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In The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire, 2 to 5 players will take on the role of one of the competing families vying for control over New York. Shakedown local businesses, enlist the help of prominent figures in the city and complete jobs for the Don. The family with the most money at the end wins the game.

Overview

The game is played through a series of acts. During each act, players will take turns playing one of their figures on the board to shakedown the city. This is your source of income, providing you with money and resources (blood money, booze, guns and in the latter half, narcotics). Thugs shakes down the front of individual businesses, while family members shake down the backs of every business in neighboring turfs.

Concurrently, players will have to consider their family’s presence in each turf. At the end of each act, players with the most figures in a turf will gain control over that territory. This provides them with the benefit of also getting the shakedown reward when other players send a thug into your territory. Players will also gain extra points at the end of the game for territories they control.

Alternatively, players can hold onto their figures and play cards. Job cards, ones that are in your hand and the public ones next to the board, can only be played if you discard the items listed on the card. Players should aim to complete as many as possible as they may only carry over certain number of cards into the next act. Similar to turfs, completing the most of each type of job will earn you points at the end of the game. Ally cards on the other hand can be played freely and can be used every act if you have them. They offer some powerful actions but you can only get them through a bidding phase at the end of each act.

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Is it Fun?

Mechanically, Corleone’s Empire doesn’t offer anything new to the table. It plays like your average worker placement with just a touch of area control, bidding and set collection. It is simple but where it gets interesting is how tactical the game can get. With limited number of figures to play and limited number of action spaces on the board, you are always weighing your options. Do I take a good action in Upper East Side? Or secure control over Wall Street. Maybe I should complete this job before somebody else gets to it.

All these things are going through your mind and suddenly, somebody throws a wrench into your plans. There’s no avoiding conflict, you’re bound to get in someone’s way. And in true mob fashion, they will put a hit on you or set off a car bomb. It’s not avoidable but it is completely predictable. If you see somebody collecting guns, or if they have the police chief, you know what’s about to happen. Playing your figures early may get you immediate benefits but it also puts a target on your back. Yet another layer to consider each turn.

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One thing that I didn’t like is how it handles starting positions. Given the limited number of action spaces, I think the player to go last is at a disadvantage because they may be stuck with sub-optimal actions by the time they can take their first turn. It would have been nice if the game leveled the playing field with a slight handicap for players later in turn order.

Theme

I’m sure this is on everyone’s mind, how does The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire live up to The Godfather, one of the best movies of all time. Let me stop you right there. Do not get this thinking you’re going to reenact The Godfather! You have nods towards the movie like the horse’s head first player token and the players’ family names, but none of it contributes to the game. At the very least, they could have done something like The Game of Thrones and give each family member its own special ability. Perhaps in the future with in an expansion?

Now with that out of the way, I think Corleone’s Empire does a good job putting you into the shoes of competing crime families vying for control over New York. From the start of the game, you’re already butting heads with your opponents as you try to make the best of your limited actions. You’re always scheming, finding ways to one up one of the other families without putting yourself on the top of everyone’s hit list.

Components

Being a CMON game, I already expect a high price point mainly due to the miniatures. However, at $70, I would still say Corleone’s Empire is a little expensive for what you get.

The miniatures were nice but nothing really stood out. You have thugs and family members but the main distinguishing feature are the figures’ base. I can’t argue that it looks nice on the board but isn’t nearly as satisfying to play with as the monster miniatures in Blood Rage, another CMON game that is around the same price.

The metal tins were unexpected but was a nice touch. It is used to hold your stashed cash and completed jobs, away from your opponents’ view. It probably contributed to the high MSRP but I’d argue it is more useful than the miniatures. I definitely liked using this more than a player screen as it helped save space on the table.

Final Thoughts

I really wished they had kept this as a generic mafia themed game. You have references to the IP but nothing in it screams The Godfather. Considering what you get in the box, I can’t help but wonder how much more the game costs simply for having “Godfather” printed on the front of it. Nevertheless, Corleone’s Empire is a solid game. Its use of simple mechanics makes the game fairly easy to learn and teach yet deep enough to entertain more experienced players for an evening. Game length felt just right as the game runs very smoothly, with minimal downtime between turns.