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Upcoming GMT Releases: Dominate Roman Republic Politics, Race in Ancient Rome, Duel in Nottinghamshire, and Battle in Medieval Japan

Candice Harris
United States
Los Angeles
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Board Game Publisher: GMT Games
Board Game: Churchill
Board Game: Versailles 1919
• I recently dipped my toes in the Great Statesmen Series from GMT Games, playing both Churchill and Versailles 1919 for the first time, just a few days apart. I had a blast playing both games, and I'm officially hooked on the series, so needless to say, I was thrilled to see Triumvir announced as a new P500 addition in GMT Games' May 2021 Update newsletter.

In Triumvir, from Versailles 1919 designers Mark Herman and Geoff Engelstein, 1-3 players duke it out politically as Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus, using their influence to gain control over issues in 60 BCE Rome via core mechanisms from Versailles 1919 as briefly described below by the publisher:
It's 60 BCE, and the three most powerful men in Rome form a loose alliance based on marriage, self-interest, and a thirst for power. In Triumvir, you take the role of one of these Roman power brokers as you vie for power and position that inevitably leads to Civil War.

Triumvir builds on Versailles 1919 where players use influence to gain control over issues and the path that history will take going forward. In Triumvir, you use your three-dimensional influence in popularity, money, and legions to vie for the Consulship, Pontifex Maximus, and Governorships as you try to outmaneuver your erstwhile friends on the floor of the Senate. The game can be played with 1-3 players.

From gallery of kuhnk
Box cover not final

During your turn, you perform one of three actions: Place influence (popularity, money, or legions) on issues that are being debated in the Senate, Recover exhausted influence, or Settle an issue. These actions are punctuated by elections, revolts in the provinces, and domestic unrest. As one of the Triumvirs, you have to balance your tempo of activities to ensure that you are not caught short on your ability to influence how events evolve and progress.

Although Triumvir uses many of the basic mechanisms from Versailles 1919, the design is thematically aligned to its subject. When an issue settles, your choices alter your popularity and resources where the Consul often gets his cut. Each player has a unique personality card that asymmetrically captures your personality's strengths in how they gain and recover influence. These characteristics are enhanced by your growing tableau of patrons — some of whom bring additional resources.

Revolts are intense events where the Governor of the affected province has to re-establish Roman rule. Failure to do so carries tough popularity penalties whereas success raises your stature. If you put down a particularly epic revolt in a grand fashion, you can be awarded a Triumph with extra legions, but remember—sic transit gloria. The tides of fate can often turn against you in the next election or foreign war.

This political danse macabre continues until the "Crossing the Rubicon" issue ends the Roman Republic and brings on a Civil War or one player dominates faction standing.
Board Game: Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan
• For more fun in Rome, Charioteer is an upcoming chariot-racing release for 2-6 players from Sekigahara designer Matt Calkins and is another new P500 addition that caught my attention in the GMT May Update newsletter:
The ground trembles under a thousand angry hoofbeats. Wheels creak and reins pull as racers drive their horses forward in a panic.

You are a charioteer in the Circus Maximus, the greatest raceway in the ancient world.

A crescendo of noise builds with each lap. Chariots collide, whips crack. The crowd cheers for a surprising breakaway, rumbles as a favorite is damaged and falls behind. From the imperial box, the emperor laughs and shouts. Clouds of dust obscure the bright banners of the four factions.
Three hundred thousand fans are on their feet as you turn the final corner. This is not the finish they expected. You lead by a length, and only one rival remains; each throws the last of their energy into one final sprint. Many thousands are despondent, other thousands exultant and joyous. Their shouts become a roar, a long scream, as you surge for the finish line. Another hundred yards will make you a hero.

Charioteer is a strategic racing game that plays in one hour. Each player controls a chariot in the Circus Maximus of ancient Rome. There's lots of action, and it happens quickly, with simultaneous move selection.

Movement is determined by melding sets from a hand of cards. Every card does more than one thing, and it takes multiple matching cards to make a move. Choosing to use a card in one set means deciding not to use it in another. Timing when to make a critical move is as important as knowing what move to make.

Moves come in four colors, and each has a special advantage. Play a red move to attack your opponents, yellow to recover from disruption, black to turn a sharp corner, and green to sprint.

Each racer begins the game with different abilities, and they improve their skills as the race progresses, leading to big bonuses in their favorite types of moves. Show the emperor the kind of move he prefers, and a racer's skills will increase even faster.

Players deploy tokens to give their moves a special bonus. More tokens can be earned by impressing the crowd with large matching card plays. Players may choose to delay using their best sets until they're big enough to qualify for a fan token.

Some races will be violent and others calm, depending upon whether the players and emperor behave disruptively. Attacks cause damage, which reduces movement speed. Players who specialize in recovery moves may overcome damage quickly. Others may need to carefully deploy their shields on turns when violence is expected.

It's not always clear who's winning the race. Being in front of the pack may not be as important as developing a critical skill, collecting powerful tokens, or keeping damage low. Whip icons allow those who have fallen behind to surge back into competition.
• In an April 2021 post, I mentioned Vijayanagara, the first game announced in GMT's new Irregular Conflicts Series. Fred Serval's A Gest of Robin Hood is the second game in the series and features accessible, asymmetric gameplay for 1-2 players, playing in 45-70 minutes.

