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Taller, bigger, more lavish: when San Giminano's wealthiest families built their Clan Towers, the sky was the limit.
Originally designed as part of the town's defenses, the towers later became status symbols. Only the very rich aristocratic families were granted permission, so that a Clan Tower was regarded as a demonstration of wealth and social status. When the guilds of craftsmen and artisans gained the upper hand in the running of the town, they tried to discourage the construction of new towers. But San Giminano's most influential families still managed to secure building permission.
Each player assumes the role of the head of an aristocratic family. By strategically deploying members of the family, the players seek to gain influence in the various guilds and to construct as many towers as possible.
I like this game, as does my wife and 5-year old. It is visually very appealing...with the hexagonal pieces and colored towers it looks like art. And for the first 2/3 of the game it is indeed fun. However, if players did not set up their hexagonals well or di not play well, there's the possibility that for the last several turns some players will clearly have no reason to continue: they are mathematically eliminated.
One way to overcome this is to play 2 out of 3, and then a player mathematically eliminated can act to spoil one of the other players (presumably the leader's), but even this modification does not solve all the problems. I think a few additional, well-though-out rules (such as stacking towers in some cases) could make a 2nd Edition much better.
Despite the flaws, I love having this game because it is so pretty and many times fun.
This game's hexagonal tiles illustrate three diamond-shaped areas in different colors. Each player begins with a hand of three or four hexagons, as well as 20 tokens and 10 towers in his color. Each turn, place a token of your color on a diamond, add a tile to the layout, and build a tower in your color if possible. No more than two tokens can occupy any diamond. If you have tokens on four contiguous diamonds of four different colors, place one of your towers on one of those diamonds, and remove the tokens from it; no further tokens or towers may occupy that diamond. The winner is the player with the most towers (or most tokens in the case of a tie) when further construction is impossible. This surprisingly deep and elegant game features attractive tiles and genuine stone towers from the late 19th-century Anchor (Anker) Building sets.
I've been fortunate in that my family and I have been able to travel to Europe quite often over the past decade. We have visited some incredible places and have memories that will last a lifetime. It is always neat when a game is released that has as a setting one of the places or regions we have visited.
When I first heard that a game called San Gimignano was going to be released, I knew I just had to have it! Once I saw a picture of the game, that erased any doubts I may have had. Even the fact that it was being released by Piatnik, a company whose track record with me isn't exactly stellar, wasn't enough to deter me, nor was the fact that it was designed by Duilio Carpitella, a name unknown to me.
We had the great pleasure of visiting San Gimignano on our family vacation to Italy back in 1997. The town is known as the "Manhattan of the Middle Ages", since its many tall towers give it the appearance of skyscrapers. And this just isn't hype -- it really is true. San Gimignano rests atop a hill in the beautiful countryside of Tuscany. As you approach it, the sight is quite dramatic. Plus, the town's labyrinth of medieval lanes are a joy to wander. But, I digress ....
The game does have a theme that ties into the town's rich history. Players represent heads of aristocratic families, attempting to gain influence over the various guilds and construct impressive towers as a testament to their power and wealth. Although the theme and history are quite rich, the mechanics used to accomplish this are disappointingly simple.
The board is formed as the game is played and will ultimately be comprised of sixteen large hex tiles. Each tile depicts three of the four different guilds, divided into regions. Four of these tiles begin the game in play and the others will be added by the players on their turns. Each player begins with 3 tiles (more if there are fewer players), ten towers and 20 influence tokens.
The components are quite sturdy and functional. Indeed, the towers are made of a stone-like material -- in fact, it could actually be stone. Strangely, they also possess a strong and most curious odor that permeates the room when the box is opened. Even our resident PhD in Chemistry, Jerry Maus, couldn't decipher the identity of the odor. Smells sort of like wood varnish. I just hope it isn't toxic! The influence tokens are round wooden bits and are large enough to be handled easily. The only real disappointment regarding the components is the artwork on the tiles, which is very basic and uninspiring. That is a big surprise, considering the artist is the now legendary Franz Vohwinkel.
Actual game play is quite simple. On a turn, a player performs the following actions:
That's it. Play then passes to the next player and this entire process continues until one player has constructed all ten of his towers (in which case he wins) or it becomes impossible for any player to construct another tower. This can occur when it is no longer possible for a player to connect four different guilds with his tokens present in them. If this condition arises, the game ends and the player with the most towers on the board is victorious. If more than one player ties for most towers, the player who has the most influence tokens on the board between these tied players is victorious.
The game is fast -- far quicker than I had imagined. Most of my games have clocked in at about 30 minutes and a conversation with a good buddy of mine said his games also lasted about the same amount of time. That's a good thing, as the game can be used to fill in a gap while awaiting the end of another game or waiting for more gamers to arrive. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if the game is engaging enough for me to have the desire to bring it to the table regularly.
I honestly feel the game is just too simple. There isn't terribly much to consider. The placement of tokens seems to be without much angst and the decision on when and where to build towers isn't terribly taxing. Yes, there were choices, but they just didn't seem all that difficult. The general strategy seems to be to place tokens so as to maximize the areas in which you have to build and attempt to restrict the areas where your opponents can construct towers. I was hoping that more tactics and strategies would surface with repeated playings, but, sadly, this hasn't transpired. There doesn't appear to be much depth here.
Further, in the games I've played, the ultimate outcome seems to be evident midway through a game. The final half or third of the game seems to simply play itself out with little drama or excitement.
I'm really hoping my observations will eventually prove to be faulty as this is one game I really want to enjoy. I'd be highly disappointed if a game about one of my favorite towns was a bust.