2-player gamesReviews

Capo Dei Capi Review

Designed By Steve Finn (Biblios, The Institute for Magical Arts) of Doctor Finn’s Games, Capo Dei Capi is a dice-rolling push your luck game for exactly 2 would-be mafia dons.  You’re gunning for the number one spot in the seedy underworld of the city and all the wealth and influence that goes with it, but it won’t be easy.  There are a lot of hands to shake, palms to grease, and kneecaps to break on your way up to the top, and that’s before you take your opponent and his agents into consideration.  It’s going to take a lot of grit and even more luck to own this town.  Have you got what it takes?  Let’s roll the dice and find out…

In Capo Dei Capi, two players will compete head-to-head in a push your luck game of dice rolling and area control.  The board setup shows the areas of the city you will be trying to influence, as well as the mayor, whose cooperation is always for sale, if you know how to lean on him.

Each player will roll the dice and take the action associated with the result.  Cleverly, it isn’t the total value of the two dice that determines what action is taken, but rather certain combinations which result in a wide variety of effects:

  • The lowest rolls, between 1 and 3 on each die, allow you to Influence, placing tokens at one of the 6 locations around the city.
  • When the high die shows a 4, you will Extort the mayor, using the value of the lower die to determine how much you squeeze out of him.
  • When the high die shows a 5, you will Bribe, placing a token face down on one of the locations.  You won’t know how effective your own bribe is until the end of your turn, and it will remain a mystery to your opponent unless they get lucky enough to reveal it.
  • When the high die shows a 6, you will Invest, placing value cubes into the city, making each territory even more valuable for whomever controls it at the end of the game – make sure that someone is you.
  • Finally, each pair of doubles has a specific, powerful ability, but those come with a risk…
This turf war is just getting started...
This turf war is just getting started…

This may seem like a lot to keep track of, and it certainly is, at first.  Fortunately, Capo Dei Capi comes with a very effective player aid card for each player, making it a cinch to interpret your results.

jessmJess:  And that’s where I have some problems with it.

andysmAndrew:  You have a problem with the player aid?

jessmJess:  No, no, I think it’s fine!  And I do like Capo Dei Capi, I’m not saying I don’t!

andysmAndrew:  So what’s the problem?

jessmJess:  Well, I feel like…I’ll explain in a minute.  Keep going, explain how turns end.

andysmAndrew:  …ok, that feels like a trap, but fine.

The player aid gives you everything you need at a glance

Each turn in Capo Dei Capi continues until either you choose to stop or you bust.  If you choose to stop, grats, you get to place all those Influence and Bribe tokens you rolled for this turn.

However, if you bust, all the tokens you might have placed are unceremoniously discarded.  Value cubes you invested in sites stay put, though, which can either help or hurt your board position, depending on where they landed.

Busting happens one of three ways.  The first way is if the dice dictate you need to place an Influence or Bribe token at a location you’ve already placed this turn – you’ve pushed too hard into a territory and the cops push back.  The second is by increasing the mayor’s Extortion track past its maximum – even the most corrupt politician has his limits.  Finally, that risk I alluded to when you roll doubles?  The first time you do it in a turn, you gain the benefit of your roll, but the Hitman is on your tail.  The second time you roll doubles he finally catches up to you, ending your ambitions (and your turn) instantly.

Avoiding a but is often as simple as just choosing to stop pushing your luck – you can do so any time after you’ve resolved the effects of your current roll.  However, the power extorted from the mayor, represented by Mayor chips, can also be used to help you get out of a bust, either by bribing off the hitman or letting you reroll.  The mayor can also help you manipulate Influence and Bribe tokens and even force your opponent to reroll, making it more likely they will bust.  Of course, every chip you spend messing with your opponent is one less in your pile when the Hitman comes looking for you…

The game will continue until you run out of Value cubes, Influence tokens (of one type), or bribe tokens.  Once that is done, players figure out who has the most influence on each location, count up any value cubes you’ve gotten from the mayor, and declare a winner!

The mayor is for sale, but push him too far and even he’ll rat you out

andysmAndrew:  …So, ready to share?

jessmJess:  Ok, I like a lot about Capo Dei Capi.  I like push your luck games but they don’t always work well with just 2 players, and this game definitely delivers on that.  I like the theme, I like how much Dr. Finn manages to get out of little more than two dice.  And it certainly can be fun.  It’s got a lot going for it.

andysmAndrew:  But?

jessmJess:  But rolling dice is all you do!  You roll the dice, consult the chart, and then decide if you will roll the dice again.  Sometimes you roll a bad thing and have to spend tokens to reroll, and sometimes you roll a great thing and your opponent might make you reroll it, but ultimately, the only real choice the player has is ‘Do I roll again or not’.  I’m totally cool with solitaire-style games, but it just feels like the Capo Dei Capi kinda plays itself sometimes.

andysmAndrew:  But the mayor chips are the player agency!  If you just hoard them for rerolls, then yes, you’ll likely be safe from a bust, but that’s probably the least interesting thing you can do with them.  And I don’t just mean spend them all to screw your opponent, I mean spend them on banking chips early or bribing off the Hitman, or to move your tokens around.  Sure, you might bust more frequently, but your turn will consist of a lot more choices than ‘do I roll again’, which, in and of itself, is no different than any other push your luck game!

I don’t normally brag about my storage solutions, but just *look* at this storage solution!

jessmJess:  Hehe, easy there, tiger.

andysmAndrew:  Sorry, you know how I get.

jessmJess:  But you make a fair point.  So I take it you really like this one?

andysmAndrew:  I do!  Though I do admit, I fully recognize your criticism.  Personally, the only point of contention I have with it is with Value cubes.

See, when your high die is a 6, you will very likely add a red Value cube to one of the 6 areas of the city.  But the sad thing is that you won’t have any control over where that cube lands – it is just as likely to help out your opponent as it is to help you.

andysmAndrew:  But then again, judiciously applied mayor tokens will help mitigate the randomness of which area you are influencing, so you can set your sights on those high value areas when they start to appear.

jessmJess:  All true.  And another good thing is that the downtime is virtually non-existent, which is critical for a 2-player game.  It’s not my favorite, but it’s still fun to play.

All in all, we like Capo Dei Capi, somewhere between ‘just fine’ and ‘a whole lot’.  As a quick 15-minute 2-player filler, it is a lot of fun.  It won’t satisfy your hunger for a lot of gameplay depth, but what it does contain is plenty of light, perfectly playable fun.

(Dr. Finn’s Games rolled the dice when they sent us a review copy of Capo Dei Capi, but that didn’t Influence our opinions any.  Get it?  Because Influence is also a currency in the game that, you know what, never mind.  Also, copy of Capo Dei Capi?  That sounds silly.)

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