Florenza – The Card Game: Review

It’s the Italian renaissance. Fairway is a master of a great house of Florence and commissioning great works of art and architecture and hiring great artists of the time. You guessed it, it’s not reality. It’s time for Fairway’s review of Florenza: The Card Game. 

Florenza: The Card Game is an all-card implementation of the game, Florenza (review coming soon).  This two- to four-player set collection and resource-conversion game tasks players with gathering the money, resources and artists to build monuments and buildings.

Initial Impressions ^

  1. Florenza has tons of terrific illustrations of monuments, artists and architecture. The high quality illustrations make for an engaging and educational introduction to the history of Renaissance art and historic Florence.
  2. While set up is a bit finicky, the game is very efficient and pretty easy to teach.
  3. There appear to be a huge number of paths to victory in this game.
  4. It’s playable in much the same way throughout the player counts.

Game play ^

Players are the heads of famous families of Florence, like the Medici. Over the course of five rounds, players need to gather resources and money to build monuments and buildings and hire artists to construct them.

In Florenza The Card Game, the city of Florence is constructed from a series of cards. At the start of the game, the city is built from cards. In the center of the table, small card form the seventeen locations that players can use to get more resources, sell resources, take over first player, etc.  In addition, each round there are three anonymous artists available for hire.

The city also contains two markets: one for monuments and one for named artists.  These markets are refreshed with new artists for hire and new monuments to purchase each round. During the game, players can actions to either purchase these artists or monuments or reserve them for later use.

The game also includes cards for the six types of resources, for the currency, and then “Florenza” cards.  The Florenza cards are the main, playable cards in the game. Building these cards can provide bonus actions, extra income, etc. The Florenza cards are separated into three different piles. As the rounds progress, the different groups of cards are shuffled together.

At the start of the game, players are provided some money, one of each resource, and a first set of Florenza cards from the first pile of Florenza cards.

Each round is separated into a set of phases. But, at the heart of the game is when players take actions. Each round players get at least four actions.  By constructing certain Florenza cards (most notably residences), players will get to take additional actions. There are handful of actions:

  • “Build” a Florenza card from your hand. You do this by paying the cost in resources and money.
  • Construct a monument from the face up monuments on the table or one that you reserved. Like Florenza cards, this means paying the cost in money and resources but also hiring either a named artist or using one of the anonymous artists in the market.
  • Use a city location. These are round-limited uses, but they provide money in exchange for resources, allow you to get resources you need, and can even let you take over as first player next round.
  • Reserve an artist or monument. If you don’t have the money or resources or need yet, you can use a turn to hold onto one of the face up cards. You’d then need to use another turn later to build the monument.
  • Draw a Florenza card (“seek inspiration”).

Much of the game is spent acquiring the appropriate resources to build your Florenza cards, which provide bonuses in income, discounts on construction, or additional actions. These are then used to fuel your construction of monuments and hiring of your artists, which score you points at the end of the game. During construction of monuments and point-generating Florenza cards, players also have to pay the cost of an available artist. These artists score a mostly-hidden number of points (shown by a range on their cards) that is only revealed after you complete your construction.

The end game scoring is mostly based on the victory points, but there’s allotment for players who have the most resources, money, etc.

On the green ^

Florenza the Card Game is a very compelling conversion of a board game to a card game and, in doing so, does a number of things really well:

Art and Theme.  I am a sucker for history and art games. The variety of illustrations is top notch. The use of real people, things and places is a bonus. I like that players take on the roles of real houses of Florence and are tasked with constructing real historic landmarks.

Efficient.  Once you get into the pattern, the game is very efficient. There’s not a lot of down time between plays. The flow of the game makes sense and it was intuitive: collect resources, build helpful things, and reap the benefits.

Graphic design.  For the most part, everything you needed to know about the game was plain as day. You could easily glance at the cards to know what you needed to construct that cards. The resource cards and money units were color coded and so the symbology was largely unnecessary.  The only areas that left a it to be desired were some of the rewards.  We ended up referencing the rulebook for some of the effects (like bonus scoring for certain types of built Florenza cards).

Play time. The game plays for what we felt like was a near perfect length. There’s enough rounds to actually build and “use” the output of those buildings. And even losing players felt a sense of accomplishment.

Where it came up short ^

Fidgety.  This game is constructed of all cards, hence the “card game” part. As a result, though, the game is fidgety and sometimes difficult to set up. There’s also lots of cards to separate and find and they’re not always obvious or easily differentiated. The rules have lots of helpful pics and diagrams, which help but it’s not a perfect solution.

Things also tended to get jostled during our plays.  In addition, unless you’re truly thoughtful during your set up, locations are liable to change over time.

Luck of the draw.  So in two games, I did not get the Florenza cards that gave me extra actions until very late in the game. Whereas other players were able to construct those very early (sometimes as early as the second round).  The rules, interestingly, try to down play the value of these cards, but it’s hard to see how there isn’t a huge advantage to those who can build them early.  Over the course of the game, that can amount to between four and ten extra actions, e.g., up to 25% more opportunities to do stuff.

Having these as merely luck of the Florenza draw is a bit frustrating.

In the hole ^

Florenza the Card Game is a very satisfying game to play. It’s game play is efficient and intuitive.  There is a nice sense of immersion and accomplishment at the end of the game when you look at all the great works you’ve constructed for your family. If you’re looking for a game to play with a Euro-skittish group, this would probably be a good choice.

Florenza the Card Game is in the hole for a Par. ^

Fairway was provided a copy of Florenza: The Card Game to do this review. He was not otherwise compensated for his opinion.

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