I was out of town last weekend for a wedding and of course, I had to stop by the local game store. I popped into Great Escape Games in Sacramento and picked up Lorenzo Il Magnifico. My guys and I got it on table this past week, and they all thought it was great. It’s a crunchy and tense euro, and can be played in about two hours, perfect for my group on a weeknight. I’m so glad I bought it!
Lorenzo is a worker-placement game that has one element of dice rolling. The game plays 2-4 players through six rounds. You’re trying to gain the most prestige while collecting Faith Points to satisfy the church as the head of an Italian family with four family members to choose from.
At the start of each round, dice are rolled to determined each family member’s value. There’s a white dice, a black dice and an orange dice. Each player also has a neutral family member, with a value of zero. I personally don’t mind the randomness of this dice element because it places everybody on equal footing. You can also increase your family member’s value by spending servants, one of the resources you can collect in the game.
Every player also gets their own personal board. On the main board, there are four towers that hold development cards, a Faith Points track, a Military Points track, Turn Order track, and a Victory Point track.
Each tower holds a different type of card: Territories (green), Buildings (yellow), Characters (blue) and Venture (purple) cards. At the start of the round, new cards are placed face up, and players then start in turn order sending family members to the board.
For a family member to collect a development card, it must have a value equal to or greater than the dice printed on the action space next to the card. These spots range from 1 to 7, which then you must spend servants to get into this spot. A player also must pay the cost of the card, if any. It can either be gold, wood, stone or military points, or a combination of all of those things. The Market is a location on the board where players can collect a variety of resources.
When a player collects a card, there is sometimes an immediate effect, which is printed in the middle of the card. And there’s a lasting effect, which is printed on the bottom of the card.
Each player can only place one of their colored pawns into each tower. Your neutral pawn doesn’t count against this rule, but he’s sometimes harder to place because his value is zero.
For each additional person in a tower, he or she must pay 3 gold to place their person. This makes money really tight in the game, and there’s a lot of strategizing in whether you should collect this card first because you’ll be the first person in a specific tower (and get to place for free) or get this better card but pay 3 gold for it.
Venture cards are usually end-game bonuses, and people cards are game-play effects. Buildings and Territories also have effects at the bottom of their cards, which can only be triggered in the Harvest and Production areas of the board. When a player places a family member on this location, with at least a value of one, his or her cards will all trigger, if that card’s value is equal or less than the value of the family member who triggered the location.
This is perhaps the coolest mechanism in the game. It’s a great way to collect a lot of resources at once, if you plan correctly and save your family members. But the Harvest and Production locations only hold one person each, so if you don’t get there first, you’ll have to try at the next location, which decreases the family member’s value by three points.
There’s also a military track, which is used to pay for some cards but also to open up your locations for Territory cards. When you gain Buildings and Territories, you place them on your board from left to right. You can’t place more than two Territory cards until you’ve gained enough military to open up a new spot. Placing more Territory cards also gives you VPs.
There’s also the Council Palace location, in which players can immediately get a Council Privilege, which is a voice between 1 wood and 1 stone, 2 servants, 2 coins, 2 military points, or 1 Faith Point. This location determines turn order for the next round.
Lastly, the Faith Track. At the ends of Round 2, 4 and 6, the Faith Track will score. Players who don’t have enough Faith points will be excommunicated and must place a cube in their color on the excommunication tile. This negative effect will be in play for the rest of the game. If a player has enough Faith points, she gains the victory points at the top of the spot she’s sitting on, and then their disc moves back to zero. Essentially, players get two rounds to beef up their required Faith points, which goes up one at each scoring phase.
Also, if you don’t want to spend your Faith points, you can also opt to get excommunicated and place a cube on the tile, but then your disc doesn’t get reset back down to zero. Sometimes, a later excommunication tile is way worse so you don’t want to have to built up the points again.
Game play continues after six rounds, and the person with the most points wins the game. Players also can VPs based on the number of Territories on their board and the number of blue cards collected.
Our game was pretty tight, right through the end. Three of us went hard on the Territory cards, while one guy went the Building route instead. What killed it for us was one guy kept getting a lot of VPs from Faith Points, which exponentially increase as you move down the track — something the three of us other guys didn’t realize until it was too late. Good times. Can’t wait to get this on table again soon!