FIVE POINTS: The Gangs of New York. A Game of Very Raw Politics.
Published by Mayfair Games. Designed by Andreas Steding. 3-5 Players aged 12+ @90 minutes play time.
The area of Manhattan where five streets converged . In the 1820s the Manhattan streets between Broadway and Bowery; Mulberry, Anthony (now Worth), Cross (now Park), Orange (now Baxter), and Little Water (n longer there) were known as "The Five Points". This area
is known now, in present day, as Chinatown, but nearly 200 years ago it was a slum area of Gambling dens, brothels and Irish and Italian immigrants. It was the spawning ground for many of the infamous criminals known as the "American Mafia", including Al Capone. The basis of this history is the background for this Mayfair Games boardgame.
Lets get the confusing parts out of the way - the components - in my experience this game is unusually poor in quality control for a Mayfair Games production.
To begin with the contents in our copy of the game had many discrepancies to the list in the game's rulesbook. In fact the contents list on the back of the box do not match either the rules booklet or the component pieces - the rules also say it's for players aged 10 + whereas the box says 12+ (we agree with 12+). We have some pieces more than the listing said were there and some pieces less than what the list said was there, either way it made no difference to us being able to play the game and I only bring this up in case your copy has similar discrepancies and you think you cannot play the game because of them. Another problem that requires the players to make a pre-game decision is that in the Election Phase the rule book says that only 2 elections can take place in the first turn and all elections in subsequent turns. On the Player Aid it says that only 2 Elections can take place in the first round then in future rounds all possible Elections take place. Alex Yeager of Mayfair Games says on BoardgamesGeek that the rules book, not the Player Aid is correct.
My first impression likened FIVE POINTS to the old VENDETTA board game from Hexagames, designed by Doris Matthäus and Frank Nestel. This was mainly because in that game you set out large Neighborhood tiles and you play gangsters into these regions to match or control them. FIVE POINTS has numerous "manipulation tiles" as well as a randomly drawn 2 buildings from the up to 10 (9 in the game plus there is one in one of the Mayfair game expansion packs) all of which have special abilities. It is the gaining of the Manipulation tiles in a bidding war and the use of said tiles which makes this game so much more than the Hexagames game. It also is the reason why we agree with players being at least 12+ (rather than 10+) and even then we think that the game wil be over the heads of most 12 year old board game players - it is not a game that 12 year olds are likely to play without 2 or 3 adults in the mix.
The cover of the box pays homage to the epic movie "Gangs of New York" and the gameplay depicts the back-stabbing, diplomacy and crooked politicians from the film and from history. FIVE POINTS is a gamer's game rather than a family game. For the amount of game there is there are very few rules, in fact it is one of the most complex and complicated games I have seen with so few rules; it is also one of the very few board games that uses the term "Rabble" to describe the player pieces - Bosses and Rabble. FIVE POINTS is quite different from other games Mayfair have published; it is not so much a clever game as a game for clever (thoughtful) players.