Reiner Knizia’s Razzia – The Mafia Board Game is an auction game set in early 1930s America, based on the original physical board game. For those of you who have played Reiner Knizia’s Ra, you’ll recognise the game mechanic. Razzia is essentially Ra, with a mafia theme and some minor but not insignificant changes.
Each player represents the head of a Mafia family. The goal is to score the most points over the course of three rounds. Points are gained through buying up Mafia assets (aka booty), which include cars, businesses and jewels. Players can bid on auction lots (cards that have been revealed from the draw pile). Gaining these lots increase your victory points. However, knowing which cards to collect is the trick to winning. For example, the player with the most bodyguards gains extra points, and cars increase in value if combined with a driver.
On each of the three rounds, players have 4 cheques in the bank (or 3 if playing with 4-5 players), of various denominations between $1,000 and $16,000. Alas, once you’ve used a cheque on a winning bid, you cannot use it again until the next round. So caution is advised; if you spend too much too quickly, you’ll be locked out of the round. Conversely, if you’re too conservative and don’t win enough booty, you reduce your chances of winning.
On each turn, players can flip a booty card, start an auction or steal a card (if they have a thief card). If you flip a policeman card, an auction is immediately called. Once 7 policemen have been revealed, they organise a bust and the Mafia have to go to ground. Players then score points according to the cards accumulated, and these points are carried through to the next round. After the third round, the game ends and the player with the most points wins.
With a rich gangster theme, great visuals and matching sounds, Razzia delivers the goods. A comprehensive and easy to understand tutorial will quickly bring you up to speed. Playing against the AI provides plenty of replayability, due to the choice of three difficulty levels and the number of players. Where the game really comes alive is with the pass-and-play feature. That’s when gameplay gets personal and your poker face is your greatest weapon.
Despite the fact that online multiplayer is available, I was unable to get it to work. Oddly, the developers utilise Game Center integration for achievements but not for multiplayer. Instead, you can choose between Facebook, AidemConnect and Anonymous. Alas, every option failed for me, which was disappointing.
Whilst the premise of Razzia may appear to simply be a re-skinning of Ra, it has improved the game significantly, both in structure and presentation. Here are the main differences I’ve noticed between the two games:
1. Razzia uses cards instead of tiles. Of course in a digital game, that doesn’t make much difference.
2. Unlike Ra, Razzia does not have disaster tiles. This makes for a fairer game; so often in Ra it was too easy for one player to get all the booty.
3. Personally, I feel that the Mafia theme is better; the dodgy underground dealings and constant risk of a police raid makes the game more immersive. Compare this to the Egyptian theme in Ra – it didn’t feel like a core part of the game, it seemed tacked on as an afterthought.
Even if you already have Ra, Razzia is sufficiently different and better to warrant owning them both.
8/10 An enjoyable game which improves upon the original Ra mechanic. A must-have for fans of the esteemed Reiner Knizia’s games. The only let-down is the apparent broken multiplayer.