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Board Game Review – The Enigma of Leonardo

2011 November 17

Review copy kindly provided by RightGames LLC.

I never knew a lot about Leonardo before playing this game, and after, he’s still an enigma to me. But RightGames got the mechanics of this game down pretty good in it’s simplistic nature.

The Enigma of Leonardo

The Enigma of Leonardo

Designer: Sergey Machin

Number of players: 4

Age: 8+

Time: 40 minutes ? That’s what bad game geek says, I don’t think so. Maybe with 4 players, and with AP

What’s the game about?

A description from the publisher…

In The Enigma of Leonardo, players try to collect keys by creating patterns in the cards before them on the table.

To start the game, deal each player ten cards. Each player takes five of these cards at random, places them in a + pattern, then turns them face-up; the other five cards form that player’s hand. Each card has two of twelve symbols in the upper-left corner.

On a turn, a player replaces one card in his + with a card from his hand, moving the first card into the + of his left-hand opponent in the same location; that opponent discards the card that was in that location. If a player creates a horizontal or vertical line of cards which each feature the same symbol, that player takes a key card showing that symbol. (A player can claim a particular type of key only once.) If all five cards in a player’s + show the same symbol, the player can claim any key card that he does not already have. The first player to collect seven key cards wins.

Basic idea in my own words…

The enigma of Leonardo is an abstract card game that can be considered a filler due to its short amount of time needs to play. The story behind the game revolves around the intricate drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. Basically each card has a drawing from Leonardo da Vinci and on the top left of the card are two smaller images, like a face or flower. These small images represent key cards, which are represented in a separate deck of cards that are just laying out next to the draw deck for players to look through. Your goal in the game is to be the first to collect 7 unique key cards. This game is totally abstract. Honestly, the theme has nothing to do with the game play. The key card illustrations could be anything. In any case…

How do you play…

The Enigma of Leonardo  (box back)

The Enigma of Leonardo (box back)

The game is initially setup so that 5 cards are randomly drawn out of 10 cards from your hand and laid out in the face of a cross or plus in front of you. The other 5 cards you have are your starting hand. The rest of the cards are shuffled and form a draw deck in reach of all players. The smaller key cards are just laid out somewhere also in reach of everyone.

Turn sequence is in 3 steps.

  1. Play a card from your hand.
  2. Receive a key if your cards allow it.
  3. Draw one card from the deck to your hand.

1. Play a card from your hand –  On your turn,  play a card from your hand onto a spot in your own cross. The card that you would have covered, will go on the player to your left’s cross, in the same location. The card on their cross that would have been replaced goes into the discard deck.

2. Receive a key if your card allows it – based on the last card you just played, if you have 3 matching symbols in the upper left of the cards, then you find that matching key card from the key deck, and place it in front of you. At any time in the game, and only once per game, if you have all 5 matching key card illustrations out in front of you, you can take any key card. As a rule of thumb though, you can’t have any duplicate key cards. Also, you can’t take a key card if you get a match by someone else’s placement…you must claim a key card if you deserve one, after you place a card on your cross.

3. Draw a new card – Just what it says, draw a new card off the draw deck for yourself.

Play now proceeds clockwise. That’s the mechanics! Now onto the strategy.

Strategy – The strategy is in the 1st part of the play sequence. Your goal is to collect 7 unique key cards, well you know how to do that now. Well, that alone doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun, but the fun comes in when the tension mounts. Because your placement of your card affects the player to your left, there’s tension in this game. Also, as part of another strategy in this game goes, you can thwart your opponents chances to get key cards – so keep that in mind!

That’s the game in a whole. There’s not a lot to it, but less is more, right?


Components: 1/5

The box and insert is extremely flimsy, but I’m sure this is a very very small publisher, so I give him credit. The game is fun and that’s what counts. The cards are decent stock, not great, and I’ve seen worse.

Theme: 1/5

The theme is totally random. It has nothing to do with the mechanics of the game. I don’t understand why this was picked, but hey, it’s a “euro.” At least the theme isn’t offensive and is family friendly!

Luck Factor: 4/5

There’s a lot of luck based off the draw of the cards.

Strategy: 2/5

There’s a decent amount of strategy here for such a small game. Either thwart your opponents, and or race to be the first one to get all your key cards.

Overall Feelings: 2/5

The game is a middle of the road filler. It’s a pretty good game for what it’s worth. And When I say that, I wouldn’t pay more than $10 USD for it. So far from where I checked, you can’t even buy the game from online retailers. There’s a little bit of tension at least, and that’s my favorite aspect of games!

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