Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Das Ende Des Triumvirats

[This has been blogged elsewhere, but I can't resist discussing it again, since it is such an intriguing game.]

This strangely-named game is yet another that has drawn my attention from its visual elegance and simplicity. It is published by Lookout Games, designed by Jahnnes Ackva and Max Gabrian, and is for 2-3 players. It is loosely themed around Rome in 56 B.C. The players take on the roles of Caesar, Pompeius, and Crassus vying for Military and Political control. It's not a wargame and not a civilization game. After reading the rules, there are two things that attract me to the design.

The first is the game end mechanics. There are 4 ways to win, three of which can occur before the actual end of the game. This reminds me a little of Liberté. A player can win a Political victory by being elected Consul twice. Since there's an election at the end of each year, the game will definitely end after 4 years. However, if you have been elected once, then you can win instantly by getting 6 Citizens in your favor in the Forum. A player can also win a Military victory by controlling 9 of the 15 locations on the board. Finally, a player can win by gaining level VII in both Political and Military competences.

The second interesting design aspect is the combat mechanics. When you attack an opponent's location, it's Legions vs Legions. There's a Battle Bag with a number of cubes in it for each player. You draw a number of cubes from the bag equal to the minimum number of Legions on one side of the battle (max 3). For each cube of your color, a Legion of the opponent is removed. Place cubes of the third color back into the bag. Then remove matching Legions one-for-one. If the attacker has any left, he wins. Very simple, yet not completely predictable (as in Antike). You can add cubes to the bag during play by paying for them, or, strangely enough, by losing a battle.

This is a game where making a play to win in one direction leaves you vulnerable to lose in another (again, a little like Liberté). If you try for a quick Military victory and do not succeed, you will almost definitely lose the election. If you put all your resources into the Forum of into Competences, you may find yourself vulnerable to attacks. Some very intriguing balancing mechanics.

Triumvirats is already listed at Funagain, but not avialable yet. Looking forward to this one.


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