Back in February 2018, I reviewed Revolution! from Steve Jackson Games. At the time, it was one of my favorite games in my collection. Now, almost 5 years later, it’s still one that I try to bring to the table pretty regularly.
Unfortunately, the game was hard to come by even back then, and these days, it’s incredibly hard to get your hands on a copy. That’s why I was so excited to hear that the game was being re-released this year, this time with a Pathfinder theme. Finally, we can bring this game back to the masses!
But then the question comes up. Is the game as good? Does the theme make it better or ruin everything? Well, let’s find out…
Run It Back
The rules of Pathfinder Revolution! are all pretty much the same as the original – so, go check out my original review for full details.
But for now, a quick summary: each player is given a player shield and a board that features 16 individuals. Over a series of rounds, players will secretly place tokens that represent force, blackmail, and gold on up to 6 individuals, hoping to gain their benefits. Once all tokens are placed, players compare their boards to see who has influenced each person.
The benefits are given out one by one, with tokens or support (victory points) being awarded, in addition to placing influence at different locations on the board. (Players will earn points for having the most influence at a location at the end of the game.)
The game ends when all of the influence spaces (at least the main ones) have been filled, and the player with the most support wins.
The few differences in Pathfinder Revolution! are drawn from the original’s expansions. There are versions of the game and player boards for 3-4 or 5-6 players, adjusting the number of influence spaces and the number of people that can be influenced. Some of the locations have some different scoring rules, like Eel’s End, which gives you a number of points based on how many cubes you’ve placed there instead of a “winner takes all” approach.
A Theme’s a Theme
It’s understandable that the rules haven’t changed that much, since the game was so solid already. But because not much has changed, it seems that there hasn’t been much room for the theme to integrate itself. And since I’m not at all familiar with Pathfinder lore, I can’t really tell if what has been done is any good.
Most of the changes are the kind you would expect. Many of the locations have changed from common, relatable places like Town Hall, Market, and Harbor to more specific areas like Fort Korvosa and the Pantheon of Many.
The people on the player card have also been adjusted. You no longer get to punch a mayor or blackmail a priest. Instead, you’ll now be paying off a hellknight or blackmailing a red mantis. Or the Red Mantis. Or a group of Red Mantis. Again, I don’t know the lore.
Most of the other changes are cosmetic. You’ve got new artwork for the game boards, looking more like a standard map than in the original. While I like this in theory, the execution is a bit odd, and I don’t think I’m a fan. The original lets you see the booths in the market and the ships in the harbor. Now, you’re placing your cubes in an indistinct area of the map, next to a ridiculously large picture of a character. Again, this may be very exciting to Pathfinder fans, but to me, it’s an odd choice.
Oh, and I hate the new tokens. Like, a lot. They seem to be overly illustrated, to the point that they don’t really convey what they are. But hey, maybe that’s just me…
What Really Matters
So with all the similarities and the differences, is the game still fun?
Well, yes, but not without some bumps along the way. The initial buy-in for the game is a bit more challenging than for the original version. Players have seemed a bit more hesitant to play the game than for the original. It also was more challenging to explain that they are bribing, fighting, and blackmailing PEOPLE and influencing PLACES, since the people and places didn’t make sense to them.
After a while, though, the fun comes around, and those moments of joy and agony start to pop up with the big reveal. A little confusion pops up every now and then with the phrasing of things, but it usually all works itself out.
In the End
I’m super excited that this game has come back into circulation, and I know that Steve Jackson Games has had a TON of crossovers in its different properties, but this one I don’t quite understand. I know that Pathfinder is popular with a particular group of people, but I don’t know that it has the same mass appeal as other properties.
It would have been cool to see a Harry Potter theme, where you’re Death Eaters trying to influence the Ministry of Magic. Or maybe a Firefly or Guardians of the Galaxy theme, where your crew is trying to control different trading posts by messing with different officials. Each of these would be much more approachable, at least for the people that I hang around.
Be that as it may, I still think that the game is worth checking out because of gaming moments. I’m a huge fan of reveals in games, like when everyone points their guns in Cash n’ Guns, or the moves are revealed in Colt Express, or even when the cards are flipped in Poker or Blackjack. Pathfinder Revolution! has that in every round, and it’s wonderful to see the emotions that arise each time.
As I said in the review of the original, this game might not be for everyone. I’m not great at it myself, and I think that it can be a game that really frustrates people who can’t stand to have a plan ruined by the actions of others. But for most people, I think that the thrills that come from the successes are definitely worth it. And for now, this is really the only version of the game you can get your hands on.
All in all, if you’re looking for a game that’s a bit different, that brings lots of highs and lows, and the theme doesn’t throw you off too much, Pathfinder Revolution! might deserve a space on your gaming shelf.
This game was provided to us by the publisher for review. Read more about our review policies at One Board Family.
- Same solid gameplay as the original, with some bonuses
- Great variations for 3-4 vs. 5-6 players
- The theme doesn’t do it for me
- Confusing graphic design choices