Famiglia Review

Today I was able to bust out a little card game called Famiglia, and so (of course), it is time to review it.

In Famiglia, each of the players takes on the role of a rival mob boss that is attempting to recruit the best gang. (Determined by victory points - isn't that what the real gangs use?) How this actually plays out is that the players are able to "recruit" new gang members by playing two cards from the same gang but numerically one lower (ie, if you're trying to recruit a "Bully" of value 2, you play 2 "Bully"s of value 1). You are also allowed to recruit gang members of 0 value for free. Finally, each of the gang members belongs to a different gang "family" which have abilities. One family is able to be used as a wild card during recruiting, another family allows you to retrieve used cards, another intimidates potential gang members (thus causing their number to be lower), and the final family is just worth extra points. The players go through the draw deck a couple of times recruiting in this fashion, and then whoever has the most victory points wins.

The first pro about Famiglia is the depth level of the game. Honestly, when I first looked at the game and saw that it only consisted of 60 cards, I did not expect much. The designer of the game, Friedemann Friese (who also created Power Grid), managed to significantly exceed my expectations. The recruiting system works well, and the different abilities of the cards also allow there to be some strategy beyond just "recruit whoever I can" (though that happens sometimes, too).

Another pro of this game (that I think I've started using as a pro far too often) is that it is incredibly quick and portable. It can fit in your pocket (my wife points out that this specifically fits in a man's pocket and would not fit in hers) so that it can be easily carried around and played wherever you wind up having some table-space. I am always glad to have some games like this, especially when they are fun enough to play multiple times.

My biggest con of this game is related to it being "quick". Because the game plays fairly quickly, you don't wind up getting to use your gang all that much once it has finally gotten strong enough to be effective. This happens in most games, honestly. Specifically in Famiglia, though, I was just starting to recruit the "level 4" gang members when the game was over - I was barely able to intimidate people with them at all.

A couple final notes that aren't really pros or cons... Famiglia is only 2 player. This is sometimes good (two player only games normally play better with 2 than games that are 2-5 players), but also can be inconvenient when you have a third person around. Also, the game claims that it is for 10+ ages, but I would imagine that it would be suitable even for 8+ year olds, assuming that they are children of gamers.

Overall, I give Famiglia an 7.5/10. In full disclosure, I have no idea how to rate these card games. I try to keep in mind a game's intent when I give it a score, and I realize that Famiglia was going for a small, lightweight card game. It did that fairly well. Maybe I should wind up with a new rating system for card games sometime.... Anyway, yes, 7.5 will be the highly subjective score for this game. For the MSRP of around $10, it's worth checking out.

I would like to thank Rio Grande Games for providing a demo copy of Famiglia for me to review.

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