Here's a brief overview from the publisher of what you can expect:
A Gest of Robin Hood is the second game in the Irregular Conflicts Series, further adapting the COIN system to depict peasant revolts, feudal tax collection, and outlaw activities in late 12th century medieval England. Transposing one of GMT's most popular systems into a simpler format and a more approachable setting makes A Gest of Robin Hood perfect for newcomers to wargaming. At the same time, it also offers a tight challenge for more experienced wargamers who can enjoy a tense asymmetric duel in under an hour.

Board Game: A Gest of Robin Hood: Insurrection in Nottinghamshire
Box cover not final

• An ideal entry point to the COIN system and the ICS series: a two player, relatively low complexity game with a family friendly theme that plays in one hour and introduces all of the key concepts found in the COIN series.
• A new hidden movement mechanic: The Sheriff will chase Robin Hood across Nottinghamshire to prevent him from organizing peasant revolts, but Robin can sneak away and hide amongst his Merry Men.
• A second new hidden movement mechanic: Carriages serve as a simple twist on Lines of Communication, transferring wealth back to Nottingham while providing a target for robbery by the Merry Men—but some of them might be a trap, containing concealed Henchmen!
• Random encounters with rich travelers: Robin Hood draws from the Travelers Deck when conducting a Rob action, then decides whether to play it safe or demand a larger 'donation' with potentially negative consequences.
• A streamlined sequence of play: Further developing the two-player sequence of play first found in Colonial Twilight, this new sequence of play is easy to understand while still presenting difficult tactical decisions.

Player Factions:
Robin Hood and the Merry Men: Robbing from the rich to give to the poor. An archetypal insurgency faction focused on undermining the Sheriff's authority by inciting peasant revolts, robbing carriages and travelers, and building a network of camps across Nottinghamshire.
The Sheriff of Nottingham and his Henchmen: In charge of maintaining order and collecting taxes for Prince John. A proto-counterinsurgent faction focusing on suppressing peasant revolts and securing roads to ensure the safe travel of wealth confiscated from the parishes.
The Pure Land is an upcoming, 1-4 player COIN game set in 15th century Japan from designer Joe Dewhurst that plays in 120-360 minutes. Based on the details below, this seems to be another interesting and unique COIN game that I'm looking forward to checking out:
The Pure Land: Ōnin War in Muromachi Japan, 1465-1477 is Volume XIV of the COIN Series originally designed by Volko Ruhnke. It depicts a devastating civil war in 15th century Japan that reduced Kyoto to a smoldering ruin and precipitated the century-long warring states period — the Sengoku Jidai. Against the backdrop of this civil war between coalitions led by the Hosokawa and Yamana clan, the game also features peasant revolts led by the Jizamurai and religious unrest involving the Ikkō-ikki, the militant wing of the emerging Jōdo Shinshū (or True Pure Land) Buddhist sect.

• An innovative clan loyalty system that creates a dynamic political geography. The Hosokawa and Yamana factions form alliances with other clans, which can then be disrupted by political intercessions, peasant revolts, and assassinations.
• A tight peasant-based economy that forces all factions to compete over limited resources. Peasants generate resources for the Jizamurai, which are then taxed, tithed, or confiscated away by the other factions.
• A new approach to religious insurgency and peasant revolts using the COIN system. The Ikkō-ikki faction slowly spread their religious beliefs and are hard to eliminate, while both the Ikkō-ikki and the Jizamurai can trigger peasant revolts to further their own goals.
• Two competing 'government' factions that must nonetheless cooperate to ensure the survival of the Ashikaga Shogunate. Support for the Ashikaga dynasty is a shared goal for both the Yamana and the Hosokawa, but only one faction can control the Shogunate and claim victory!

Board Game: The Pure Land: Ōnin War in Muromachi Japan, 1465-1477
Box cover not final

Faction descriptions:
• The Hosokawa Clan represent the political establishment and must encourage support for the Ashikaga Shogunate while also maintaining the loyalty of the other major clans.
• The Yamana Clan also want to encourage support for the Ashikaga Shogunate but at the same time must gain control of enough population to establish themselves as the dominant military power.
• The Jizamurai, minor nobles and merchants, can encourage peasant revolts to build regional autonomy, while also trading to increase their own independent wealth.
• The Ikkō-ikki can preach to reduce support for the shogunate and to spread their religious beliefs, while also radicalising the population to eventually overthrow the established order.

There are four scenarios available to play in The Pure Land:
1. The main scenario, The Ōnin-Bunmei War, is five campaigns long and covers the full course of the war, from the outbreak of violence in Kyoto in 1467 to the exhausted Hosokawa-Yamana stalemate a decade later in 1477.
2. Foxes and Wolves is a shorter, three campaign scenario covering only the first six years of the war, until the deaths of Yamana Sōzen and Hosokawa Katsumoto in 1473.
3. An Empty Moor covers the final four years of the war in two campaigns, from 1473 to 1477, with an alternative setup depicting the historical situation in 1473.
4. Finally, The Flowery Capital is an extended six campaign scenario beginning at the birth of Ashikaga Yoshihisa in 1465, with the country still at peace, the Jodo Shinshu Hongan-ji temple still standing in Kyoto, and the urbanisation in Settsu province yet to begin.

The game takes approximately one hour per campaign to play, so the scenarios range from a single evening to a full day experience. For beginner players the Foxes and Wolves scenario is recommended as it covers the full narrative arc of the game in a manageable amount of time.
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