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Subject: We don't need a revolution! rss

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Merric Blackman
Australia
Waubra
Victoria
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Ramping up my reviewing.
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Happily playing games for many, many years.
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After our game of The Republic of Rome, we needed a game that could handle five players and could be playing in an hour or a little more. I scanned my available games and pulled out Liberte, a Martin Wallace design about the French Revolution. I'd picked this game up in February, but it had been rattling around my car unplayed until this week; I hadn't read the rules in detail, and so I was quite surprised to find them a lot easier than they first appeared. Strategy-wise, it's a subtle game, and there's a lot to recommend it.

I'd played a four-player game on Friday afternoon, in which we'd made a couple of rules errors, but this five-player game was played with a much firmer understanding of the rules, if not the strategy and tactics of the game.

This particular game saw Brian, Dave, Sarah, Rich and I trying to manoeuvre our leaders into the best position so that no matter who won, we'd be in the best position at the end of the game for controlling France. The effect of the men involved may be historical, but the way the players act isn't: as in many games where the number of factions is smaller than the number of players, no-one is identified as belonging to a faction, it just can develop that way depending on your card plays.

Rich struggled the most, hampered as he was by a selection of poor cards. It seemed that he rarely played a card with two influence and even playing two cards with one influence was often difficult. He drew a lot, but still ended up with a lot of cards that didn't quite work together. My own play was hardly better than Rich's in the first turn - I played more blocks than Rich did, but they contributed little to the overall result, and so both Rich and I scored no points for the first scoring phase.

Brian concentrated on getting control of Paris, which he did with a big stack of moderates. Sarah split her forces up more, with both moderates and loyalists being her trade, whilst Dave had quite a few loyalists. Brian, Sarah and Dave shared points for the end of the first turn, with Sarah leading the way.

The second turn saw a big surge for loyalist sympathies, as I opted out of the influence race to instead fight the first of the battles and keep the loyalist armies at bay. The board ended up being a sea of blue and white, with very little radical presence, even as we entered the "B" deck. The loyalists won this round, with Sarah at their head - Sarah moved even further ahead, and Rich was, again, left scoreless. I gained points only from the battle.

With Sarah so far ahead, it was clear to us that we'd have to put radicals on the board in force and fight her. Well, I say "clear", but in fact we were still fumbling about what to do. At that point, Sarah made it very clear to us that we'd failed to pay proper attention to where the Loyalists were dominating: Enough so that Sarah could end the game then and there with the Revolution crumbling, and Sarah had by-far control of the most Loyalist blocks. It was a definite win for Sarah (and likely one even if we'd played the full game!)

Yikes! I've gained a lot more appreciation for Liberte from the two games I've played this weekend, and even more for Sarah's dominance of this game. For a game that is relatively simple, there's a lot of interesting strategy and decision-making. It's one to try to play more of, certainly.
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Chee-Yan Hiew
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Eaglemont
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One of my favourite games by Martin Wallace. Many routes to victory and winnable by a Counter-Revolution or Radical Landslide even if behind in points !
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