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This is a fun brain burner of a game. It It is a worker placement with three and a half workers and six rounds. You roll three dice to determine the strength of the workers and you buy cards to build engines. Every decision is meaningful and agonizing in its repercussions and I love it. The cards are beautiful and all have unique abilities and characters from late 15th and early 16th century Italy. The only complaint that I have is that like Grand Austria Hotel the iconography is a bit unclear and you spend a lot of time in the rule book looking up specific cards abilities.
A learning game under my belt and all I can say is WOW! What a great game! It was recommended to me after I put the names of my 3 favorite games into a website board game recommender thingy. And they were right! A lot of fun things going on, and we didn't even play with the leader cards. I can see those adding even more fun to the mix and easily move this game into my top 10 (and honestly, it might be there already just after one play, and I didn't even win).
As a 2-player, we play with the houserule that we don't completely block off the harvest and production extra spots - it's just too cutthroat and the -3 penalty is harsh enough. Other than that, I love the system of building up my engine on a selection of many dozens of cards. The megadice are icing on the cake.
Lorenzo il Magnifico pushes the boundary of how tight board games can be. Each player has a mere 24 actions at their disposal, and they each must be dispatched with expert timing and cunning in order to fulfill the various goals of the game. Players must attend to the Pope to avoid severe game-long penalties, acquire territories to exploit for future resources, establish production chains to generate prestige, schmooze the elite to gain favor and privilege, and exercise military prowess for something that is thematically unclear. There are never enough resources, action spaces, or time, to do all of those thing effectively, but that is the beauty of this game. Every action and resource is crucial, and though mistakes are unforgiving, the game is wonderfully balanced and consistently delivers tense finishes.