Dusan Vit
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Welcome to Mecatol city. Place, where the word has weight only, if you are trying to tell your treacherous plans. Such words are worth more than gold. Zgarba knows that very good. He is currently in public library, waiting for an appointment with Federation of Sol representative. His pale face fits here perfectly, to a place, where there is constant gloom and silence. And just as library liked his looks, he loved the library. He uses it to negotiate the most important things, because where there is silence, no one listens.

The building is located in Quarters of the Nobility district, where shields are still active. He did not have to worry even, when the envoy of the other party gets upset. It was a strategic and smart move from him and his opponent knew it. And yet he will come. They will have to come to some kind of agreement, because the alliance of Jol-Nar a Lazax is out of control. Above his head, he heard a noise from motors of a landing ship and knew, that visitor is here. He took a quick time to organize his thoughts. Negotiation, not fighting, creates the main part of victory..

Now the world of Twilight Imperium welcomes you. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. Races much stronger than ours is now controlling transmission. We at our newsroom are today only fulfilling the role of a channel through which the warriors of distant world will speak and try to convince you, about their good intentions. These words will sound as good reasons, why you should join their ranks. Consider it carefully.

The Last Days of the Empire are here. Prophecy has being fulfilled and you are in this fight too, because you can play board game Rex: Final Days of an Empire. This board game is one of new 2012 games coming from Fantasy Flight Games and created jointly by two authors. One the most famous authors of games today, Corey Konieczka (Battlestar Galactica, Gears of War, Mansions of Madness) and also John Goodenough (Talisman, upcoming Relic).



In fact, Rex is based on the concept of much older game title inspired by the famous Frank Herbert's novel Dune and set in much beloved universe full of Spice. Fantasy Flight Games had plans to release a new version of this popular game, as well as they are issuing reimaginations (new edition with modified rules and principles) of other classics Merchants of Venus and Android: Netrunner LCG. Yet licence owners did not agree with new publishing of Dune, and therefore initiated a moving of this game into another world. And there it was – famous universe of Twilight Imperium. Experienced Dune players will still recognize many familiar elements, such as the storm replaced by a boat bombing the city.

Rex is found inside a square box, its size holds with the usual size wave. This box thus easily fits among other games in your collection, but be careful - do not put it too low, because you will often pull it out! You can easily recognize it from other boxes thanks to orange-yellow color scheme, which literally glows.

On the lid, you can see illustration representing races involved, but everything is waiting for you inside. Most important is the game board, which represents the city of Mecatol. You can see his silhouette in the background of the plan, but there are circles, which especially stand out (there are 28 of them), indicating the important locations of the city, connected by lines. On right side of the board, there is a little space for some decks and tokens of influence. In the upper right corner, there is a small cemetery dedicated to fallen warriors of each race.

In addition to the map, there are two other components of larger dimensions. First of all, there are race sheets - description of abilities of each race, which will players get for play. There are as many as there are nations in the game of Rex - six. On each of those, there are not only nation specialities, but also specific training - individual race gets another equipment in the beginning. And there even is an area with a unique victory condition for these spacemen.

The last major component is made of two battle boards. But before you could see them complete, you have to build them. First, all their parts must be punched out along with a lot more tokens from solid sheets of cardboard parts. Only then, you can assemble these plates together and gaze upon a wheel allowing you to select secretly a number of troops, you want to send into battle. Besides this round part of battle board, however, you will also create four more vacancies, where you can attach one of your leaders according to cards choice.



It is these leaders and your units, who belong to other cardboard tokens, which are in captivity of those sheets. Along with their removal, you discover also a large round start player token, which shares a picture with box and also one replacement tile for a location. It is used, when there is fewer players involved in the game. All tokens are clear and easily recognizable, because while the units are six-sided, influence has shape of two overlapping drops and predictions tokens are only round ones.

The rest consists of five card decks and help cards as sixth deck used for quick reference in the game. Only one small pile is specific for each race - players receive these two cards, which may they give to other players to indicate alliance.

The largest is the deck of strategic cards, which will be held in hands and used by the players. Beyond these cards of larger dimensions, you can fing cards indicating place, where tokens of influence will be placed. The other two decks falls in the category of smaller cards. Betrayal cards are an optional part of the game, but much more important and interesting is a package with traitors, containing a red rear side. These cards have portrait of each available leader of all races. And we forgot one last deck called simply as Bombardment cards, which is thin, but the more important.

The last part of the whole package is a single piece. It dimensions are quite big, because it is a space fleet of race Sol, which destroys everything, that stands in its way. And yes, you read that right, this fleet belongs to one of theraces, participating in the game! Their pieces are immune to bombardment and seem to have a clear advantage, leading to victory. But appearances can be deceiving, as you will be convinced by Rex. Nothing is as it seems!

