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Subject: A Sweeping Epic rss

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Manu
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I have played a lot of games this year, but none have been such a wonderful surprise as Three Kingdoms Redux.

I'm in love. Let me tell you why.

Three Kingdoms Redux may mechanically be categorized as a Euro, but it plays like a sweeping epic. Yes, you do place "workers" and win by VP... but, but, my oh my, the sense of place oozes from every pore of the game. And the Generals, they're so ... wow they're just... ok let me save the best for last

This 3 player asymmetric affair plays so elegantly that it defies all logic.

It should be complicated, hard to learn and unbalanced, except that it is the opposite of all these things. You have no less than 12 actions to choose from, every turn. You have 9 ways to earn victory points. Your mind could explode from the possibilities. And yet, and yet... we hardly had to look at the rules as we played (our first play!).

The theme is so beautifully integrated in this game, that noting feels gimmicky for the sake of earning VP. You have a kingdom to administer: tend to the fields, build a thriving economy, garner popular support, trade, recruit and train armies, build state enhancements... oh wow those state enhancements? They are sooo cool. They can boost your kingdom in so many useful - thematic - ways: acquire the imperial jade seal, introduce bronze coinage or the Chinese abacus, build watchtowers... all give you ways to really make your kingdom feels unique.

There are so many clever mechanisms that keep these amazing interlocking systems running like clockwork. For example: as you recruit more generals (yes, yes, we're getting there) you could end up paralysed by the number of actions you have to take every turn... except that if you want to have any hope of winning at the game you will HAVE to order your generals away to settle your borders, thus sending them on early retirement (from the game, they're still VERY busy holding your borders) and permanently removing workers from your pool.

And so, Generals. They are the heart of the game. They MAKE the game what it is: a sweeping epic. Every general feels unique. They are all historical figures, and every one of them has a special game bending power. You call them by their names, with respect.

- Lu Xun, you serve us well at the royal coinage. You honour your family...
- Thank you my Lord Sun Jian, your kind words warm my heart.
- ... Thus it is with a heavy heart that I must order you to our eastern borders. Wei's forces have grown bolder. I need a man on the ground I can trust.
- My lord, I serve the kingdom as it pleases you. I will make my way there come morning.
- I know I can count on you. You are a man of patience. It is a quality we need.
- My lord if I may: appoint Zhang Zhao in my stead. His legendary frugality will ensure that the empire coffins will grow fat during my absence.
- It will be as you say.

Each General is beautifully illustrated and infused with personality. It is heartbreaking when the time comes to send them away to conquer border provinces. Nothing on the board can happen without their leadership. Every turn you will be biting your nails deciding where they should exert their influence. So you'll have to excuse me if I cannot in good conscience call them "workers". They - along with state enhancements - will make the game infinitely re-playable and feel fresh.

Ladies, gents, if you can get exactly three people around the table (and it's not that difficult) and want to embark on a grand adventure to conquer the Middle Kingdom, this is the holy grail... and quite possibly the best game I acquired this year.
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Chris Hayes
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Good review. I wish I had players willing to give this a shot. So far they're scared off. Perhaps your review will persuade them to try it.
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John Bradshaw
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This is indeed a brilliant game and deserving of a much wider audience. Hopefully word-of-mouth recommendations will bring this game the attention it richly deserves.
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Locke Balenska
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supamanu wrote:

- My lord if I may: appoint Zhang Zhao in my stead. His legendary frugality will ensure that the empire coffins will grow fat during my absence.


Oh my... typo? Or did Zhang Zhao ruin your game?! laugh
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Manu
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He he I HATE THAT ZHANG ZHAO!!! Not a typo just poor command of the english language.
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Steve Hope
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Just jumping in here...I also really like this game. I like how all the scoring is relative so that "point engine" strategies don't translate game to game--you only want to finish a LITTLE bit ahead of your opponent in most areas. And the generals give a real flavor to each side, it's so much better than any other worker placement game.
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