This is a review of The Godfather: Corleon’s Empire designed by Eric Lang. It plays 2 – 5 players. Realistcally, I’d estimate the playtime at 30 minutes per player.
This is a worker placement game at heart. Actions, however, are limited so the area control aspect becomes important for efficiency. As you control more territory, you get the benefit from enemy thugs shaking down those businesses. The way in which the area control benefit relieves the tightness of worker placement is a great compliment and a clever melding of the two mechanics.
As you complete jobs and earn cash, your next challenge is to “suitcase” it, for fear of losing it to other players or having to discard it at the end of the round. After the first play, it became obvious how crucial this aspect of the game was. One player at the table had to discard a third of his endgame points in a single action.
The curveball mechanic here is the bribery phase, wherein all players place a blind bid (from their suitcase, so endgame points) to pick up an ally, granting them special abilities. You get your choice of allies but only ahead of players who bid less than you, so this phase could potentially be a total waste for you.
The Godfather is, of course, a well-known theme, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well it actually tied into the gameplay.
The area control grants you resources and abilities as thugs shakedown your neighborhoods, you have the be slick and cunning about your suitcase actions, and gunning down opponents is sometimes the only choice to get what you want. The bribery phase is thematic and fun, as you’re bidding from your suitcase, which is basically an Altoids tin painted like a suitcase – very fun!
As I said, I didn’t expect the theme to really tie in here as much but it does in a way that’s really engaging and enhances the game.
The art is beautiful, though my one gripe is the color scheme on the board. It looks weirder in photos than in real life, but I still felt the colors were wonky.
The iconography all makes sense except for the “jobs” action, where you draw two cards and keep one. The icon shows a single card so that could be improved, but that’s honestly a small gripe.
CMON, as always, put a lot of effort into their components and the models are all unique, though it doesn’t matter at all for the actual gameplay.
The game is very tight, playing in just four rounds. That said, there is a bunch of down time. You really can’t make a judgment about you own turn until it arrives, as the board-state changes drastically and rapidly. Some late game actions will wipe entire districts clear of figures, which changes EVERYTHING. So yes, AP is very real here and turns can drag.
I paid retail for this game, $80. As usual, CMON has packed this game with high quality components and inserts. The game itself is great so yes, I’d say this game was well worth the value.
This is a matter of opinion, but the unique figures for every single member of every single family (that contribute nothing mechanically) could have been sacrificed to bring this game’s cost down, but that’s a minor issue.
This is a mid-weight game. An introduction to worker placements is helpful, but the concepts in this game are fairly clear from the onset. I’d say this game will be a bit tricky for newcomers, but they will certainly understand the bigger picture by the end of round one.
Teaching time for this game is relatively low, as the amount of actual options a player takes are few. It’s more a game of judgement than mechanically difficulty.
I expect to be playing this game for a bit, but I’m not terribly eager to get this one back to the table week after week. I think it could be easily expanded by new job cards and allies.
On my first play, I thought this game was very good. After a second play, I thought it was great. It’s tight, thematic, and fun. My biggest issue is the downtime on player turns.