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Subject: For the Meeple, by the Meeple (Review of Revolution) rss

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Michael Carpenter
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West Virginia
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Box Art




SUMMARY
Style of Game: Strategy, Auction
Play Time: 60 minutes
Theme: City in turmoil, bid for power (Pasted on)
Number of Players: 3-4
Main Mechanics: Blind bidding, area control
Components: Okay
Weight: High end of light games

SETUP
Setup for Revolution is quite simple. Place the board in the middle of the table and give each player the cubes, the score track marker, and the screen of their color. Each player should also receive one of the four bid boards. The board is made up of 7 different locations in the city. Each location has a number of Influence spaces in it and a number of points the location will grant if a player has the most Influence Cubes in the location at the end of the game.





The bid boards are identical and should be placed behind each player's screen.



Finally, each player should place their score track marker on the score track that outlines the main board and take 1 Force token, 1 Blackmail token, and 3 Gold tokens. Shown below are the three types of tokens in the game.




OBJECTIVE
The objective in Revolution is to become the most powerful person in the city by the time the revolution occurs. Your job is to influence the various people of the city so their best interests lie with you. Will you do this with a payment of gold? Maybe you know something about the merchant's past and blackmail is the best way to persuade him. You could always use brute force to get your message across. Each method can work but the citizens of the city will only help the most persuasive and they will only stay true to you for so long. Everyone has an agenda, yours must make you the most influential and powerful person in the city to be the winner.

GAMEPLAY
Revolution is played over an undetermined number of rounds. Each round consists of four phases. All players will act simultaneously in all phases. There are no individual turns in the game. The phases are:

1. Espionage
2. Bidding
3. Resolution
4. Patronage

Espionage:
In the Espionage phase each player will reveal all the bidding tokens they have available for that round.

Bidding:
During the bidding phase each player should be sure his or her bid board is hidden behind the screen. At this point each player should also hide their bid tokens behind the screen so other players cannot tell which tokens are being used. Each type of token represents a different type of persuasion and a different strength. The Force tokens (red fists) are the strongest type of persuasion. The Blackmail tokens (black envelope) are the second strongest. The Gold tokens (gold coins) are the weakest of the persuasion tokens. These tokens are used to influence up to 6 of the 12 characters on the bid board.

Here is an empty bid board with the 12 characters. Each character gives the player who is able to influence the character a benefit.



This is how a big board may look after the bidding phase.



The player has placed 3 Gold tokens on the General, 1 Force token on the Innkeeper, and 1 Blackmail token on the Merchant.

It is important to note that there are two types of illegal bids.

1. A player may not bid a token that is the same color as the character on the bid board. This means that all red characters, the General, the Captain, and the Apothecary may not be influenced by the Force tokens. The black characters, the Innkeeper, the Magistrate, and the Spy may not be influenced by the Blackmail tokens. There are two characters, the Rogue and the Mercenary that may not be influenced by the Force tokens or the Blackmail tokens because their spaces on the bid board are both red and black. The middle row on the bid board consists of four characters that are a brownish color. These characters may be influenced by all tokens legally. If a player ever makes an illegal bid in this manner the tokens used incorrectly are removed but there is no other penalty. If the remaining tokens on the character still win the bid then you still influence that character.

2. A player may also accidentally bid on too many characters. In this case only the first 6 characters with tokens on them are resolved. All other tokens are removed and returned to the supply but no other penalty is taken.

Once all players have finished their bidding they remove their screens and show their bids.

Resolution:
If any player is the only player to bid on a particular character they automatically influence that character (as long as it is a legal bid). Players then compare the bids that are on the same characters. To do this they compare the highest valued token on each player's bid board. The highest valued token wins the bid. If there is a tie for the highest valued token then players must count how many of that specific type of token they have.

2 Force beats 1 Force.

3 Gold beats 2 Gold.

If there are the same number of highest valued tokens then players look at the next highest valued token and follow the same process.

1 Force and 1 Blackmail beats 1 Force

2 Blackmail and 2 Gold beats 2 Blackmail and 1 Gold.

In this example all three players have bid on the General (top left character).



