Recommend
39 
 Thumb up
 Hide
6 Posts

Levée en Masse» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Levée en masse : a Revolutionary review rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Rodolphe Duhil
France
Rambouillet
Ile-de-France
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Introduction

Levée en Masse is a solitaire game about the French Revolution in the States of Siege series. This system tries to recreate the tension of certain historical events where you're alone against all the world. In this case, the Revolution must survive against the assaults of foreign armies and royalist revolts.

Components


VPG is a small company of dedicated gamers producing games where the emphasis is on the game itself and not the components. There are 17 die-cut counters and 48 cards. The quality is OK, akin to desktop publishing. I like the art on the counters, the layout of the cards make them clear and easy to use, so, from a design point of view, they're great.


Rules


The rules are very clear and concise. After reading it once, all makes sense and is crystal-clear. Rules so well-written are rare enough to mention it.


Game play

The mechanics are quite simple and everything is well thought. The different mechanics interact with each other and are not pasted with some loose connections. They form a coherent whole, and it adds greatly to the game play experience as eveything appears natural.

You are at the command of the Revolution and each turn, you draw a card, which describes an event, its consequences and the number of actions for the turn. You have to be careful as you have many pressing matters : fight armies to drive them back (military action), promote the Republican ideal (political action) and, when the Parisian mob riots, restore the order in Paris (restore order).

The political track charts the influence of Republic, Monarchy and Despotism in the government. When Republic is on top, it's a +1 Die Roll Modifier (DRM) for the French army. When it's Monarchy, it's -1 DRM. Ouch ! It's fairly easy to have the Republic on the lead early on but you'll discover soon enough that the other monarchies don't like your way of thinking.


Levée en masse is a tension filled game where everything is under control at the beginning, but as time passes, the internal and external threats bring a spiral of chaos : Disorder in Paris, Armies coming from 2 or 3 directions dangerously close to Paris, Republican ideas unable to prevail in the government, ... So much to to, so little resources.

The end of the game is when you draw the last red card of the deck or when Paris is occupied by a foreign or Royalist army at the end of the turn, which happens quite often.

I lost my first game near the end of the White deck when the Austrian army occupied Paris. Ironically, the card was the First Treaty of Basel. I managed to drive back twice the Austrian army or the Vendean army from Paris, but not the third time.


The game has some well-thought ideas. The first is the use of three deck (Blue, White and Red) to do the narrative as each deck corresponds to a specific stage of the Revolution.

There is also the possibility to export the Revolution to your neighbors. The Liberation marker represents thus the army of the New Republic. It managed to drive back once the Piedmont army in Savoy. It's quite handy and, one game, it allowed me to drive back 2 or 3 times the English army and it costs you no action. So a Liberation marker on the map is something you want to achieve. And when you do this, you are so proud that you come to the help of your ally when the foreign army succeeds in advancing.

Another cool idea is the conditional events on some cards. When the card The Fate of Louis XVI was drawn, the Vendean army was in Versailles : the King managed to escape and was not sent to the guillotine ! Of course, the Monarchy influence had a great boost...
Others can help you remove some armies from the game if you have been victorious and tenacious enough.

It's so good that I finished to play my first game well past my bedtime. Once you play, you cannot stop. VPG made an addict of me !

The following day, I resumed the game, pretending that I managed to drive back the Austrians and see if I could defend the Revolution a few more turns. Well, I had 3 armies (Austria, Piedmont, Vendée) in Paris and managed to drive them back all three before the end of the turn. No military DRM, 2 rolls of 6 on my last 2 rolls. Lucky me ! Eventually, Paris fell and there was only one card left.
Despotism and Monarchy were at 4, Republic at 2. Result : - 46 ! A substantive defeat : the Republicanism was crushed by the cult of Napoléon. As the threshold is -26, I utterly broke the Revolution spirit.


Yes, the game is difficult. I played it a few times and my best result was a minor defeat. But what tension and what fun !

To the barricades !


Don't forget this rule : one free military action against each army in Paris. You always need extra actions to reach your goals.

Remember to Restore order as your first action when the Disorder marker is in Paris. I forgot it a few times and it weakened the Republican influence.


