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Subject: The Palace fills a hole (and not just literally) rss

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Pol Michiels
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I have owned Revolution since the day it came out in my local game store. We have played it many times, and, over the years, have become pretty good at it. It's the favorite game of one of my friends, and ranks quite highly in most people's lists. It is, in essence, a pure strategy game, no luck involved, all about outguessing and outsmarting your opponents (if you don't believe me, come play with us sometime).

We did note, however, that over the years we tended to fall into a "strategy rut". A cycle that consisted of grabbing force tokens from captain/general, then with those grabbing blackmail from innkeeper/magistrate, and back again. Occasionally, this was spiced up with 8 gold from merchant and aristocrat, but essentially, someone who was flying high was hard to bring down again. It was this rut that caused Revolution to sink a bit in our opinion, and get less and less plays over time. The games got to be a bit samey.

Enter The Palace. On the face of it, it doesn't really add much, but that's ok, because it doesn't cost the world either. I mainly bought it because we usually have 5-6 players at a game night, and so the extra two colors alone were worth it.

Apart from these two colors, you get some extra tokens (which I don't think was entirely necessary), a Palace tile that you place over the park on the original board, and new bidding boards for all six players, containing 4 new characters. And it is these 4 characters that have catapulted this game back onto our radar. Let's take a look at how they impact the game:

The Constable gives you blackmail and a solid 5 support, and can only be influenced by money. As an extra source of blackmail for people stuck with money only, this increases the odds of you clawing your way out of powerlessness. The added support is a nice boost too.

The Messenger gives 3 support, and lets you move 2 of your cubes on the board to empty spaces. This guy is huge in the mid-to-late game, letting you abandon lost causes, and arrive en masse where you need it the most. Thanks to the messenger, placing an influence cube here and there to get the secondary bonuses (tokens+support) from different characters becomes a very viable strategy, since you can always bring this power to a point later in the game (if you can outbid/outguess your opponents, of course). This role became hotly contested in our games after the first few turns. In the very late game, he loses importance, since so few empty squares are avilable, but the impact of this role is not to be underestimated.

The Mayor lets you put an influence cube on any empty spot, and can only be influenced by money. This makes him a solid way to try to grab that vital spot you need in a building, even with no force or blackmail against stronger opponents.

Finally, the Viceroy puts influence on the Palace (the new location, worth a smashing 55 VP for control), and another one on the Guardhouse. There is only one spot on the guardhouse (new cubes replace old ones), and the player who controls the guardhouse can not have his influence moved/removed by spy or apothecary. The palace is great, but the real prize here is the guardhouse spot, which can save you from being evicted by an opponent. If you are sure to be outbid on Spy/Apothecary, and have them used against you, try grabbing the Viceroy for defense( note that viceroy is resolved before these two). Who knows, you might even grab the 55 palace points for a huge point swing.

It doesn't seem like much. Indeed, physically, it isn't (the entire expansion comes in a small bag), but the impact on the game is huge. Where before we usually had one or two players perpetually locked in poverty, constantly outbid by people with high value tokens, unable to compete, the added characters opened up other ways of opposition. Players were constantly rising and falling, buildings changed hands multiple times, and nothing was certain until the very last turn. Revolution: The Palace has greatly improved an already great game, allowing more breadth and depth, and done it all by adding the physical material of the average Essen promo. To the designer: bravo!
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Philip Reed
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Thanks for the review!

Boscrossos wrote:
We did note, however, that over the years we tended to fall into a "strategy rut".


I've seen people do this. What I always do is try something a bit bizarre on turn one -- and different from any other games that day if I can -- so that I can kinda get a feel for what the other players are thinking.

Instead of one strategy for every game, Revolution benefits from reading the players and pitting them against each other wherever you can.
 
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Pol Michiels
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Oh, I agree, and we tried different things, it's just that the engines, when they work, are so powerful, it takes a few turns to adjust and counter them effectively. Hence, they're still attractive to fall back on. The Palace has opened up the game for us.
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Philip Reed
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Boscrossos wrote:
Oh, I agree, and we tried different things, it's just that the engines, when they work, are so powerful, it takes a few turns to adjust and counter them effectively.


This is where bargaining and alliances come into play. But I know that not everyone enjoys table talk. (Me? I love all talk.)
 
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One Armed Bandit
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Rogue-Mercenary is the most effective way to shut down that engine. It might feel bad "wasting" the Force/Blackmail merely to tie the other guy on the relevant spots, but it's a long term payoff.
If you snag the Rogue the same turn he gets Innkeeper/Magistrate, you toss your blackmail on General/Captain. Now he either has to spend what little gold he has to outbid you (assuming you don't use your gold as well), or abandon them entirely.

If he ties... ok, your blackmail was wasted. But so was his, and now that he doesn't get that Force, his engine is broken and it will take at least a few turns to get it going again. Often I find that breaking the engine once puts people off balance enough they never truly recover.

And as Phil said, table talk and making deals can make this all the easier. For the people stuck behind, all it takes is "Hey, if you give me the Rogue, I won't bid on Mercenary" and suddenly they're back in the action.

That being said, I am in complete agreement on the improvements The Palace brings, and use it pretty much exclusively unless playing 3p.
 
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Marc Anthony
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I agree! It definitely makes it harder for early runaway leaders to dominate the whole game.

The only downside about the Palace is that it's a lot tougher for me to find 5 or 6 people willing to play than 3 or 4
 
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Philip Reed
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berkmarc wrote:
The only downside about the Palace is that it's a lot tougher for me to find 5 or 6 people willing to play than 3 or 4


The Palace works well with 4.
 
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Pol Michiels
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PhilReed wrote:
berkmarc wrote:
The only downside about the Palace is that it's a lot tougher for me to find 5 or 6 people willing to play than 3 or 4 :D


The Palace works well with 4.


I agree. Wouldn't try it with three (too little competition for space), but with 4 it definitely works.
 
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