The hardest aspect of reviewing games is determining the values for each of my five rating metrics. I ventured back into the boardgame hobby this year after a long hiatus and I don’t want to give a perfect 10 knowing there are a ton of games I haven’t seen yet. Is it fair to compare each category to another game? How will I honestly know when a game is a 10? Florenza answered my questions upon opening the box and seeing all the components for the first time. The game is about works of art but the game itself is also a work of art. Not only was the art amazing but the quality of the components were outstanding. I was in awe. Without a doubt Florenza was the most gorgeous game I have seen. This is what a 10 in the art category looks like! However, thick fancy cardboard and the most beautiful bits in the world don’t guarantee a great game. Let’s see if Florenza’s game play and theme match up to its incredible art.
Florenza is a worker placement resource management game where players control one of five Italian families and attempt to make them the most prestigious family in Florenza. The game is set in Italy during the Renaissance period and each family must commission the greatest painters, sculptors, and architects to create the most valuable works of art. The family with the greatest amount of prestige at the end of the eighth round is crowned the winner.
Each player starts with a limited amount of resources; four workers, and two workshops in their district (player boards). Players place their workers one at time choosing from several places on the game board or their player board. Choices include:
Build a workshop: Select a workshop to build and place it face down in the next available workshop spot with the worker token on top. A player can only build a total of eight workshops so careful consideration must be given to which shops to build.
Operate a workshop: Place a worker either on your own or an opponent’s workshop. The workshop must not be occupied by a worker and a fee must be paid to use opponent’s workshops. The benefit from the workshop is not collected at this time.
Give to Charity: Place a worker in the alter area and hire an available priest from the character cards. Giving to charity will allow the player to gain extra workers that can be used in the same round. If a priest is not available then this option can’t be chosen.
Hire an Artist: Place a worker on a work of art either on their district board or main board and hire the necessary artist(s) to complete the work. Artists’ requirements must be paid at this time.
Go to Market: Place a worker in the Market area of the main board to sell, trade, or buy resources.
Send to Work: Place a worker on the Banco Zone of the main board to immediately collect 50 Fiorini.
Once all players have exhausted all their workers the round proceeds through the next phases. These phases include collecting the benefit from the market, gaining benefits from completed workshops, flipping workshops from their building side to finished side and collecting any bonuses, placing a family tile in completed works of art spaces and collecting any bonuses for completing the work of art, collecting prestige certificates for current prestige level, and calculating Captain of the People and Bishop for the next round. Any workshops or works of art that can’t be completed by a player will result in the loss of prestige points.
Captain of the People is decided by the player that obtained the most prestige in the round. The perks of obtaining the Captain of the People are the Captain always goes first and can detain (take out a player’s worker or a named artist for a round). The Bishop is obtained by having the most influence (over 3) at the end of a round. The perks of obtaining the Bishop are the Bishop goes second in the round and can convert an opposing player’s worker (remove one of their workers from play and add one worker from your worker pool to the district board), or expel a named preacher. Both titles are key to having success in Florenza.
Without a doubt, Florenza is one of the most visually appealing games I have played. The character and workshop tiles are beautiful and made of thick cardboard. The game board itself is elegant and could pass as a work of art. The character cards are detailed and look like mini paintings of the artists. The artwork and components represent the theme of Florenza perfectly. Having beautiful components in a game about creating masterpieces is essential in allowing players to immerse themselves in the theme as opposed to just placing generic wood bits to score points.
The beauty of Florezna is not limited to its art though. There is superb depth and strategic decisions in each round. In fact, I was overwhelmed my first few rounds comprehending how the workshops, artists, and works of art all relate. Planning ahead is the key to success in Florenza. Since you don’t pay the construction cost when selecting which workshop or work of art you want to construct, you have the entire round to secure the needed resources. Unfortunately, that leads to lengthy downtime for new players. There are 29 workshops that can be constructed, each having their own unique building requirements and benefits. Then, there are an additional 25 works of art that can be completed, each with their own unique completion requirements and benefits. On top of those choices there are anywhere from 6 to 9 artist tiles that must be selected to complete works of art and each artist has their own unique hiring requirements and benefits. With only eight rounds to gain the most prestige, each round must be used as efficiently as possible. Needless to say, the first few rounds are spent frantically flipping over the workshops/works of art cheat sheet comparing requirements to benefits. Once the initial panic subsides and your strategy is put into motion, game play becomes more fluid with less downtime. Once you get a feel for the game, the gameplay is as amazing as its beauty.
Florenza is a fun and challenging worker placement game. I loved it! Even when you have all eight workers available the struggle between resources and money is difficult. There are so many aspects to this game which will appeal to a wide variety of gamers: city building, worker placement, resource management, economic, and historical. There are only two issues that stood out when playing. First, Florenza’s resource pools are not labeled with the resource name. They are color coded the same as the resource cubes. So instead of saying I need one iron and two spices we would just say I need one brown and two green cubes. This slightly detracts from the elegance and beauty of the game. If the resource pools had labels on the game board then it would be easy to remember which color cubes were which resources. Second, it took longer than I thought it should to setup and play through the first round. Even after reading the entire rulebook, setup and playing through the first round required a lot of stoppage to reference the rulebook. I think the rulebook does a good job explaining the rules but a nice l quick start, or first round example would be beneficial. Give yourself a couple hours to read the rules and play a mock game before breaking Florenza out the first time at game night.
Tony’s Pros and Cons:
Pros: Gorgeous art, high quality components, deep and strategic gameplay.
Cons: Long playtimes with 3+ players.
Tony’s Epic Scale: 3 (Rules, reference cards, character cards, and lots of tiles!)
Value: 8 (Under 50 dollars on Amazon is an amazing deal for this much game!)
Art: 10 (I challenge you to find a better looking higher quality game!)
Teardown/Setup: 7 (After your first game, setup is easy. An insert would be nice.)
Replay ability: 8 (Random artist selection and 29 workshops will keep the game fresh.)
Fun: 8 (As long as you’re looking for a challenge and a game with some planning.)
A software developer by day and avid game player by night.KickStarter has recently rekindled my love of board games. Now I am looking to help the little guys of KS get their games noticed and funded as well as demonstrate how easy or difficult a game is played its first time through.