The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire Review By Joel Wright

Designer; Eric M. Lang
Published by; CMON Limited
 Art by; Karl Kopinski

I’m going to write a review you can’t refuse!

I do like the Godfather films, I don’t remember the whole affair to quote lines from them, only the same ones that are spouted by everyone else. I did enjoy the story behind it, of what I understood. When Eric Lang announced he was bringing out two miniature games, one set in Feudal Japan and the other based on the Godfather film, I have to admit I was more excited about mafia than samurais.

On the lead up to the release, little info was made available, that could be due to the highly received Kickstarter success of Rising Sun. But of few reviewers who had got hold of it, were  sofar showing some love for the game, which got me more excited. When it was finally released here I got my copy from Meeples’ Corner as a review copy and open it there and then, filming the unboxing as I went. But to honest, as I did open the box to examine the contents, I was slightly disappointed with it.

It’s one big fat box, the size of Blood Rage, but seems unnecessary for what you got in it. However, they have filled it out with plastic inserts to hold everything in place (well, mostly everything), lots of miniatures, loads of cards (mainy money) and few card board token (business). Also these “Mint tins” dressed to look like Suitcases.

The game itself is quite straight forward and is set over 4 rounds or chapters. And the title of the chapters’ on the board is the only spoiler-ish thing in the game! However, I wouldn’t let it worry you if you haven’t seen the film.

I can make a ton of comparison to Lords of water deep. GF:CE Is a worker placement, set collecting and mission completing sort of game, with the added part area control. The aim of the game is to complete jobs cards from resources collected, control areas on the board and bank a ton of money into your suitcases to have the most mulay at the game of the game.

There a problem with GF:CE is… it’s how my wife describes most of everything I do in the house. “Half a job Harry has been here!” Because it feels like they got half way through the production and said “fuck it! I’m bored with this game, let’s get back to the one that raised us $4m on Kickstarter”. The miniatures are great, good detail and the fact that every family member is different is wonderful but also unnecessary. And the tins to store your money are another great implement, but when the rest of the game feels like it been Copy and Pasted multiple times, then the heart of the game has fallen out.

IMO, CMON shouldn’t have spent the money on the Godfather licence. There is no theme in this game at all; it feels like a generic gangster game and one that doesn’t do gangster themes justice. You are not making and breaking deals with other players and where’s the back stabbing? Kissing of the ring (the one thing that the real life mafia adopted after the movie hit the picture houses). There are no real jobs taken from the films that make even the semi-die hard fan sit up and say, “oh! that’s cool!” The job cards are just are the worst in my mind, using generic titles and text; copy and pasting them it multiple times to make the deck of card worth your purchase is just lazy, and do you get different art work on each job? Again they took the box cover and put it on each card! Lazy, lazy and bone idle lazy.

Unlike turning over the bed sheets and finding a horse’s head looking back at you with eyes with of “you made a big mistake”. I had problems flipping through the rules trying to find a couple of rules that came up in the middle of games. One I couldn’t find and we had to house rule it until I found it the next day. That was because it was spread over 3 areas in the rule book. However, there is a thread on the Geek discussing a situation that has arisen in one of my games and seems to happen in many other peoples’ games; in a 5 player, you could run out of places to place family members? What happens to a player who can’t place a figure on the map or play a card?.. And we still have no real ruling from the designer or the publisher to it; even know, many people have tried to bring it to their attention ($5m will do that to a company). Post note: We do now have a ruling on it.

Not to send this Game swimming with the fishies, it does have some redeeming features and qualities. Like I said the miniatures are good and independent of each other, but this could have been done with Meeples or cones and cubes and brought the cost down considerably. I like that the 1st player token is the horses head but that too is just a dark grey disc and can be lost easily on the table.

Now I do like the Mix of worker placement and area control which some thing I haven’t come across yet. Not only are you trying to gain resources to fulfil jobs, but you are also trying to place where you would gain the most benefit and turf coverage, and hope to control a turf at the end of the round.

As I sit here writing I am constantly comparing it to Lords of Waterdeep. First, it has worker placement, to gather resources in the aim to complete missions and earn Victory Points. In a certain round, you will receive an extra worker, in GF:CE you get 2 extra workers (family members) on 2 different rounds. And controlling turf is the same as owning a building in Waterdeep; because when you are controlling a turf and an enemy player shakes-down a business in your turf, you gain from it as well. Collecting the most job cards of the same set earns you more money at the end of the game.

Unlike LoW, playing 5 players it takes a long time another misleading fact on the Box (60-90 minutes) I don’t know but you could play it in that time with 5 players, or even 4, if everyone was clipping along at a good pace. But there wasn’t a moment when I wasn’t engaged with it. However, there will be times when you will be looking at the board not able to make decide on their next turn. “I need these resources, but I also need secure that turf over there, I could stop Jim from claiming that turf…” so it goes on, round in your head, until you are heckled in the submission and do something, regreting it soon afterwards.

