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Records of Three Kingdoms 190-280» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Records of the Three Kingdoms REVIEW rss

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Terence Co
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In order to defeat the Yellow Turban rebellion(184-205 AD), the Han dynasty had given the local nobles the right to conscript large armies to aid the Imperial armies in suppressing the rebels, this resulted in powerful regional warlords armies who were powerful enough to challenge the Han Imperial government. The death of Emperor Ling in 189 AD resulted in a power struggle which saw Gansu warlord Dong Zhuo killing all rival claimants to the throne and installed his puppet on the Han throne.

This did not sit well wit the other powerful warlords and they formed a coalition to oust Dong. Dong died in 192 AD which resulted in Cao Cao, another Han regional warlord in replacing Dong as the power behind the Han throne.

Two powerful regional warlords namely Sun Quan(Wu kingdom) and Liu Bei(Shu kingdom) disagreed with this and went to war with Cao Cao(Wei).

Han China was now in chaos as it was riven by civil war between Cao Cao vs. the Sun Quan/Liu Bei coalition. The death of Cao Cao in 220 AD was the end of the Han Dynasty as his son Cao Pi deposed the last Han emperor and installed himself as head of the new Wei Dynasty. His rivals did the same thing.

By 220 AD, China was split into three Kingdoms, Wei, Shu and Wu.From 220 AD to 280 AD, the three kingdoms fought it out in a series of wars which by 280 AD would see the Wei kingdom conquering all its rivals and establishing the Jin Dynasty.

The three kingdoms era is probably to most well known of the Chinese historical eras due to its romantization by the Ming era historical fiction novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The three kingdoms era can be said to be the start of a long Chinese dark age which would see China riven by constant civil wars which would see northern barbarian invasions, the advance of Chinese warfare and culture, numerous dynasties which finally end in 589 AD whith the unification of China under the Sui Dynasty.

Records of the Three Kingdoms is presented in 180 nicely made counters and a nice well made map.

The game is an area movement game using a modified Warriors of God System

A game turn(5 years per turn)is composed of the following phases:

A. Initiative phase

In this phase both players rolls a die to determine who goes first, the higher roll is the winner, in case of ties, the player who lost the last turn's initiative wins. The lower roll of the two determines the number of Action points(APs) for all the players for the turn.

APs #s are the number of actions a side can take in a turn. This is well done as randomizes the number of actions a side can take and of course affects strategy considerably.

B. Action Phase

Players alternate commiting actions during this phase starting with the initiative player.

Actions include:

Diverging: In which leaders in a given area can all move to surrounding areas. Movement is limited by by the type of area border that seperates the adjoining areas. A white border means that a max of two leaders can move through while a brown border means a max of one leader can move through. If the area contains opposing factions, then combat can be decided by the moving player.

Combat is handled by each side picking a leader to lead the fight. There are two types of leaders, a brave(represented by swords on the left side) and a wise(represented by fans on the left side) generals. The number of fans or swords denotes the rank of the leaer, the more fans or swords, the higher the rank. The leader picked in combat must be the leader with the highest rank. A general has two ratings, the left number rating is his wisdom and the right number rating is his leadership.

Before combat, a side starting with the attacker(the side which decides to start combat) decides to retreat an adjacent eligible(an area with no opposing factions) area. If both sides do not retreat then combat happens.

Before a battle boths sides expends supply points. The number of supply points spent are determined by 1/3(rounded up) of the total defending troop point strength and for the attackers, 1/3(rounded up) of the total troop points commited + 1/2(rounded down) of white borders passed by the attacking leaders + 1 per number of brown borders passed by attacking leaders - 1 if the Yangtze river passes through the battle area. If a side cannot expend the expected amount of supply points then the side must retreat.

There are two types of combat. Field Battle and Siege. The type is determined by the defender.

In a field battle. the Leader picked by a each side leads the fight. A brave leader picked to be the main combat leader for a side determines the dice hit range for a side by subtracting his and the opposing brave leaders wisdom rating. the higher the seperation the more chances a side will hit. A wise leader can also be picked to be an advisor to the main leader which determines the number of strategy chit a side picks(the difference between the wisdom rating of wise leader advisors, or if the main leader picked is an advisor). Strategy chits affect greatly a battle and can result in a variety of battlefield events such as a side losing a troop point or a higher leadership rating etc.

The number of dice rolled by a side is determined by lower of the leadership rating of the main leader representing each side or the total number of troop points commited in the battle(note that a leader without assigned troop points has an intrinsic rating of 1 troop point).

Combat is simultanous as both sides roll a number of dice and causes damage and each side applies hits to their units. troop points hit are lost. Leaders hit result in a dice being rolled for leadership loss which could result in a leader retreating, being killed or defecting.

Field combat is fought in rounds, if the attacker fails to hit in three consecutive rounds then the attacker has to withdraw from the area. After a battle round a side starting with the attacker can decide to retreat from the area in which case another combat round happens where the side which stayed in combat "pursues" the retreater and results in another combat rounds which sees only the pursuer doing the attacking(at +1 per die roll).

A commanding leader can also his special abilities to the combat.

Leaders which cannot retreat are eliminated.

