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Subject: For the Little Che Guevara in All of Us - A Revolution! Review rss

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Adam Hoffman
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This weekend, Steve Jackson Games was premiering a few games (the updated Frag - Gold Edition, advanced prints of the soon-to-be-released Revolution! and The Stars are Right, and a prototype of a 5-8 player party game currently titled Nanuk) at Vault of Midnight in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I had a chance to play a four player game of Revolution! (on the 56th anniversary of the Cuban revolution, it just so happened), and I was sufficiently impressed by Steve Jackson Games' first Euro offering to write my first review.

Revolution!



What is Revolution!? - Summary
Revolution! is a simultaneous bidding and area control game by Philip duBarry published by Steve Jackson Games. Three to four players find themselves in the midst of a revolution and must use a combination of force, blackmail and bribes to ensure that when the dust settles, they're on top. Although the duration is listed at one hour, our group of new players were able to easily finish a game in 45 minutes without feeling rushed.

(Same info for people who like tables)
Designer:Philip duBarry
Publisher:Steve Jackson Games
# of Players:3-4
Duration:45-60 minutes
Weight:Light
Mechanics:Simultaneous Bidding, Area Control

What's in the Box? - Components and Setup
One game board, a four-page rule book, four colored player score markers, four colored sets of 25 wooden cubes, four bidding boards, four colored bidding screens, and 56 force, blackmail and gold tokens.

The game board shows the layout of a city with 7 Areas (Market, Town Hall, Plantation, Tavern, Cathedral, Fortress, and Harbor) over which the players will vie for Influence. Each area contains a four to eight white squares which will hold player Influence markers to track their relative levels of Influence in each Area for endgame scoring, as well as determine when the game ends. A Support (scoring) Track frames the board.

The board is attractive without being too busy, and is functional. The scoring track is amply-sized, and the score markers can be turned over to indicate scores over 100. However, players could reasonably score over 200 points in a three player game, so this could be a minor problem. With four first-time players our scores ranged from about 75 to 150.


The rulebook is short and reasonably well organized with plenty of examples. Although our group had the luxury of learning from experienced players, the rulebook looks more than adequate to quickly learn the game. Other components serve as player aids as well.

Rules: http://www.sjgames.com/revolution/img/revolution_rules.pdf

Although I'm not a big fan of wooden cubes where more detailed bits would be appropriate (I'm looking at you, Agricola cow.), wooden cubes are used to good effect in Revolution! for tracking player Influence in each Area. Several Influence cubes are placed or swapped around each turn, and the wooden cubes are easy to recognize and handle for this task.

A total of 56 cardboard tokens--12 red fists representing Force, 12 black envelopes representing Blackmail, and 32 gold coins representing Gold--represent the various resources the players have available each round to try to persuade various figures in the town power structure to aid in their cause. The bidding tokens are attractive, sturdy, and easily identifiable across the table, although they may be difficult to pick up on smooth surfaces. They're still very functional.

[No images for the bidding tokens are currently available on BGG, but the symbols are depicted on the box art. An image below shows the tokens, bidding board, and screen during play.]

The bidding boards are appropriately sized, sturdy, and easy to read. The spaces on the bidding board represent the different authorities and figures within the Revolution! world that may be influenced each round. The color of the spaces indicate which forms of coercion, if any, to which the figure will not respond (e.g. the General will not respond to Force, the Spy will not respond to Blackmail, etc.), with the colors corresponding to the color of the bidding tokens. Although the color coding is effective and the relationships are generally logical, it seemed to be a little counterintuitive for some players. In other words, since the General space on the bidding board is red, players may not bid for the General using (red) Force influence tokens.

 


Each player is given a short, sturdy, color-coded screen to hide their bids. The screens also contain a short summary of the bidding rules, including the value hierarchy between bidding tokens. The screens are solid and should not fall apart under normal use. The color-coding also facilitates in identifying other players by their color.





All-in-all, Revolution!'s components are typical of the (high) quality expected of a Euro game.

What Do You Do and How Do You Do It? - Rules and Gameplay
Each round consists of four phases: Espionage, Bidding, Resolution and Patronage.

Espionage
Turns begin with all players sharing what assortment of bidding tokens they earned the previous round. This information is especially important because it allows the players to know which other players are a bidding threat or if any players can guarantee a space. Disregard this information at your own peril! On the first round, each player begins with 1 Force, 1 Blackmail, and 3 Gold.

Bidding
The heart of the game is the bidding phase, in which players secretly and simultaneously place bidding tokens on various spaces of the bidding board. Although there may be some potential for Analysis Paralysis here, this phase proceeded quickly for our group.

Resolution
Here the players go through each space, left-to-right and top-to-bottom, checking to see which player has the highest bid. There is a hierarchy between the bidding tokens: Force is greater than Blackmail, which is in turn greater than Gold. If there is a tie between the most valuable bidding token on a space, compare relative numbers of the next most valuable bidding tokens.

Some examples: 1 Blackmail beats 5 Gold; 3 Gold beats 1 Gold; 1 Blackmail and 1 Gold beats 1 Blackmail; etc.

