It’s the last straw! We’re not going to take it anymore! Down with the man! Fight the power! Beat the system! Overuse exclamation points!
In Revolution!, you might find yourself wanting to shout these phrases over and over as you, and two or three other players, fight to take control of a town in the midst of a government overthrow. You’ll work to influence important people while also gaining the most support throughout town by the end of the game. And the best part? Almost everything you do will be behind closed doors. Does all of this make for a great bluffing game? Or will the revolution fall flat?
Revolution! was released way back in 2009 by Steve Jackson Games, the creators of the ever popular (and ever reproducing) Munchkin series, but this game bears no resemblance to its more well-known counterpart. In this game, you play political manipulators at the brink of a revolution. But you don’t want to start the chaos – you just want to be at the top of whatever heap is left when all is said and done. In order to do so, you will use three different kinds of persuasion to get the members of the town on your side: Force, Blackmail, and Gold.
However, this type of persuasion isn’t something that can happen out in the open. I mean, we all know we should punch our priests in private! So each player will be given a bid board which highlights the 12 different characters and the benefits of bringing them over to your side. Some characters might give you Support (victory points), others might allow you to place an influence cube on a location on the board, and some might give you more tokens for the next round.
Each round, players will place their tokens on up to 6 of the available characters, hoping to win their influence. Players can influence whoever they want, but there are some restrictions on how you can win these people to your side. The Innkeeper, for instance, cannot be blackmailed – he probably knows his own fair share of secrets. The General, on the other hand, cannot be forced – I mean, do you want to try and fight the General?
Once all players have placed their tokens, they lift their player screens to reveal their plans. Characters are checked one by one to see which player wins influence based on the value of the tokens they have placed. Blackmail, for example, beats any amount of gold, but force beats any amount of gold or blackmail. Even better, ties mean no one influences that spot. Once all the characters have been checked and all of their benefits have been passed out, the boards are cleared and players start a new round. Play will continue until all of the spaces at each location on the board have been filled, at which point the winner gets all of the bonus victory points for that location. The player with the most victory points wins!
While it’s great to place your little cubes to control the town tavern, and you’ll get a giggle every now and then from punching the mayor, the bulk of the fun of Revolution! is found with the player screen. The 12 characters are well balanced, preventing you from picking the same people over and over again. For instance, the only way to get force tokens – which are the most powerful – are to bid on the general, captain, or mercenary, but they can’t be forced, so you’ll probably have to get blackmail from the innkeeper, magistrate, or rogue on an earlier turn. You also have to make sure that you’re influencing some of the locations on the map, because they are worth big points at the end of the game. There’s definitely some strategy involved, and you could come up with some pretty complex plans to ensure your victory.
Well, your victory would be ensured if it weren’t for those other pesky players. You see, while you’re running through all those scenarios in your head of how you should progress turn by turn, the other players will be doing the same thing. Then your eyes will meet, and you’ll remember that you have to make sure you’re outbidding the other players for the spots that you want.
This is where I think the game becomes a winner or a loser in many people’s eyes. For some, the game becomes a bit overwhelming, because they feel there’s just too much information to process to determine how to make the right decisions. How do they make sure they win what they need to win this round so that they can win what they need the next round, all while making sure the other players don’t win what they need? This is true of most younger gamers that I’ve seen play this game. I haven’t really seen anyone under 15 last longer than about 6 rounds.There are others who will enjoy the bit of futility involved in playing the game and will cruise right along with whatever happens in each round, laughing off the hardships and trying again next time. I mean, what revolution isn’t without its ups and downs?
Personally, I love this game, and that’s despite the fact that I’m really not all that good at it. There have been turns where I just close my eyes and drop all of my tokens on my player board because it seems to work better than trying to think through my decisions. But I just love that moment when you lift those player screens and you quickly celebrate your victory or hang your head in defeat. I know this game won’t be for everyone, but if you can handle a little frustration and a little disappointment all for the sake of a solid gameplay experience, I think Revolution! is one that you should try out.
- Each round brings some excitement
- You can really make this game a thinker if you want to…
- …which some people will totally hate
- You could have several turns in a row be completely terrible