Piatnik, £20
2-4 players, less than an hour
Reviewed by Mike Clifford

Already written off in some quarters, Palermo is an exceptionally good idea which has suffered through lack (so far) of a decent rules translation. My own effort stinks, but I'm working on it.

The game's premise is simple. In the first phase, each player, in turn, takes a tile (which depict cobbled streets and houses) and places it on the recessed playing surface. These are then marked with a counter of the player's own colour. When the town square is complete (the grid is 6x6), players move as quickly as possible to reclaim their counters.

The movement system is very clever. Initially, players may move three squares, but this increases by one for each counter retrieved which has the welcome effect of speeding up the game towards the end. Points are gained by subtracting the movement number required to collect a counter from the current movement allowance, eg. A player (allowance 7) needs only 3 squares to obtain a marker, thereby earning him 4 points. The outer track of the game board is used to register the points total. When a player has recovered his own markers, he returns to the town square and merits an additional three points per turn whilst the other players struggle home. As is usual in this type of game, obstacles are provided, which in this case depict policemen. These markers can be passed, but require the penalty of an additional movement point to do so.

As with Insider, the contents of Palermo are of a high standard. Both games were under the DM50 barrier (about £20, or £15 'pre- Lamont') and are undoubtedly excellent value for money. Notwithstanding some negative comments (not from the Germans I played with), I suspect Palermo will attract a following from those happy to play, and not dissect, the game.

mike clifford

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