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Jason Cheng
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Winner of the Fairplay poll at Essen this year (even over the current hot favorite Agricola), Tribune has since then slipped out of the spotlight with little to no further information available, besides that FFG is poised with an upcoming English release. Fortunately, I got a chance to play this at BGG.con a few weeks ago, thanks to Jeremy. I have to say that the demo table for Tribune was constantly occupied over the 4-day period, so I guess even though the news have been scarce, people have definitely took notice of it. Here are some of my thoughts.

Gameplay/Rules
Similar to Pillars of the Earth, each person is given a number of meeples to place around the board as seen here:


Image courtesy of Heiko Eller

Beginning with the starting player, everyone gets to put one marker on an open spot he/she desires and the action continues clockwise until there are no more meeples available. Then the locations resolve in the following order:

d10-0 Collection Plate


1 First player here gets 7 coins.
2 All subsequent players receive 5.

d10-1 Slave Market


Only two spots are available here at a cost of 1 coin each. You need to place your meeple next to the card you wish to purchase.

d10-2 Forum


Six cards here for you to choose from, but at a higher cost of 3 coins each.

d10-3 Latrine


Initially placed face down, the card is then flipped over, you can choose either to take the card by paying coins or to pass to collect coins equal to its value.

d10-4 Senate


1 Three spots up for grabs. You must discard a card from you hand to collect the set of card(s) you have claimed.
2 At the beginning of every round, each set is dealt out from the deck until a total value of 5 or more is reached OR if a leader (a 0 value card) is turned over.

d10-5 Atrium


Two spots available.
1 Initially placed face down, the first player here gets to turn over 2 of the 3 cards of his choice. If he is the only person here by the end of the round, he gets those 2 cards for free.
2 However, if and when a second player is present, the third card is also revealed, both will then participate in a blind bidding for all of the cards. Winner pays the coins he bid to the loser and tie is resolved in favor of the first player.
3 The same player may not occupy both spaces!

d10-6 Catacombs


Three spaces designated 2, 3 and 4.
1 5 cards are dealt faced down at the beginning of each turn.
2 The player on the 4 spot gets to look through the stack of cards first. He may then chooses to pass or pay 4 coins to keep a card of his choice. Then the player on the 3 will get a shot at the cards, but he only has to pay 3 coins if he chooses to keep a card. The 2 spot player goes last but the card only costs 2 coins.
3 The cost of a card remains the same with the respective spot even if the other spaces aren't claimed.
4 Coins paid here do not go into the bank, but to the space next to it.

d10-7 Pantheon


Two occupants allowed. The card here is initially placed faced down. When resolved, you may discard a card with the same faction as the revealed card here to gain a permanent favor of the God, with the condition that you must either be in possession of the temporary one OR if you own the group token for the Vestal faction.

d10-8 Altar of Mars


Three spots available.
1 All players involved discard 2 cards of the same faction from his hand, the person with the highest total value receives two laurels. Everyone else receive only 1. In the case of a tie, no additional laurels are given, all participating players get only 1.
2 No player may occupy more than 1 space here.

d10-9 Faction Track


This is where you can attempt to gain control of the 7 factions. Each factions has two spots up for grabs. Please remember that you resolve this track twice. First to claim the control, then to give out special favors to those controlling them.
1 The factions are resolved in order from left to right: So it goes Gladiator -> Legate -> Praetorian -> Plebian -> Patrician -> Vestal -> Senator.
2 If you are the only player at a particular faction, you may then attempt to take control by playing cards of that respective faction. You must play at least 2 cards, but if another player is currently in possession of the faction in question, you can beat it by either playing more cards or have a total value that is higher than the ones in front of him. (For example, Jim has control of the Gladiators with 3 cards valued at 0, 2, and 5. You can take over by either playing 4 Gladiator cards, regardless of their values, or however many Gladiator cards that total more than 7).
3 However, if there is another player at the same faction. The player in the 2nd position gets to play his cards first (by following the above rule). Then the first player can choose to pass or to beat it, and when he wins, the player in 2nd position returns all of his cards played to his hand except one, which is then discarded.
4 All winners receive the bonus as indicated on the cards played, but you only get one thing for each faction (i.e. you don't get 3 legions if you played 3 Gladiator cards, only 1). You also obtain a faction token for that faction if you don't already have one.
5 After all the meeples have been resolved and returned to their owners, the faction track is gone through again, the current controller of each faction is awarded as indicated on the board (a few of the factions give you two choices to select from, some require certain conditions to be fulfilled).

