Leonardo da Vinci is the creation of a team of Italian board-game designers under the name Acchittocca. Players are Renaissance inventors who are competing to build inventions by the best placement of their available pawns. The object is to accumulate the most Florins for discovering the most valuable inventions. Each invention is on cards that list the combination of resources required and the time it will take to complete it. Upon completion, players are paid Florins, which are both money and victory points. They also get the invention card, which makes future inventions of the same type easier to complete and also counts toward the only end-game bonus, having completed different types of inventions.
The game is played over the course of nine rounds. The players begin by announcing their intention to begin to work on one of the face-up invention cards. They do this by placing the needed resource cards, face down, beneath their workshop. Players don't have to reveal which invention they are doing or how many cards were used. They also place a marker that shows this workshop is active.
Next, players assign their pawns to different tasks. These include areas to add or upgrade a workshop. There is also an opportunity to gain more pawns for future rounds and get resource cards. Pawns are also needed in the workshop to complete the invention. The bigger the invention, the more time needed. Large inventions will take more than one round to complete. Once all the pawns are placed, each section is resolved, winners get their actions free, others can choose to pay or not, the pawns are returned, and players then announce if they have completed their invention. New invention cards are revealed, and the next round begins.
The invention deck is arranged so they start small and grow to big inventions that reward 20 Florins. The result is a game that builds to an exciting finish where big comebacks are possible. It is possible to complete big inventions, but it requires forward planning as players will not be able to get more resources after round seven. Cards with all the available inventions are provided, so players can know what is still in the deck and what resources will be needed.
I've played this with serious and casual gamers. The whole mechanics of placing the pawns takes a round or so to really get used to, but after that, the game runs smoothly and makes logical sense. I expect to be enjoying Leonardo da Vinci for years to come.