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Subject: Red Hot Reviews: Revolution! rss

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Kolby Reddish
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I am not what I would call a "casual" gamer, but it's also not the only thing that I do with my free time. I, like most people who read this site, first turned here on a whim, researching a game I wished to purchase, Puerto Rico in fact. But I've been reading reviews here for over a year, and decided it was time that I started reviewing the games in my collection.

I am a 20 year old college Junior, with several good friends and roommates that forms my playing base. While that information may seem unnecessary, I like to know where people are coming from when I read a review from them, so there's a little information about me for you readers.

I own many board games, honestly, my board game collection is one of my most expensive things that I own. I find learning the new strategies and rules behind a game, not only exhilarating, but extremely fun and challenging.

My gateway game was The Settler of Catan, and it led me down the road to my love affair with Euro games. I now have a collection of mostly Euro games, although there are some select war games that are included.

So that's me,

And now, a smaller game, but one that has a lot going for it, Revolution!

I got introduced with Revolution! when I read an ad for it in Game Trader Magazine. I instantly was attracted to the game, because 1. It looked like something easy to learn, difficult to master. 2. The aid said, “Threaten the Captain, Blackmail the Priest, Bribe the Printer.” Or something similar. That tagline was just too much for me to pass up, so when I went to my FLGS for game night and they were playing with a copy, I had to play the next game, and bought it right after.

1. The Components
I bought Revolution! for under $30. Which is a pretty good price for a complete game. The game comes with a functional board, no amazing art, but nothing to complain about. A bunch of wooden player cubes, (it wouldn’t be a Euro without them). Some cardboard resource chits, and some player screens and playing mats. This game doesn’t scream “AMAZING COMPONENTS,” but more importantly says, “functionality.” All the components are exactly what you need, and at a price that I believe is more than fair for the amount of time I’ve spent playing it, and will spend in the future, I think that’s more important than having flash.

2. The Theme
The theme is in the name. You’re taking place in a revolution. There are different players in the town, the General, the innkeeper, and so on, that can be bought, blackmailed or bullied into giving you their support. Only by managing your resources and support the best will you come out on top and be the new “top” in Revolution!

3. The Concept
I own so many complicated games, that it’s nice to have one that I can teach in a matter of a minute while setting up, that still involves a lot of strategy. In Revolution! all the players bid either Force, Blackmail, or Gold for the help of different characters in town. Force is the strongest currency, followed by Blackmail, then Gold. No amount of Gold is equal to an amount of Blackmail and no amount of Blackmail is equal to any amount of Force. Players make these bids behind player screens to keep everything private until it’s revealed. After all bids are placed players lift their screens and resolve the 12 different characters in town. Some will grant you additional resources for the next round, while some reward you with straight points, or the few places on the map for your influence. The player who controls the majority of the spots in each area gains a bonus for winning that area at the game’s end. Each turn consists simply of players bidding, then resolving those bids. Any tie in a bid goes to neither player.

4. The Ending
The Ending in this game can be very intense, because there are lots of different strategies to try. One game we had one player who placed almost no support cubes on the board, but made sure that he got the Printer every round, which gives 10 VP’s. When we finally noticed how far ahead he was, it was almost too late. Revolution! is a very competitive game, and if people don’t like lots of player interaction, this is not the game for them. There are two characters in town, the Spy and the Apothecary who influence support cubes already placed on the board. These two characters, while not worth almost anything at the beginning of the game, become the two most contended over towards the end as people try to shift close regions in their direction.

5. The Game play
The gameplay is simple and easy to teach. Really accessible to anyone who can read the bid board. The thing about this game is that it really is most easily learned by playing, to see which characters help the most at which position in the game. So I explain the game, briefly, and then just let them play :D.

6. Replayability
This game has a short play time, around 40 minutes, and because it can be so tense, and often a close finish, my game group tends to play more than one game at a time. This game has a lot of replayability because it’s the players that you play with and the bids that they make that make each round different. Plus there are tons of different strategies to try out, and it really depends upon what the other players are doing, to determine which is the optimal strategy.

7. The "Luck" Factor
The fact that if you tie bids with another player can be a big, I repeat, BIG disappointment to both players. Especially if the play was necessary or depended upon for a move that will come later in the turn. That being said, although it really can be frustrating when it happens, it’s not determined by luck, just the choices of the people you play with.

Conclusions:
I’m so happy that this game caught my eye. It’s a smaller title from a smaller publisher, but I’m glad that I was able to pick it up, because it’s a simple, fun game, that is easy to teach, and really has a lot of strategy and player interaction.

As always, thank you for reading, and
Please include any thoughts about the review,

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BT Carpenter
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Good summary of a very nice game. Just one nit:

reddish22 wrote:
It’s a smaller title from a smaller publisher,


Since when is SJG 'small'?
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Kolby Reddish
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They're not. I just meant a smaller title. It doesn't have a whole lot of hype and is relatively unheard of. I just carried that over, mistakenly to SJG, apologies.
 
