Crime fans will be happy: In this review we deal with the cooperative crime card game The godfather's villa from Gmeiner Verlag, who also did the crime dinner game Murder in the Mafiosa villa as well as the cooperative investigator game Crime Master: City crime scene was responsible. In this card game, too, everything revolves around the eternal duel between the mafia and the police. The mood during our test rounds was ensured thanks to the matching vinyl: Al Martino played some of his best songs and catapulted us into the middle of the property of a mighty mafia godfather. Whether we were able to arrest the boss of the bosses in the end, find out in the following review The godfather's villa.   

Together against the Don

The crime card game The godfather's villa swims with the flow and relies on the trend towards cooperative parlor games. 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, set out as a team to arrest one of four Mafia godparents. Since the boss of all bosses is not known for simply being caught by the police, he has hidden in the basement of his villa and hired loads of bodyguards to take care of his protection. The background story to the card game The villa the godfather is quickly told, but the author Jörg Domberger insisted on naming the individual Mafiosi, which is good for the game atmosphere. In the packaging of the team game from Gmeiner Verlag you will find the four mentioned godparent cards, 20 bodyguards, 54 small-format police cards and an operations manager card with a plastic base. The latter only serves to display the currently active player.

In the test: the godfather's villa - a cooperative crime card game

The illustrations on the cards are simple but well done. The godparents and bodyguards are represented as silhouettes that differ significantly in the details. Much more important, however, is the choice of colors and symbols that ensure a good overview of the game during the game. The quality of the cards is good. All playing cards are made of thin cardboard: card players know that this is both a curse and a blessing. On the one hand, the cards are so flexible that creases rarely or never occur, on the other hand, the black edges of the cards in particular tend to show signs of wear and tear. With the help of deck protectors, however, you can easily remedy this - at least with the large-format bodyguard and godparent cards.

First the bodyguards, then the boss

Before the first move is made, the godfather's estate must be set up. To do this, you first choose one of the four godparents at random and place it face up in the middle of the table. Then you move 13 of the 20 bodyguards who are available to the godfather as active guards. Four of these bodyguards are placed on the four corners of the godfather card and thus form the Don's personal protective wall. The bodyguards, by the way, patrol the garden of the villa. You can see the exact construction scheme in the photo series The godfather's villa or see the video. The object of the game is to arrest the boss and take out his bodyguards on the way there. You can do this by playing the symbols shown on the Mafiosi cards in the correct order.

The tops of the cards each give you a hint that is relevant to your tactical approach. For example, a crossed out police badge indicates that this bodyguard has to be hunted down without the use of green police cards - if you then have four police tokens in your hand card area, you know that things can get a little trickier. Who starts fighting the selected Guardian card is discussed in each round before the card is revealed among the other players. For better visualization, the beginning player receives the operations leader card, reveals the Mafiosi and plays a suitable symbol card, a joker or no card from his hand - for tactical reasons it is allowed to pass, sometimes you can't avoid sitting down. At the end of each turn, exactly one card may be drawn. The symbols of the bodyguard and godparent cards must exactly match those of the police cards, but with two exceptions: the joker cards, on which several symbols are depicted, and when cards are doubled, when two identical symbols replace a different color. Although you lose one of your usable cards in hand, the double use of cards makes sense especially if it is foreseeable that you can get a bonus by defeating a bodyguard. Bonuses are shown on the bodyguard cards at the bottom right and are visible to everyone and serve as additional tactical incentives. 

Bodyguards may only be attacked if at least two sides of the card are free and the bodyguard card is on the top most active playing level. So just sneaking into the basement before the garden is free from criminals won't work. At the beginning this only applies to the four corner cards, but as the game progresses the options increase, so that it is always necessary to discuss which bodyguard is to be approached at which point in time and who is to be the chief of operations. The fast and dynamic gameplay thrives on the interactions between the players and quickly passes into the blood of a crime card player. The rules are simple, so that the game is also suitable for significantly younger players, which is particularly ideal for family game evenings. During our video review of The godfather's villa we played the simple variant of the card game.

Real crime fans can play the expert mode

Those who are familiar with the rules can easily increase the level of difficulty by changing the rules slightly. A total of four different levels of difficulty are available: easy, difficult, very difficult and extreme. The number of police cards is varied depending on the total strength of the bodyguards. In a simple game you use 10 police cards more than the bodyguard strength, i.e. a bodyguard strength of 39 a total of 49 police cards. In a difficult game, only seven more police cards are used, the very difficult game has a handicap of four and the last level ensures even conditions. And if even this challenge is not big enough for you, you can use far fewer police cards than the bodyguard strength score.

In principle, the rules can be adjusted relatively freely. And in order not to stall in the video, we decided, for example, not to discard any police cards when passing. That makes the game extremely easy, but we could safely assume that we would win. 

The greatest challenge of the crime card game The Godfather's Villa is the so-called expert version, in which the points printed on the cards play an additional role. The active player is then not only required to play the appropriate cards for the corresponding position, but also has a police card that corresponds to the color of the point printed. An example: If there is a red dot in the second position next to the handcuffs, the player using the second position must have a pistol in his active card supply. 

Further difficulties can be achieved by reducing the number of cards in hand or the composition of the bodyguards. Due to the rule adjustments is The godfather's villa more complex than you might initially think.

Each game ends either with the arrest of the godfather or when there are not enough police cards available, which corresponds to the termination of the mission.

Images of The Godfather's Villa


Number of players: 2 to 4 players
Age: from 10 years
Playing time: 20 to 40 minutes
Difficulty: easy
Long-term motivation: medium

Published by Gmeiner Verlag
Year of publication: 2016 
Authors: Jörg Domberger
Language: German
Cost: 13 Euro


Behind the crime card game The godfather's villa by Jörg Domberger, published by Gmeiner Verlag, there is more to it than players would initially assume. Getting started with the game is very easy thanks to the comprehensible basic rules. At the same time, innumerable changes in the details of the rules of the game lead to freely adaptable levels of difficulty, which even experienced card players and mafia hunters should challenge at the last level. The mafia setting fits in perfectly with this cooperative card game, which in the end shines more through an exciting gameplay and a good overview than through the optics. That's a good thing, because good gameplay should always be in the foreground in a parlor game. That the atmosphere was still important to the author can be seen in details such as the different bodyguard shadows and the sometimes funny names of the bodyguards and godparents.

The godfather's villa scratches stubbornly at our 4-point limit and crime fans can actually award an additional point. Overall, there are only a few weaknesses worth mentioning, such as the relatively small number of different "enemy cards" or the damage-prone card edges.

When it came down to it, the cooperative crime game triumphed The godfather's villa in our review, however, with its entertaining elements. Absolutely recommendable as an in between game for every social gamer and for crime lovers it is the perfect game title for a successful crime evening.