Verdict: Maddeningly Addictive!
In a Nutshell: A competitive bidding board game of strategy and cunning.
“Secretly bid against your opponents to gain the support of the people, win territory . . . and gather more Gold, Blackmail, and Force for the next round of bidding! Will you try to control the tavern or the fortress? The harbor or the plantation? Knowing where to push for support – and where to back away and let your opponents fight – is the key to victory. It’s a game of bluff, counter-bluff, and surprise.”
- Fun Rating: Fun
- ESRB: n/a
- Players/Mode: 3-4 players/competitive
- Game Duration: about an hour
- System:table top
- Developer: Philip DuBarry and Steve Jackson Games
- Website: http://sjgames.com/revolution/
- Cost: $39.95 from Steve Jackson Games
|Would I play this again?||Yes|
|Would I recommend this game?||Yes|
|Was the story good?||N/A|
|Was the music good?||N/A|
|Were the graphics good?||Yes|
|Was this game difficult?||Not to pick up|
|Was this game frustrating?||No, the rules are very straightforward|
|Was this game offensive?||No|
|Was this game worth your time/money?||Yes|
Playing the game
The goal of Revolution is to end the game with the most “support” (points). You gain support both immediately throughout the course of the game and in a final scoring round at the end of the game.
Each round consists of a bidding phase and a resolution phase. During the bidding, players use three types of currency (force, blackmail, and gold) to secretly place bids on fifteen spaces influential people on their bidding boards (shown at left with some example bids). Any amount of force beats blackmail, any amount of blackmail beats gold, and a larger quantity of any currency wins over a smaller amount of the same currency.
Some of the people you bid on each round have bidding restrictions (e.g. – can’t use force, can’t use blackmail). Winning a given person in a round gives you some combination of three possible rewards: new currency tokens to bid with the following round, immediate support (points), or “influence” in one of the town’s seven regions, represented by placing a cube in your color on a space in that region.
The game ends when all seven of the town’s regions are 100% filled with influence cubes. End-game scoring consists of giving out support to whoever has the most influence cubes in each region of the town, with support values for the regions ranging from from 20 to 50. Ties go to nobody. Whoever has the most support after the influence has been accounted for wins the game.
What the game gets right
The gameplay of Revolution is a refreshing change from the style of other modern board games such as Catan, Carcassonne, and Ticket to Ride. Instead of utilizing an external mechanism like rolling dice or collecting cards, you’re pitted directly against the other players. It’s basically a battle of wits. Will your opponent burn through all their bidding currency trying to gain the most influence in the valuable 50-point fortress, or will they be more interested in spreading their bids thin around the board?
I really enjoy how Revolution keeps you on your toes. You are forced to re-assess your strategy every round as the balance of power shifts around the board. If you start the game planning to focus mostly on immediate support through the printer and the Priest, but you start getting into bidding wars with another player for those people, at some point it makes sense to abandon that plan and re-focus your bids on a different space that you can get cheaper.
Even though I consider myself to be pretty good at strategy board games, it still took me 3 or 4 plays to manage to win a game, and even still I have not come up with a single, killer strategy, which just makes me want to play it even more!
I also liked the simple but well-made game materials in Revolution. The game board, bidding boards, privacy shields, bidding tokens, and influence cubes are all simple, but sturdy. The graphic design gets the theme across well without distracting.
What the game gets wrong
If you’re the kind of person that likes to formulate a strategy and then execute it, Revolution is probably going to be a frustrating game. It can be pretty difficult to get into the right mindset for this style of game. It is also possible if you screw up the first few rounds of bidding badly enough that you end up with nothing but 5 gold coins to bid with each round while another player is able to get into a groove and take the powerful top row people without challenge. Once you dig yourself out of that cycle, it may be too late to put up a strong fight.
Sum it up
Revolution is a great game if you’re into modern board games, but looking to mix it up a bit with something that focuses more on direct open competition throughout course of a game and forces you to try to get inside your opponents’ heads. Definitely recommended.