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wodan wodan
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reddish22 wrote:

7. The "Luck" Factor
The fact that if you tie bids with another player can be a big, I repeat, BIG disappointment to both players. Especially if the play was necessary or depended upon for a move that will come later in the turn. That being said, although it really can be frustrating when it happens, it’s not determined by luck, just the choices of the people you play with.

Read the second optional rule. From my perspective, playing Revolution without at least that optional rule on is like playing Agricola in family mode rather than normal mode.
 
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Kolby Reddish
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So the refunded rule makes it easier like family Agricola?
 
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Andrew Asplund
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The Refund rule removes some of the frustration of having bids amount to nothing. That being said, my group considers the Refund rule for "amateurs."

It's a personal preference, but if you find yourself or your group getting upset over "wasted" bids, it's definitely worth considering.

Nice review, by the way.
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Robert
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It's interesting to note that at least according to Phil Reed and Steve Jackson (whom I had the honor of meeting recently) The original rules stated that all unsuccessful bids were returned. In fact, that is the rule that the SJG folks prefer to use when they play (I think that's what Phil told me at least). I said wait a minute... you can't screw your neighbor as much if you just refund the bids! cool
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Kolby Reddish
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Interesting notes, thank you!
 
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wodan wodan
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reddish22 wrote:
So the refunded rule makes it easier like family Agricola?

No, it makes the game more sophisticated and enjoyable. Hence, its like changing from family Agricola to regular Agricola. Perhaps I should clarify; I HATE family Agricola.

profound_dark wrote:
The Refund rule removes some of the frustration of having bids amount to nothing. That being said, my group considers the Refund rule for "amateurs."

The Refund rule was the way the game was originally intended to be played, but later got made an optional rule. The Aristocrat and Merchant bonuses become much more powerful, and the top row allows you to conserve Force/Blackmail indefinitely.

Without it, its easy to get stuck with 5 gold turns, which leads to players throwing gold around and hoping to get lucky, which leads to more problems.
 
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John Cosgrove
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I'm sorry, but playing this game with refund would be like playing poker without actual cash: no risk.

This game NEEDS risk to be of any interest to our gaming group, and I personally think it totally undermines the core of the game to play with full refunds!

Not to mention that a player could openly exploit this rule; carpet bombing is a risky tactic on normal rules, but is a magnificent play if you get full refunds! Just drop a token on the entire middle row and half the top row to pick up 2 squares and refund 4!

I assumed this rule was there for beginners, or people who aren't comfortable with cut-throat competition. There's no way I could personally see the game working with risk-less bets.

But if it works for you, go for it!
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Kolby Reddish
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Read the refund rules before you knock them. The lost tokens contribute to your end score, not provide you with more tokens for the next round, if that's what you thought.
 
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Philip Reed
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Personally, I prefer the game without the optional refund rule. It has more bite, and takes on a grittier feel during play, if when you lose or tie the tokens are gone.
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That is not Depeche but rather
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reddish22 wrote:
Read the refund rules before you knock them. The lost tokens contribute to your end score, not provide you with more tokens for the next round, if that's what you thought.

Um...
Quote:
Winning bids still go to the bank, but losing and tied bids are returned to the players to be used on the next round.

Refunded tokens count toward your Support total at the end of the game (see Ending the Game, above).

You do get the tokens back for next round. Of course, you still follow the standard Patronage rules.

The only reason they mention the end game scoring is to clarify that the bids that get refunded on the last round do contribute to your score as normal.
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Paul Chapman
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wodan46 wrote:
Without it, its easy to get stuck with 5 gold turns, which leads to players throwing gold around and hoping to get lucky, which leads to more problems.


It is easy to get stuck with multiple 5 gold only turns if you don't use the Merc or the Rogue properly.

You go into the bidding phase knowing exactly what the other players have. If you've got 5 gold and nothing else, on most turns you'll have either the largest pile of gold, or you'll be tied. Put all your gold on one of the "gold only" spaces, tell the other players with 5 gold which square you bid on so they don't copy you, and next turn you'll have either Blackmail or Force.
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John Cosgrove
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Thanks Progmode, I thought I'd gone nuts there for a tick. blush

If they only contributed to points, I'd be a little less against it. But yeah, it's the bids going back to the players which totally changes the game experience.

And yeah Paul, our group agrees with you - having lots of gold is NOT a set back at all. That's what makes the game brilliant.

It's not uncommon at all to see the underdog pull off a last minute win, thanks to the borderline nature of many of the influence counts and the mobility of Gold.
 
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wodan wodan
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PaulChapman wrote:

It is easy to get stuck with multiple 5 gold only turns if you don't use the Merc or the Rogue properly.

