Borgata: A Families Game – Goat Games – Preview

Ah, a nice relaxing deckbuilder with a light and fluffy theme where all the players can just get along...  NOT!  The game looked like it would get cutthroat very quickly... and it did!

Theme and What is it?

You are a low ranking member of a New York Mafia family.  That means you will need to get your hands dirty, bribe some of the police sent to tail you, and maybe even pay off a judge!  A families game pretty much sums up the theme right on the cover.

Gameplay Mechanics

You will recruit and upgrade muscle to do your bidding.  You will use them to do some money laundering and setup up some racketeering.  These funds will let you afford to recruit and arm mafioso cards.

You must ultimately *edge* out your opponents to control key Businesses and Boroughs to get the respect you deserve.  If you can gain respect and avoid the attention of the feds, that respect leads to rank.  Become the boss or control the city and you win!

Initial Impressions

Ah, a nice relaxing deckbuilder with a light and fluffy theme where all the players can just get along…  NOT!  The game looked like it would get cutthroat very quickly… and it did!  In a fight for control of the Bronx a hitman might get his throat cut by a wise guy with a knife.

Game Build Quality

I am impressed with how nice the game components are for a pre-release prototype.  Good prototype cards are not hard to have made but the completely functional game box with art and rear description is well done.  The rulebook is what I expect from a final retail game.  Kickstarter backers can expect Goat Games to deliver a quality product in the final version of Borgata.

Artistic Direction

Dan Gough has done an excellent job on the art work.  The cards have a dominantly dark and foreboding look that plays into the theme of the game.  I really appreciate when the art and theme compliment each other so well.

Fun Factor

The tension in the final turns where several players have a possible chance to draw what they need to win is where the game shines.  There are just enough win conditions for everyone to have some shot at it.  Just when you think you have this great idea to win a turn early, you draw that surveillance card and groan because the feds have put you $1000 short of being able to pull it off… again… for the third turn in a row… but everyone else is having the same knife edge of almost being able to pull it off too!

Age Range & Weight

13+ is more than is deserved for the difficulty of the gameplay.  But given the crime, combat, and direct player aggression it seems to be a fair rating.  Parents should be aware that while it is “a families game” that doesn’t make it a perfect “family game” unless they like the aggression and have kids mature enough to handle the mafia theme.

Conclusions

An early blunder getting your best mafioso taken out and a valuable weapon lost hurts!  But no player is ever really out of contention.  When everyone is working to keep the highest ranking player from being able to advance the final steps it gives everyone a slim shot to worm their way back in.  The Borgata Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign is scheduled to go live April 2, 2019.