Capo dei Capi is a 2 player area control dice game by Steve Finn at Doctor Finn’s Games, based in Prohibition Era New York. You take on the role of a mobster Boss, trying to gain influence to bribe politicians, befriend corrupt police officers, secretly brew booze, and run casinos.
Players start the game by setting out 6 area cards in a line, each with either a black or white die showing 1-3 pips. The Mayor card also gets set out in the line, with two value cubes on it. Value cubes count as victory points at the end of the game, as well as any area cards in which you have the most influence. Players also set up influence tokens ranging from 1-3, bribe tokens ranging from 1-3 but facedown, value cubes, and mayor chips on the edges of the area card line. Goal of the game is to win most influence and get the most victory points at the end. Ultimately, you want to have the most influence and bribes for each area card, as those are worth 1 point as well as any value cubes on cards.
The first important thing to learn about Capo dei Capi is the dice rolls. Combinations of the dice have different effects, and the black and white die matter in terms in placing tokens by area cards. Thankfully, there is a reference sheet included for each player, which is extremely helpful in learning the dice rolls and their effects.
Depending on what you roll, you can place influence tokens next to specific area cards, raise extortion level, put bribe tokens down, or put value cubes in an area or mayor card. Once you memorize the reference sheet, gameplay goes quick, with saying “I rolled a black 3 and white 2, this means I get to place an influence token on either black 3 or white 2 area card.” Rolling doubles gets a specific effect for each number. In most games, rolling doubles is a positive thing, but in Capo dei Capi, you have take the hit man token. If you roll doubles again on your turn, you bust!
There are other ways to bust instead of rolling doubles twice in one turn. You can bust by having to place another token where one was already placed, or by raising the extortion level past 6. When you bust, you lose all you placed that turn, including influence tokens, bribe tokens, and mayor chips. However, if you do end your turn without busting, you get to place all the tokens you gained on the area cards they were next to and gain any value cubes or mayor chips you rolled as well.
Capo dei Capi has a great push your luck aspect that isn’t seen with many 2 player games. Do you keep rolling in order to get more influence or value cubes? Or do you end your turn, in hopes your opponent will bust on their turn? There are ways to help mitigate busting, by using the mayor chips. Starting player gets 4 mayor chips and second player gets 5 mayor chips. These can be used to negate rolls, pay off hit man, move a token one space, or even take a token and placing it on the area card before you even end your turn. The mayor chips are extremely important in the game, and you don’t want to use all yours at once, because it’s not guaranteed you will gain more on your next turn.
Capo dei Capi may have become my favorite light 2 player only game. I love how quick it plays and how interactive each turn is. Even when it’s not your turn, you can thwart your opponent by making them negate a good roll using the backstab action with a mayor chip. Even with the randomness of dice rolls, the short gameplay makes it so if there’s a runaway leader, the game would be over quickly regardless. For the most part though, you always feel like you can catch up if you are behind, because one turn could yield quite a few points if you roll well.
For gamers looking for a short yet satisfying 2 player game, Capo dei Capi is highly recommended. The artwork goes well with the theme, although for the most part I’m not thinking when I roll a 3 and a 2, “oh yay I get to influence the bootleg liquor company.” That could just be how I play though, breaking everything into numbers instead of story or actions that me as a Mob Boss is taking. The real question becomes “Do you have what it takes?”
>We were provided a review copy<