Ender Wiggins
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There's not that many good trick taking games for two players, so gamers who enjoy trick taking games will be pleased to hear about Triumvirate, an innovative new game designed by Travis Worthington. But it's not a conventional trick taking game, because there are a few unusual twists. So what better way to explain some aspects of the game than by giving a pictorial illustration of game-play? With the help of my camera and photo editing software, I've written this article to provide you some idea about how the game works.

Set-up

We take up the game at the start of a two player game between Alex (whom we'll call Player A - playing on the left) and Bob (whom we'll call Player B - playing on the right). Both players are dealt 11 cards, and the game is ready to begin with the Europa board set-up as follows:



Anatomy of a Trick

Trick #1

For the first trick, Player A leads with a yellow 1.



Player B needs to follow suit, and plays a yellow 2.



Yellow (Pompey), has won the trick, and a yellow campaign marker is added to the Europa tableau to indicate this.



We usually place all the cards played in a hand above the Europa tableau, so both players can see what has been played and can calculate which cards remain and play accordingly.

Note that neither player is a particular colour. The interesting thing about Triumvirate is that at the end of every hand, both players get the opportunity to "invest" in the colour that they think will win, by "pledging" (setting aside) a certain card of that colour.

Trick #2

Since Player B's yellow 2 was higher than Player A's yellow 1, Player B leads the next trick, and does so with a red 8.



Player A follows suit with a red 1, so Red (Caesar) wins the trick, and a red campaign marker is added to the Europa tableau.

End of a Hand

Now let's quickly play through some more tricks in the same hand, to illustrate what happens at the end of a hand.

Trick #3

Player B: yellow 8 (wins)
Player A: yellow 6
Another campaign marker for yellow.

Trick #4

Player B: black 1
Player A: black 2 (wins)
A campaign marker for black (Crassus).

Trick #5

Player A: black 4
Player B: black 8 (wins)
A second campaign marker for black! Will black get a third trick to win the hand?

Trick #6

Player B: black 6
Player A: red 0 (wins)



Player B has played a black 6, but because Player A no longer has any black cards, he is not obliged to follow suit. A yellow or red card with a value greater than 6 would also win the trick. But instead Player A decides to play a red 0, which is the Mob card. This special card trumps all cards of other colours, so that results in a second campaign marker for red. Now Player A has control, and can draw out Player B's red cards.

Trick #7

Player A: red 2
Player B: red 4 (wins)



Player A leads a red 2, and because Player B is obliged to follow suit and play a red card if he has one, he follows with a red 4. That's the third trick won by red (Caesar), so that ends the hand. Caesar's victory represents election as consul, so a red Consulate marker is placed on the Curia Hostilia Tableau to indicate the victory.



Pledging

Now that the hand is over, both players have the opportunity to "pledge" cards if they wish. Only the points on Legion cards will contribute towards winning the game, since both players will try to "guess" which of the three leaders they think will be the first to get three Consulate wins, and Legion cards corresponding to that colour win the game. In the picture above, Player A pledges a red 3 (Legion), because Player A thinks red has a chance of winning the game. Note that in actual gameplay the pledged card is played face down, and its identity is not revealed to the opponent. Player B doesn't have many good Legion cards in hand, but opts to pledge a black 5 (Legion), with the hope that he can steer black towards a win.

The cards are shuffled, dealt out (three are set aside), and a new round begins.

End of a Round

Now let's fast forward to the end of the fifth hand. At this point, Player B has got some solid pledges, including 12 for black (Crassus) and 7 for red (Caesar). But Player A (who has invested only 3 in red) is the starting player and gets to lead. He has lots of red cards in hand, including the red 5 (Legion), and has a clever plan to try to steal a win. Here's how the hand went.

Trick #1

Player A: red 8 (wins)
Player B: red 2

Trick #2

Player A: red 4
Player B: black 6 (wins)

Since Player B has no more red cards, he can play a card from another suit, and since his black 6 is of a higher value than Player A's red 4, black wins this trick!

Trick #3

Player B: black 8
Player A: red 0 (wins)

Player B leads the highest card possible in black - which isn't beatable by anything except a trump! But Player A has no more black cards, and so trumps the black 8 with his red Mob! A second campaign marker for red!

