Posted on Friday, April 1st, 2016 by Jacob Hall
There was a time when a board game simply being based on a movie or television show was a clear sign to stay away and save your money. But as tabletop gaming has matured into its present golden age and game design has become more nuanced, board games bearing the likeness of beloved franchises have evolved. In the hands of designers and publishers who give a damn, these games can honor the property their represent and offer players a familiar playground in which they can compete against their friends in contests of skill and/or dice-chucking.
The newly announced The Godfather: The Board Game is the kind of thing that would have sounded terrible a decade ago, but everything about this particular project feels right. This isn’t just a branded knock-off – this is the next game from a talented designer and a company that has shown in the past that it cares about creating quality products. Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece is in good hands.
The Godfather: The Board Game is the latest game from Eric M. Lang, the prolific designer whose credits include Chaos in the Old World, Arcadia Quest, XCOM: The Board Game, and many others. His most recent game, the Viking-themed Blood Rage, is an absolute blast that has rightfully garnered a passionate following. For this particular project, he’s teamed up with Cool Mini or Not, a publisher known for their glossy, high production value board games. In other words, two of the industry’s top guns are on this one. Fans of The Godfather who dread a cheap knock-off shouldn’t be too concerned.
The initial announcement of the game didn’t reveal much beyond a three-to-five player count and a basic premise: players each control a rival Mafia family in New York City and battle for control of turf and attempt set up lucrative criminal enterprises while keeping Don Vito Corleone happy. Lang later demoed the game at the GAMA Trade Show using an unfinished prototype board and Blood Rage figurines in lieu of little plastic mobsters, who haven’t been produced yet. Even in its unfinished state, you can see the basic shape of the game emerge.
Lang’s enthusiasm for the material is evident in every moment of that video and it translates into the design itself. The first player token is shaped like a horse’s head. Dead gangsters are sent to the ocean to “sleep with the fishes” until they’re recruited again. These fun details and bits of color look to back up a solid area control game, where every decision is controlled by careful hand management and more than a little bluffing and gambling. The whole thing reminds me of Gale Force Nine’s brilliant Sons of Anarchy board game, which is the best tabletop crime simulator I’ve ever played (and I don’t even like the Sons of Anarchy TV show).
The Godfather: The Board Game doesn’t have a release date yet, but Lang says to expect it in the third quarter of this year. In the meantime, you can check out the box art below. The cover, like the interior art, is designed by Karl Kopinski, who looks like a perfect match for this material.