There are some important stipulations. First, some spaces are color-coded to indicate that the respective authority figure does not respond to persuasion of that color. For example, the General space is red, so the General will not respond to any number of Force tokens, which are also red. Second, no player may bid for more than six spaces a Round. Third, in the case of a tie, no players gain the benefits of a space. Finally, no bidding tokens from the current turn are carried over to the next turn, so it is in the players' interest to use them all.

As each space is resolved, players may gain Support (i.e. advance along the scoring track), gain additional bidding tokens for the next turn, and gain or modify Influence in different Areas of the board, which are the provide a great deal of Support at the end of the game.

Although I recommend for new players to resolve each space in turn for the first few rounds to ensure that everyone understands the bidding resolution mechanisms, experienced players can quickly assess which spaces were won and resolve all but the Spy and Apothecary simultaneously. This vastly speeds up gameplay and is probably why our group was easily able to finish the game in 45 minutes.

The Spy and the Apothecary spaces are exceptions to the simultaneous resolution because they each allow a player to move Influence cubes already on the board, and this should occur after all of the other Influence cubes have been placed that Round.

Patronage
Finally, the players check to see how many bidding tokens they earned in the previous phase. If any player has less than five tokens, their "secret patrons" provide them with enough Gold to bring them up to a total of five bidding tokens for the next round.

For example: if one player gained 1 Force and 1 Blackmail, her secret patrons will provide her with 3 additional Gold; if another player gained 2 Blackmail and 3 Gold, his secret patrons will provide no additional gold; if a player gained 8 Gold, her secret patrons will provide no additional gold. The three hypothetical players would begin thei next round with 1 Force, 1 Blackmail, 3 Gold; 2 Blackmail, 3 Gold; and 8 Gold respectively.

Strategic Considerations
In addition to recognizing and responding to the bidding strategies of their opponents, players need to balance gaining the largest Influence in the various scoring Areas (especially the Fortress, Harbor and Cathedral), gaining immediate Support (through the Printer, Priest and Aristocrat), and gaining bidding tokens (i.e. Force, Blackmail, Gold) for subsequent turns. The player that bids mostly effectively and best manages these priorities will win the game.

In particular, players should pay close attention during the Espionage phase to which bidding tokens other players have available. If a player has the only Force or Blackmail tokens on the board, that player can guarantee victory of some spaces. Also, the player that has the most Gold can guarantee victory of spaces that do not allow Force of Blackmail (e.g. Rogue, Mercenary).

Who wins? - End game Scoring
The game ends at the end of the Round in which all of the Influence spaces on the board are filled. Each area of the board (e.g. Fortress, Harbor, Cathedral, etc.) is evaluated, and the player that has the greatest number of Influence tokens receives Support for that area as indicated on the board (e.g. 50 for the Fortress, 40 for the Harbor, etc.) In the event of a tie, no player receives the Support.

Also, the players receive Support for any bidding tokens they earned on the last turn: 5 Support for Force, 3 Support for Blackmail, and 1 Support for Gold.

The Support for bidding tokens and area control is added to the Support the players received over the course of the game. The player with the most Support wins.

What Do I Think? - Final Thoughts
While it's nothing revolutionary, this is a fairly good game. The rules are light and can be learned very quickly, they mesh very well, and their implications have some depth. The changing bidding strategies of opponents also keep the game interesting. The game plays pretty quickly, and there is very little downtime.

As a result, this game has great gateway potential.

In spite of my enthusiasm for the game, one concern I do have is that, while the game plays well with four players, it will probably not do as well with three. Further, even with a range of three to four players, this relative inflexibility may limit the number of times this game comes off of the shelf.

Nonetheless, I expect this game will be well received by the BGG community.

[EDIT] I removed discussion about the projected retail price, both because it is not necessarily relevant to the review and it could be read as 'this game is only worth buying if it is cheap,' which was not my intent.
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Emily H.
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Great job on your first review.

I played this at Origins and loved it. In general, I think anyone who enjoys games that require players to guess what the other players are going to do will love Revolution!
 
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Matt Lee
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I believe the retail price is $40, but likely will discount to $30.
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Alex Yeager
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I'll confirm the retail price as $40.

Alex Yeager
SJ Games MIB
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Adam Hoffman
United States
Vienna
Virginia
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Yes, shrubberies are my trade. I am a shrubber. My name is Roger the Shrubber. I arrange, design, and sell shrubberies.
badge
Oh, what sad times are these when passing ruffians can say Ni at will to old ladies. There is a pestilence upon this land; nothing is sacred. Even those who arrange & design shrubberies are under considerable economic stress in this period in history
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Thanks for the correction. Is it fair to say that copies of the game will likely be available for $30? I see preorders from CLS for $26 before shipping.
 
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Pete Belli
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Quote:
While it's nothing revolutionary, this is a fairly good game.


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Paul Chapman
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r0gershrubber wrote:
Thanks for the correction. Is it fair to say that copies of the game will likely be available for $30?


