It’s time for another board game review. Before I start, I have a small confession to make about this game. I didn’t intend to purchase this game originally, but after I had added the other items to the cart, I was pretty close to qualifying for free shipping. Purchasing this game, bumped me up to free shipping, and actually saved me a little bit of money. So, this was basically a free game.
With that being said, I am still happy with the game. It largely deals with resource management, and rewards planning ahead. It is different from other games that I own, and gives my son and I another option of games to play.
To me, the packaging is a bit of a mixed bag. The box art and picture on the back wouldn’t lead me to pick this game off of the shelf. It seems rather plain to me. On the other hand, the interior of the box has been customized to fit the components of the game. This is a huge plus in my book, because I really don’t like to have to figure out my own storage for a game.
The game components are fairly ordinary. There is one main board that all players share where the bank’s florins (money), resources, and inventions are displayed. Each player has 2 workshop boards and some wooden figures of the corresponding color. They are nothing fantastic, but they get the job done.
The objective is to have the most money (florins) at the end of Turn 9. The main way to obtain more money is to create inventions. Creating an invention before other players provides you with more money, and also lets you claim the invention, which can get you more money at the end of the game.
There are 2 different ways that you can set up the game. The Beginner option specifies what each player starts with, ensuring that all players have different starting resources. The Expert option allows players to choose what they would like to start with.
In all of our games so far, we have used the Beginner setup. I think that next time, we might try the Expert option instead.
The most complex part of the setup is getting the inventions in order.The rules have a very specific way that you build and order the invention deck. There is shuffling, so the order is semi-random. Depending on the number of players in the game, there can be anywhere from 3 to 5 inventions available at a time.
As mentioned above, the game last for 9 turns. It is worth noting that for turns 8 & 9, only the Research Phase is executed. The different parts of a turn are:
- Laboratory Phase
- Assignment Phase
- Employment Phase
- Research Phase
- End of Turn
During this phase you decide if you will work on any inventions. Starting with the player holding Leonardo, each player declares if they will start work on an invention. If a player decides to work on an invention, he places the required components under the workshop that will be working on it and places the work counter on zero. He does not tell others what he is working on. You probably could, but it is to your advantage to keep it a secret.
- You can also cancel work on an invention. The components are returned to your hand, but all work is lost. This can be valid if you just started working on a more difficult invention and somebody completed it in the previous turn.
In my opinion, this is the most important phase. In this phase, you place your workers throughout the city and in your laboratories, which determine what you will be able to accomplish this turn. This phase interacts heavily with the phase that follows.
The concept for the placement is simple. Starting with the player with Leonardo, he does one the following:
- Places 1+ apprentices in one area
- Places his master
- Once a player passes, his turn is over. The important thing to keep in mind is that all of the apprentices for a single area have to be placed at once. For example, you could place two apprentices in the workshop in one turn, and later and your master in the workshop. However, you can not place one apprentice in the workshop and then place another one later.
In this phase, you are able to reap the benefits of your worker placement in the Assignment Phase. Each area is resolved in order, starting with A. To resolve the area, you first have to determine who goes first. Whoever has the most apprentices gets to act first (with the master counting as 2 apprentices). If there is a tie, the player whose figures are closest to the left goes first.
- A. The Council – You can relocate some of your apprentices, take florins from the council, re-order the top 4 inventions, or pay 1 florin to buy a resource
- B. Workshop – You can upgrade your laboratories (allowing spaces for mechanical men), add another laboratory, or add a mechanical man to a workshop
- C. Academy – You can add apprentices
- D-H. Resources – You can take one of the related resources
- Laboratories – Advance the work marker
The order is important. For the Council, the first player to act here takes Leonardo (giving them the first action in the first 2 phases of the turn) and chooses an action. The next player can choose any of the remaining actions, and the 3rd player from the remaining, etc.
For all of the other areas of the city, the first player takes the action for free and then moves the money marker to the right. The next action taken in this area will cost 2 florins. The next player can pay 2 florins, or pass. If he passes, he receives nothing and removes his workers from the area. If he pays, he takes the action and the money marker moves to the right again. The next action will cost 3 florins. This continues until all of the workers have been removed from the area, or somebody pays 4 florins for the action. It is possible for you to take the same action multiple times if you have the florins available.
Your laboratories advance the work marker based upon the workers that you have present (1 for each apprentice, 2 for each mechanical man or master).
If you have completed any inventions, now is the time that you reveal it. If you are the first person to complete the invention, you receive the higher number printed on it and place the invention in front of you. If you are still working on an invention that somebody else completes, you reveal that you are working on it. If you completed an invention that somebody else has previously completed, you receive the lesser value of florins on the invention.
If multiple people complete the same invention in the same turn, you have to bid to see who places the invention in front of them. There are two main reasons for having the invention. Each invention has a type associated with it. If you are working on an invention of the same type that you have already completed, you receive a 2 week discount. The other reason, is that a florin bonus is given at the end of the game based upon the variety of inventions that you have created.
End of Turn
At this point, you add a florin to the council, advance the turn marker, and flip over new inventions for each one that has been completed.
End of the Game
At the end of the game, players receive a florin bonus based upon how many different types of inventions that they created. The more variety, the greater the bonus. Then, you add up your florins and see who won. Any ties are resolved by the inventions created.
I don’t think that the game is anything outstanding, but I can’t really complain about it either. My son and I have enjoyed playing this game from time to time. It provides something different to the other games that we have available.
All of my games have been with 2 players so far, and I can imagine that it would be quite different with more players. With two players, many of your actions that you take are free and it is easier to keep track of the other person, so you can better guess which invention(s) they are working on.
With more players, I am sure that the game would change drastically. There would be more inventions available, but you would end up having to pay for more of your actions. Also, it is more likely that you will have to bid for inventions or not complete them first, sapping your valuable Florins. I might give it a go some time, but my typical gaming group didn’t seem to keen on it. I assume this is because they have been spoiled by how pretty some of the other board games are.