Lisboa Constrictor

Once again I’m delighted to welcome a guest writer in this case  Ugo “MrKickstarter” Greevy.  Ugo owns ALL the games and runs a regular games night in his man office in Dublin.  He’s going to talk to us about Lisboa, take it away there Ugo….

So, Lisboa…. This really is a magnificent beast of a game! For a few months now it has been sitting on my gaming shelf, unopened,intimidating, daring me to crack it open until finally, at the behest of one of our gaming group, I hesitantly reached up and opened the box..

The first thing that hits you is the production quality of Vital Lacerda’s latest opus. I won’t sit on the fence here, this is a masterpiece. The artwork and palette reflect the historic period the game is set in. The attention to detail is meticulous. The meeples are high quality as is all the cardboard  – good solid thick stock. I spent the guts of an hour soaking it all in, studying the board, the player portfolio and  the cards. Euro games are regularly critisized by some for the lack of theme, not an issue with Lisboa.  It oozes theme, you genuinely feel you are part of the rebuilding process following the destruction of the city in 1755 (earthquake and Tsunami). The rulebook and the cards are full of historical references.

At first look it seems very intimidating, (the heaviest Euro’s I’ve played to date are Troyes and Orleans) – each player even gets their own 8 page reference pamphlet(!), and it did take (between video and reading the rules) probably 5/6 hours to finally feel I had a good enough understanding of the rules to play the game.

At it’s heart, Lisboa has a simple mechanic, play a card take an action. That’s where the fun begins, where will I play the card (to the board to influence the nobles?, to my portfolio?)

You have 5 cards in hand, you choose one, play it,  and take an action.

You can:

1. Play a card to your portfolio (your player board)
2. Play a card to the royal court (a noble card)
3. Play a treasury card to the royal court
4. Discard a card from your hand for a gold resource.

Everything you do creates a chain effect, everything is connected like a intricate spider’s web. Almost overwhelming! Will I sell a good or trade with the nobles?, Should I head to the court and try to influence the builder to let me build in the city so i can gather resources? maybe I should buy a ship? A public buidling? visit the cardinal? Or will i just sell goods for cash but only if there is a slot on the ship free etc etc. Managing your resources is crucial, you never seem to have enough to do exactly what you want.
Added to this there are myriad ways of scoring points during and at the end of the game, everything you do has a consequence and ultimately some reward but the question at the back of your mind is am I doing it efficiently? What if I did this instead? ARGH!

If there is a downside I suppose it would be the time investment needed to get a feel for the game. You won’t get as much from Lisboa, if you rock up to boardgame night not having watched a review or read through the rulebook. The more you put into this the more rewarding the experience will be.

I cannot recommend this highly enough, even after only one play, just scratching the surface, I know this will be a game I will go back to on numerous occasions and it will forever reside in my Top 10. Every gamer should try this once! if you like worker placement games you will love this.


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