Posted in Family games, Short length, Solo play review

The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire – solo play review

highly competitive worker placement / area control plus car bombs, extortion and general mayhem

Summary:

The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire is a Family¹ + level game of Short + length.  It is playable by 1 to 5 players.

This review focuses on the solo play experience.

The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire has a fan-made solo mode designed by Martin G which is available at BoardGameGeek.  Martin has designed the solo mode with 3 distinct ‘personalities’ of the AI player available – Don Vito, Michael and Sonny and has even gone to the trouble of making printable cards for each.  I’ve played with Vito alone and with Vito and Michael (solo vs. 2 AI players) – this is quite manageable, shows off the different ‘personalities’ of the opponent and is a rewarding solo play experience.

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Here’s what we mean when we rate game ‘weight’ or level or game length.

The best bits of this game are the quality of the worker placement / area control decisions within the gameplay – this is a quality, thought-filled game.  The excellent miniatures, suitcases for your ill-gotten gains, and board, and the strong theme which carries through all aspects of the game also greatly enhance the play experience.

The worst bit of The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire is hard to identify, actually – this is a solid, under-rated game.  Some people may dislike the theme, but it’s everything you’d expect from the game title and movie folklore.

Review:

This game oozes theme.  The box is slightly menacing.  The miniatures are detailed and look outright dangerous.

img_8899There are two types of workers – family members and thugs, and each has different action spaces.  You’ll get access to extra family members through the four Acts (rounds) of the game, and you may get more quasi-members and quasi-thugs (Allies) through . . . . bribery and corruption, of course!

Placing a worker gets you an immediate benefit, but also factors into area control for the next Act, which might get you extra benefits (depending on what your opponent does in future) – and also factors into end-game area control and scoring.  So, there are short, medium and long-term consequences of each action you take and the game deals with these elegantly.

Another great part of this game is that it’s not enough to earn your ill-gotten gains – you also need to launder the money and tuck it away in your family suitcase.

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Martin’s decision to include three distinct personalities for the AI player adds to the replayability of the solo game. ² The game is already quite diverse because it has 18 Ally cards, and you won’t use more than 6 of them in any solo game (9 if you play against two opponents). A different mix of new businesses each game also adds to replayability.

Every time I have played this game multiplayer, everyone’s had a blast ³ and that fun continues into this solo mode.

BoardGameGeek rates this game as 2.60 out of 5 in weight, (at the time of publication of this review), though that rating doesn’t distinguish between solo and multiplayer games and so is not adjusted to reflect the changes involved in solo play.  I think this reflects the game’s decision complexity well – but, it remains easy to teach and quick to play.

Availability

Used to be fairly easy to find, but a bit scarcer now – try Gamerholic.

Footnotes

¹ it’s a Family ‘level’ game in complexity, because that’s one of our four categories.  You could debate whether a game themed around extortion, illegal goods and the occasional murder or two could ever be considered a ‘family game’…. your family may vary 🙂

² I haven’t tested the “Sonny” AI player.

³ Yes, that’s a car-bomb pun 😉

You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet. Franz Kafka

Posted in Fanatic games, Full length

Cerebria: The Inside World – review

It’s a bit like the movie Inside Out – but wayyy more complicated

Summary:

Cerebria: the Inside World is a Fanatic level board game of Full + length for 2 to 4 players.  It has a native solo mode which I have not played, so that is not included in this review.

Here’s what we mean when we rate game ‘weight’ or level or game length or player count.  For example: this game theoretically plays 6 with the ‘Forces of Balance’ expansion (was available, but we didn’t use it), but I can’t imagine how convoluted that game could be!

The best bits of this game are:

  1. the distinctive art and design – you will love it or hate it (or perhaps, like me, admire it while feeling slightly disturbed…)
  2. the way in which the Spirits carry their theme into the gameplay, and the way that Emotions trigger actions which align with their descriptions.  When you play “Guilt”, the action it triggers makes sense – as though the other team feels guilty!

The worst bits of  Cerebria are:

  1. the learning curve for new players and the consequent teaching and setup time: it is steep, and the time commitment is significant!
  2. the catchup mechanism for the losing team seems very weak, and so a runaway winner is totally possible – perhaps even likely.

Review:

Cerebria does feel a lot like a battle for dominance, inside a human brain.  You have to summon up Willpower and Essence to manifest Emotions (i.e. to play cards in particular areas) – but will Team Bliss come along and undo the ‘important work’ of Team Gloom?

Willpower and essence are scarce, but become easier to gain as you influence the Realms and Frontiers of the mind (the game board¹).

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Game board in starting setup.  Team Gloom (Hatred and Anxiety in this game) vs. Team Bliss (Empathy and Harmony).  Go Team Gloom!

Dominating each area (a Realm, or Frontier) of the mind grants minor additional benefits (but the small benefits really add up over time through the gameplay). This “area control” mechanism is also a major factor in scoring (which occurs indirectly through 6 to 9 Revelations, determined by player actions during the game). 

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Anxiety (Team Gloom) has played Loneliness.  Loneliness has more power when played alone (theme!) and contributes to control of this Frontier and the adjoining Realms

Also, each Emotion played has its own power – getting these to work together with your Spirit’s theme and with the other Spirit in your team² is a major factor in successful play.

The art is well displayed on large, thematic Emotion cards and player boards.  I was lucky enough to play with the extra miniatures (cardboard standees are standard) which are large, detailed and beautiful (or appropriately ugly…).

I’ve skipped over a part of the setup and gameplay – you get to build a deck of possible Emotions for each Spirit (choosing 8 from 16 options).  In my first game, I just made thematic choices, but you can follow a recommended starter deck – or spend ages building a customised preferred deck before you even start the main game, if that’s your thing.

Each spirit has a specific power – give them a good trip or two around the block, as they will help you learn the way the game flows, and can be really powerful when deployed consistently.  It’s important to know that this is a team-based game – part co-operative, part competitive.  I really liked that, but it may affect your view of the game differently.

This is a lovely game with great production values, which oozes theme³.  It requires complex decisions and you must keep an eye on many factors – the board is constantly changing.  I enjoyed it a lot, but it won’t be for everyone – it could get pretty slow with four players, and it is complex.  This is a game-lover’s game.

 

 

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Team Gloom dominates! Let’s not dwell on the dark and twisted Identity emerging….              [Also, please forgive the rules error of not adding this fortress before the capping piece, I think…]
Each team has 4 Spirits but will use only two in each game.  Each Spirit has 16 Emotions but will use only 8 in each game (and each team has 8 ‘Strong Emotions’ to advance to – we didn’t even get into 15/16 of the ‘Strongs’ in our game).  The Aspiration cards (a major source of scoring) will occur in a different order in each game and some may be skipped or removed.   This extensive content means that the game should have excellent replayability.

BoardGameGeek rates this game at a colossal 4.32 out of 5 in weight, (at the time of publication of this review).  That seems a little high to me, but there’s no doubt it’s an intricate board game which could be ‘bewildering’ [that’s a quote from the rulebook…] for less fanatical players.

Availability

Behold Games (I’m a repeat customer of theirs – excellent service from a game loving store owner) has this available for $71 – excellent value as the typical price is near $100. I doubt that includes the plastic miniatures, as they were most easily obtained in the Kickstarter campaign for the Cerebria board game and are probably pretty tough to get now.

These are, of course, our opinions only.

Footnotes:

¹ the game board is HUGE – you’ll need a big table.

² this reminds me a LOT of aspects of the gameplay in Spirit Island.

³ motif?  Thesaurus.com took a beating while I was writing this review – ‘theme’ does not have many useful synonyms!