Rex is full of coalition cooperation, but also traitors, dirty tricks and unexpected twists. Although battles play a role in the fight for control of the Mecatol city, politics and your persuasive skills are much more important. And despite this enormous width option, Rex is basically very simple. Thus, at least as the rules themselves are concerned. Of course also here, as in other advanced games, you will find lots of little goodies and rules, which we will not discuss in detail so do not be alarmed, if we do not mention something, what is in rules.

The game begins, of course, by the players preparing this tremendous game board, which contained the whole editorial table in our office. Then, of course, we had no choice, but to improvise by saving space, where we could and a lot of things have to be held elsewhere. Each of players gets his race sheet and also all his units and leaders. And do not forget the alliance cards.



Individual common decks of cards are put on their placed on the board, while others belong outside the plan. Using random choice, two players select starting position for the fleet, which will be the threatening players during the game.

This brings us to the final stage of preparation, which is different for each player. All races have their specific rules, which they begin with. So while all have basically five leaders and twenty units, each gets a different number of influence or units located in the city. But regardless of this, everybody takes one random strategic card, and then they can move their units to occupy their starting positions.

But now comes the last and most important choice. Traitor selection. Each of the players gets four leaders from the traitor deck into his hands and he can keep only one of them for himself, secretly. This man (or woman) is his secret agent in enemy ranks and he will reveal his (hers) identity, when the time comes. Nobody can therefore be sure about the loyalty of his men. The more painful it is, while leaders are your most valuable attackers.

The entire game of Rex lasts maximum of eight rounds. This is a very narrow space, in which there is no time for mistakes, waiting for what others will do or slowly getting used to the world. Your every move is very important, because you will have only eight of those! Really! We are not kidding. And yet, not even for a moment in the game, you'll get bored. You will be constantly involved in its affairs, even if it is not your turn.

At the beginning of each of these eight rounds, which consists of seven phases, the card is revealed from the influence deck. It usually determines location, where influence will appear. Players can obtain it for themselves, if they send their troops there. On the map, possible influence locations are denoted by the symbols. Each site also contains other icons, specifying special rules for that location.

After board enrichment, players will now struggle for the opportunity to buy some strategy cards and explore the possibility of recruit some of their dead units back in their ranks. It does not matter, whether it is a leader or common soldiers, you can revive all. But their purchase does not mean, that you can put them on the board. You return them to your reserve instead and only a moment later, you can send them into the city, but with a distinct down payment.

In Rex once created platoons are units, that are not so easy to break. So if you move them around the board, you can not separate them. You can move only one of your units each turn up to two spaces in any direction, with a few minor restrictions. Soldiers marching is finally followed by time for reinforcements - the player can pay influence for placing units on any empty or friendly place on the map. Number of reinforcements depends only on you and your reserves, but it's not a good idea to let your strength get too shattered. Sending troops on the board via enemy occupied space is more expensive and is equal to two influence per unit.



When the motion brought two different armies to one place, there is now time to fight. We will skip this phase for now and go back to it a moment later. Round ends by player receiving income and then its time for Dreadnought fleet warships to move to a new position and wipe all resistance there. Fleet moves along a predetermined route of the increasing numbers of locations, but by that much spaces, as is determined by revealed card.

And now could be able to tell you, who will win. But before conclusion, we need to return to two key components of Rex – fighting and diplomacy. Battles as such, although interesting, are not that important by itself, they are just as important as the negotiations are. Players can during the game form alliances and accordingly are changing also victory conditions. But cooperating races can often benefit very well from combination of their special abilities and theirs alliance cards advantages.

We did not tell you yet? Every race is different not only in, how you prepare their game, but also in some special abilities, which may they use during the game. And sometimes, these are really interesting, such as Sol player does not have to pay for bringing his troops into city.

Board, however, will often lead you into conflicts, which bring unique experiences. Each of the rival parties takes one combat board, and determines, how many units want they sent into battle out of the available number from the platoon. You can then secretly add a leader and two cards - offensive and defensive to battle resolution. Everything is happening in secret. Opponents then compare their strengths, apply abilities of selected cards and the player with more strength is the winner. Both players lose all units commited into battle, but the loser has to destroy all units on this space completely.

But everything can just be reverted by the traitor, whom you chose at the beginning. If someone uses this character against you, you can reveal his true identity and your opponent could not count his fighting power to his strength.

Under normal circumstances, the game can end in two ways - occupying of key points on the board, or by reaching the end of the eighth round. Player alone, if they are not member of any alliance, can win at the end of any round, when they control three fortresses on the board (marked with a red star) of five total. This player becomes immediately winner. Allies must control more fortresses – alliance of two has to have four strongholds and in four players, you have to controla all five. If you succeed, this means win situation for all members of the alliance.



At the end of the eighth round, when noone reached a victory condition, there has to be declared a winner. Its that player, who controls the most fortresses in that moment. But in this case, some other races can apply their special victory conditions - such as Sol race player becomes the sole winner after the eighth round, if he controls two specific fortresses and nobody else reached immediate victory.

Rex is a game of unlimited possibilities. It has very loose rules and included deep diplomacy gives players tremendous freedom in what direction each match can take. None of games will be the same and all of them will be full of unforgettable moments.

