The Godfather movies have all the ingredients for a great boardgame. It seems odd that no one has made a decent stab at it as a dudes on a map style game until now.
The Godfather Carleone’s empire to give it it’s full title is a worker placement area control game with shades of Tammny Hall, Lords of Waterdeep, Junta and hints of Blood Rage and even Forbidden Stars at a stretch.
The game is played out on a map of New York which is divided up into eight sectors each with one or more businesses. A business (some of which are fixed on the map and some drawn from a deck each turn) has two spots you can place a mobster worker on. Either a thug in the front of the business to shake it down or a mobster boss who stands adjacent to a number of business and gets them to pay out what they’re doing at the back of the building.
Like any worker placement getting in first is critical to get the good stuff. The stuff in this case consists of guns, drink, blood money or wildcard drugs. These are used to complete missions which grant you money (also used as score) and resources.
Key to all this is your suitcase (which is a natty little protractor style pencil case affair) only money in it at the end of the game counts and getting it in there is an action on a business spot. Unlike Junta money in there (as I found out) is far from safe and needs to be used for bidding later on and is open for stealing by other players. This mechanic is neat. It leads to a very tense game. Especially later when the game is coming to an end and you want to get all your ill gotten gains squirreled away in it.
Area control Is clever. If you have more workers in a location you take control and stick down a tag showing this for subsequent rounds. Owning an area allows you to wet your beak when other players take resources from there. Ownership is easily lost too, so be warned. This can lead to a little bit of analysis paralysis later in the game but a few played games I reckon will fix that.
As the game progresses more family members and mobsters (workers) get added to your roster so more moves and more interestingly conflicts happen. A variety of public officials like the mayor, police chief and godfather appear each turn and can be bid on and bought. These grant you certain powers such as arresting or moving on thugs or giving more ownership rights for areas.
Rules wise it’s not that complex but you will get a rude education (like I did) the first time you play as to what can be done in the game.
I’m only scratching the surface here with options. There’s cards that allow drive by shootings, hostile take overs and well more shootings really. There’s Depth here and a few gotyas that will require multiple plays.
I really like it. I was treated to a copy with some of the minis painted which added to it. Including the horses head counter which indicates the first player.
Build quality is good but not excellent. The board is a little dull and the artwork for some bits boring but don’t let that detract you. The game play is solid. This is a game crying out to be pimped out.
I’m going to pick up a copy of this sometime soon. I’m that impressed with it. It’s pricey but it does make you an offer you can’t refuse….
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