trade End of Turn


Image courtesy of Richard van Vugt

1 All cards left on the board unclaimed as well as those played previously but were beaten this round are discarded.
2 New cards are dealt on the board in the same order as above.
3 The first player maker is passed to the next person clockwise.
4 At the start of every round except for the very first one, a blind bidding is initiated for the chariot. The winning bid pays to the bank, in the case of a tie, no one controls the chariot. The winner of the chariot places it on any faction he chooses, that faction cannot be contested for the duration of this round.

aristocrat Victory Condition


Image courtesy of Buds Balkan

A card listing 5 victory conditions (look at the bottom left of the picture, it's the cards with 5 different colors on it) is selected at the start of the game, based on how long you want the game to be. The first person to achieve 4 of the 5 is declared the winner.

Critique
At its heart Tribune is a set collection game, a pretty simple concept, but when combined with other mechanics (for better or worse) it becomes something with more depth and dimensions.

Pros:
1 Multiple victory conditions give the game flexibility. Not to mention the fact you get multiple cards with different conditions on them, increases the replayability by many folds.
2 No clear defined leader throughout the game. While all possessions are open (except for cards), most of the time it is hard to tell who's winning, and even if someone is close doesn't automatically mean he's going to be the first.
3 The various board locations and the effects of positioning.
4 The way the cards are played is refreshing.
5 Some of the faction power/reward is very well thought out, especially ones that affect cards in play and those requiring certain conditions to activate.

Cons:
1 Money is too easily obtained. You can have no coins and still be able to bid on cards as long as you keep enough meeples for the collection plate to get the money you need (since it is resolved first) to pay for later actions that round.
2 Unbalanced faction power/reward. Some of them, especially Legate, then Vestal, is fairly useless and you can practically go through every game without bothering to control them.
3 The permanent favor of the God is way too easy to get.
4 This is a personal one but I really dislike blind bidding in any game.
5 May be repetitive to some since you basically perform the same actions each round.
6 Low interaction.

The Bottomline
Well, I suppose in the end Tribune isn't anything groundbreaking in terms of gameplay, but my first impression has been a positive one. I like the simpleness packaged with some fun mechanics. I definitely enjoyed the prototype and am hoping that FFG will make further improvements on an already good game.
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Anselmo Diaz
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VERY colourful review.
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Jason Cheng
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Echtalion wrote:
VERY colourful review.


I tried highlighting the important rules in red, and any secondary action/choice in blue. Not sure if I achieved the effect or if it looks messy instead. Thanks though!
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Jeff W
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Great summary of the game. Very nicely laid out.


Zalasta wrote:
6 Low interaction.


Wow! I thought this game has high interaction between the players. You are competing for the worker placement on the board. You are constantly taking over factions that others have under their control. In the Atrium and the Altar of Mars you are bidding against one another.

I thought even though there were a lot of competition, the competition is not cutthroat. This is one reason I like the game. If you lose on the competitions, it is a minor setback, not a major setback.

Quote:
5 This is a personal one but I really dislike blind bidding in any game.


The blind bidding in the Atrium is quite different from the normal blind bidding--the "loser" gets the "winner's" bid. Strategically sometime you would rather "lose."
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Michael Longdin
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Zalasta wrote:

The Bottomline
Well, I suppose in the end Tribune isn't anything groundbreaking in terms of gameplay, but my first impression has been a positive one. I like the simpleness packaged with some fun mechanics. I definitely enjoyed the prototype and am hoping that FFG will make further improvements on an already good game.


Nice review, thank you. However, I'm confused by this statement. Are you saying you played a prototype? I have a German version of this game that I am certain is complete and not a prototype.

I am more than slightly concerned if FFG are going to make changes to this version. Some people may like all the extra chrome and zillions of cards that FFG seem to like to add to a game to give it flavour and variety and while I am not necessarily averse to this it does worry me that they will do this for a game from a designer who has a reputation for fine tuning his games to a level that really should make such changes redundant and probably harmful to the game.
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Jason Cheng
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100%Blade wrote:
Are you saying you played a prototype? I have a German version of this game that I am certain is complete and not a prototype.


