Yay! Another positive week. I'm realizing that the only way to keep these up, while having a new game every week, is for Dan and I to be playing at least 52 new games a year. Which of course the market supports, but we're not reviewers, this is a labor of love. And as such there need to be 52 games a year we want to play, not that we can play. As these writeups are still fairly new, we're cheating through being able to use old games...but I do wonder whether we'll have to resort to starting to write about games we've already played, or some other subject. Ah well, first world problems.
In any case, this week we played Lorenzo il Magnifico, not once but twice. The first time was because it's by the same designers as Coimbra, I game we love that I wrote about here. The second time was because after the first game, we had a disagreement as to whether it was slightly better or slightly worse than Coimbra, and so we got together Sunday to try again. We still disagree, but now it's about whether it's the same good or better.
Lorenzo is a worker placement game, played out over 3 ages of 2 rounds each, for a total of 6 rounds. You have 4 workers, a number that doesn't change, leading to a total of 24 actions the whole game. With those 24 actions you're trying to build multiple engines, and attempting to have them sync up in a way that results in you having the most victory points. And that isn't an easy process. There are 4 main areas where you grow your engines. The first is resource generating cards, and while they're free, you can only have 2 before you need to start expanding your military strength to get more of them. The second are leaders, cards that help all your other actions or give you free actions, but they cost a hefty wage to hire. The third are a bit of a hybrid of point and resource generation, but they're resource heavy to acquire and really need to be "run" a few times to make them worthwhile. And the final area are point cards. Cards that are heavy on points, often have a few small bonuses, but also cost a variety of coins, resources and more to acquire.
Every round you place your workers to acquire these cards, or place your workers to run your engine (the first and third sets mentioned above benefit heavily from being re-run with a worker), or a few assorted other areas. Being first on a card type means others have to pay a penalty to get in, but being first on running your engines have a similar penalty. The net result is that you only have maybe 1 or 2 moves before you start getting locked out of the areas you want to be in, and of course the best cards are often being taken by the people around you. Planning the perfect engine is near impossible, which means the whole game is about planning for the best engine you can reasonably hope to build, a far harder endeavor.
To compliment the entire process, are leaders. 4 cards you draft at the beginning of the game, with incredible game breaking bonuses, but that are hard to get the requirements to get. Work too hard to get them and you might find your engine suffers in other areas. But let them slide until late in the game and the benefit may not be worth it. Finding a way to get 1 or 2 of them while also building the optimal engine can be the difference between winning and losing in this game.
Ultimately we love Lorenzo. I plan on getting the expansion, and playing it many more times. After game 1, one of the players mentioned that leaders were overpowered and essential to winning the game. But of course game 2 ended with the player with the fewest leaders winning the game. Which is a typical application of the "overpowered" on first plays of a game. If you like Coimbra, I can't recommend Lorenzo enough. They are simultaneously similar and completely different. I now look forward to trying The Voyages of Marco Polo, another game that is often recommended in the same forums as these two. I own it but haven't yet gotten it to the table. Should I?