The player in the top left bid 3 Gold tokens on the General. The player in the top right bid 1 Blackmail token on the General. The bottom player bid 1 Blackmail token and 1 Gold token. All of these bids are legal so all bids must be compared. The players on the right and the bottom both have Blackmail tokens so the player on the left cannot win this bid. Since both the player on the right and the bottom have one Blackmail token they look at additional tokens placed on the character. The player on the bottom also has 1 Gold token on the bid board so he or she is the winner of the bid and will get to influence the General.

This is done for all characters that multiple players have bid on. Tokens on characters that do not win the bid are lost and returned to the supply. If two players have made identical bids they both lose their tokens and gain nothing.

The player who wins each character receives the benefit that the character provides. Players will do this as each character is resolved to avoid confusion.

General: One Support, One Force, Influence Fortress
Captain: One Support, One Force, Influence Harbor
Innkeeper: Three Support, One Blackmail, Influence Tavern
Magistrate: One Support, One Blackmail, Influence Town Hall
Priest: Six Support, Influence Cathedral
Aristocrat: Five Support, Three Gold, Influence Plantation
Merchant: Three Support, Five Gold, Influence Market
Printer: Ten Support
Rogue: Two Blackmail
Spy: Replace one Influence Cube with one of your own
Apothecary: Swap the Influence Cubes in any two Influence Spaces
Mercenary: Three Support, One Force

If a character grants Support, the player moves his or her score track marker the appropriate number of spaces on the track.

If a character grants tokens, take the appropriate tokens from the supply and set them aside for the next round.

If a character grants Influence, place one of your Influence Cubes in the specified area of the board. If all the spaces in that area are full, do not place a cube but take the other benefits granted.

The Spy and the Apothecary affect the Influence Cubes already on the board.

Patronage:
Once all bids have been revolved, check the number of tokens each player has received from the round. Any player that does not have at least five tokens of any sort (combined) receives as many Gold tokens as they need to have five tokens for the start of the next round. If a player has 2 Blackmail and 1 Gold at the end of the Resolution phase, that player should receive 2 Gold tokens for the next round.

Once this phase is complete plays will start the next round and follow the same steps.

Once all Influence spaces on the board are full and the end of a Resolution phase the game ends.

Players gain 5 Support for each Force token they have, 3 Support for each Blackmail token, and 1 Support for each Gold token.

The Players with the most Influence tokens in each area of the board will also receive the corresponding number of points for the specified area.



Here the red player has three Influence tokens and the yellow player has two Influence tokens. The red player would score 25 points at the end of the game. If two players ever has the same number of Influence tokens in an area at the end of the game neither player scores any points for that area.

The player with the most points after all end of game scoring adjustments is the winner of the game.


MIXTURE OF THEME AND MECHANICS
In the summary I said this theme is pasted on and I do think that but the mechanisms do blend with the theme to a small degree. Outwitting your opponent to be the most persuasive "negotiator" with each character holds true to how you would have to behave in this kind of situation. However, the abstracted nature of the game obviously takes away from he thematic feel quite a bit. There's really a very small level of interaction with the game and the game's characters so the atmosphere of the game comes from the player's trying to out think one another. To me this creates a fun atmosphere and creates a thematic feel that stems slightly from the mechanisms but mostly from the player interaction. This is a unique one for me. The mechanisms don't seem thematic and instead seem dry but they do a good job of creating engagement.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Pros:
- The game is simple to learn, simple to teach
- Enjoyable level of psychology
- Good level of strategy for very few mechanisms
- The character's benefits make for multiple approaches to the game
- A great blend of benefits to work with

Cons:
- This game can punish you because if you do not win a character that you and another player have bid on, you lose your tokens and get nothing (I personally like this, but could easily see kids and some adults being frustrated by this)
- You have to be in the mood for this game because of the repetitiveness of the rounds
- You can strategically find ways to get back in the game but some players will fall behind due to a lost bid or two and never find a way back into the game.

This is a solid game for me. The rock-paper-scissor style design is very simple but it is a mechanism and concept people can quickly relate to, making this game easy to teach and learn. The layers added to the rock-paper-scissor mechanic are also simple but create a second area of strategy so players are constantly considering what they need to bid on and how to bid on it. The Espionage phase (revealing your tokens) seems unnecessary and almost foolish at first because people like to hide what they have, thinking it will give them an upper-hand in bidding, but knowing what the other players have makes your decisions far more engaging. Not knowing your opponent's tokens (or simply forgetting what they have because you see what they earn round) leads to making the same bids on characters more often and this hurts both players.

