Today I opened a new game that I purchased for my collection. Revolution! This is a game that looks just wonderful to me.  It is for 2-4 players and should only take 40 – 60 minutes to play. The game is published by Steve Jackson Games.

What is Revolution? – Summary

Revolution is a simultaneous bidding and area control game by Philip duBarry. Three to four players find themselves in the midst of a revolutioni and must use a combination of force, blackmail and bribes to ensure that when the dust settles, they’re on top. Although the duration is listed at one hour, my wife and I, as well as Mr. Wilson and his wife finished around 40 minutes.

Designer: Philip duBarry
Publisher: Steve Jackson Games
# of Players: 3-4
Duration: 45 – 60 minutes
Weight: Light (maybe a gateway game)
Mechanics: Simultaneous Bidding, Area Control

What do you do and How do you do it? – Rules and Gameplay
Each round consists of four phases: Espionage, Bidding, Resolution and Patronage.

Espionage:
Turns begin with all players sharing what assortment of bidding tokens they earned the previous round. This information is especially important because it allows the players to know which other players are a bidding threat or if any players can guarantee a space. Disregard this information at your own peril! On the first round, each player begins with 1 Force, 1 Blackmail, and 3 Gold.

Bidding
The heart of the game is the bidding phase, in which players secretly and simultaneously place bidding tokens on various spaces of the bidding board. Although there may be some potential for Analysis Paralysis here, this phase proceeded quickly for our group.

Resolution
Here the players go through each space, left-to-right and top-to-bottom, checking to see which player has the highest bid. There is a hierarchy between the bidding tokens: Force is greater than Blackmail, which is in turn greater than Gold. If there is a tie between the most valuable bidding token on a space, compare relative numbers of the next most valuable bidding tokens.

Patronage
Finally, the players check to see how many bidding tokens they earned in the previous phase. If any player has less than five tokens, their “secret patrons” provide them with enough Gold to bring them up to a total of five bidding tokens for the next round.

Strategic Considerations
In addition to recognizing and responding to the bidding strategies of their opponents, players need to balance gaining the largest Influence in the various scoring Areas (especially the Fortress, Harbor and Cathedral), gaining immediate Support (through the Printer, Priest and Aristocrat), and gaining bidding tokens (i.e. Force, Blackmail, Gold) for subsequent turns. The player that bids mostly effectively and best manages these priorities will win the game.

In particular, players should pay close attention during the Espionage phase to which bidding tokens other players have available. If a player has the only Force or Blackmail tokens on the board, that player can guarantee victory of some spaces. Also, the player that has the most Gold can guarantee victory of spaces that do not allow Force of Blackmail (e.g. Rogue, Mercenary).

Who wins? – End game Scoring
The game ends at the end of the Round in which all of the Influence spaces on the board are filled. Each area of the board (e.g. Fortress, Harbor, Cathedral, etc.) is evaluated, and the player that has the greatest number of Influence tokens receives Support for that area as indicated on the board (e.g. 50 for the Fortress, 40 for the Harbor, etc.) In the event of a tie, no player receives the Support.

Also, the players receive Support for any bidding tokens they earned on the last turn: 5 Support for Force, 3 Support for Blackmail, and 1 Support for Gold.

The Support for bidding tokens and area control is added to the Support the players received over the course of the game. The player with the most Support wins.

What Do I Think? – Final Thoughts
While there is nothing revolutionary, this is a fairly good game. The rules are light and can be learned very quickly, they mesh very well, and their implications have some depth. The changing bidding strategies of opponents also keep the game interesting. The game plays pretty quickly, and there is very little downtime.

As a result, this game has great gateway potential.

In spite of my enthusiasum for the game, one conceren I do have is that, while the game plays well with four players, it will probably not do as well with three. Further, even with a range of three to four players, this relative inflexibility may limit the number of times this game comes off the shelf.

Nonetheless, I expect this game will be well received by my gaming group as well as Thirdfloorgamers.

This review is a combination of info from both the publisher,  Mr. Hoffman curtsy of boardgamegeek.com and Mr. Matera