Tony & Tino
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Chicago, the 1930's. The local Godfather is preparing to retire and pass his empire on to one of his two twin sons, Tony & Tino. He decides to have a contest between the twins to see which one is best qualified to take over. The proving ground will be a neighborhood that The Godfather wants to control. Tony & Tino will each be given an identical "Crew" to see which son can develop the biggest rackets and run the neighborhood. The son that succeeds in amassing the largest amount of money when the neighborhood is totally under control will have the honor of becoming the new Godfather!
I try to be a law abiding citizen, and have no favor for those who break the law. However, I dont mind breaking every law in existence as long as its in a board game. (Of course in a board game you have to follow the games rules anyway, but.) There are very few good gangster/mobster/gang games on the market. Tony & Tino, a two player game designed by Bruno Cathala, invokes images of gang war. Of course the instructions say that its just racketeering, not murder and maiming, but hey we can pretend anything we want! So is this a good theme on a poor game, or a theme pasted on a good game, or what?
The short answer is that while not a great game, there are some strategic decisions in Tony & Tino, and it makes a very fun two player game. There are much better games, but this one isnt poor by any means.
And now, the much longer answer.
First, a short description of game play.
Each player picks a color blue or purple, and takes all the crew tiles for that player (Eleven henchmen value 1, three lieutenants - value 2, three informants value 1, and one Godfathers son- value 3). The game board shows a neighborhood in Chicago, with 6 vertical streets, and 6 horizontal streets. The 36 round corner tokens are shuffled and placed on the 36 intersections of these streets. Twelve of these counters are blue or purple. Each player puts six of his henchmen to replace these counters. The other twenty-four tokens are numbered from 1 10. These stay on the board during the game until they are removed. At the end of each street, there is a spot to put a racket tile. The racket tiles are shuffled and randomly placed, so that each street is worth $10,000 to $50,000 (1 to 5 points).
Each player then puts his remaining tiles face down in front of him, which are shuffled into a pile. They then turn the top two tiles in the pile face up. Each player is given his deck of 13 cards (each deck is identical) which are shuffled, and a hand of three cards is drawn.
One player starts, and then the players take consecutive turns, doing the following.
1). Play a card from their hand, or discard a card.
2). Place one of their face up tiles and put it on a corner. They must replace one of the lowest numbers on a corner. (So, when the game starts out, there are three number 1 corner tiles. This gives the first player 3 choices on where to put his crew tile, unless changed by a card he plays.)
Both of the above actions are mandatory.
3). After placing a tile, both streets the tile is placed on are checked. If all 6 corners are filled with crew tiles, the racketeering tile at the end of the street is given to the player who has the largest value of crew tiles. (So, if I have two lieutenants, 2 henchman, and a informant, my value is 6) If a tie, no one gets the money (points).
The special cards do the following:
Swindle/The Fiddle (2): Allows you to switch an informant with another crew tile of your choice.
Preferential Treatment (4): You can place a crew tile on a numbered corner one higher than normal this turn.
Re-Evaluation (1): Switch the positions of 2 racketeering tiles.
On the Take (2): Switch 2 of the numbered tiles.
The Old Switch-a-Roo (1): Switch one of your crew tiles with an opponents. (Both must be the same value.)
Police Raid (1): Cancels an opponents card. Played on the opponents turn.
Russian Roulette (1): Take off all the numbered tiles, shuffle them, and replace.
Super Crew (1): Gives you two turns in a row. Cannot be canceled.
Once the 36 corners are filled with crew tiles, the game is over, and whoever has the higher score (total money) is the winner!
Some comments on the game:
1). Components: A nice, small, sturdy box typical of Euro games. All the pieces fit in fine, but I found that there are so many tiles (84) that it is well to place them in plastic bags. The board is small and compact, and has really neat artwork. All the colors throughout the game have a dominant purple and blue shading, giving the game a comic-book feel. The artwork on the cards and the tiles is cartoonish and humorous. The tiles are very easy to distinguish one from another. All the tiles and cards are of good quality. One card gas a list of each players cards and a list of each players tokens. Im very pleased with the components for this game.
2). Rules: The rules are four pages, but include many pictures, examples, and a short background story. Take all these things out, and the rules could easily fit on one page. This doesnt mean I dont appreciate all the extra pictures, etc. they are a fine addition and make it easy to go over the rules. On the back of the rules is a player aid sheet, that explains each special card in detail, how many there are, and a picture of each. After one game, however, you probably wouldnt need such a thing. The game is very easy to teach, and can be picked up in less than five minutes.
3). Strategy and Randomness: With the tiles in the beginning being placed randomly, and several cards allowing many of them to be changed, there is a large element of chaos and luck in the game. I myself found it quite fun, but I can see how someone who is not a fan of luck or chaos being turned off by this. You can plan out a strategy, only to have it foiled by a card like Russian Roulette. Also, the amount of decisions you have per turn is very minimal. There are at most 6 places where a crew tile can be placed, and usually less than 3. There is a choice of three cards to pick. So with few decisions, and a lot of luck, this game doesnt hold a lot for the pure strategist. However, it is fun.