For each deck, the first and the last cards played are always the same as they're part of the narrative. Be sure to check these cards after your first game, because they can help you. There are conditional events very useful if you can meet the requirements.

Replay value

Very high as the cards move the armies and gives you the number of actions for the turn.

Small issues and a call to arms


Trying to be fair, there are a few issues and I have some suggestions, though they conflict with VPG's business model !

- I never reset the French army marker (Military DRM) in the Housekeeping phase because it can remain in the same box on the following turn, especially if the Republic is the reigning government. I adjust it only in the French army phase.

- The Vendée flag is not the good one. The flag used is the flag of France from Louis XIV to the Revolution.

- There are a lot of text and flags on the cards. The instructions are fairly legible, but the historical narrative is in a small font. Poker-sized cards would be really great, especially with cards that cry for illustrations.

- Toulon being the starting space of the Vendée army is a bit strange. Sure, the Vendée army represents more than the Vendée counterrevolution and there were revolts in Lyon, Marseille and of course Toulon where a certain captain began his career. Still, a bit strange.


- The map should be twice its size, or at least 50 % larger. It would allow the room to apply to the Political and Liberation DRMs the graphic design of the Military DRM. You adjust this DRM by moving the French army marker in the appropriate box. The Political and Liberation DRMs are just 0 DRM spaces where you may add and remove each turn a +1 or -1 marker each turn. With a bigger map, Brittany would be on the map, the holding box could be enlarged (it's a bit too small), the starting space for the Vendée could be in Vendée and there would be room for the poker-sized cards.

Yes, I call for a Deluxe edition ! But only because the game deserves it. Congrats to John and Alan for such a brilliant design !

Conclusion

Pros
- Easy to learn
- Intuitive and fascinating
- Elegant design
- High replay value
- Difficult to master

Cons
- above average quality for the components
- Difficult to win

Heartily recommended !



And I can't wait for the Levée en masse Expansion that promises to bring Napoléon on the map !


32 
 Thumb up
2.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
jonathan schleyer
United States
Manhattan Beach
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Re: Levée en masse : a Revolutionay review
Thanks for the review. I like this game too.

I also always wondered about the location of the Vendee track and it not starting in Vendee. I wonder why this was done?
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Welch
United States
California
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Levée en masse : a Revolutionay review
I just wanted to be able to use Toulon during the game as a place for Napoleon to get his start and its possible use by the British War Office and Royal Navy to support the Counterrevolutionaries. I also aimed to use cities on the map that most gamers would recognize. Of course, aesthetic considerations were on my mind as well - a coastal city near the bottom of the map.

Those were a few of my considerations - it's funny, as this was my first game design and I'm much more aware of certain design aspects now that didn't occur to me last Fall. I hope my future titles are just as enjoyable and fun to play.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Justus Kelloniemi
Finland
Vaasa
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for your review! Just one minor thing:

Messire wrote:
Remember to Restore order as your first action when the Disorder marker is in Paris. I forgot it a few times and it weakened the Republican influence.


You are not required to restore order as your first action, right? On the contrary, if Republic influence is 2, it is worth to try to get that up to 3, battle couple of fights and then restore order as your last action. That is, you get order restored automatically by one action, if the Republic influence is 3 or 4.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Welch
United States
California
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Justus - you are correct, you can choose when to attempt a Restore Order action and since the game is dynamic it might be better to get Republicanism up to a 3 or 4 and then use an action to Restore Order automatically...of course, Republicanism has to be at a 3 or 4 AND be the highest of all the political tracks in order to take advantage of that benefit.

It's true that some players forget to pay close attention to politics and allow Disorder to continue in Paris which is no good for promoting the virtues of Republicanism :-)
 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rodolphe Duhil
France
Rambouillet
Ile-de-France
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
As John says, the game is dynamic. The best moment to restore order depends on the context: the situation on the map (armies, political markers) and of course your number of actions available.

If increasing the Republican marker gives you a +1 French Army DRM and the automatic success to restore order, go for it. But sometimes, the Journées occur at the wrong time, causing Disorder in Paris with only 2 or 3 actions to hold another turn. How many times have I lost the +1 French Army DRM because of Disorder with armies at the gates of Paris?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.