Revolution! is a bidding game of political control, which uses a combination of constant VP gain and end-game VP bonus to determine a winner after multiple rounds of blind bids. The game is set in a pre-revolutionary harbour town, with players vying for control of various faction buildings. Bidding is unique in that it uses three distinct currencies, each of which is subordinate to the previous: Force, Blackmail and Gold.
The combinations of these bid currencies in concert with the various abilities of the town's factions creates a diverse array of strategies... all of which take place in the minds of the players, not the roll of dice. This diversity offers a bidding game that is far more sophisticated than its simple mechanism would suggest, while also capturing the political nature of a true 'revolution'.
Also, the board is very shiny.
The game starts very simply: each player is granted 1 Force, 1 Blackmail and three Gold, which they will assign across a small reference sheet representing the various factions in the town. This sheet will be hidden behind a screen, keeping the player's bidding selections secret from other players until everyone reveals.
Each faction provides three possible rewards:
1) New bidding resources for the next round(such as Force or Blackmail)
2) Victory Points (called support)
3) Influence (partial control of a faction's building on the board, potentially leading to bonus VPs at the end of the game)
Two special factions (Spy and Apothecary) provide manipulation of the current Influence on the game board.
Each turn, after bids are revealed, a winner is determined for each faction, based on the amount of the bid and the type used. While Force trumps Blackmail, which trumps Gold, some factions are immune to one or two of these currencies, ensuring that no one currency is ultimately supreme.
Play continues until all of the Influence spaces have been claimed by players, at which point bonus points are determined for control of the factions and the player with the highest final VP count wins.
The main drawback of this game is that, like poker, it can be vicious. Unlike poker, you know everything that your opponent has in hand; all currency and influence is public knowledge up to the start of the bidding step. However, once the screens go up, it's only your assumptions about the other player's strategy and style that will determine your placement... and they are in turn modifying their strategy based on YOUR actions! Consequently, the game inevitably engineers some pretty high-stakes bids, the loser of which can feel quite devastated. Players who are adverse to this type of cut-throat competition in a game do have the option of playing with more forgiving variants, in which lost bids are not discarded, but retained for the next round.
If you haven't already guessed, I'm a big fan of this game. I have a personal hatred of all dice (yes, all of them, everywhere... it's only fair, they seem determined to hate me back), so this game was refreshing in that it completely removes any element of randomness, while still offering substantial uncertainty. Games that rely entirely on a bidding system tend to be limited in their strategic options (not intended as a slight on any good bidding games out there... I just haven't found any...), but this is NOT the case in Revolution! With 12 different factions and multiple political arenas, the game has a wide variety of options, which are constantly changing right up to the finale.
But it's the finale which means I'm really in love with this game. Despite the presence of VP bonuses, this is NOT an engine-building game. At the end of each round, ALL bid currency is discarded. You can only use the resources gained in the previous round as a result of bids. Consequently, there is no means by which to achieve a sustained net increase in available resources - play lives from round to round. Combine this with the fact that each currency has two factions that are particularly weak to it (even Gold), and you have a system in which any underdog can quickly turn the tables.
It has not been uncommon to see the worst player for the first half take out victory in the second.
Also, did I mention that the board is really shiny? Seriously, the component quality is excellent; again proving that a simply system doesn't have to be cheap or boring.
Keep or Throw Back?
Revolution! has been a run-away success in our group and instantly one of my favourites. If you like politics and/or poker, but want a more structured euro-feel to your bluffs and manipulation, Revolution! is a must have. It's very accessible and can be taught in 5mins, but it's also a magnificent platform for some really deep mind-duels between hardened veterans. It's a keeper, and I'd recommend it to anyone who isn't instantly turned off by the idea of blind-bidding.
Also, the components are really, really shiny. What more reason do you need to overthrow a government?
- Last edited Fri Sep 25, 2009 6:24 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Fri Sep 25, 2009 5:02 pm
I like your review. And the board is shiny.
Thanks guys Appreciate the feedback.
Andy Van Zandt
i really like your review, especially the initial bits that stated the core game mechanics without fluff.