4). Fun Factor: Since the game isnt really that clever of a game, does the fun factor save it. The answer is yes, but barely. The game is fun, but it isnt such a rip-roaring festival that Im constantly asked to bring it out. Rather, we bring it out when we want a break from such games like Lost Cities and Caesar and Cleopatra. The theme and artwork are a huge plus, the randomness and chaos are a small minus.
5). Theme: The theme is there, but it is most certainly plastered onto a game mechanism. The game mechanism reminds me slightly of Kingdoms by Reiner Knizia, with more randomness. The theme is a good idea, and fits the game well, but if you took it away, and gave the game a space theme, no one would ever notice. Good theme, just not necessary.
So, I do recommend this game for those who collect and often play 2-player non-war games. Its a fun little game and plays in a fairly short time. Its easy to learn and teach, and looks good on the table. Its just not a great game. Buy it or nor, the choice is yours
Randomly place money tiles valued between $10,000 and $50,000 at the ends of each row and column. On the grid's 36 intersections, randomly place six Henchmen of value 1 in each player's color, along with counters numbered 1 to 10.
Each turn, you play an Action Card, use its benefit, and draw a replacement. Next, you remove one of the lowest numbered counters from its intersection and replace it with one of your two faceup Henchmen. Replenish from your facedown Henchmen tokens. When a row or column is filled with Henchmen, its money is awarded to the player whose Henchmen have the greater value. When the last amount has been distributed, the player with the most money wins.
The Action Cards allow you to nastily bend the usual rules. The meek will not inherit this money!
Eurogames' entry into the two-player market is a one man show, and that man is Bruno Cathala. These three games were released simultaneously and share many traits. All use event cards as a primary mechanic, play in about 30 minutes, are nicely produced in common-size and well-colored boxes, and have a decent strategic component. As a set, they make a nice addition to the two-player game library and stack up well against the more mature Kosmos "Spiele fr Zwei" series, though these games are a bit lighter overall.
War & Sheep!
[page 13755#007324]jump to War & Sheep! review
Tony & Tino
The scene in Tony and Tino is Chicago in the 1930's. Each player leads a gang trying to wrestle control of key city rackets, and they do this by controlling intersections of streets in another 6 by 6 grid. Like Auf Heller und Pfennig, rackets are controlled by having a majority along a row or column once it is completely filled with "crew members". The game starts with an empty grid, onto which a set of tokens are randomly placed. These tokens include six colored tokens for each player, where they will seed their initial henchmen. The others show numbers from one through ten. These determine the order in which other crew members can be added to the board. All "one-tokened" corners must be filled before the first "two", etc.
The value of winning a racket is designated by "racket tiles" randomly placed at the end of each row and column. These look like dollar bills, and are valued at $10K, $20K, $30K and $50K. Most are worth 10 or 20. They are laid out at the beginning of the game. Each player also has a set of Crew tiles, with a single 'three' value (representing the Godfather's son), three tiles with a 'two' value (Lieutenants), 11 tiles with a 'one' value (henchmen, and these are the tiles placed at the startup), and three tiles with a 'zero' value. After placing their initial six henchmen, the remaining tiles are stacked with two showing at any one time. These are the Crew tiles that can be placed on a turn.
Each player also receives an identical set of 13 Action cards, and takes three from a shuffled stack. On a turn, a player must first play or discard an Action card and then place one of their two face-up Crew tiles onto an available intersection (using the numbered tokens as a guide to which can be used). The Action cards are well designed and include four that let you lower the value of a placement token by one. So, if "our" is the lowest value token showing, I would normally need to place my Crew tile onto an available 'four' marker. With this card, I could place on a 'five' marker as well, since it turns the 'five' into a 'four'. More powerful but less prevalent are cards that let you switch the number tokens, switch Crew tiles already on the board, rearrange the value of rows or columns by switching the Racket tiles, or cancel your opponent's action. The actions are powerful but well defined, so rather than feel random it feels quite strategic. This works because each player has an identical set of cards. While they will come up in different order, it creates an interesting situation given that you know exactly what your opponent still has left to play. The game moves quickly and is nicely balanced.
Drake & Drake
[page 13754#007323]jump to Drake & Drake review
While all three games are worth playing, Tony and Tino is the most strategic and is the best bet for me. This is followed by Drake and Drake, and lastly War and Sheep (Molly and Lore). Each of them is nicely designed, has great artwork, is obviously playtested well, and has enough strategy in a fast play to recommend it. I look forward to seeing the upcoming games from Bruno Cathala who seems to share some traits with our favorite Bruno (Faidutti) by finding good ways to mix some randomness and chaos into a well-playing and ultimately enjoyable contest.