20 Nov Cutthroat Board Games – Lorenzo il Magnifico Review
Earlier this week, I was reminded of how different a game can feel when resources are purposefully limited between players as I played through Lorenzo il Magnifico from CMON games. In this tight worker-placement game, players select family members to place on different spots on the board to follow through with different actions. Some of these are to simply gain more resources, while others allow players to purchase new cards to fill individual player boards, and others activate cards already on a player’s player board. All of these spaces are limited so players need to act decisively when choosing where to place their family member.
If this doesn’t seem daunting enough, cards are purchased by placing family members in one of four towers each of which correspond with a different type of card. Each player can only play one of their three painted family members (there is an unpainted worker as well that works a bit differently) in each tower and if another family member is already present (usually an opponent’s) in the tower, the action costs an additional 3 coins! It may not sound like a lot, but this is a significant amount of money in this game. This makes every decision even more difficult and timing must be impeccable to ensure the best results.
Now if that all wasn’t enough, each player has to gather faith points throughout the game to avoid being excommunicated from the Church which can happen up to three times throughout the game. Excommunication leads to major penalties that make the game entirely more difficult. It seems no matter what a player’s strategy is, they need to account for these.
At this point, you may be asking yourself, “why would anyone want to play this game?” It’s just so cutthroat. Resources are limited. Every action holds such a significant weight. timing and anticipation can make or break a round. What would draw anyone to this game? Well it’s all the aforementioned things that make this game so incredibly suspenseful. Trying to gauge what everyone else is doing while also trying to create a strategy of your own is just so satisfying. Lorenzo il Magnifico creates the best moments when you are able to anticipate the moves of others well enough to carry out the move that fits perfectly within your economy and creates the most devastating moments when you Plan B, C, and D are all no longer available due to the moves made by those around you.
Lorenzo il Magnifico and games in a similar vein do something beyond the board game itself. They invite you into a narrative of great reward and great despair. There are potential opportunities everywhere, but with such a tight worker placement system, catastrophe is waiting around every corner. There is a particular type of struggle created for every player that adds to the enjoyment of each success a player has throughout the course of play. It genuinely feels like something great has been conquered every time something works out in your favor and that is a rare feeling for a board game to generate. Lorenzo il Magnifico gives each player the opportunity to climb a great mountain in the face of legitimate struggle and will continue to make it to my table for this reason.