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Wei Liang Tan
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Hi, this is my first time writing a review in BGG, if there is anything that I can improve, please do tell me! I am one of the playtesters for Three Kingdoms Redux. This review will be based on the latest version of the prototype of the game that I had played a few times. I will not be going through the exact rules of the game as the designers had already posted up a draft copy of the rules in the file section.

Introduction

Three Kingdoms Redux is a boardgame for 3 players. It is set during the Three Kingdoms period of China after the fall of the Han dynasty, where the three main states, Wei (魏), Shu (蜀), and Wu (吳) had been established. Each player will be playing as one of the three kingdoms where the alliances are made and advantages will ebb and flow as each opposing kingdom tries to stop each other from becoming too powerful. Unlike traditional boardgames based on the Three Kingdom period which tends to focus heavily on the military side, Three Kingdoms Redux focuses on the management of your own kingdom and seeks to recreate the volatile tension between the 3 rulers. Playtime will take about 2 hours although a game with new players may take longer.

General Gameplay

In Three Kingdoms Redux, the winner is the player who is able to best manage the various aspects of running his or her kingdom, in another words, achieving the most victory points! Players will receive victory points according to their relative position in the development of the infrastructure of the state, conquering strategic areas and managing the relationship of the people and neighbouring tribes. The game is played up to a maximum of twelve rounds and will end after the twelfth round or when one of the end game conditions is triggered. A final scoring will then take place and the winner declared.

Each player will first pick a kingdom to play. This game features asymmetric starting positions to mimic the situation of the three kingdoms period. Wei (魏) starts off as the strongest kingdom with the most generals, Shu (蜀) starts off the weakest, and Wu (吳) is in the middle. However, Wei's starting advantage will taper off as Wu and Shu will recruit more generals during the middle of the game with stronger power.


吾任天下之智力,以道御之,無所不可.- 曹操
"I would employ the wise and strong of the empire, using righteousness to lead them. In this way, nothing is impossible." - Cao Cao

The generals are the "workers" of the kingdoms. Each Kingdom will start with their respective leaders, Cao Cao for Wei, Sun Jian for Wu and Liu Bei for Shu, in addition to a few other generals. Each general have unique powers, with variable stats in Combat, Administration and Leadership. The generals are unique to each empire and each of them features a unique skill in addition to their stats. Wei generals include Xu Chu, Xiahou Dun, Xun You and others. Wu generals include Sun Ce, Zhou Yu, Lu Xun and others. Shu generals include Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, Zhuge Liang and others.

During each round, each player will take turns placing their generals on areas in the middle of the board to receive an effect at the end of the round, much like many worker placement games. Players may "snatch" an action space by placing a general with higher stats or by reinforcing the space with more generals, effectively rendering the opponent's general useless. (You are allowed to place more than one generals in each area) Players are also able to send generals with troops to conquer areas and generate victory points at the end of every round (There is an upkeep, however, for sending out troops.). At the start of certain rounds, players will recruit new generals semi-randomly (draw and choose, discard) to bolster the strength of their kingdoms and to do more tasks.

You are also able to build enhancements in your state much like the improvements in Agricola to gain additional advantages for using certain spaces or gaining extra VP.

In order to keep the spirit of the powerplay between the tripartite kingdoms, there is an alliance mechanic which allows the two kingdoms who took the least number of actions to "reserve a space" and make it such that they are able to block the "leading" kingdom from gaining further advantages.

During the Final Scoring, everyone will be assessed based on their relative position in several categories like Imperial titles, development of the state and popularity.


What I like about the game

1) I like that the general feel of the game is able to bring out the tension between the three kingdoms during that time. You never know if someone is going to "snatch" away the action space that is really important to you. The shifting alliance between the three kingdoms. Everything seems to be on the precipice and that one wrong move and your world comes crashing down, although it wouldn't really. The game feels unforgiving, but it actually isn't that unforgiving.

