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Richard III: The Wars of the Roses» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Short and simple rss

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Eddie B
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Richard III comes in the standard Columbia Games box. You get a map of England, Wales and small parts of France, Ireland and Scotland, 4 dice, 25 cards, a sticker sheet and you get, no surprise, blocks. A total of 31 white blocks (York), 31 red blocks (Lancaster) and 1 black block (rebels). The rebels always fight with the side (called The Pretender in the game) that does not control the king.

Game goes over 3 campaigns with each campaign lasting 7 turns for a total of 21 turns. Every campaign you each receive 7 cards. Then you both play a card at the same time. Most cards just have Action Points which allow you to move armies and recruit troops while some cards have an event (Plague, Force March etc.). After you have both used your AP's or event card you check for battles. Once all the battles have been completed you go to the supply phase in which you check any areas that hold more than 4 blocks. If that is the case any block over 4 loses one strength.

Compared to Hammer of the Scots (HotS) and Crusader Rex (CR) this game is quite a bit simpler. After playing the game for the first time, which took us 4 hours, we pretty much knew what to do and hardly had to check the rules. I have very little experience with HotS, but I have played CR several times and playing Richard III was just a breeze.

Now the game is simpler but there are lots of agonizing decisions to make.Here are some examples.

-Unlike most block games, all hits from one firing block are applied to the highest strenght enemy block. Now at first we didn't know if we would like this but it makes it a lot harder to allocate your hits if you have several units at the same strength. While in CR you just divide them up among you strongest units, now you can just lose an entire block, and you strongest on top of it, in one die roll!

-Heir charge. You can single out one single block with your most senior heir if you like. This lets you avoid the above mentioned rule and pick out a weaker block in order to eliminate it. However.... if you don't succeed the targeted block gets a free extra shot at your most senior heir. Ouch!

-Treachery. Some blocks can, like HotS, defect to the other side. The block that can defect have a number (1, 2 or 3) on the top left of the block. If your King/Pretender/Warwick block is in a battle you can still fire or retreat, or you can try to make a treachery roll. It gives a whole new dynamic to the game. If you succeed in your treachery roll your opponent loses a noble while you gain one. This is very important since the winner at the end of the game is determined by who controls the most nobles/churches and London.

-You have to keep your eyes open to see which nobles are on the board. You can really mess with them by occuping their home region at the end of every campaign. Since The Pretender moves his nobles back home first and so it can happen that some of the King's nobles can't go back home since the area is occupied already by an enemy noble (a lot of regions are home to more than one noble)

What I really like about this game is that:
a- The rules are well written and easy to understand. In the past people had some issues with some of the Columbia Games rules, but not with this one. After two games we only had one rules question about event cards (posted it in another thread).
b- Gameplay is fast. First game took us 4 hours, second game took us 2 hours and 45 minutes. With more experience this game can probably be played in about 120 to 135 minutes. Great for the weeknights.
c- It still packs quite a punch in a fairly short and simple game.

We did feel that some of the event cards were rather weak at times.

We also wondered about if the game favored Lancaster. We played two games and Lancaster won the first game 11 to 9 and the second one 15 to 12. Guess we will have to play it a couple times more.

Time will tell.

All in all a great game and if you are looking for your first Jerry Taylor game this might be the one to get...
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Chad Marlett
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I agree with your review. I was impressed that the game is simpler than HotS, but has a number of minor tweaks like treachery, charges, and the hit allocation that can really change the outcome of the day.

The fact that it takes much less time to play than HotS is also a big plus. If one side or the other has a minor advantage, it is easy to play twice and compare king vote totals as a type of handicap.
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J.L. Robert
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Sherman Oaks
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I just finished a game of this a few hours before you posted this article. I rather enjoyed how smoothly it played.

In just that one game, I discovered some strategies.

York has an quality edge at the game's start, and they have to hold onto that edge they are to win. I was Lancaster, and was able to get the drop on my opponent. Once I had eliminated some of York's A-rated blocks, I was able to keep my opponent on his back heels.

Keep your strength in numbers until you have to end the campaign. Lancaster is vulnerable at game's start, since his nobles are spread across the land, while York can arrive from exile in force. As York gains allies in the form of other nobles, they become equally spread out and vulnerable, so it may be worth it to York to sacrifice a noble or two in order to concentrate on eliminating a Lancastrian force before they find a rallying point.

A rule I don't recall being in HotS is that loyal nobles (as well as each sides 5 royals) do not come back if they are eliminated in combat...I assume it's believed the family dies out, or the noble is captured and imprisoned for the duration. I won the game by eliminating 5 Yorkists, while losing just 1. Nobles that can switch sides do come back, however. So, it's often worth taking the Treachery roll if it means saving a loyalist noble for another campaign. Of course, if you have levies to take the losses instead of ANY noble, then, by all means...

This is a really solid game that plays well and, as has been pointed out, is a quick to finish. It very well might supplant HotS in some circles. Though I'm not a big fan of Columbia's stuff, I just may have to go get this one.
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Niko Ruf
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J.L.Robert wrote:
A rule I don't recall being in HotS is that loyal nobles (as well as each sides 5 royals) do not come back if they are eliminated in combat...


There is only one loyal noble in HotS (Moray) and he can indeed be permanently elminated. All the others are turncoats.
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Peter Stubner
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Englewood
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I had my first game this past weekend (9/27/09). I too found it shorter and easier to play than Hammer of the Scots. My opponent and I are veteran block gamers. Our first session took just under 3 hours. We both read the rules ahead of time. Any rule reference/question we had was resolved with ease.

In our game the Yorkies won easily. I think a little more running away for the Lancasters early in campaign 1 would have been more prudent, but little did I know the Yorkies and a 19 point hand to my 14 point hand. I lost 3 Rose nobles in campaign 1. I think with some experience the balance will even up. (Did I mention that my opponent has some kind of freaky dice control knack....grumble grumble....If we were playing Eastfront last night, I would have been invincible)

A player-aid that gives a quick reference to family names, area names, city locations, and crown locations, would be helpful.

(edits for grammer and spelling)

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Kåre moll Christiansen
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Frederiksberg C
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Hi

I'm just heading out to play my first game of this, and your review really set me in the mood - thanks
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