I may have used the term inappropriately, I guess I saw it as a prototype for the English release, Jeremy did mentioned that there would be some changes from the original version. From the top of my head, I remember two differences: at least one of the faction colors is going to be different, and a small part of the board may be redesigned. In terms of gameplay, I'm not sure anything will be changed at all, but he was very open to comments and suggestions, so I wouldn't be surprised if they do end up tightening some of the rules.

junesen wrote:
Wow! I thought this game has high interaction between the players.


You are quite right in your assessment. I guess at the time of writing, I had interpreted interaction as in the game's ability to illicit discussion. For the most part of my playing, it was pretty methodical. There were definitely a lot of what you said that went on, so I guess I should've elaborated more.

Quote:
The blind bidding in the Atrium is quite different from the normal blind bidding--the "loser" gets the "winner's" bid. Strategically sometime you would rather "lose."


Very true. Even if you don't want the cards there, at least someone isn't getting them for free, and you still get money out of it. The 2nd spot in the Atrium can often be utilized as a defensive play, and I'm not sure if that's necessarily a good design. Even so, I'm just not a fan of any kind of blind bidding.
 
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Nick Bornschein
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Comparing to the written rules as first post of this thread to the German rules I actually read, there are some mistakes in the rules posted above (bold correction):

1. Atrium

Initially placed face down, the first player here gets to turn over 2 of the 3 cards of his choice. If he is the only person here by the end of the round, he gets those 2 cards for 1 coin.

2. Panthenon

..with the condition that you must be in possession of group token for the Vestal faction. (only of them and not "or the temporary favor of gods") It's because you can loose the temporary favor of gods if you not longer control the Vestal Faction but you still own the token for them and so it's the only precondition of the Panthenon.

3. Altar of Mars

No player may occupy more than 1 space here. Wrong. A player may occupy more than one space.

So as I don't think the English rules are different to the German ones, it have to be mistakes.

-Nick
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Jason Cheng
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Kopernikus wrote:
1. Atrium

Initially placed face down, the first player here gets to turn over 2 of the 3 cards of his choice. If he is the only person here by the end of the round, he gets those 2 cards for 1 coin.


You're probably right, so I'll defer to the rules you have.


Quote:
2. Panthenon

..with the condition that you must be in possession of group token for the Vestal faction. (only of them and not "or the temporary favor of gods") It's because you can loose the temporary favor of gods if you not longer control the Vestal Faction but you still own the token for them and so it's the only precondition of the Panthenon.


Semantics, end result is the same. The mentioning of the temporary one is only for the benefit of the current controller of the Vestal.

Quote:
3. Altar of Mars

No player may occupy more than 1 space here. Wrong. A player may occupy more than one space.


Actually, Jeremy was quite clear on this rule. Atrium AND Altar are the only two places the same player cannot place more than one of his meeple there. So we'll just have to differ on that, because frankly, it would be quite broken if one person can earn more than the maximum of 2 laurels there.
 
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Nick Bornschein
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But the German rules tell you that you can have more than one of your meeple on Altar of Mars.
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John Weber
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Question: Do the cards that are dealt out to the various locations come from one common deck or are there various decks for various locations (a la Pillars)?
 
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Will DeMorris
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If I remember correctly it's one common deck with all the "suits" shuffled together.

-Will
 
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Bruno Valerio
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Great review, it got me interested in Tribune.
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German Mike
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Quote:
Quote:

3. Altar of Mars

No player may occupy more than 1 space here. Wrong. A player may occupy more than one space.



Actually, Jeremy was quite clear on this rule. Atrium AND Altar are the only two places the same player cannot place more than one of his meeple there. So we'll just have to differ on that, because frankly, it would be quite broken if one person can earn more than the maximum of 2 laurels there.


The German rules are quite clear on this. The Altar allows all 3 places to be occupied by meeples of the same color (p.IV, exception I). This is not allowed on the Atrium (p.VIII, first paragraph).
 
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Nick Case
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Quote:

2. Panthenon

..with the condition that you must be in possession of group token for the Vestal faction. (only of them and not "or the temporary favor of gods") It's because you can loose the temporary favor of gods if you not longer control the Vestal Faction but you still own the token for them and so it's the only precondition of the Panthenon.

