Saturday, July 16, 2011


Next up in my random walk through my game collection is Revolution!  I first encountered this game almost two years ago at Archon.  I was playing another game with one of Steve Jackson Game's "MIBs" and once that game was complete he really wanted to show us all Revolution.  It turned out that the game was pretty fun, though different from most other games I have played.  The overall theme is that you and the other players are fomenting a revolution in a country to overthrow the government and put yourself in place as the new leader.  However, the mechanics are generally abstract and the theme just lays on top of the underlying mechanic.

Revolution's primary mechanic is blind bidding.  Every turn each player starts with at least five resources.  You can have gold (pretty easy to get a hold of, but not very strong in bidding), blackmail (always beats gold), and force (beats everything else).  Because force is the best resource, it is pretty scarce and hard to get a hold of.  Each turn, the players bid all of their available resources to gain control over up to five of the town's twelve possible areas of influence.  If you control an area you can put one of your colored wooden blocks in that building (if it has one; not all areas do), which can provide extra victory points at the end of the game.  Each area also provides you at least one specific benefit, whether that be extra money, blackmail, or force tokens for the next round; victory points (which you need to actually win the game); or the ability to move around your own and/or other player's colored blocks.  The game play consists of multiple rounds of resource bids while you try to both earn victory points and gain control of strategic buildings on the board to earn more victory points during the final scoring at the end of the game.  The game continues until all locations on the board are fully controlled.

The game itself plays pretty quick once everyone knows what they are doing.  It can take a while to get going as people figure out what bidding strategy they want to use, but once the game is understood bidding rounds can go quite fast.  Some people don't care for this game because they don't like the bidding aspect of the game, and some people don't like the rather thin theme to the game.  Admittedly, the theme could be ants collecting resources for their queen so they could have the best ant colony and the mechanics could be very similar, but I find the underlying bidding mechanic to be quite fun.  The trick in this game is the ever important "knowing your opponent" concept.  If you can get inside your opponent's heads then you will have a real leg up on them, as they can start second-guessing their bid strategy (the infamous "I know he knows I'll do this, so I'll do that other thing, but what if he knows I know that he knows and he'll guess that other thing, then he'll do that third thing, so I need to do this fourth thing, but what if he knows that I know that he knows that I know that he knows..." syndrome).  If you can get your opponent chasing their own tail like that, you've already beaten them.

This is the only game I own that utilizes this kind of bidding mechanic, so I'm sure I will have it for a long time.  Not everyone likes it, but I find it is a nice change of pace.

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