The MSRP (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) will be $39.95. Retailers will set their own prices, of course. I suspect, in this day of internet discounters, you'll be able to find someone willing to knock 30% off *any* MSRP.
--
Paul Chapman
Marketing Director
Steve Jackson Games
paul@sjgames.com
(512) 447-7866 x206
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Alex Yeager
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*Almost* any.

Alex Yeager
Mayfair Games
(SJ Games MIB 0230)
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Philip Reed
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Kyle
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r0gershrubber wrote:
In spite of my enthusiasm for the game, one concern I do have is that, while the game plays well with four players, it will probably not do as well with three.


The game is best with four but it's still a lot of fun with three. I've participated in several three player sessions that have gotten fairly heated and led to some great contests over locations.

 
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Brett Myers
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It's a fine looking game, too. I got a chance to finally see a production copy at Protospiel over the weekend, and it looks great (quality-of-components-wise). I still haven't had a chance to play it (too many prototypes to play any boring published games!), but I heard lots of positive comments last year and this year.
 
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Brett Myers
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AlexYeager wrote:
*Almost* any.

Alex Yeager
Mayfair Games
(SJ Games MIB 0230)


*cough cough*

heh.
 
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Cody Walker
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Thumbs to you Adam... Bravo!!
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Rick Carnagey
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I had a chance to play this game about a week ago at the local game shop. I was not expecting to be very impressed with it as I have never played a Steve Jackson game. I thought they would not be my type of games.

I played a 2 player game and it actually played very well. As a 2 player game you are going head-to-head and I kind of liked that. I think it would play just as well and possibly better with 3 or 4 players.

I have found myself looking forward to playing it again and checking the blogs for release info. I guess I am somewhat excited about getting a copy.

I agree this could be a very good gateway game as it is very easy to learn and pick up even for non gamers.

I think it will have good replayability as well, but only time will tell....

I will most certainly add this to my collection and use it as a gateway game quite often. I am now interested in playing some other Steve Jackson games.

 
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Philip Reed
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netizen wrote:
I agree this could be a very good gateway game as it is very easy to learn and pick up even for non gamers.


I haven't tried teaching non-gamers Revolution! but I could see where family gamers could have fun with the game.
 
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Kevin Elmore
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netizen wrote:
I played a 2 player game and it actually played very well.


I played a 2-player game, and my impression is the exact opposite. I took a surmountable lead and never even came close to losing it. Without a third or fourth player to interfere with my bidding, I was able to win the bids I really wanted in order to reassert my stranglehold on those bids, which REALLY, REALLY weakened the other player even more. At one point, I had 2 Force, 2 Blackmail, and 8 Gold, while my opponent (my poor, patient wife) only had 5 Gold. Even the 6-space limit did not really save her.

Had there been other players involved, they could have broken my monopoly, or at least stole the Spy away from me and screw over my influence. I found the 2-player game far too one-sided. At the end, I had nearly lapped her in points and had control of all of the buildings except for the tavern. We didn't even add things up at that point; it was such a foregone conclusion.

So, when the game designers suggest 3 or 4 players, I highly suggest it. I never played it with 3 players. I suspect it's still fun, but I am willing to bet that it's far more fun with 4 ruthless players.
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Robert
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Kuildeous wrote:
netizen wrote:
I played a 2 player game and it actually played very well.


I played a 2-player game, and my impression is the exact opposite. I took a surmountable lead and never even came close to losing it. Without a third or fourth player to interfere with my bidding, I was able to win the bids I really wanted in order to reassert my stranglehold on those bids, which REALLY, REALLY weakened the other player even more. At one point, I had 2 Force, 2 Blackmail, and 8 Gold, while my opponent (my poor, patient wife) only had 5 Gold. Even the 6-space limit did not really save her.

Had there been other players involved, they could have broken my monopoly, or at least stole the Spy away from me and screw over my influence. I found the 2-player game far too one-sided. At the end, I had nearly lapped her in points and had control of all of the buildings except for the tavern. We didn't even add things up at that point; it was such a foregone conclusion.

So, when the game designers suggest 3 or 4 players, I highly suggest it. I never played it with 3 players. I suspect it's still fun, but I am willing to bet that it's far more fun with 4 ruthless players.


First off, I really REALLY enjoy this game. I'm not much one for auction games, but this game just has that... special combination of nice components, easy to learn rules, and plays well with its suggested number of people.

I cannot imagine that in a two player game you'd have enough competition to break the hammerlock of 2/2/8 force / blackmail / gold. In fact, if you're not paying attention, you might find yourself in a three or FOUR player game facing this.

I am curious as to if the game could be scaled up to five. I don't imagine there would be any more time added to the game, or at least not much more. There do appear to be enough tokens - though you'd have to get another bid board somehow. Might have to give it a try.

-Rob
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Philip Reed
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Escher26 wrote:
I cannot imagine that in a two player game you'd have enough competition to break the hammerlock of 2/2/8 force / blackmail / gold. In fact, if you're not paying attention, you might find yourself in a three or FOUR player game facing this.


Two players really doesn't work. I've tested a few two player games and I highly recommend that no one try this.
 
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