A Game You Can't Refuse - A Single-Take Review of The Godfather: Corleone's Empire


This year at Gen Con, CMON made a splash with the latest Eric Lang design, The Godfather: Corleone's Empire. It's a worker placement game for 2-5 players, where the goal is to play as a mob family, and earn the most money by doing gangster-type activities, such as shaking down businesses, and offing your opponents by way of car bombs, drive-bys, and other despicable deeds.

So is The Godfather a Made Game, or should you dump it in the Hudson? Let's find out!


The Components


First, when you open the box, you're hit by how awesome the components are! Not only the components, but the insert is so well molded that everything fits snuggly in place. I love great inserts! 

  • Game Board - It's New York and the boroughs, 
  • Business tiles - There are 12 of these. They populate the board randomly.
  • Job cards - 44 cards featuring jobs in different "colors" these give you great advantages during the game, and also will score you money at the end game for completing the most of a color.
  • Ally cards - 18 cards split into 3 acts. They again are used randomly (no two games are the same)
  • Illegal Goods cards - Booze, Guns, Blood Money, and Drugs. These are the resources you'll be using for completing jobs.
  • Money cards - This is what you're here for! MONEY!
  • Horse Head token - This is the first player token!
  • Police Car token - This tracks your progress through the "act" or round.
  • Don Vito Corleone mini - He tracks which act you're in.
  • Control markers - These track who controls what turf as the game moves on. There are 45 of these.
  • Metal Suitcases - Only money and jobs in your suitcase at the end of the game will count towards your victory!
  • Figures! - There are 34 in all, including: 3 family members and 3 thugs for each family (player), and 3 ally minis you use depending on which ally cards are in play.

The GamePlay


The Godfather plays out in Acts or rounds. There are four in all, each having several phases. But before we get to that, let's talk quickly about the setup

The board is divided into seven Turfs, and in each Turf are two businesses, and along the border of the Turfs are spots that only family members can be placed.

The setup is pretty easy: every player takes minis for their Family, a Suitcase, their markers, a bit of cash, and a couple Jobs to make their starting hands. 

So let's talk about the phases of each act

  • Open new businesses - Putting new businesses into play (again there is only ever a max of two per Turf)
  • Family Business - The "meat" of the game. Each player takes turns and they have four options on their turn.
    • Play a Thug--These guys go right on the business tile and get the "front" of the business resources/actions.
    • Play a Family member--These go on the borders of Turfs and you get the "back" of the businesses in all of the Turfs it touches.
    • Complete a Job--You do this by playing the correct resources. Jobs are great because they help you Suitcase money. You also Suitcase the Job card, and they let you do all sorts of mean things like kill of opponents' minis and dump them in the Hudson River.
    • Lastly you can play an Ally--This can't take place in the first Act because you haven't yet had a chance to bribe an ally. That's coming up.

Play proceeds in turns until everyone has played their last figure. Once you've played your last figure though, you can no longer take any of the other actions--you're done-zo.

  • Turf War - Whoever has the most influence in a Turf puts a Control marker on that Turf (influence is number of figures there, both Thugs and Family members). Controlling a Turf gives you an advantage, because if you control a Turf and someone shakes down the front of a business in that Turf, you also gain the same resources/actions as the player who placed that Thug! The Control markers stack, so the player with the topmost marker gets this advantage.
  • Bribery - This is where you bid on the available Ally cards. The catch is, you have to use money in your Suitcase to bid. 
  • Tribute to the Don - This is hand-maintenance time. Getting down to your hand limit, etc.
  • Entr'acte - Housekeeping. Pick up your figures, gain Family members (everyone gains the same amount of figures at the same time.), etc.

The game ends at the end of the fourth Act, and players add up their money in their Suitcases. The players who control the most of each color gain $5, and $5 is given for each Turf to the player who has the most Control markers there. Cash is king, and whoever has the most of it, wins!

The Verdict


As I already stated above: The components are fan-freaking-tastic! The pure aesthetic of the way the game packs up neatly, the great quality minis, and the sweet suitcases are pure component artistry! There are some folks who complained that the job cards all have the same artwork on them. I'm not so concerned about that. Would it have been nice to have different, job-specific artwork on the cards? Sure. Does that outweigh the sheer awesomeness of the rest of the components? Not even close! 

This game is  often compared to Lords of Waterdeep. The big difference being that you can kill off someone who went to that "one spot I wanted!!" This makes timing a HUGE strategic element of the game. While you may want to snag up a sweet spot to gain resources, this could ultimately be your demise, leaving you with no influence when the Turf War is resolved. And believe me, you want those Control markers out on the board!

It goes without saying, but the theme of the game is very mature. This is not a family night/kids game. It's also a pretty thinky game, which means casual gamers might struggle a bit with this one. The good news is, that if you're a gamer, there is SO much here to sink your teeth into, so grab a seat and enjoy!

Jeremiah's The Final Verdict
The Godfather: Corleone's Empire, is quickly climbing my personal chart of all time worker-placement games! Clever mechanics, hefty decisions, and great thematic integration make this a great, great game. The Godfather has earned a spot on my shelf! If someone asks you to play, that is truly an offer you can't refuse!

Thanks so much for reading! Have you played The Godfather? We'd love to hear your thoughts on the title too! Just comment below or email us by clicking the contact button up top!

We would like to thanks CMON for providing us with a review copy of The Godfather. This is no way affected our opinion of this title.