Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A.D. 30

Published in 2012 by Victory Point Games, A.D. 30 is one of the most unique games that I own.  It is a solitaire game of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, starting from his baptism by St. John the Baptist and ending at his triumphal entry to Jerusalem three years later.  The player nominally takes the role of Jesus Christ, though I can't say that I ever felt like Jesus when I played it.  The player is responsible for gathering as many of the apostles as you can, and making sure that the authorities are ready to kill Jesus when he reaches Jerusalem, but not before.

Every turn, the player draws a card from the deck.  This tells you whether any of the authorities move down their track, how many actions you get, and possibly some other pieces of information.  You can spend actions to move Jesus on the track, recruit apostles or give them assignments, pray, teach, or push the authorities back up the track.  The whole game is built around the player making sure that things are arranged as close to the Biblical record as possible when Jesus reaches Jerusalem.  You don't have to have all 12 disciples in your entourage, or have the authorities right on the line, but you have to be close to that to get a full victory.

There are many ways to lose the game.  Jesus could lose all of his Piety (basically his spiritual strength, which can leach away in various ways and is renewed by praying), the authorities can move to kill Jesus before he is ready (an authority moves all the way down the track to the end), or you can reach Jerusalem but you don't have enough disciples, or Barabbas isn't sitting around to be freed, etc.  The basic gist of the game is that you are mustering resources (apostles and Piety), while trying to keep the authorities from reaching the end of their track.  I think this game could have been made with a different theme, but the same mechanics, and that kind of ruins the game for me.  It is resource management, and doesn't have much really to do with Jesus Christ and his earthly ministry.  It isn't a bad game, but it isn't as interesting as I wanted it to be.

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