The source of the greatest experiences is establishing and leaving an alliance. It can only be done at prescribed moment in the game (when specific card is revealed) and this is reason, why game is not interrupted with constant arguing. That makes a great choice and brings permanent alliances. Similarly, withdrawal from alliance is not easy, and can be done once more only during revelation of Temporary cease fire card. And it naturally carries with itself also the consequences of anger of your abandoned partners.

Most of the alliances is therefore formed for the whole game and breaking partnership is not so common. You have to think twice, with whom are you willing to work together and what is best for your cause. It's the limited time of the eight rounds, that the whole game forces players to value every move and decision.

Before players, there are lots of tough decisions. And now, we are not talking only about alliances, which in addition to benefits bear also burden of harder victory conditions. But also troop movement, their placement and avoidance of Sol fleet is also important.

And then of course, there are battles, full of twists. Can your opponent hold cards, which spoil your plans? Which leader to send? Stronger one? But what, if he is a traitor? You can commint more troops to accomodate traitor option, but at the same time, you are trying to keep your units alive, because they get you influence points on the end of the round. Tension is around every corner and the player will remember and analyze his decisions, even when the game is over. Its really an epic experience!

Ordinary units are not so valuable and important, they are merely a expendable force (except that they bring you profit) on the way to location control. Often you lose a great squad, sometimes even deliberately to achieve other objectives. You can recruit them again during next turn and then deploy them on strategic location again, so it seems like neverending struggle. Really important to you are the leaders, who can greatly help your cause in the battle. But they could be bribed by an enemy. And you can also use strategic cards (defense and attack), to support your fighting options. But you have to buy these for influence.



The first few games of Rex in each case feels, as if you are discovering a new world. With every match, you will find more and more depth, until you start to worry, that you would never rise up to take a breath. And down there in those depths, there lies atmosphere so thick, that you'll hardly breathe or even think about something other, than Mecatol.

Each of races is an interesting species and focused in a slightly different direction. Each needs another approach. Special abilities are clearly written on the card and if there were problems, there is FAQ in rules. In addition, your family may have specific victory conditions. Goal of these conditions is to force the players of other races to try to end the game early. And it brings a lot of interesting and exciting moments.

So what are actually Rex negatives? The only noticeable is just a slow start for newcomers. In order for a player to fully get a grasp of this game, it would take more than one, three or five plays. You must penetrate games skin and let it burrow under your skin as well. Certain races are harder to master and win with, so you should take seriously recommendations found in the rules.

There is no resolution for three player battles on one space. As there is no third battle dial, you have to fight in some order. Or you can use a house rule and do not allow three armies to occupy one space. But it would be nice to have three dials or at least a mention in rules.

And then there are little things, which will bother only few nitpickers: game board does not brings that stunning impression as it could. Map looks a lot like Arkham Horror (Czech review) and you have to disassemble Sol fleet every time you have to fit game back in the box. Maybe that is the way, how authors like to say to keep it out.

Rex is wonderfully balanced game full of surprises. A box filled with atmosphere. Each race has its advantages you should know how to use, otherwise you will be devoured in battle for power and you could not stand a chance. Yet even if you lose, you still have a chance of winning (wow), if you succeed in negotiating advantageous alliance. Common victories and losses while maintaining space for soloists. That is simply brilliant. Designers succeeded in unbelievable. Rex offers everything you would expect from such games and much more! Do not let it get away!

Original review posted on DeskoveHry.com with more pictures:
http://www.deskovehry.com/s-pribehem/926/review-rex-final-da...

You can find more our reviews not only on our site, but also on DeskoveHry.com GeekList:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/153566/reviews-made-by...
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Warrick Williams
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I have REX and although I have limited play, it has great player interaction and depth. I dont have the orginal DUNE so I have no reason to compare - I just have reason to enjoy the gaming experience . It's right as with most games - with the right players.
Thanks for the review.
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David
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Good Review.

tadzi wrote:
There is no resolution for three player battles on one space. As there is no third battle dial, you have to fight in some order. Or you can use a house rule and do not allow three armies to occupy one space. But it would be nice to have three dials or at least a mention in rules.


This is wrong. The section on resolving battles says:

Quote:
In the case in which more than two players' units occupy the same space, multiple two player battles are resolved in the area, one at a time as determined by the order of play (see "Phase 5: Battle" on page 12)


I have the nitpickers edition however
 
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Dusan Vit
Czech Republic
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Apelord wrote:
Good Review.

tadzi wrote:
There is no resolution for three player battles on one space. As there is no third battle dial, you have to fight in some order. Or you can use a house rule and do not allow three armies to occupy one space. But it would be nice to have three dials or at least a mention in rules.


This is wrong. The section on resolving battles says:

Quote:
In the case in which more than two players' units occupy the same space, multiple two player battles are resolved in the area, one at a time as determined by the order of play (see "Phase 5: Battle" on page 12)


I have the nitpickers edition however


Sorry, thank you for correction :-)
 
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