Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review: Revolution!

Revolution! is a board game in which you're secretly bidding against your opponents to control territory and gain the support of the masses.

Revolution! is produced by Steve Jackson games, is for 3-4 players and a game lasts about an hour.

The board consists of the seven areas of town and a support track running around the edge of the board. The goal is to have the most support at the end of the game. Each area of town holds a number of influence cubes, at the end the player with the most cubes in an area has control of it and gains the associated support.

Each player gets their own Bid Board and screen. You place your bids on the Bid Board while it's protected by the screen, when everyone is ready the screens are lifted to reveal the bids. The Bid Board has twelve spaces that represent influential people who will assist you on that round; if you win that bid! There are three types of tokens used to bid - Force, Blackmail and Gold.

A round of play goes through four stages:

1) Espionage - Since the town is full of spies, everyone knows what resources everyone else has. At the beginning of the round the players must show the tokens they are starting with.

2) Bidding - Secrectly place tokens on your Bid Board behind the screen. You can place a maximum of six bids and you must use all your tokens. One Force token will beat any amount of Blackmail or Gold. One Blackmail token will beat any amount of Gold. Some people cannot be forced or blackmailed.

3) Resolution - All players lift their screens to reveal their bids. Bids are resolved in the same order every time - starting at the top left of the Bid Board (the General) and working down to the bottom right (the Mercenary). If you're the only player to bid on that person then you win and receive whatever benefit is listed. If two or more players bid on the same person then the player with the highest bid wins. If the bids are tied or no one bids on a person then that benefit doesn't occur this round. After the bids are resolved return tokens used in that bid to the bank.

Winning a bid provides a benefit. If the person grants support then move your scoring token around the track on the edge of the board. If the person grants tokens (Force, Blackmail or Gold) then get those tokens from the bank and place them aside until the next round. If the person grants influence then place one of your influence cubes in the specified location on the board.

4) Patronage - After all bids have been resolved check the number of tokens each player has. If they have less than five then take gold tokens from the bank to bring them back up to five tokens. You can only get Force and Blackmail tokens from winning bids. After this phase a new round begins.

The game ends when all the influence spaces on the board are full. Players then score support from the areas they control and from the tokens in their hands. To control an area you don't need to have the majority of the influence spaces, just the most. The winner is the player with the most support.

We were introduced to this game at VCon while waiting to play something else. There's a fair amount of strategy and trying to second-guess your opponents, you want to try to predict where and how much your opponents will be bidding. The gameplay is simple, but the strategy really adds a level of complexity.


  1. I'm curious to know how other people like this game. We were looking forward to trying it out at PAX, and finally were able to hook up with someone to show us how it works.

    It was complex and had the potential to be entertaining, but our group didn't like it very much. We played it at PAX, and were very hopeful. But at the end of the round, none of us felt liked we'd had a good time.

    For one, it was clear pretty early on who was going to win and why, and there was no way the rest of us could fix that.

    But also, there was very little table talk. No smack talk, no jokes, no suggestions. No alternate utility for the other five who were just playing each round. When I knew I wasn't going to win, and there was nothing I could do to improve my situation, I became really bored and annoyed.

    I should clarify that we only played it one time. We were at PAX, and there wasn't a lot of time to devote to each game. I would be willing to play it again, just to be sure of my opinion.

  2. I have to wonder if the size of your group also effects how much fun the game is. If you've got a large group, there's bound to be more bid wars. However, with a smaller group I can see where it would be boring and pretty clear cut from the start.

    I've never played the game, so I'm basing that observation solely on the review.

    One thing that makes Steve Jackson games so great is that you never know when the tides are going to turn, and someone is going to get screwed over in a hilarious way. I'm surprised that this game would deviate from that formula.

  3. We played with 4 people who are friends, so there was a lot of trying to guess what your opponents would do, and trying to screw them over in the bidding portion. I picked a terrible strategy and lost badly, but still had a fun time.

    They have released an expansion that will allow up to 6 players, I think that would help as well - the bigger the group, the more people vying for influence in each city location.