First Take | Signorie

September 26, 2016
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Signorie, one of the many colorful euro-style titles from publisher What’s Your Game, puts you at the head of an Italian family circa a time when people still offered dowries for marriage and had simplistic binary definitions of gender.

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Mechanically, you’ll spend 7 rounds drafting dice – four per round – in an attempt to set-collect, advance along tracks, and improve the efficiency of your actions spaces. Thematically, these 28 turns have you steering your family toward legacy by raising cultured, diplomatic sons and marriage-bait daughters.

Dated, yet historically (unfortunately) accurate gender-roles aside, the theme quickly subsides and the number-crunching begins.

The puzzle presented by designers Andrea Chiarvesio & Pierluca Zizzi is complex and engaging, easily making Signorie a “heavy” euro-style game. Its decision tree is vast and each drafted action unfolds into a series of expansive ripples that must be reined in to maximize your potential. There is nuance in how the five separate action options interact with each other, and the ability to upgrade them – at the cost of actually executing the action that turn – pulls at your brain while you decide on immediate benefit or potential long-term gain.

It was a savvy move on Smee’s part – the choice to upgrade an action so that it provided 3 bonus points every time it was drafted – that ultimately spelled the difference in the end, but I was happy to see success with a relatively different approach. The overall number of options is not extremely varied, but the order of operations to achieve similar goals is where the puzzle expands.

First play of #Signorie from @whatsyourgameeu. #nonsensicalgamers #bgg #games #boardgames #boardgamegeek #j2s

A photo posted by Matthew Halstad (@sinuhmuhnbuhns) on


surprising to find such a high amount of randomness in the game…
Given its euro-style nature, it was surprising to find such a high amount of randomness in the game, though it is equalized across the players. The dice, action tiles and family tiles (for set-collecting) were all randomized each turn, with no indication of their possibilities beforehand. This made each turn an isolated event because you simply couldn’t depend on any given option to be available on a future turn.

Along with this hindrance to the forward planning, our play seemed to favor the use of “male” meeples while providing relatively few. This left us with a surplus of “female” meeples and no valuable spaces to use them. I’m not sure how this would average out across a lifetime of plays, but it was certainly bothersome in the moment.

I think Signorie provides an engaging puzzle for its duration, but I wonder where it lands for me in terms of future draw. I enjoyed the play and would happily jump in again, especially with a better understanding of its inner-workings, but it doesn’t leave me enamored. It feels familiar, which is fine, but neither its theme nor mechanisms scream “Play me!” If given the opportunity, I think I’d rather try a different unplayed title from What’s Your Game, like Madeira or Nippon, instead of starting a new family in Signorie.

Matt H. (Buns)

CONTENT MANAGER/PODCAST HOST : Perpetual consumer of all things board, card and game. Lover of dice, card sleeves, and fancy meeples. Jack-of-all-games, Master of none.