Board game club: Leonardo da Vinci, Taj Mahal

Leonardo da Vinci box frontYesterday’s board game club started with a game of Leonardo da Vinci. This one’s published in Finnish by Bit of a strange decision, it being such a gamer’s game, but I suppose Puerto Rico has sold well enough.

It’s an optimization game, basically. Players use workers to gather resources and convert them into inventions. Inventions make money, and money is what counts. You also have to use money to get stuff, so tough decisions are inevitable, as resources are scarce. The way the workers are placed to gather prices underlines the similarity between an auction and an area majority game, as it’s a bit of both, really.

In the end I found the game a bit bland. It looks bland, that’s for sure. We weren’t terribly effective and unless you know what to do, the end game is particularly tricky and unsatisfying. With better experience, I’m quite sure the game’s a bit better. It seems balanced enough, and it has nice setup system, where players can start with wildly varying resources.

So, good, but not great, and definitely deserves some more play before any final judgement is passed.

Last week I got Princeps Machiavelli, the new game from Spanish Alesia Games. It seems fairly interesting: card game with a Machiavellian theme of conquest and combat. However, the inexperience of the publisher shows.

The game has quite bland graphics and the cards are about 80% flavor text. The worst bit is by far the rule book. At first I thought the game has had absolutely no blind playtesting, but apparently a bad translation is to blame. Anyway, the game is quite hard to learn from rules, and even rules discussion with the designer hasn’t answered everything. There are things that simply aren’t in the rules (or are wrong in the rules) and lack of examples makes things very hard to figure out.

So, for now I’m putting this one aside. If the publisher can come up with a thorough FAQ or rewritten rules, I’m willing to give this one another go, but as it is now, it’s just way too much trouble for something that looks like it could be ok.

Taj Mahal box frontSince we couldn’t play Princeps Machiavelli, we had to play something else. Taj Mahal caught my eye, and the guys agreed. This was my first time with just four players and I think the game works just fine with four. Three is probably not quite enough.

I was faithful for my traditions and placed second. I’m proud I could catch up with Robert’s very scary lead — after the final scoring I was actually ahead of him, but the card bonuses changed that. Wonderful game, anyhow, I went and upped my rating to nine.

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2 responses to “Board game club: Leonardo da Vinci, Taj Mahal”

  1. I prefer Taj with three instead of four. Everyone has a better shot of winning the auctions, so the scores are much tighter in the end.

  2. Recently I have purchased and played Princeps Machiavelli and I thing that it’s a very interesting game.
    I suppose that my game have a new set of rules because is the same that appears in Alesia Games web site and it isn’t so hard to understand.