I love the fact that there are two distinct areas of this game that each require a strategy but they blend perfectly into one overall strategy. You must see where players are focusing their efforts and keep track of their tokens so you can try to predict how they will approach their bidding rounds. While I love this, it has also crushed me under its unforgiving weight. If you are consistently outbid by your opponents you are going to do extremely bad in this game. There is almost no quick way to gain enough good tokens (Blackmail and Force) from the characters that are not highly contested each round so if you get into a cycle of only having Gold tokens for even just a couple rounds you are in big trouble. After several plays you do see ways to get back into the game but new players or young kids are going to have a hard time managing this detriment.

A nice balancing mechanism that is often overlooked by the new players is the way you can score a lot of points directly from the characters. People see the large number of points given by each location on the board and get caught up trying to win each area control battle but players can infuse a bit of balance into their strategy and gain good points from the characters while using those characters to get an advantage in some of the low to middle level locations.

One of my bigger complaints with this game is that is repetitive and people's strategies can become difficult to hide at times but smart bidding and changing up your patterns in the mid-game to help you do what you really want to do in the end-game helps to combat this complaint.

A small personal issue with the game is that it is easily forgotten. At the end of the day there isn't much to this game that makes it bold and stand out (from a design standpoint or box art). The game definitely scratches an itch for me... when I remember I own the game. It can go months without being played because we simply overlook it when deciding on a game. That may not be the case for everyone, just something I thought I would mention. When we do get into a groove of playing this game regularly, we really enjoy it for its simplistic but thought-provoking design.

I can't rate the game any higher than a 7 because I can't honestly say I suggest it enough for the game to be higher because it gets lost on the shelf. Enjoyment is not the issue. Lackluster presence hurt this game's rating.

*Side note: There is apparently a very good expansion for this game, Revolution: Anarchy, but I have not played it.

Rating - 7/10


If you enjoy my reviews please recommend and check out my geeklist For the Meeple, by the Meeple
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Matthew Peckham
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Nice review, I really enjoy this game.

I also think all of your "Cons" are fixed with either of the expansions:

With more characters to bid on, gold is a lot more powerful and so you don't feel like you got a bum deal when left with 5 gold.
With more characters and more interesting buildings, the repetition is dialled down.
Again, with more characters, it's much easier to get back in to the game by winning something strong.
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Michael Carpenter
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velvetvoulge wrote:
Nice review, I really enjoy this game.

I also think all of your "Cons" are fixed with either of the expansions:

With more characters to bid on, gold is a lot more powerful and so you don't feel like you got a bum deal when left with 5 gold.
With more characters and more interesting buildings, the repetition is dialled down.
Again, with more characters, it's much easier to get back in to the game by winning something strong.



Thanks for reading the review! That's what I have heard through the grapevine. I intend on getting one of the expansions at some point. I am surprised this game isn't ranked a little higher. It really is a good game.

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Hastings
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MariettaTennis wrote:
velvetvoulge wrote:
Nice review, I really enjoy this game.

I also think all of your "Cons" are fixed with either of the expansions:

With more characters to bid on, gold is a lot more powerful and so you don't feel like you got a bum deal when left with 5 gold.
With more characters and more interesting buildings, the repetition is dialled down.
Again, with more characters, it's much easier to get back in to the game by winning something strong.



Thanks for reading the review! That's what I have heard through the grapevine. I intend on getting one of the expansions at some point. I am surprised this game isn't ranked a little higher. It really is a good game.



We have not got the expansion but we play with the designer variant where bids that are not won are returned to that player. I would recommend giving the game a try with this change. It does make a difference to play as there are more tokens about.

I think this game needs a bit more love. I find it is a bit of a unique game that really does have a little tension and excitement and with the slight amendment to the rule, you don't feel too irritated if someone outbids you. Hope you give it a try either with the expansion or with the designers rule.
 
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Michael Carpenter
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I have considered playing with the variant you mentioned but we have never really had any problems with the basic rules. I think if we ever introduce the game to our niece we will use that variant though so the game isn't so punishing. I can't agree with you more that the game needs more love though. It has a charm about it. You may or may not recognize it the first time you play it because it isn't exactly what you expect it to be but the charm is there. The game will grow on you.
 
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