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Da Vinci's Challenge last year was a abstract game with no hidden elements, and a reasonable amount of strategy that involved seeing and creating hidden geometrical figures among a sea of black and white plastic pieces.
Well, this game has none of that. It shares a "scoring chart" with that game, but doesn't actually use those points; you might as well replace them with nice works of art by Leonardo and improve the game experience.
The game itself seems like the designers took a classic game, made it boring because of their limitation with the artwork, and then attempted to spice it up by adding some separate rules. Unfortunately, all those rules seem to do is just to add more randomness to the game, without giving much extra in terms of strategy. The skip rule, for example, while adding spice to the game, creates some amount of frustration (a player who is being skipped has very little control over whether they will be skipped), creates a vagueness in the rules (does a skip count as a "pass" for purposes of determining whether the trick is over?), and tends to happen mostly as a matter of luck rather than skill.
I wasn't a big fan of Da Vinci's Challenge last year, mostly because it was an game that managed to look like a strategic abstract game while not completely working if players are trying hard to win. This game, to me, seems to miss that mark by even more. Maybe it's not that different from Leonardo's inventions: cool-sounding, but not completely realizable.
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