So there I am sitting now, recalling the last game of Lorenzo il Magnifico. Full of joy we had borrowed the game. Good reviews had been the deciding factor. But the spark didn’t want to be ignited. How can that be? Had we perhaps overlooked a rule that was supposed to reduce the fun of the game. So I dig out the rules booklet again and read across quickly. Nothing found!
Quickly turned on Youtube and searched there for a rule video. 10 minutes later I know that we did nothing wrong. Lorenzo il Magnifico was simply not what we had imagined. Since I’m a gamer first and foremost and blogging is just a hobby, a game has to convince me as a player and not as a critic. What I found annoying about Lorenzo il Magnifico as a player, I would like to take up and process briefly in the following.
Lorenzo – We block Florence
Lorenzo il Magnifico is a worker placement game. – So I use my pawns to perform actions. – Now, if you think it’s going to be reasonably peaceful, you are mistaken. Too often I hear from my fellow players: “Why did you put your worker there now?” or “It’s not good that you’re always in front of me.” Because unlike other worker placement games, I can do almost all actions just once. So only one player can get the gold mine, because it’s only once in the game. All others get nothing.
Speaking of gold. Gold is a currency and I don’t automatically get an income. It’s a good thing there’s an action where I can get it just like that. The only problem is that this option is only available to one of the players.
So I stumble from one blockade to another, either I block or others have blocked me. That hinders the fun of the game, because only when it’s my turn, I can see which actions are still available. Sure, this is not a new mechanism, but I personally don’t like such mechanisms.
Dice for frustration
Now there is another crux in Lorenzo il Magnifico: Each action box has a dice value. This usually starts at one and goes up to seven. This is also where the three different colored dice come into play. At the beginning of the round, the starting player has thrown them. The result of the individual dice also indicates the value of my pawns, because for each color of the dice each player has a corresponding pawn.
If I roll a two on the black dice as the starting player, my black pawn may perform all actions that have the value two or less. By the way, I don’t mention now that this value is valid for the whole round and for all players.
So blocking of the players is encouraged by bad dice rolls. Of course there is a mechanism I can use to increase the dice values, but that costs servants and they don’t grow on trees. There is only one field where a player can grab five servants per round! to manipulate dice results. But only one player.
While I may still be able to accept that I am blocked by bad choice of actions, I can’t do anything with the dice roll. Adding penalties that automatically reduce the value of the dice eyes, the game becomes more and more frustrating.
Learning what you cannot do
A lot of rounds in Lorenzo il Magnifico are the same.
This is not only because the cards I use to expand my dynasty are the same in every game. It’s also because of the game itself.
At the start, the starting player is the first to grab the most rewarding action. When it’s my turn, I see what the dice values give. So I really go from action to action and delete everything that I can’t use anyway. Next, I look to see which of the usable expansion cards I can now pay for at all. And so a standard phrase that was often said by me during a game of Lorenzo il Magnifico is: “I can’t” or “I can, but I need …”. And then there are the actions that I just don’t want to do because they don’t bring me anything. If I can’t always get hold of stones, then I don’t need an expansion card that converts stones into gold coins.
And saving the resources to be able to buy the card in the next turn doesn’t help much either, because the cards are replaced by new ones at the end of the turn. So the luck factor to get the right card increases immensely.
Did the dice roll correctly? Did I collect enough resources in the previous rounds? And is this card still available that I’m after? That just seems frustrating. The game makes me feel helpless and completely at the mercy of the game! The control over the game is only pretended to me, I never really own it.
Production chains what are they
When I read the manual for the first time, I was really looking forward to the old Florence. The examples promised a nice worker placement game. Slowly I would build a production chain that would make me rich and famous at the right moment. What felt good in fantasy was not there in reality. To create such a chain is almost an impossibility. I just have to be incredibly lucky to get the right cards.
I have already explained in detail that this is not so easy. But also the production chain itself does not feel right to me.
On the other hand I find the mechanism of how a production is started really original and great. You employ a worker who has a precisely defined value and then you go through your land one by one and see if something is being produced or not. This is indicated by the value on the map. Only if your worker is valuable enough, the production will start.
However, only high dice bring good values and many resources. If I don’t have these or not enough servants, I am at the mercy of the game again. I would have wished for gradations here. Of course the gold mine produces five gold with a die value of six. But then why can’t it give me at least two gold at a die value of only three?
And if my opponent now snatches away the one action I need to produce, I’m blocked again and have to push my production into the next round. This means that I lack the resources again. And I’m already back in the action-elimination-madness.
In the game of three or four there is at least one more production-action-field. However, my dice value is given a big minus of three if I want to use the field. Blockade and missing resources are back again.
Ciao Lorenzo il Magnifico
Lorenzo il Magnifico and I will no longer be friends. For me, the luck and frustration factor is too high for that. No matter in which composition I played it, it just didn’t feel round to me. But maybe it’s still perpetual dice pitch and I just don’t have the vision to play such a game.
Lorenzo has very interesting mechanisms: The value of the workers depending on the dice – the different possibilities to generate victory points…
But the southern fever doesn’t want to be ignited by this. And I am not the only one. Either the game failed completely with my fellow players or it just about made it to one: “Well, if I had to, I would play it again.
Lorenzo even manages to make me not really happy after a win. Because that’s when empathy really hits you. I know that I only won because my other players were just unlucky and were blocked.
I wanted Lorenzo il Magnifico to please me. But now it’s time to say “Arrivederci, Lorenzo il Magnifico!”