Tiago Perretto
Brazil
Curitiba
Parana
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About Tribune: Primus Inter Pares:

1) What is it?
Tribune: Primus Inter Pares is a work placement game mixed with hand management, in which players fight to be the "best among equals" by achieving objectives, like controlling legions, becoming a Tribune, gaining laurels, denarii or the favor of the Gods, or having taken control of roman factions. It has a race aspect: the first to reach a certain number of objectives will be the winner, if none other reach the same threshold by the end of the round.

Tribune: Primus Inter Pares works amazingly well: is a smart design, that presents constant decision-making and offer a richness of options every time. It is also highly interactive, but not agressive - though there are dispute for control of factions and a couple of hidden bids, they are done in such a way that the loser isn't hurt so bad and often can enter in the same dispute again in one or two rounds, if she wants.

The game flow is smooth, with almost no downtime, even when playing with 5, as the options are clear and the execution of everything is quick once all the works were put on the board.

Overall, Tribune: Primus Inter Pares takes the title of "hidden gem", as it is around for 9 years and I never gave two thoughts about it until actually playing it, in spite of being inside the Top 500. Several of the pieces for a great game is here: decision, options, paths to victory, interactivity, tension, dispute, in a whole that is quite easy to teach and to play. A true winner.

2) How do you play?
To complete summarized: every player starts with a number of workers. Workers are put, one at a time, in spots on the board - most of them is to get cards, with some more being to take control of factions, one to gain money and one to gain laurels.

Once everyone has put all their workers, the places ion the board are resolved in order: usually is simply a matter to pay money and take cards.

To take control of factions players use sets of cards, be to first take control, or to take-over the control from someone else. To surpass the control of someone, the new set must either contain more cards or the sum of the numbers on the cards must be higher than the previous set. Control of a faction is kept until someone takes it, which means is possible to take the benefit of a given faction for several rounds, if no one else do something about it.

At the end of each round there is a blind auction for the chariot, which the winner can use to block a faction, meaning that in the next round won't be possible to try to take control of it.

All of this is done with the aim of fulfilling objectives. The number of victory conditions and what is necessary to accomplish them changes accordingly to the number of players and the "mode" (quick, medium or long game) players want to apply. When a player reaches the required amount of objectives, she says "Veni, vidi, vici" and then the current round will be the final one, played until the end. If by the end of the round, no one else reached the required number of objectives, the player that did wins outright. If one or more players also did, everyone that did tally their points, and the person with the most points will be the winner!

3) Which are the decisions made during play?
- The main decision is: where to put a worker. While most of the spots give the same thing (cards), the way they work are different: some are cheaper; some can give more cards but demand the discard of a card from hand; other might issue a blind auction; in other you can pay more to pick a card first, or less, but chosing last; one is left to chance: you don't know what you will get, but it is free, and you can decide to not take and get the value of the card in denarii; and so on. also, there are several type of cards, used to take control of certain factions, and each card have a strength number, meaning some will be better than others, but all are useful, as even the most weak help in making a set of cards bigger. Finally, there are the places to gain money, laurel and to take control of factions. Of course, this decision also carries a priority and a timming issue: places are limited, and might not be available on your next turn, so there is a prime necessity in prioritizing.

- The secondary decisions are: wich use to take from a faction, as many of them offer two options; how much to bid for the cards and/or for the chariot; in which set to use the Assassination ability; and a few others.

4) What are the good things in the game?
- Surprisingly easy to teach and to play, but with enough depth to keep everyone invested for multiple plays;
- Good production value, with the art of the board being the high point;
- Several decision points and many paths to follow to reach the goals;
- Fine amount of interaction, some destructive, but none that are too mean and crippling.

5) Which are the bad news?
- The game takes a whole lot of table space;
- No catch up mechanism - just pity;
- The race aspect might put some players off;
- More mechanical than thematic.

6) How do you feel while playing?
As living as a roman patrician in the high society - I was enthralled the whole time, constantly thinking about options and tensely checking what the others were up to, otherwise you would get a dagger on the back, at least more metaphorically than literally, by losing the grasp on some factions and having your way to the top blocked by the actions of others.

Tribune: Primus Inter Pares passed completely under the radar for me: I don't remember seeing in lists of "hidden gems" and such, and is in that gray area of the ranking: high enough to be certified as a good game (even if not for you), but easily passed without a second look when one skims by the ranking pages. So I was really surprised when I played and found such a great game so near, in the dust for several years, and one that wouldn't stand much of a chance against the new hotness that often appear at game nights. And, yet, is a head and a shoulder above most of them - almost making the tagline "primus inter pares" completely true.

Very recommended.

Regards,


Image credit: olavf



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Arthur Rutyna
United States
Plymouth
Michigan
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Yeah,I have to agree, this game still holds its own, even against the hotness, in my book. Need to get it back to the table
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David Gezelius
Sweden
122 48 Ă…rsta
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Reading this I kind of regret selling my copy. I always liked it and think it is a very original, exciting and interactive game. The problem was just that I did not, like you do, find it easy to teach and there was usually some irritation about a missed or misinterpred rule. Pity. Great game. And like his 'die Macher', so original.
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Andy Eberly
United States
Brownsburg
Indiana
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Our gaming group really enjoys this one and is one of my wife's favorites. I like the amount of interaction between players that also doesn't feel too mean. Variable end conditions are helpful to set the length of game we want to play also. So glad I got this game from a friend that no longer wanted it. His loss, my gain!
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Gadi Oron
Israel
Rehovot
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A small comment/correction: the latrine space that you described does not usually give you free cards. If you wish to take a card you still need to pay its face value. The only case when you do not pay for a card in the latrine is if it's your lucky day and you discover a leader there.

Nice review
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