe. While not exactly the most complex of affairs it does manage to successfully port this game from 2 players to 3 and 4 players while also adding a few interesting twists.
Our first game - where the veto marker was not used - beautifully demonstrated how essential that tiny element is for the game. Without it, this game is mostly a matter of luck. Once someone manages to build a 3 symbol line it's only a matter of luck whether the next players have a 4th and 5th matching card. With the veto marker however a player can then block others from continuing that line. Sooner or later there will be multiple scoring options on the grid and you can never block all of them. So the game will never grind to a halt. While a veto marker can often block almost one's whole hand of cards, deciding between the remaining ones still often is a tricky business and the grid is large enough make sure you always have that nagging feeling you might have missed an option.
Players with Analysis Paralysis will slow the game down a bit during later turns but the options are limited enough that it should not become too bad.
* reasonably quick
* commendable variation on an old concept
* interesting decisions
* Suboptimal but practical components
* Careless players will set others up for scoring.
To be honest, it's not a game I'm drawn to. But it's a reasonably short game that I'll probably never turn it down either. I really like what the designer has done with such a well known base mechanic without adding any clutter.
Is it something for you? I hope my impression helps you decide that. If you have the opportunity I'd certainly suggest you give it a try.