I wanted to know, how fun is the board game The Godfather: Corleone's Empire, for someone who enjoys tabletop gaming, but has no interest in The Godfather cinematic universe? Does Corleone’s Empire stand on its own, independently, as a good game -- or does it rely too heavily on the Godfather license? That is the question investigated in this episode.
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The first thing I did upon receiving my test copy of The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire was to dig into its rule book, specifically to find out how negotiation and blackmail are incorporated into this game. After all, what game about the underhanded underworld wouldn’t incorporate negotiations and backstabbing? Well, as it turns out, this one. As I continued through the rule book, I was flabbergasted to discover that there’s no negotiation mechanisms built into this game. Instead, the focus is on worker placement and area control with a dash of vicious card play. Alright, fair enough. But how is a worker placement mechanism going to encourage the kind of cutthroat behavior and tense interaction I would expect in a game about Wiseguys and warfare? I was skeptical.
To address how the game answers that question, we’ll first need a brief synopsis of how the game plays. Now, this is not meant to be a complete tutorial. For that, click on over to Watch It Played for an instructional video produced by fellow lover of backstabbing, Rodney Smith. For now, here’s an overview of the game’s main concepts.
In The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire, players will control a mob of henchmen, who they will send out into the city to collect the money and resources they need to grow their evil empire. Each player will have two types of workers at their disposal: generic thugs with square bases, and uniquely sculpted family members with round bases. Throughout the game, players will place these units on corresponding square and round spaces on the board in order to shake down local businesses, which provides them with money, contraband, and jobs that they can complete for the Cappo for even more money and contraband. At the end of each round, ownership of each section of the city will be awarded to the player with the most units influencing that turf. Controlling turf also awards that player bonuses when other players’ thugs shake down those businesses. Throughout the game, players will be banking money by using actions to move it from their volatile hand of cards, to their slightly more secure personal suitcase. And this is important, because at the end of the game, after bonuses for owning turf and completing jobs have been awarded, the player that has stashed the most money away in their suitcase will be the winner.
Between the components, and far more importantly, the game play, my initial worries that a lack of integrated negotiation, plus my unfamiliarity with the Godfather movies, would turn this game into a flavorless worker placement game - turned out to be, for me, unfounded. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I found that the way the game’s mechanisms work together, allow players to jockey for control of resources and turfs in a way that still adds tension and keeps players engaged, even during everyone else's turns
If I had to compare this game and others, I’d have to say that, to me, it felt a little bit like a cross between Blood Rage and Lords Of Waterdeep, but I enjoyed it better than both of those. But, all this is just one person’s perspective on the game. For additional points of view about The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire, be sure to check out Tabletop Showcase.com for more videos and podcasts about this game.