Capo Dei Capi Review

In 1920s New York City, selling alcohol is illegal - but that doesn't mean people want to stop drinking. In Capo Dei Capi, players take control of two mob families struggling for control of the Big Apple. Can you lead your family to domination of the city?

Capo Dei Capi is a two player dice game from Dr. Finn, the designer of the excellent Biblios. It features area majority and push your luck in its gameplay. It is easy to teach and learn and features interesting decisions and gameplay. Let's take a closer look!

The main action mechanism in Capo Dei Capi is quite simple - roll the dice, and from the results, choose from among a narrowed set of actions. After taking the action, decide to either roll again (and risk busting and losing all progress made that turn) or stop while you're ahead, and commit to the changes your mob family has made this turn.

A player wins the game by having won more area cards than her opponent. To win an area card a player must have the most influence on it by the end of the game.

With a 6, players will be able to place value cubes on area cards, which will increase that card's value for whoever wins it at game end. 
When a player's turn begins, she rolls two six sided dice. The choices she has for the turn depend on the higher of the two dice she rolled.

If both dice are 3 or lower, the player will place a influence token that matches one of the dice on an area card that matches the other die. So in the above example, the active player could place a 2 influence token next to the white 1 area card, or a 1 influence next to the 2 black area card. One thing to keep in mind is that tokens go next to area cards. They aren't placed onto the area cards until the active player decides to end her turn - this way if she busts, it is easy to removed anything she had done on her turn until that point.

If the extortion track ever goes past 6, a player busts and ends her turn without earning anything.

If the highest die is a 4, the extortion level on the mayor track goes up by the number on the other die, and  a mayor chip gets placed next to the mayor card - which is currency that can be spent to perform special actions. With a 5, a player will be able to either place a new bribe token (an influence token with a hidden value), or turn over a bribe token that was already placed by her opponent.

Rolling pairs is interesting because the actions they provide are more powerful, but rolling doubles is also one of 3 ways to bust. Once a player rolls doubles, she takes the hit-man pawn. Rolling doubles while she already has the hit-man will cause her to bust. Players can also bust if they are unable to perform an action (usually because they have already performed that action previously on this turn), or if the extortion marker on the mayor card goes past 6.

The game will end once one of the following occurs: the stock of value cubes runs out, the stock of bribe tokens runs out, or the influence tokens of any 1 value runs out. At the point, players will check to see which of them has won each area card, adds those points to any value cubes they've collected, and the player with the most points wins!

Capo Dei Capi is a lighter game, so one of my biggest issues with it is how confusing the dice actions can be. Because although the game is simple, the mechanism of first determining which die is higher, and what action goes with that, and then what the other die means for that is a little wonky and unfamiliar. Thankfully, Dr. Finn has included two very excellent player aids that summarize very clearly what each roll means, what players can do with mayor tokens, and it even has a nice FAQ on the reverse side.

The other issue I have with the game is more of a warning than anything else. The game has a good number of very nice components, and looks good on the table, but remember - this is a light, push your luck game. There are interesting decisions to be made, and the number of components give it a nice "weighty" feel (even for a light game), but this is more of an appetizer than a main course.

That being said, as far as appetizers go, this is a tasty one. Capo Dei Capi fills an interesting slot in my collection, in that it is a nice and easygoing dice romp, similar to something like Zombie Dice, but adds just enough "game" to Zombie Dice's "do I roll again or not" decision to make it more interesting. I would probably never pull out Zombie Dice to play with my wife on a weeknight when Agricola just isn't in the cards for either of our brains - but Capo Dei Capi is another story. This bridges the gap between games that are light, and feel light and games that are light, and feel heavier.

The game also gets a thumbs up from me for being an area control game that is fun for two players. Anyone familiar with modern board games will likely know that the 2 player area control game is a rare beast - so anytime I hear about one coming along, my ears perk up a little.

Overall, I like Capo Dei Capi, and would rate it a 7.0/10. As I said, I can definitely see this getting played on weeknights with my wife, or with a friend when I'm either too early or too late for a game day. I think that this game very nicely fills a hole in my collection I didn't even necessarily know I had. Earlier I compared Capo Dei Capi to an appetizer - I think it is the perfect game for when you don't want a big 12 oz steak, but you are in the perfect mood for some nice wings and mozz sticks.

Jim would like to thank Dr. Finn Games for providing a review copy of Capo Dei Capi.

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