Trick #4

Player A: red 6
Player B: yellow 6

Player A knows that Player B doesn't have any more red cards, but he has to go for it. As it turns out, Player B can't beat his red 6, and the best he has is a yellow 6, so that makes a third trick for red, and another consulate elected!

End of hand: Pledging

Both players get the chance to pledge cards if they wish, since it's the end of the hand, and Player B pledges a red 5 to add to the red 3 he pledged earlier.

Since three consulates have been elected for red (Caesar), this means that Caesar has been crowned emperor, and the round is over! Time to reveal pledges!



End of round: Revealing pledges

Player B reveals heavy pledges for black, which helps nothing because Caesar will only reward pledges in his colour! Player B has pledged 7 in Legions to Caesar. It's beatable only if Player A has has pledged the two other Legions to Ceasar - the red 3 and the red 5 - and he has! So Player A has a total of 8 Legions in pledges to Caesar, which beats Player B's pledge of 7 Legions - so Player A is the winner of the round!

Summary

This process is repeated, since officially the game winner is determined as the player with the most wins over three rounds. Each round plays quickly - in this example the round consisted of only five hands. Each hand could consist of as little as 3 tricks or as many as 7 tricks - so gameplay flows quite fast.

I hope this illustration of game-play helps people learn the game, and understand how the flow of play works!

For more, see my complete pictorial review of the game:

An innovative and thematic trick taking game for two players that actually works!
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/449803

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The complete list of Ender's pictorial illustrations of game-play: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/42866
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Ferdinand Chan
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Great review !!!

makes me want to get a copy ASAP.

I've been looking for games to play with my wife (Sadly she doesn't like the heavy lucky factor of Battle Line ) and this game should fits.

Thanks for the great review

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Eugene
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Excellent overview of gameplay, Ender. How is turn order determined at the beginning of each new hand? Does it just alternate from the previous hand's trick as usual, or does each new hand designate a new dealer and, therefore, a new leading player?
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Nate Walker
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So many douchebags, so few bullets.
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Darn you Wiggins! Posted one day too late for me!

See this:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/448844

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Nate Walker
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So many douchebags, so few bullets.
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uniquefer wrote:
Great review !!!

makes me want to get a copy ASAP.

I've been looking for games to play with my wife (Sadly she doesn't like the heavy lucky factor of Battle Line ) and this game should fits.

Thanks for the great review



I think the 2nd batch is available for purchase today Oct. 5...get one!
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/443054
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Travis Worthington
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2010 Releases ........................................ The Resistance, Haggis & Triumvirate ..................................... Now accepting submissions for 2011 releases ........................................ www.IndieBoardsandCards.com
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garygarison wrote:
Excellent overview of gameplay, Ender. How is turn order determined at the beginning of each new hand? Does it just alternate from the previous hand's trick as usual, or does each new hand designate a new dealer and, therefore, a new leading player?


Lead alternates after each hand.
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Mitch Willis
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Kathleen
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Very nicely done...

EndersGame wrote:
There's not that many good trick taking games for two players...

Very true till now...I love trick-taking games but this is the only one I've played that actually works well with 2...innovative and fun as well...
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Eugene
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See also Schnapsen with another of Ender's excellent overviews. It's trick taking for two.
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Travis Worthington
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2010 Releases ........................................ The Resistance, Haggis & Triumvirate ..................................... Now accepting submissions for 2011 releases ........................................ www.IndieBoardsandCards.com
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garygarison wrote:
See also Schnapsen with another of Ender's excellent overviews. It's trick taking taking for two.


Yes it was Ender's review of Schapsen that first exposed me to Ender's excellent series of reviews.

I like Schapsen, the rules are a bit confusing at first and the game requires a great deal of concentration as you have to count all the cards both that have been played and already taken with great accuracy - so its not a social game by any standard.
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Eugene
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T Worthington wrote:
requires a great deal of concentration

Yes, very true.
 
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Eric Knauer
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While I think the theme works, I'd like to see something more inspired if it gets picked up by a larger publisher (it definitely deserves it). I'm not much of a theme person but civil war & Rome= snore Give it some more pizzazz!
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