Designer: Dean Morris
Artist: Dann May
Publisher: Braincrack Games
Year Published: Coming to Kickstarter 2021
No. of Players: 1-5
Playing Time: 40-80 Minutes
Main mechanic / Theme: Renaissance - worker placement, area majority, and hand management
Florence combines a brilliant area control and worker placement game, with amazing art, to create something truly magnificent. With so many action choices and strategies to pick and choose from, Florence is crunchy in the best possible way. Florence has kept me wanting to play over and over since I can try something new every time.
Head out into the grand Carnevale in Florence and spend the night trying to win the favor of the nobles in hopes of elevating your family’s status. Can you convince Cosimo, Giovanni, and Contessina that you are worthy of their attention? Deploy your family members to crucial locations, offer the Medici figureheads gifts, and brag about your accomplishments. Fight to be the first in line to flirt with the nobles and you might just impress them enough that they take notice of you.
Gameplay and Mechanisms:
Florence is played over 9 rounds. Each round has four parts. The first part of a round is the action phase. In this phase, players will deploy and move their various workers out around the board, elevate family members to higher fancy social statuses, brag about achievements, provide a gift to a noble, or play a scandal. The goal is to score as many points as possible by the end of the game. Players will need to use their workers to become the most favorable guest at a party. Players have a limited amount of time in which to take actions of their choice. Each action costs a specific amount of time and a player can stop when they have no time left, or sooner. When a player decides to take no more actions, they pass. Any time not spent carries over to future rounds, so players can choose to do less in one round in order to do more on a future turn. Players that pass also get bonuses for each round another player still takes a turn. So passing early can actually be helpful in more ways than one sometimes!
After players have exhausted all the things they wish to do or have no time remaining the next phase begins. This phase is called Noble Movement. Here, one of the three nobles will move on to a new location following the arrows on the board, visiting players along the way and at their final destination. Players that are in the “Prime Position” at the locations the nobles pass receive victory points. Whichever player has performed the best brag at a location passed by the noble gets to take a card from the scandal deck (as long as they have a worker at that location). These cards can be super helpful throughout the game.
The next phase is Queue Scoring. Be first in line to greet a noble, or control a party and the noble visiting might grant you a lot of victory points. Each noble has its own conditions for how they award victory points, but if you are fancy enough and wait patiently in line to meet them, you might just find yourself one step closer to being noble yourself.
Lastly is the Cleanup phase. Here the starting player marker is passed onward to the next person and the Nobel Dial is rotated one space you can now see the next 3 routes that the nobles will take. Move the destination marker and you are ready for the next round.
At the end of round 9, whichever player has the most victory points wins.
Theme, Artwork and Illustration, Graphic Design and Layout:
The art for Florence is absolutely stunning. There are so many little details on the board to take in. The noble carriages and the varying types of worker meeples just add even more to the game. The rulebook is even a work of art. While learning how to play the game with its designer, I learned that the art was designed by the illustrator for Everdell. So for those that love games that look great on the table, Florence will definitely surpass your expectations.
There are not enough good things to say about Florence. This is one of the most fun Euro games I have played in a long time. There are just so many options for things you can do that there is always a way to try and combat your opponent’s strategy. With four different types of workers, each with their own degree of fanciness, there are a ton of different combinations you can take to try to and win the favor of the nobles.
The time element is really an interesting feature too because you have to decide early on whether to prioritize getting more workers on the board, getting fancier workers on the board, or taking other actions. All three of these strategies can be successful, but the need to budget your time and use it wisely makes for some really “thinky” moments.
The bonuses you can get for passing early are also interesting. You get less action, but sometimes saving the time and getting the bonus instead for dropping out of a round before others, winds up actually being the better choice.
One last thing that was great about Florence is that getting an early lead in the game does not mean you are guaranteed a win. In one game, I was in last by a large margin for a while and eventually pulled ahead and actually came close to beating first place.
For people that enjoy worker placement games and area control that have a lot of choices, Florence will be a wonderful choice. Fans of games such as Agricola, Small World, and Root will love Florence. For gamers who love games that play great and look great too, Florence will be a smashing success.
Learning the game takes a bit of time, and for a new gamer the amount of choice might be a bit overwhelming, but for seasoned gamers, there is a lot to keep you interested. I really cannot stress enough, just how many choices players have in this game. And they are all super different which just makes for really wonderful gameplay.
I played Florence via Tabletop Simulator so I cannot speak to the final production quality of the components, but based on the 3d models and digital render of the game, I am confident that if the tabletop version is anything like the digital version, it will be wonderful.