So this review is sounding a lot like another ranting review, similar to my DOOM review. However, I have enjoy the plays I’ve had so far. I like how it gives you many choices and then smack you around the head as you sit there continuing staring at the same information I had 5 minutes ago, and still have no clue what is best. It brings out the worst in people as they plan and calculate their next few turns and it is blown to shit, like car bomb going off, when someone takes the position you have been eyeing up, the job card or even plays a card call “Car bomb” taking out the whole area where most of your dudes were but now are now off for a swim in the Hudson river. This Game looks cool and busy, as it fills up with businesses tiles, standing figures and also laying down figures.

I like the combination of worker placement and area control mixed in together, this gives a lot more to think about. I like how they gave you a tin to store your stuff in and not a player screen that will fall over revealing the contents every time you breathe! And I like the feeling that there is a little bit of theme to it,  if anything, it is just a generic gangster board game. If you were to ask me to pick between this and Waterdeep I would go with the Lords more then the Don, and not because of the theme. It’s about the game play,  LOW plays really quickly, even at 6 players you can still get through a game in 2 hours which is better compared to GF: CE 5 players have taken three to three and half hours. Let’s not forget about the art, LOW has individual art work on everything.

It just feels like Eric had plans for this game to include a bit more and make it stand out as a homage to the film more than just a dissecting a small part of it.

I Imagine there was a conversion went along the lines of:

CMON CEO: We’re in the Money, We’re in the Money. I going to buy that boat and we can finally send the Kids to boa…
His office Phone rings

CMON Secretary: Sir, I have Mr Lang on line one for you.
CMON CEO: Thanks, Susan, put him through.
CMON CEO: Eric!!! Great to hear from you, great Kickstarter, Hows the new Office, tell have you add own touches to it, whatever you need put it on the company
Eric: Hey man, I’ve been redesigning some parts of the Godfather game…
CMON CEO: Godfather game?…
Eric: You know… The Godfather… Corleone’s Empire… You know dudes on the map of New York…? You signed along with rising Sun…
CMON CEO: OH!… that game… you’re still working on it?
Eric: Yes dude, and I have some ideas to add to make it feel really like the movie and make it really cool…
CMON CEO: But there is no need to worry about that game lets just worry about that other one that earned the company $4 million big ones…
Eric: I also working on that, but GF is coming out this year and I need to finish off and add cool stuff before it goes to the printers… And where my artist? Karl not picking up my emails or calls and I have ideas for the art work for the job cards.
CMON CEO: Eric, Eric, Eric don’t panic, Karl has been moved on to big, richer projects that are need of his talents, but I promise he has finished all the art for the game.
Eric: He has? What about these ideas I have to complete the game?
CMON CEO: Send them through and I look at the ASAP and let you know. Now, Eric, I need you come up with promo ideas for like Dice Tower and Secret cabal Kickstarter fundraisers, they have already been asking me and I have said that they are already in the works.
Eric: OK… if you’re sure everything is done for Godfather, I do have good ideas for extra promos.
CMON CEO: Good man, and send through what you have and I will look at it. And Eric…
Eric: Yes…
CMON CEO: you’re the man… our four million dollar man.
dialling tune:
CMON Secretary: Yes sir?
CMON CEO: Susan, have we sent off the printing order for the Godfather game yet?
CMON Secretary: Yes, you signed the paper work last week.
CMON CEO: Oh!. Is Karl in the office?
CEO sec: putting you through now… Click
Karl: Karl here…
CMON CEO: Karl, tell me you finished the art on the Godfather job cards.
Karl: Nope, you told me to stop what I am doing and focus more on that Game of Thrones Miniature game!
CMON CEO: So, what art is on the cards?.
Karl: I use the front cover as a place holder, while I waiting for more info.
CMON CEO: OH…balls…

I Have no Idea what really happened, maybe this was the plan all long, but the game feels incomplete for an Eric Lang game and mistakes were made!

If you like worker placement, area control and mafia games this is a good choice, if you’re looking a game that puts you into the film and makes you feel like doing some wheeling and dealing, taking out the trash or trying to climb the power ladder to the top of the house of Corleone, this is not it.

Edit: After a few more plays it has come apparent to me that its sweet spot is with 3 players, turns go around a good pace and this can be played in 90 minutes altogether. It is just as cut throut as if you are playing with a fall compliment of players. But, I did find that the map of new york is not fully used as much with 3 players, you are almost set to focus on only a couple regions on the board and I think this is a shame. I far more enjoyed this with 3 players then any more and I can’t imagine this working well with 2 players.

Written By Joel Wright

Edited by Sam Freeman

Photos By Joel Wright

Surrpled by Meeples’ Corner Online Retail Shop