Zalasta wrote:

Semantics, end result is the same. The mentioning of the temporary one is only for the benefit of the current controller of the Vestal.


Not semantics, you have to actually hold a Vestallinen Faction Marker to even be permitted to place a figure at the Pantheon.

Zalasta wrote:

Quote:
3. Altar of Mars

No player may occupy more than 1 space here. Wrong. A player may occupy more than one space.


Actually, Jeremy was quite clear on this rule. Atrium AND Altar are the only two places the same player cannot place more than one of his meeple there.


First where does the translation 'Altar of Mars' come from? It's the Victory Column in all translated English rules to date.

As for the number of figures by one player;

Players may place several figures here, and several pairs of card in order to receive laurels. Only one pair can be the highest

Its not out of balance as it costs 2 cards per figure.
 
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Darrell Pavitt
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Well, the FFG rules are posted. It's Field of Mars (Campus Martius), and the only place you can have only 1 follower is the atrium.
 
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Anthony Martins
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nyhotep wrote:
Well, the FFG rules are posted. It's Field of Mars (Campus Martius), and the only place you can have only 1 follower is the atrium.


So, can you put two followers in the Pantheon as a blocking move?
 
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kevin hoffer
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You can NOT place more than one in the Pantheon either. That is discussed somewhere else in the forums and we looked it up in the rules we had last night.

- "Unbalanced faction power/reward. Some of them, especially Legate, then Vestal, is fairly useless and you can practically go through every game without bothering to control them."

That's interesting because I had control of the Legate all game and it fulfilled my victory condition of acquiring Legions because I was buying them for only 5 (I took control 1st turn with 0,5). By the time my opponents realized how well that was working, it was too late for them to take it from me. (We were all newish to the game.) But no, having control of them (as opposed to simply owning a faction marker) doesn't lead to any other condition (e.g. the Plebian Tribune bonus requiring control of the Patricians), but taking control with a higher amount on cards prohibits the cheap acquisition of Legions. In the end it forced my opponents to squander resources to acquire the Legates from me (they failed and lost!)

I very much enjoyed the game I played last night.

One thing not mentioned is how beautiful the board is. Subtle at first, but as an artist, I REALLY appreciate a nicely designed and executed board layout and art because I have to stare at the damn thing for a couple hours. It makes my sense of story and background feel fulfilled when I've got nice components and this game has it.

It has also, as intended, gotten me to look up all the titles and factions and their significance throughout the history of Rome.

(The fact that I was married in Rome last year and my love of all things Italian probably has something to do with my digging this game, but I am also a very harsh critic when I need to be.)
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Kevin Shanahan
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There's another mistake in this review, at least according to the english ruleset. Error is blue in the quote below.

Zalasta wrote:
4 At the start of every round except for the very first one, a blind bidding is initiated for the chariot. The winning bid pays to the bank, in the case of a tie, no one controls the chariot. The winner of the chariot places it on any faction he chooses, that faction cannot be contested for the duration of this round.


The winning bidder may place the chariot on the faction field of any faction he controls, or place it off the board.

That's a big difference from any faction. You are bidding solely for no Chariot if you control no factions, and you have to work a lot harder to block someone going for Tribune if you don't control the faction(s) that player needs.

I love mutating games, but I hope people haven't been playing this one for years assuming they can place the chariot wherever they want.
 
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Anthony Martins
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shankfoo wrote:
There's another mistake in this review, at least according to the english ruleset. Error is blue in the quote below.

Zalasta wrote:
4 At the start of every round except for the very first one, a blind bidding is initiated for the chariot. The winning bid pays to the bank, in the case of a tie, no one controls the chariot. The winner of the chariot places it on any faction he chooses, that faction cannot be contested for the duration of this round.


The winning bidder may place the chariot on the faction field of any faction he controls, or place it off the board.

That's a big difference from any faction. You are bidding solely for no Chariot if you control no factions, and you have to work a lot harder to block someone going for Tribune if you don't control the faction(s) that player needs.

I love mutating games, but I hope people haven't been playing this one for years assuming they can place the chariot wherever they want.


Yup, I've been playing that wrong for years.
 
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Kevin Shanahan
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Oh Man! I wonder how many people fired this game because they thought the Chariot was OP or anti-fun.
 
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