Not much has been written about this game. I've been curious about it for awhile myself, and wondered how it really would play out. I hope my brief session report will help others get an idea of how this game unfolds.
I played this over the weekend with Cathy, Francois, and Stephanie. Thankfully, the four of us have no problem keeping games separate from real life.
This game was new to us, and I warned everyone that it was basically just an experiment. I read through the rules I'd printed, we picked our starting player (Francois), and moved forward. Since it was our first game, we only played with 5 chips each, instead of the normal 7.
Well, we immediately forgot the second (and most important) rule and just took turns around the table after Francois. We caught that quickly, silly as it was, and started over. Doh.. pay attention to the rules!
This time Francois figured out that he could work with someone, like me, to start capturing prisoners from Stephanie. However, at this point we still weren't clear what the "deals" or "negotiation" might actually look like, we soon found out.
The deals were mostly made just before someone's turn to play a chip. For example, someone would suggest something like, "if you make a new pile, and then give me the next turn, I'll capture this pile and return one of your prisoners to you", then someone else might interject, "wait wait, before you do that, you could possibly do this, this, and then this, and in return I won't kill your prisoner", and so on.
We found that you do have to think the deals through quite a bit. Being new to the rules, it was quite easy to forget some of the finer mechanisms, for example, in who may be selected as the next player.
By the end of the game, Francois and I found ourselves with the fewest chips, while Cathy and Stephanie had the most. Francois has excellent bargaining skills, and even talked Cathy into some help near the end.
Ultimately, Cathy and Stephanie put me and Francois into defeat, and then Stephanie won. We thought this was interesting because she took the most hits in the early part of the game.
The play area never had more than three piles. Usually it had one main pile with perhaps another smaller pile.
I think that this game could get quite nasty. To get ahead, you will certainly have to make deals with some people in an effort to hurt other people. Perhaps worst (or best) of all, you will have to make these deals in the open, above the table. Because of this it took a few turns for one of us to "break the ice"; however, once that happened the bargaining table opened wide.
If your group is prone to take things like this way too seriously, or personally, don't try this.
If, on the other hand, your group is able to embrace the spirit of this sort of game, and forget about it at the end, then go for it. I'm thankful for Cathy, Francois, and Stephanie because we seem to be able to play this sort of game pretty hard, and at the end share a few laughs over another glass of wine.
Overall, this little experiment was certainly a nice diversion for us!