You go into the bidding phase knowing exactly what the other players have. If you've got 5 gold and nothing else, on most turns you'll have either the largest pile of gold, or you'll be tied. Put all your gold on one of the "gold only" spaces, tell the other players with 5 gold which square you bid on so they don't copy you, and next turn you'll have either Blackmail or Force.

Doing so requires the use of the third optional rule, and even then, it means you are choosing to take a turn where you gain either 2 Blackmail or 1 Force, 3 Support. Its far better to spread your 5 Gold over 4-5 different options, which will give you better results, albeit with higher variance and more randomness overall.

Omnisiah wrote:
I'm sorry, but playing this game with refund would be like playing poker without actual cash: no risk.

This game NEEDS risk to be of any interest to our gaming group, and I personally think it totally undermines the core of the game to play with full refunds!

It simply leads to situations where one player is able to grab 6 things for himself, and have a massive resource supply, while other players have absolutely nothing.

Omnisiah wrote:
Not to mention that a player could openly exploit this rule; carpet bombing is a risky tactic on normal rules, but is a magnificent play if you get full refunds! Just drop a token on the entire middle row and half the top row to pick up 2 squares and refund 4!

Carpet bombing doesn't work as well as you might think. Its typically done by the guy who has 6-8 Gold and no Blackmail/Force, they typically win one or two of the options and get 5 gold back. To get proper yields from Carpet bombing, you have to aim for the options that people think you wouldn't try for.

Omnisiah wrote:
I assumed this rule was there for beginners, or people who aren't comfortable with cut-throat competition. There's no way I could personally see the game working with risk-less bets.

That rule was the way the game was designed to be played.

And yes, it does lead to a very different kind of playstyle. Its better to do spreads, because those you lose/tie return resources in addition to what you win.
 
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Kolby Reddish
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Thanks for the clarification. I seriously pulled out my rule book just after I read this because I thought I was crazy. But ya, thanks for the balance tips concerning this rule. :D
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Andrew Asplund
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wodan46 wrote:
Doing so requires the use of the third optional rule, and even then, it means you are choosing to take a turn where you gain either 2 Blackmail or 1 Force, 3 Support. Its far better to spread your 5 Gold over 4-5 different options, which will give you better results, albeit with higher variance and more randomness overall.


wodan46 wrote:
Carpet bombing doesn't work as well as you might think. Its typically done by the guy who has 6-8 Gold and no Blackmail/Force, they typically win one or two of the options and get 5 gold back. To get proper yields from Carpet bombing, you have to aim for the options that people think you wouldn't try for.


*sigh*

Seriously, I think the better option depends on the situation. If the other players have other bidding tokens and/or less than five gold, it may be worthwhile to deposit your gold stack on the Mercenary or Rogue. If it's later in the game and the Fortress, Tavern, Harbor, or Town Hall are already filled with influence, it can sometimes be more useful to bid on those options since other players are less likely to invest in them.

Then again, it depends on who you play against. People that play against me have determined I really like bidding on spaces for filled up locations (as long as the payout seems reasonable). Therefore, that makes that tactic less reasonable.

Escher26 wrote:
It's interesting to note that at least according to Phil Reed and Steve Jackson (whom I had the honor of meeting recently) The original rules stated that all unsuccessful bids were returned. In fact, that is the rule that the SJG folks prefer to use when they play (I think that's what Phil told me at least). I said wait a minute... you can't screw your neighbor as much if you just refund the bids!


I believe the designer suggested something to that effect. His intention was for refunds but, as it ends up, the SJGames people misunderstood the rules and were discarding bids instead. However, the general consensus (as I understand it) is that the current rule is the "preferred" method of play with refunds only as an alternative.

wodan46 wrote:
]Without it, its easy to get stuck with 5 gold turns, which leads to players throwing gold around and hoping to get lucky, which leads to more problems.


I think we've spent enough time (you and me, anyway) discussing this to no end. One of my concerns with using the refund rule is the possibility of a certain style of Kingmaking. However, that is a reasonably unsubstantiated claim so I'll just rest on the idea that I prefer not using refunds.

wodan46 wrote:
It simply leads to situations where one player is able to grab 6 things for himself, and have a massive resource supply, while other players have absolutely nothing.


I think this is as hypothetical and unsubstantiated as my concern over Kingmaking WITH the refund rule. I have never seen a player with more three or four Blackmail and/or Force. Furthermore, if a player does start running some sort of Captain/General & Innkeeper/Magistrate run-around (throwing back and forth with Blackmail and Force), other players can use their gold to acquire the Rogue or Mercenary, giving them a viable method for upsetting the balance on the next turn. Just a thought, really...

 
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Kolby Reddish
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I agree. To keep that perfect balance going is near impossible if you have players who understand how easy it can be to upset your bids.

And I'm with you on the refunds as well. I like the fact that you have to try to outbid others and what not.
 
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