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Subject: Divine Right 2: Scarlet Boogaloo rss

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Christopher Lawrence
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asked me to show a little review-love to this neglected game, and now here you are, reading this. Don't worry, I'll be brief.

Scarlet Empire is the sequel to the 1979 cult classic Divine Right, designed by Glenn Rahman and published by TSR. I bought my copy of Divine Right in 1981 and it's been played many, many times in my group. That's why we were very excited to be a playtest group for Glenn's sequel effort.

Scarlet Empire is very much a continuation of the effort in all senses, being essentially the same game on a different map, so I'll skip a recap of the rules (please see Divine Right for system specifics).

As the name of the game implies, the Scarlet Witch King, the legendary figure of the original game, is now an active participant in the wars. He's sort of a more active, less eye-ish Sauron, commanding the most powerful forces in the game. He also has some nice special rules/abilities to help him be the scary big-bad he should be.

The Scarlet Witch King's is a playable kingdom, with an "everyone against the SWK" scenarios in the game in addition to the standard free-for-all scenario.

The geography of the southern half of the world is a nice mix of terrain types and interesting kingdoms, and lives up to the interesting world Glenn created in the original. You can indeed lay it along the southern border of the original, making for a GIGANTIC campaign environment.

There are some quirks about that, however, particularly dealing with a "winter" period that makes campaigning on the northern map impossible for a time while the war continues on the southern map. While a neat idea/nod to "realism", as written, the winter would last a good TWENTY turns (i.e. the length of the original game).

The "it's the same but BIGGER!" approach is evident elsewhere. The number of special mercenary leaders and other personalities (a nice feature of the original) is greatly expanded, as are their special rules.

There are also hordes of generic NPCs - great captains (generic generals), thieves, dancing girls - to serve other functions as sort of "not as special" mercenaries.

These start to combine into lots and lots of counters and special effects to track. While creating something of a "roleplayingish" feel, it also bogs the game down for little effect. It's obvious that he loves Minaria and has developed an involved background for it, populated by all manner of personalities. Sometimes that comes out in the game in ways that might have been a good "simulation" of Minaria as Glenn sees it, but adversely affects the game overall.

If you chop out the extraneous NPCs and some of the other fiddliness, however, you're still left with a good successor to Divine Right, and that's something worth playing.

Since it appears doomed to remain unpublished (and frankly, I think the time for this style of game is probably past), one can always hope that Glenn will post up a print & play version some day.
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J. McCrackan
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I've been working with Glenn on new editions of both DR and SE. The only thing slowing us down right now is refining the artwork of DR and finding artists for SE who can emulate the styles of the artwork. Several publishers have approached Glenn, asking to be considered for the production of both games. It may be well past the era of counter-based board games, but DR and SE *will* be released.

Many of the special mercs that you tested were ported into DR25, the most recent edition of DR, but Glenn devised many new ones unique to SE. Both games provide many optional rules but leave it up to players to decide how many--if any--to include in their gaming. The game is as simple or as complex as you want it to be. We even rate each optional rule on a scale of 1 to 5 for its complexity to help players ease their way into new rules.
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Christopher Lawrence
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McCrackan wrote:
It may be well past the era of counter-based board games, but DR and SE *will* be released.


I hope they do! My copy of Divine Right is pretty worn.

For the record, I don't think that counter-based games are a thing of the past, but I think the market for boardgames with hundreds(!) of pages of rules/options doesn't exist anymore (if it ever did).
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Thanks so much for the review, I've read a lot about this expansion, but never played it, or read a review of it. I really appreciate it!!!
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Michael Debije
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McCrackan wrote:
I've been working with Glenn on new editions of both DR and SE. The only thing slowing us down right now is refining the artwork of DR and finding artists for SE who can emulate the styles of the artwork. Several publishers have approached Glenn, asking to be considered for the production of both games. It may be well past the era of counter-based board games, but DR and SE *will* be released.

Many of the special mercs that you tested were ported into DR25, the most recent edition of DR, but Glenn devised many new ones unique to SE. Both games provide many optional rules but leave it up to players to decide how many--if any--to include in their gaming. The game is as simple or as complex as you want it to be. We even rate each optional rule on a scale of 1 to 5 for its complexity to help players ease their way into new rules.


Please relay to Glenn I've been waiting years for this and will be the first in line to buy.
 
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THE MAVERICK
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mi_de wrote:
Please relay to Glenn I've been waiting years for this and will be the first in line to buy.

Make that second in line...
 
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Chad G
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And a third
 
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Roland Volz
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AND MY AXE!

Uh, I meant, and a fourth...
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Michael Debije
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This is not going to happen, is it?
 
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Chris Hansen
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mi_de wrote:
This is not going to happen, is it?

Well, yeah, people are beginning to wonder...

Scarlet Empire is supposed to be printed up after Divine Right gets reprinted, but considering how long it's taking just to get Divine Right reprinted, who knows how long it might take before Scarlet Witch King sees the light of day. I'm starting to wish they had just gone with a PnP version like they were originally going to do.

You can take a look here for some more recent discussions on the reprint of the original: d6 Divine Right yet?
 
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J. McCrackan
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It is going to happen. The same artist who updated the DR map--which is all ready for the printer--is currently working on creating a Trampier-style map for SE.
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Chris Hansen
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Good, thanks for the confirmation and restoring my hope. I really would love to someday play a combined game of Scarlet Empire and Divine Right. Also, a big plus to me at least is you guys finding an artist able to do the Trampier art style for the new map.
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