It is a time of strife, a time of upheaval, a time of Revolution! Your beloved city has plunged into chaos, desperately waiting for someone to assume leadership and give the city direction. You are more than willing to take up the challenge, but so are a handful of other revolutionaries! It is time to show the city who is really in control. Blackmail the general. Bribe the merchant. Threaten the priest with extreme force. Gain support from the city and prepare for Revolution!
Revolution is a strategy board game based on the theme of political turmoil and gaining influence over a city. It is considered a gateway game, a game that is not as complex as the standard strategy board game, but introduces gaming concepts and mechanics to new or casual board gamers. In the case of Revolution, the game revolves around the mechanics of bidding and area control as you try to use money, blackmail and force to outmaneuver the other players and take control of key areas in the city.
The goal of the game is to earn the most support from the city. This can be done either by collecting support points during the game, and by controlling key areas of the city at the end of the game. These areas – such as the Fortress, Cathedral, Harbor and Market – are worth different amounts of support to the players who end the game in control of them. And controlling an area means you need to have the most influence on it, as represented by colored cube tokens.
So how do you win support and place your colored cubes on the crucial zip codes? By using the best tools available – gold, blackmail and force! You can gain the cooperation of the city’s key figures by either bribing them, or blackmailing them, or using extreme force to convince them to support your cause. But every player will want to influence these people. So the game has a special bidding mechanic to decide which player is successful.
The bidding process in Revolution takes place on bidding boards (each player has their own board) with 16 boxes on them, with each box representing one of the key figures in the city. You indicate which of these boxes you wish to influence by placing your “resources” on them, represented by Gold, Blackmail and Force tokens. All this is done in secret behind screens though, so you won’t know which boxes the other players are trying to influence, and how much resources they are putting into them. The resources are not created equal either. A bid that contains Blackmail will trump a bid made with only Gold, and a bid that contains Force will win against bids that only contain Gold or Blackmail. If there’s an equal amount of Force in two bids, the bid with the largest amount of Blackmail in it will win.
There are some restrictions though. For example, Force cannot be used to influence the General or Captain (they are probably more violent than you), and Blackmail can’t be used on the Innkeeper or Magistrate (they most likely have more material to blackmail you with). And then there’s the Mercenary who will only accept cold, hard cash. So each player places their bids in secret, and once everyone is ready, all the bids are revealed and the winners for each bid box is determined.
Each box will provide the winning bid with different benefits. For example, the General will give a few support points, a Force token that you can use for bidding in the next round, and the ability to place one colored cube to influence the Fortress. Similarly, the Innkeeper will provide support, a Blackmail token, and allows a colored cube to influence the Tavern. There are other abilities though, such as the Printer which provides you with a whopping 10 support points but nothing else. There’s also the Spy that lets you replace somebody else’s colored cube on the board with your own, and the Apothecary that lets you swap the locations of two colored cubes on the board.
Once all the boxes’ abilities are performed, each player collects whatever Force, Blackmail and Gold they earned this round (topped up to 5 total tokens using Gold). The next round of bidding begins, and this continues on until every last influence slot in all the key areas in the city are filled with player cubes. Once that happens, the game ends, control of each area is determined and the support scores are totaled.
The game is very fluid, as control of the key areas keep flip-flopping, especially due to the Spy and Apothecary. Similarly, the bidding process can be very unpredictable as players inadvertently cancel each other out (no benefits are obtained when there is a tie in a bid). Sometimes, the players will all be aiming for different boxes and key areas to influence, resulting in a pretty peaceful game. In other games, everyone might be trying to bribe the Priest and gain influence in the Cathedral, causing lots of heated bidding, backstabbing and frustration (and one happy priest)!
Revolution is a fun and exciting game, though simple in terms of gameplay mechanics. It works great as a casual party game or as an introduction to the more complex strategy board games. It has also been expanded by the Palace expansion which introduces a new building, new bid boxes, new mechanics and allows up to 6 players. You will enjoy Revolution! if you like bidding games such as Vegas Showdown and less complex games such as Ticket to Ride.