A siege battle which can only happen if a defender has control over the area means that the attacker must roll a dice result higher than the siege rating of the defenders. A siege rating = the higest wisdom of a defending leader + the total defense rating of an area - 1/3 of the total attacking troop points #(rounded down) of the attacker.

A successful roll means all of the defenders are lost. A failed roll means 1 troop point loss for the attacker. Three failed rolls means that the attacker has to retreat from the area.

Converging: This movement means that friendly leaders can converge from adjoining areas to a target areaa.

Alienate: A leader can target a enemy or independent leader and with a successful die roll can have the target leader switch allegiances. The leader can then converge or diverge with friendly leaders.

Ally: a independent faction can be made to go under the control of a player faction by a successful die roll. All the faction leaders are under the control of the player faction and a player control marker is put on the areas where the independent faction units occupy. The allying player can then have these new allies diverge or converge with his own units. Alliances only last for one turn and those control markers are removed.

Cultivate: a side gets 2 Supply points with this action.

After this phase is over, areas with two differing factions occupying them have to have the attacking faction retreat. If a leader cannot retreat it is eliminated.

VPs are garnered by killing leaders in battle and winning battles.

C. Control Phase. In this phase, players roll for control of areas. If an area not under anyone's or under the control of an opposing faction, a die roll is rolled which has to be equal or lower than the rank of a leader + 2/1 Area is strongly/weakly influenced by a faction(denoted by teh color of an area) + if the area is the home province of the rolling leader. VPs are earned for controlling areas depending on the coin rating of an area.

D. Fate phase. In this phase, a die is rolled for each leader depedning on the turn number, and if the die roll is sufficient enough, then a leader dies.

E. Arrival Phase. The turn marker is moved to the next turn. All leaders which have to come on the turn has to come into play. A coming leader can be placed in an area under a player's control or if placed in its home province then it gets a free troop point.

F. Production Phase. Each side gets troops points depending on the number of coins per area and assigns them to leaders.

Victory is determined depending on the scenario. At the end of the last turn. A side with the highest VP points wins the game.

The game has two scenarios(with several fan made scenarios now posted on BGG) in which the first scenario is the two player game where the Wei player fights a player controlling the Shu/Wu factions. The Wei starts the game more powerful than the Shu/Wu player with its starting province having more resource coins and more leaders(several of them quite capable). While it looks daunting for the Shu/Wu player, the Shu has a significantly better chance at making indpendent leaders ally or alienate them. So its basically a fight for time, as the Wei player is struggling to defeat the Shu/Wu before the Shu/Wu player gets more powerful.

The Second Scenario sees a three player game where the Wei, Shu and Wu factions are controled by seperate players. The Wei Starting position is quite strong but is balanced by the combined strenght of its enemies and the fact that at turn 11, the Wei side is fractured by some of its leaders turning to become Jin leaders and the Wei side officially becomes the Jin Dyansty...However again the Wei is at the superior position since by turn 11, many leaders especially on the Shu and Wu side would have died natural causes. So in the second scenario, its a race for the Shu and Wu to defeat the Wei while gaining ascendance over each other.

I really like this game, its well done, while there is a lot of FAQ, the FAQ answers the quesions well and the game is quite historical as it models the warfare and poltiics of the time(a lot of leaders switching sides). The game is also fast and easy to play, a play can be a duration of an evening or less. The game is also fast paced and enjoyable. The warriors of God system is well applied to this setting.

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Gustavo Vazquez
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Gangrel wrote:

A siege battle which can only happen if a defender has control over the area means that the attacker must roll a dice result higher than the siege rating of the defenders. A siege rating = the higest wisdom of a defending leader + the total defense rating of an area - 1/3 of the total attacking troop points #(rounded down) of the attacker.

A successful roll means all of the defenders are lost. A failed roll means 1 troop point loss for the attacker. Three failed rolls means that the attacker has to retreat from the area.


Hi!

I haven't played the game yet, still trying to understand the rules, and your review is a great help. Altough, there's a little mistake here... The attacker loses 1 troop point so he can attack, not if losing (i.e., he loses the troop whatever he wins or loses):

"The attacker must eliminate 1 Troop Strength Point to roll for the first round of the Siege Battle.[...] After the first round, the attacker can choose to eliminate another 1 Troop Strength Point to roll for the second round of the Siege Battle. [...] After the second round, the attacker can choose to eliminate another 1 Troop Strength Point to roll for the final round of the Siege Battle."
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Lawrence Hung
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I am amazed a Brazillian that far would be interested in playing a game on ancient China and what's more, he can't even read Chinese! Really amazing!
 
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Lawrence Hung
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Quote:
A white border means that a max of two leaders can move through while a brown border means a max of one leader can move through.


There is also a black border that prohibits movement. It is very difficult to distinguish the black from the brown on the map though.

Quote:
A general has two ratings, the left number rating is his wisdom and the right number rating is his leadership.


Remember that it is also a bravery rating on the left if the general is a fighting general.

Quote:
A brave leader picked to be the main combat leader for a side determines the dice hit range for a side by subtracting his and the opposing brave leaders wisdom rating.


To determine the dice hit range, it should compare the leading generals' brave rating on both sides.
 
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