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Three Kingdoms Redux» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Three kingdoms, two designers, one game, zero flaws? rss

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Felix Adam
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Sherbrooke
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How I got it

I've played a lot of Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Dynasty Warriors games so when I saw that this game existed, it got on my wishlist fast. When a friend made an order for boardgame from some online store I decided to chip in and order this. When it arrived I asked how much I owed him (he usually splits shipping costs based on how much you ordered), he told me "Happy Birthday!", so I got this game for free! Thanks a lot Sanitee!

Overview

[From the rule book]

Three Kingdoms Redux is a board game that seeks to recreate the tripartite between the states of Wei, Wu and Shu. You assume the role of one of the three lords – Cao Cao leading Cao Wei, Sun Jian leading Eastern Wu or Liu Bei leading Shu Han. Players start the game from asymmetrical positions, reflecting the manpower advantages Wei enjoyed in the early part of the period. The weaker states of Wu and Shu protect themselves by forming an alliance.

As a feudal lord, you manage the different aspects of running a state whilst guarding your borders against both rebellious border tribes and external enemies. Managing each aspect well earns victory points for your state.

But beware, for the balance of power shifts constantly during the game. Understand and take advantage of the power shifts, and you will fulfill your grand ambition of re-unifying China!

Quick gameplay overview

In this game you will mainly do these things :

- Recruit generals (on setup and at the start of some turns)
- Each generals have different stats and special skills
- Select an action space with the Alliance token
- The 3rd player in turn order is the one that place this token. On this space, both his generals and the ones from the 2nd player in turn order will work together against the 1st player.
- Bid on action space using said generals
- Resolve the action you won
- Do some upkeep (feed/pay stationed army, feed people, move up/down the tribal relation track)
- Repeat until turn 12 or one of the end game condition is met

This is a very raw description of the game, but each steps has its own subtleties to it.

During recruiting, what kind of general will you recruit? Will you focus on its stats or its special ability?
During the bidding on action space, where will you put the Alliance token? Will you overcommit to an action space to make sure you have it and allow your opponent to take more actions?

There are a LOT of decisions to make in this game. On their own they are simple, but making sure you have everything you need to win the game is something else!

Components

Nothing negative here. Everything is functional and well represented either on the board or on the cards. The artwork is amazing and even represent key aspect of certain character. You can find more information on this on the geeklist made by the creators of the game.

Special mention : the army tokens look like ducks on the water!

Review

So how does the game stand up? IT'S AMAZING!!! The three player only aspect is really well implemented and doesn't feel unfair since the balance of power shifts multiple time over the course of the game. Like I said before, you will make a lot of decisions and they will all be meaningful. It's also very thematic, and if you ever played a Romance of the Three Kingdoms video game you will feel right at home here.

Figuring out which general to recruit is a very fun puzzle in itself. You have so many choices by considering their stats, skills, your other generals, other player's generals and strategies... It's rarely an easy task to recruit them, and you'll often wonder how the game would've turned if you went with a different choice.

The only downside of the game I feel is the random involved in drawing state enhancement cards. This can be mitigated by drawing 2/3 and keeping one instead of simply drawing one card.

Pros and Cons

Pros

- Amazing three player interaction and balance
- Picking your generals is so much fun you'll wish it happened more often during the game
- Decisions are tight
- The theme is very present for a euro type of game.
- Little downtime (One player even said there was not ENOUGH downtime to think about his actions!)

Cons

- Three players only
- Can be a bit long
- (Fixable) Random in state enhancement card draw
- Lu Bu is not present

Is this for you?

This game is probably for you if you like :

- Worker placement and area control
- The Three Kingdom universe/story
- Meaty euro games with simple rules but complex interactions

Final words

Did I mention this game is the creator's first game? They did an AMAZING job and are a great inspiration for other designers. I can't recommend this game enough. Even if longer playtime (around 3 hours, more if you do 12 turns which seems to rarely happen) is a turn off for you, give it a spin. The game keeps you engaged from the beginning til the end and seeing your state improve is very rewarding.
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Quote:
(Fixable) Random in state enhancement card draw

How do you fix this? One day this game will get to my table!! Thanks for the review.
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Felix Adam
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"The only downside of the game I feel is the random involved in drawing state enhancement cards. This can be mitigated by drawing 2/3 and keeping one instead of simply drawing one card."

There's still random, but it's more manageable.
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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That'll learn me to not skim!!
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Neil Helmer
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jschlickbernd wrote:
Quote:
(Fixable) Random in state enhancement card draw

How do you fix this? One day this game will get to my table!! Thanks for the review.


A few of us have tried some variations to adjust State Enhancement draws - one thread can be found here

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1287700/card-draw-variant
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Steve Hope
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This game really is awesome. It's one of the few Euros that I always enjoy.
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Quang Tran
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This is a really great game!
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