2) The varying powers of the generals give each general a distinct flavor. The game contains a lot of generals and they are unique to each side. This creates plenty of replayability as you may not have the same combination of generals at the same time as the previous games, which may affect how you develop throughout the game. The inclusion of the lesser known generals is a nice touch and according to the designer, their powers are designed such that they are, as far as possible, reflective of their abilities in the novel.

3) Many of the three kingdom games focuses on the military side of the period. However, this game focuses on the whole general aspect of running the state. You cannot really just specialize on one aspect and expect to win, but need to take care of the whole picture, taking into account both the internal and external affairs.


What I do not like about the game

1) Although there is a shifting alliance, there is still plenty of opportunity for kingmaking, of which I am not really a fan of. As one player do have the ability to prevent another player from playing well by snatching important action spaces repeatedly, thus giving the game to the third player.

2) Although the game allows gamers to play as one of the three main kingdoms, it is a pity that you are unable to play as one of the other smaller feudal states as they are also involved, although in a smaller part, during that period. The smaller feudal states do have famous generals that we would unfortunately not be able to see in this game.

3) One of the biggest problems with this game is that you can only play with exactly 3 players. No more, no less. Which would make it a lot harder to hit the table due to its strict player requirements.


Final thoughts

Unfortunately I am unable to comment on the components of this game as the game has not entered the manufacturing stage, but I am certain the components would further enhance the immersion of the game!

I feel that this game is able to capture fully what the three lords feel like during the three kingdoms period. The game immersion and storytelling of this game, even when it makes use of abstracted mechanics to represent several aspects of the kingdom, is amazing. The trepidation and uncertainty is brought out fully during the game. This game is truly different from the many other three kingdom themed games that focused mostly on military and expansion. If you really like the three kingdom period of China and its generals, and wish to experience the life of a feudal lord in that period, then you should most definitely try out this game!
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Ray Smith
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XRemX wrote:
What I do not like about the game

1) Although there is a shifting alliance, there is still plenty of opportunity for kingmaking, of which I am not really a fan of. As one player do have the ability to prevent another player from playing well by snatching important action spaces repeatedly, thus giving the game to the third player.

2) Although the game allows gamers to play as one of the three main kingdoms, it is a pity that you are unable to play as one of the other smaller feudal states as they are also involved, although in a smaller part, during that period. The smaller feudal states do have famous generals that we would unfortunately not be able to see in this game.

3) One of the biggest problems with this game is that you can only play with exactly 3 players. No more, no less. Which would make it a lot harder to hit the table due to its strict player requirements.


Fabulous review! Very well done. thumbsup
However, your three concerns weigh very heavy on me toward not purchasing TKR, especially #1. Hopefully these shortcomings can be adjusted before its release. Otherwise the game sounds and looks wonderful, and I would love to give it my full support.
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Hugues Richard
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For me, number 2 and number 3 problems are forgivable if not a pretty good sign of what is to come : a streamlined abstraction of the 3K era. Congrats to the designers for not wasting their time in heroes galore and focusing on mechanics in relation to theme, gameplay, experience and such - we certainly don't need another Red Cliff card game or Risk. As for the number of players, how many board games do we see pretending to be able to field A to Z players but only working when there's X or Y - no matter how well they try by special rules to keep the boat afloat, still giving us a mediocre experience? To the TKR team: be confident and know that in creation, everything takes more time than what you think it will take... and even more. After reading the rules (as a critic) and having the Luo Guanzhong "bible" at home, I really hope you'll succeed in your project.
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Teik Chooi Oh
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Now that game is released, hope to get a copy. Not worried about Kingmaking as that is inevitable in such games, especially for three players! I accept nature of this beast but hopefully will find fair minded friends to play with
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Susie_Cat
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We got a copy of this a year or so ago and got it to the table for the first time on Saturday (what can I say - so many games so little time!).

Agree with most of what has been said above, but would add that the key thing for us is how unique this game feels, which for us makes it particularly interesting. We are all familiar with two player games, and asymmetric two player games are not uncommon. Asymmetric three player games are a new one though, and to get the balance right must be really tough, yet they seem to have managed it.

This is the most enthusiastic we have been about a game for a long while!

Susie_Cat.
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